President Goodluck Jonathan on Saturday expressed confidence in the ability of youth in the country to contribute to national development, if given the necessary encouragement.
Mr. Jonathan stated this in his goodwill message to the sixth convocation of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia.
Congratulating the graduates for their “remarkable achievement,” Mr. Jonathan said, “I have hope in the Nigerian youth.”
“I believe that with proper parental, communal and governmental support, our youths will not only excel academically but will also flourish in their chosen professions,” he said.
The president, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, MacJohn Nwaobiala, charged universities in the country to efficiently deploy National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy, NEEDS, funds to infrastructure needs.
He expressed happiness that public universities in the country were “much better now” following recent financial releases made to them in line with their NEEDS assessments.
“As we work to sustain this approach, it is my hope that most tertiary institutions will be able to develop infrastructurally, and also improve on their academic service delivery,” he said.
The president commended the governing council and management of the institution for transforming it “within the context of enhanced government support to the education sector”.
“They could not have been achieved without prudent management of resources,” he said.
He also expressed delight with the university authorities for constructing 10 hostel blocks of 500-bed space capacity with internally generated revenue, describing the achievement as “a rare feat.”
In his speech, the Abia State Governor, Theodore Orji, called for the diversification of the nation’s economy.
Mr. Orji, who was represented by his deputy, Emeka Ananaba, said Nigeria should look beyond oil and immediately commence the harnessing of its agricultural potential in order to save the economy from collapse.
He said that the essence of establishing universities of agriculture in the country was to produce needed manpower for the development of the agricultural sector.
He said that the state government had enunciated major policies and programmes to boost agricultural production and ensure food security.
Earlier, the Vice Chancellor of the university, Hilary Edeoga, thanked the Federal Government for releasing N2.7 billion to the school for the tackling of its “teething problems’’.
Mr. Edeoga said that the institution also received N500 million to facilitate the payment of allowances to its staff.
He, however, appealed to the government to approve the payment of the balance of the NEEDS Assessment fund and the allowance to the university.
A total of 17 graduands, out of the 1878, graduated in the First Class division.