Former Vice-President, Dr Alex Ekwueme, and former governor of Lagos state, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, have been conferred with honorary doctorate degrees at the Combined Convocation of the University of Abuja (UniAbuja).
NAN reports that former Chief Justices of Nigeria, Justice Idris Kutigi and Maryam Aloma Mukhtar, were also conferred with honorary doctorate degrees.
NAN reports that a total 25,878 students were awarded various degrees at the 15th to 20th combined convocation of the institution on Saturday.
Ekwueme was said to be unavoidably absent as he was represented by his daughter, Mrs Chidi Onyemelukwe.
In his speech, the Visitor, President Muhammadu Buhari, congratulated the Governing Council, Senate, Management and staff of UniAbuja for recording progress in achieving the objective for which it was set up.
Represented by Hajiya Hindattu Abdullahi, the Director, Tertiary Education, Federal Ministry of Education, Buhari enjoined the institution to take research seriously as it was key to economic development.
He said it was pertinent to emphasise on the quality of teaching and research in Nigeria’s universities as it affected the quality of graduates from our universities.
“I therefore urge Nigerian universities to ensure that the quality of the graduates produced compares with graduates produced from other universities globally.
“Research should not be relegated to the background in our universities; rather universities should ensure that the education impacted is strongly influenced by research,” he said.
On his part, UniAbuja’s Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Michael Adikwu, said that the graduands had brought honour to the institution by distinguishing themselves in various fields of study.
“They comprise 20,461 undergraduate students and 4,261 postgraduate students spanning the 2009/2010 to 2014/2015 sessions.
“Eight undergraduate student graduands bagged first class honours; 2,324 bagged second class upper division; 11,180 bagged second class lower division; 6,647 bagged third class while 836 bagged pass.
“Of the total of 4,261 postgraduate graduands, 331 are graduating with Doctorate degrees, 2,233 with Masters’ degree and a total of 1,697 are Postgraduate Diploma graduands.”
Adikwu explained that UniAbuja was graduating five sets of students at the event because of the crises that engulfed the system over the last few years.
He said that normalcy had been restored to academic activities on campus through the intervention of the National Universities Commission and the Ministry of Education.
In his acceptance speech on behalf of the other recipients of honorary degrees, Tinubu thanked the institution’s authority for deeming them worthy of the award.
He said that UniAbuja symbolised national unity and epitomised a collective desire to build a strong nation.
“The institution must realise its important position in the educational salvation of our youth and the rejuvenation of our nation.
“I urge a continuous commitment to quality and excellence.
“The university, numbered among the new generation universities, must strive in the tradition of groundbreaking scholarship and research.
“In spite of the challenges of infrastructure and funding, the university must not compromise its academic standard,” he said.
The highlight of the event was the investiture of Alhaji Shehu Idris, the Emir of Zazzau, as the Chancellor of the institution.