DEEPENING THE TOWN AND GOWN RELATIONSHIP

Being a Goodwill message delivered by the Governor at the 14th Graduation ceremony of the Igbinedion University Okada on the 26th of November, 2016

 

Protocols

 

Congratulations to the Management and staff of the University on the occasion of your 14th graduation. Congratulations to the graduands. In particular, I want to congratulate those being conferred with the Honourary Doctorate degree.

One of the fundamental objectives of education is to produce manpower for economic growth and development in a society. Historically and conventionally, the state has always played the pivotal role of creating an enabling environment for the educational sector to create and recreate while being an active participant in the process. However, recent developments in Nigeria especially with respect to our educational policies has reduced the quality of output from our university system.

This unfortunate development has culminated in a situation where the Nigerian economy is losing close to an estimated USD$1bn per annum in transfers to other countries of the world in support of our children seeking for quality education abroad.

 

One of the key objectives of this administration is to ensure that governance is driven on the basis of knowledge, data and established baselines and this is where the practice of town and gown is encouraged. In developing economic plans and models for a quick revival of the economy, the University have a fundamental role to play across all spectrum of the public administration system.

 

You have the responsibility to build quality human capital for the Nigerian state and indeed for the sub region. We have no doubt at all that your programs are a reflection of market demand in our local economy, Nigeria as a country cannot afford to continue to import human resources from neighbouring countries while we spend billions of scarce resources educating our youths on programs that may not add value to our economic growth in the short to the medium term.

 

A key feature of university education across the world is the freedom that comes with it, Amartya Sen in his book Development as Freedom aptly x-rays in details the excitement that comes with freedom in the process of societal Development, your freedom should be used positively to advance the course of accelerated development in Nigeria.

As we seek a closer partnership between gown and Town, we must further explore the nexus between knowledge and freedom so as to create policies and programmes that would give our people freedom from hunger, diseases and fear.

In the last two weeks, our government is taking stock of our technical educational system, with respect to where we got it wrong, what are the next steps? How do we link industry to knowledge and capacity building? What type of infrastructure do we put in place to model our technical colleges to similar ones in other countries? What type of programs/courses that will be required to ensure maximum use of our human capital? We need the cooperation of the university community to actualise these desire.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we as a country cannot continue to think and work at the level that led us to the current economic challenges and expect solution that can turn around our fortunes. We must embrace Change, innovation and competition. Let me therefore call on every member of this community to come up with Innovative ideas capable of revolutionising the way we think, work and live.

At the core of our strategic plan for Edo State is job creation for our teeming population of unemployed youths. We have a solid plan to achieve the set target but government efforts on jobs would not be enough without a solid partnership with the private sector and the University Community. We are therefore willing to partner with the Igbinedion University, Okada in exploring ways of surpassing our target on jobs.

Let me at this juncture draw our attention to our demography which is youth heavy. In the face of high unemployment figures, our university must now consciously evolve a way of producing job creating problem solvers as graduates.

I am privileged to have witnessed a Nigeria where things worked and I believe it’s possible to re-enact the good old days and make things even better. To achieve this, we must return public schools to the era when character and learning truly count, where diligence and discipline pays, where innovation is encouraged and celebrated.

I believe that one of the key mid- term strategy for returning Nigeria to the path of inclusive growth and sustainable development is to correctly reform our education sector in such a manner as to unlock the creative and innovative potentials of our youths. The government of Edo state is therefore committed to reforming the Education Sector in our State so as to create a knowledge driven economy where Edo people and residents of Edo State can better compete globally.

For the graduands, I invite you to critically interrogate the technology behind the making of our moats and casting of our bronze works, I invite you to be inspired by the splendour of our Ancient Benin Empire and the Grandeur of our arts, our culture and our History. I challenge you to explore the possibilities of partnering government in eradicating poverty, I challenge you to be part of the solution to unemployment and not be part of the problem and I challenge you to see multi-billion naira opportunities in our fallowing farmlands. I challenge you to diligently pursue your lofty dreams for a new, great, united and prosperous Nigeria without betraying the creed and motto of your alma matter.

This goodwill message would not be complete without mentioning and recognising the pioneering and groundbreaking efforts of the Esama of Benin Kingdom; Chief Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion who has continued to be a pillar of inspiration to many. Like him or Hate him, the Esama is an Enigma. May God continue to grant him good health.

Ladies and gentlemen, as we continue to find new ways to unite not only gown and town but all our people across all divides, political, social, ethnic, let us all be reminded that the task of making Edo State and Nigeria greater is a task for all.

Once again, I therefore solicit your support and congratulate the graduands, award recipients and the University authority.

Thank you.

 

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