President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday said his administration would intensify efforts in ensuring periodic review of university curriculum to meet national needs and be relevant to global demands.
Buhari said this at the final day of the 2017 convocation of the University of Lagos.
The ceremony was for the award of postgraduates and honorary degrees.
Buhari’s speech was delivered by the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Abubakar Rasheed.
The President said that it was worrisome that some Nigerian universities were still not demonstrating adequate capacities in their mandate of teaching, research and community service.
According to him, education is a key factor in the economic development of any nation in the 21st century
He added that, with the advent of knowledge- based economy, educational competencies rather than natural resources would drives national development.
“In Nigeria, the importance of education in national development has been enunciated in the national policy on education and adequately captured in the Ministerial Strategic Plan for Education.
“Human capital development is essential to the attainment of international goals, and universities have critical roles to play in the development of the critical mass of manpower that drives national economies,’’ he said.
According to the president, Nigeria currently has 164 universities comprising of 42 federal, 47 state and 75 private universities including a few others approved on Wednesday.
He said that, with the number, it had become increasingly imperative to reposition the country’s university system to meet the goals and aspirations behind their existence.
According to him, both developed and developing countries strive to mobilise education as the key engine of growth and development.
“But in Nigeria, it is worrisome that some Nigerian universities are not demonstrating adequate capacity for fund utilisation despite the need and justified clamours to increase funding of higher education.
“I am made to understand that some universities still find it difficult to access funds from the Tertiary Education Trustfund (TETfund) because they have not shown commitment to meeting the requirement for the release of such funds.
“In the same vein, there are hiccups to the actualisation of the NEED Assessment funds for the revitalisation of our universities because some universities have not been able to meet the requirement for further release of such funds.
“I therefore implore pro-chancellors and vice chancellors of universities in Nigeria, especially public universities to take advantage of the initiative to enable Nigeria universities to efficiently and effectively meet up with their teaching, research and community development mandates.
“Nevertheless, government will continue to make efforts to provide the needed funds to run our universities effectively,’’ he said.
Buhari noted that funding was not only about making funds available to universities, but also involved judicious management of available funds.
According to him, as public officers charged with the responsibility of managing higher education institutions, there is need for the officials to be accountable to Nigerians who reposed confidence in them to execute such task.
“All what the public requires from our universities, whether public or private, is probity, accountability and transparency, and this must occupy the front burner in the management of our university system,’’ he said.
Earlier, the Chancellor of the institution, Alhaji Abubakar Garbai, the Shehu of Borno, assured the university of his support and pleaded with the president to pay adequate attention to the financial needs of the institution.
According to him, the university has financial constraints to accomplish its vision in many areas of development toward achieving more academic excellence and providing the much required needs of the country.
“It is on this backdrop that I crave on your excellency’s indulgence to give special attention to this university which is the pride of the nation.
“Similarly, the issues of frequent non-academic staff strikes is also taking its toll on the university programmes and should not be allowed to degenerate,’’ he said.