Saturday, the 1st day of December, 2012 will indeed remarkably go down memory lane in Nigeria’s history. The day will also remain indelible in the minds of the people of the seat of the caliphate, Sokoto and their neighbours.
It was on that day that, the prestigious university in Nigeria and one of the prime Ivory Towers in the nation, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto conducted its fifth (5th) joint convocation ceremony.
On that epoch-making day, a whopping 11,532 students graduated and consequently received various Degrees and certificates. Five eminent Nigerians and an American scholar were also bestowed with honorary Doctorate Degrees.
It is also noteworthy here that, there were other very interesting and mind-capturing as well as thrilling events that preceded the D-Day, 1st December, 2012. These successful events indeed added glamour to the entire historic event. Some of these pre-convocation events included students’ debate, novelty, football match and drama , among others.
The biggest of all of the pre-convocation events was the convocation lecture delivered by no less important national figure than a prolific and renowned legal luminary, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, the secretary to the government of the federation.
The lecture was entitled, “University Education in Nigeria: challenges and prospects.’’ It was delivered on Friday, 30th November, 2012.
The lecture dwelt extensively on the incumbent challenges of university education in Nigeria and the prospects. In fact, all roads on that led to Sokoto just like on the D-Day, December 1st, 2012.
In it, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim underscored the importance of universities in the world and Nigeria in particular. According to him, “the challenges of running a university are understandably enormous.
“Government is determined to uphold the international best practices in all areas of academic pursuit and the encouragement of the emergence of excellence in university education”, Anyim added.
On the epoch-making day of 1st December, 2012, the whole of Nigeria and a section of the world converged on the seat of the caliphate, Sokoto to be part of the history during the 5th convocation ceremony of the most peaceful university in Nigeria.
By way of reminder, the vice chancellor of the prestigious centre of excellence, Prof. Riskuwa Arabu Shehu (OON) had on Wednesday, the 28th of November, 2012 addressed a pre-convocation press conference to herald the event.
The 5th convocation ceremony of the university was witnessed by the crème-de-la-crème of the Nigerian state, from the C-in-C, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan down to other Nigerians of varying social, traditional, educational , economic and educational status.
The event was a joint one for the 28th, 29th, 30th and 31st editions. This cumulative nature of the event was sequel to the devastating flood of September 2010 which ravaged the bridge linking the university with Sokoto city, as well as other adjoining roads.
In a welcome address, the pro chancellor and chairman opf the council of the institution, Alhaji Bilya Sanda maintained that, the event was unique in, “the sense that it is a distinguished and peaceful university with a team of knowledge minds, in fact, it is a centre of academic excellence with a moral orientation.
“It is a well known fact, teaching, tearing and research take place only in a conducive atmosphere, knowledge can only be imparted by knowledgeable people and academic excellence without moral behaviour is but a futile exercise”, the pro chancellor averred.
Alhaji Bilya Sanda who gave kudos to the other council members and the management of the university, also said that, prudence, honesty, transparency and accountability are the watchwords in the institution now.
He also said that, the successes are collective and the credit goes to the entire university community . He also hailed the support of the federal government and some catchment states towards ensuring the success story.
These states include: Katsina, Kano, Kaduna, Jigawa, Niger, Kebbi, Zamfara and Sokoto, he added, “while appreciating your kind gesture to the university, I urge your Excellencies to continue in this spirit. His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto has not only been a grand patron to this centre of learning, but a father at all times,” Alhaji Bilya Sanda enthused .
Shehu also urged all the graduands to be good Ambassadors of the university anywhere they find themselves.
The vice chancellor, Prof. Riskuwa Arabu Shehu ( OON) noted with happiness that, the convocation is unique in that, it came just after the publication of the results of the first ever Nationwide institutional Accreditation Exercise conducted by the National Universities Commission (NUC) which adjudged the university, along with others, as the best in the country.
The university, he announced , scored 68.9 percent, thereby qualifying it for another accreditation after five (5) years. His words, “this a major achievement for a second generation university which inherited no structures and soon faced the lean years of post-oil boom in Nigeria.”
Prof. Shehu noted that, the university has remarkably been doing well in all other areas of assessments and evaluations by different Educational Regulatory Bodies in Nigeria. He specifically expressed happiness that, the 35-year old university had in 2011 won the prestigious and highly coveted “European Quality Award of Excellence”.
While commending the federal and state governments and other stakeholders, Prof. Shehu vowed to do everything humanly possible to ensure that, the university remains the best citadel of learning that can compete with others globally in spite of all the challenges.
He appealed to the president to use his good offices to hasten the rehabilitation of the road which was damaged by the September 2010 flood.
The chancellor of the university, HRH OBI (DR) Gibson Nwosu, Eze Usu II of Awka noted that, the achievements recorded at the university have not been without pains. “pains of constraints in funding borne by sheer fortitude and resilience of the managers of the university”.
“The problem of under funding has been threatening to ground university education in Nigeria for many years”, he added. Eze Gibson Nwosu further stated that efforts are being intensified to generate more internal revenue to complement federal government’s funding which he averred, has improved in the last few years.
He gave a pat on the backs of the members of the governing council and the management. His words, “the governing council and the university’s management deserve national commendation for the way they worked to both augment federal grants and manage their resources well”.
The visitor to the university, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan expressed delight that, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto has continued to be a centre of learning and academic excellence.
The president who was represented by Prof. Julius Okojie, Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC) also maintained that, the federal government is poised to transforming Nigeria for the better, as well as providing the needed conducive atmosphere for teaching, learning and research in the universities.
The president commended the council, senate and management of the institution for sustuinably steering the affairs of the university creditably.
The highlights of the ceremony was the conferment of honorary Doctorate Degrees to five eminent Nigerians and an American who have distinguished themselves in their various fields and have in one way or another contributed to the development of education.
The lucky awardees were: Rt. Honourable Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, CFR, Speaker, House of Representatives who bagged “Doctor of Laws (LLD), Honoris Causa”. Similarly, the Governors of Sokoto and Rivers states, Dr. Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko and Dr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, respectively got, “Doctors of Law (LLD), Honoris Causa”.
The rest were: Alhaji Bilya Sanda, Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council of the University who was bestowed with “Doctor of Science (D.Sc), Honoris Causa, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, immediate past Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) who got, “Doctor of Letters, (D.Litt), Honoris Causa, while Prof. John N. Paden ( Clarence J. Robinson, professor of International Studies, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, USA bagged, “Doctor of Letters (D.Litt), Honoris Causa.”
Dr. Amaechi who responded on behalf of the beneficiaries commended Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto for the gesture. He also promised that, the awardees will be good Ambassadors of the institution.
It is noteworthy here that, the ceremony was indeed very successful and hitch-free. Indeed, the grand 5th convocation of the most peaceful university in the grant of Africa Nigeria was legendary.
Mustapha wrote in from off Kano Road in Sokoto.