President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday said that his administration was depending on universities to assist it in the execution of its laudable projects through research and innovation.
Mr Buhari, who was represented by Dr Suleiman Yusuf, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), stated this at the 31st convocation of the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA).
“Naturally, we rely on our universities to play a more active part especially through their research and innovation endeavours.
”We also rely on them to proffer solutions and elucidate road maps and the trajectories through which government can achieve its laudable projects,” he said.
The president urged universities to intensify their engagement with industry, particularly the Small and Medium scale enterprises(SMEs), describing them as drivers and sustainers of the economy.
According to him, meaningful research and innovation endeavour will add value and boost the contribution of SMEs to the nation’s GDP.
He noted that there was room for more result-oriented and sector -focused collaborative research dealing with specific aspects of Nigeria’s socio-economic and technological challenges and programmes.
”Government expects research-informed support of its various Initiatives and programmes.
”It is also not out of place for Nigerian universities to dedicate some of their research endeavours toward the attainment of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) based on each university’s comparative and competitive advantages.
”I, therefore, challenge particularly our specialised universities to double their efforts to demonstrate their relevance by contributing more significantly , through research and innovation, towards Nigeria’s attainment of SDGs,” he said.
Mr Buhari promised that government would continue to fulfill its obligations to the universities, saying that university managers should make judicious use of available funds.
Earlier, Joseph Fuwape, the Vice Chancellor of FUTA, said that 1,439 students would be awarded postgraduate certificates.
Mr Fuwape, a professor, stated that his administration had continued to keep the university’s flag very high..
”A total of 3,110 students graduated and received their diploma and first degree certificates and prizes yesterday.
“Today, the university will be awarding postgraduate diploma, Masters and Doctorate degrees for 1,439 deserving graduate,” he said.
He said that FUTA had continued to accord priority attention to staff welfare.
”We have, as a result of this, been constantly engaging the four staff unions in the university in order to sustain the industrial peace on campus.
”The university has increased the car refurbishing and furniture loans. The Governing Council also graciously approved the reviewed career structure of non-teaching staff thereby resolving the problem of stagnation in career progression.
”A total of 117 academic staff and 337 non-teaching staff were promoted during the period under review,” Fuwape said.
He promised to continue to provide resources to improve the welfare of staff within the available funds and devise mutually acceptable staff development welfare scheme.
Mr Fuwape expressed gratitude over the substantial assistance, collaboration and goodwill from well meaning individuals, organisations and institutions.
In his remarks, Rilwanu Adamu, the Emir of Bauchi and Chancellor of FUTA, said it was heart-warming that the institution was leading in several areas.
The emir added that FUTA was advancing the frontier of knowledge in science, engineering and technology with diverse breakthroughs in scientific research, invention and human capacity development.
He commended the president for his commitment to upgrading the fortunes of the Nigerian people.
The chancellor enjoined government not to relentbin its efforts in creating more jobs and opportunities for graduating students to transform their ideas into entrepreneural businesses in an environment of peace, security and economic stability.