By Tony Adibe
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State has emphasised the need for Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) to re-invent and re-commit to its founding objective to engender development and transform the financial standing of the institution as a citadel of knowledge founded to drive global science and technology projects.
Governor Ugwuanyi said that the founding objective of ESUT which appeared realisable at the early stages of the University’s existence, when it earned accolades for fabrication of motor pistons, mace, computer panels and solar panels, seemed relegated subsequently.
Addressing guests at the 18th convocation ceremony of the University, on Saturday, Governor Ugwuanyi stated that in view of the alarming disparity in the cost of university education between public and private universities, inadequacy of government funding of public universities, and other challenges, the public universities which would survive and remain competitive are those that strategically explore and leverage alternative funding opportunities through research grants and earnings as well as economically rewarding projects and partnerships.
He advised that “ESUT, being a science and technology university should deploy her intellectual resources to fuel research and creativity and ultimately drive innovation of products and services,” stating that “this would attract huge income through patents and royalties to the University and complement government funding.”
Stressing that the power of technology and its propensity for revenue earning are phenomenal, Governor Ugwuanyi insisted that for ESUT to achieve the founding objective, the University curriculum must be functional and tailored to the true societal needs. He assured the institution of the support of the state government in this paradigm shift through enabling policy and legal frameworks.
He said: “This event is also an occasion to remind the leadership of ESUT that the world, including Nigeria, is going through one of the most difficult economic eras. This, in concomitance with the rising cost of education, has put the funding of universities in jeopardy.
“Furthermore, the capacity of parents/guardians to respond to the ever-increasing need for fees’ hike in public universities as well as the ability of government to continue to increase grants and subventions to public universities have also become inelastic.”
He lauded the new management of ESUT under the leadership of Prof. Aloysius-Michaels Okolie for rekindling hope, and for breaking the five-year jinx of convocation in the institution “by today’s event, the last ESUT convocation being in the year 2016.”
He expressed hope that the University would henceforth conduct annual and timeous convocation ceremonies.
Governor Ugwuanyi congratulated all the graduands of ESUT on their deserving degrees and rejoiced with parents/guardians who toiled and sacrificed to afford their children/wards the priceless gift of education and the most veritable equipment for life journey.
The governor also congratulated and appreciated the recipients of honorary degrees “for impacting the world on a scale and scope that earned you this outstanding recognition.”
He said that their individual track record speaks to their superlative performance in their different fields of endeavour, adding that “today’s award of honorary degree is not an end but a tonic to do more and an impetus to be part of making the world a better place.”
The awardees were Hon. Justice Chima Centus Nweze of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, who received Doctor of Law (Honoris Causa), the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Cubana Group, Chief Obinna Iyiegbu (Obi Cubana) who was awarded Doctor of Business Administration (Honoris Causa), and Mr. Michael Ikebudu of Human Resources Directorate, Brunei Shell Petroleum, who was also awarded Doctor of Business Administration (Honoris Causa).
Others were the Isagba of Ogwashi-Uku Kingdom, Chief Dr. Jude Ndudi Ozah, Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa), Sir Ike Nwokolo, Doctor of Public Finance (Honoris Causa) and Mrs. Agatha Obiekwugo, Doctor of Business Administration (Honoris Causa).
In his address, the Pro-Chancellor of ESUT and Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Nsukka, Most Rev. Prof. Godfrey Igwebuike Onah expressed gratitude to Governor Ugwuanyi who is the Visitor to the University, for “his commitment to funding and improving the condition of service of the staff of ESUT”, revealing that “through the Governing Council the governor has been faithful to his promises and the promises of the government.”
Delivering his address, the Vice Chancellor of ESUT, Prof. Okolie, welcomed and appreciated the presence of the governor at the event, pointing out that his fatherly role and wisdom have continued to direct and impact meaningfully on the growth and development of “the first University of Science and Technology in the country.”
The ESUT VC further appreciated Governor Ugwuanyi “for all his support and encouragement to keep ESUT in the global race for academic excellence”, revealing that “his (Ugwuanyi) non-interference in the administration of the university is a sufficient proof that he wants to enthrone objectivity, and level playing ground devoid of bias and nepotism in the University.”