AN ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, MR. UDOM EMMANUEL, GOVERNOR, AKWA IBOM STATE AT THE 24TH CONVOCATION OF THE UNIVERSITY OF UYO, HOLDING AT THE UNIVERSITY PERMANENT SITE, NWANIBA ROAD, UYO, NOVEMBER 3, 2018
1. Let me on behalf of the Government and the good people of Akwa Ibom State, welcome the Chancellor of this great Institution, His Royal Highness, the Emir of Hadejia, Alhaji Adamu Maje to our very peaceful, safe and secure State. Permit me to pay special tribute to the Governing Board of this University, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Enefiok Essien (SAN), the academic community, and the entire management and staff of this university for keeping alive and aglow the flame of excellence the founders of this institution had envisioned and made manifest. This great citadel of knowledge has had a rich history of academic excellence, evolving from what was once a College of Education, to a State University and now one of the most sought-after universities by prospective students in the nation. You all deserve a huge pat on the back.
2. We are gathered here today to celebrate a moment of fulfilment, of joy and a deep sense of accomplishment on the part of the graduating students as well as a season of happiness and pride for the parents, relatives and friends who had eagerly looked forward to this day.
3. Let me join hands to share the joy of this day with the graduating students. You have been prepared for the battle of life, you have been shaped and furnaced for the challenges and opportunities life would throw at you. I urge you to go out there and project, distil and exhibit the glowing tendencies that you have internalized while here.
4. But let me tell you quite frankly that the world you are stepping into does not judge people based purely by the Grade Point Average (GPA) you had earned while here. It goes beyond that. You would be judged alongside your academic credentials with the content of your character, the ideals you share, your acute understanding of the immutable concept of right and wrong, your capacity to be curious beyond the areas of your core academic competences.
5. You will be judged by how you comport yourself; how you are able to apply yourself to the realities of the ever-changing or the fluidity of the post-modern world. It is a world that will not always give you what you think you deserve, but will give you what may be expedient at that moment. You must have the capacity and the emotional intelligence to handle these disappointing circumstances while remaining hopeful. The manner you handle these all-but certain situations, which invariably shapes character is what will enable you to come back here some years down the line and tell the graduating students that if you were able to overcome the contours of life they, too, can equally make it. I believe the quality of education you have received here will stand you in good stead to compete with your contemporaries and in the process project the foundational tenets and vision of this great institution as its ambassadors.
6. My Administration believes in education. We share the sentiments of the late South African legend, Nelson Mandela, who once stated “that education is the most powerful weapon that can be used to change the world.” We consider education as one of our cardinal responsibilities, and this responsibility is a social debt we owe this generation and posterity. That accounts for the huge investment we have expended in education.
7. Education remains free and compulsory in this State, from primary to secondary levels. We have generous grants for students in tertiary institution. We also ensure that our students study under the most conducive environment. We have employed some of the most qualitative teachers for our public schools, our belief being that public schools should be funded properly and education received in public schools should be of the same standard with those of the private ones. Here in the University of Uyo, we have done a number of internal roads, in line with the promise I made here in November 2015 during your 21st Convocation. We also remain committed to ensuring that we continue to work in partnership with the University for our overall developmental agenda.
8. I like the overall theme of this year’s Convocation: Creating a World Class University for a Vibrant Nigerian Economy and Sustainable Democracy. I think the University of Uyo is the vanguard of what this theme is all about. World Class Universities can change the economic fortunes of a given society. Today, the State of California is the sixth largest economy in the world, and that growth was made possible through the innovative and technology-driven world of a certain university located in Palo Alto, called Stanford University.
9. Stanford’s main areas of academic inquiry are science and technology and research. It has attracted the best science students or those that are often referred to as technology nerds from all over the world. It was these students whose innovative ideas gave the world the famous Silicon Valley. Today, through Silicon Valley, our world has changed; how we live, how we interact with one another, how we see the world around us - from Google to Microsoft, to Apple to Facebook, Twitter and other major companies whose bottom line sometimes are bigger than the entire economy of several countries combined, Stanford University has given California great prosperity and comparative advantage. Today, the popular saying in the United States is: As goes California, so goes the United States.
10. I have always said that democracy and economic growth work hand in hand. Democracy cannot totally flourish without the corresponding economic growth and prosperity so I want to challenge the University of Uyo to become our own Standard, You can act as an incubator of ideas, nurturing our future Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, the Paul Allens, the Mark Zukerbergs. We can achieve this, by rejigging our curriculum. In as much as liberal sciences remain the defining blocks of understanding the realities of our social relations; we should begin to tailor our curriculum around the areas of science and technology. We should take concrete steps to bridge the technological gap between the developed world and the developing world.
11. Finally, let me bid our graduating students God’s mercies and divine Favour as they set out on the next phase of their lives. Today, you have been confirmed, certified and found worthy in character and learning to be admitted into the circle of scholars. I implore you, therefore, to be great ambassadors of this University and let the light of the knowledge you have acquired here brighten your road as you navigate your way around career paths and service to humanity.
Thank you for your kind attention.
God bless you all!