It is with great pleasure and gratitude to God that I welcome you all to another great day in the life of the Benue State University, Makurdi as we gather for the 16th and 17th Combined Convocation Ceremonies of the University.
2. Let me acknowledge and salute the vision, courage and commitment of the founding fathers of this great institution, particularly former Governors Fidelis Atahiru Makka and the late Very Rev. Fr. Moses Orshio Adasu as well as all my predecessors for conceiving, establishing, and nurturing it to become a Centre of Excellence today.
3. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, this event is remarkable. I feel highly delighted not just because it is my first Convocation outing as the Executive Governor and Visitor to the University. It is also because my dear wife, Dr. Eunice Erdoo Ortom is among the graduands. It is significant that the occasion is the first under the incumbent Vice Chancellor, Professor Msugh Moses Kembe and the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, Professor Zacharys Anger Gundu while for the Honourable Chancellor, His Royal Highness, Justice (Dr.) Lawal Hassan Gummi (rtd), Sarkin Mafara Gummi, this is the second Convocation he would be presiding over.
4. On assumption of office on 29thMay, 2015, I made Education one of my five points agenda and since then we have taken deliberate steps to place the sector on the front burner. For Benue State University in particular, despite the economic recession in the country, my administration has remained faithful with staff of the University through prompt payment of salaries. I, therefore, make bold to say that Benue State University is the only Government institution that is up-to-date in terms of salary payment. However, we are yet to pay arrears for earned and academic allowances that have accumulated. We are working hard to address the issue. We will continue to ensure that the university and its staff are on our first line charge.
5. My administration’s continued support and timely release of funds to the University has positive results. At least seven academic programmes of the institution have received accreditation. Full accreditation of the College of Health Sciences has resulted to the graduation of four sets of Medical Doctors in quick succession.
6. This deliberate approach is aimed at creating a conducive learning and teaching environment devoid of interrupted academic activities and above all, ensuring that the lofty objectives of establishing the university are realized. This will also enable the University to continue promoting the core values of producing qualified manpower thus making it a Centre of Academic Excellence equal to any of its contemporaries in the country.
7. Today, I am happy that this approach is not misplaced as the University is turning out12,388 graduands including four honorary degrees awardees at this occasion. Let me, therefore, seize this opportunity to congratulate all graduands especially, my dear wife who has been conferred with degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science. The Honorary Doctorate Degrees of Letters are conferred on:
- His Lordship, Bishop Dr. Athanasius Atule Usuh Former Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Makurdi
- His Royal Highness, Alhaji (Dr.) Abubakar Ibn Umar Gabai Al-Amin El-Kanemi, GFR The Shehu of Borno
- Chief Mike Okibe Onoja, CON A retired Federal Permanent Secretary and Astute Politician
8. To the other graduands, I urge you all to go out there and use the knowledge acquired in school to conquer the challenges of life. You must prove to be true ambassadors of Benue State University by exhibiting exemplary behaviours wherever you find yourselves. Be innovative and creative. Let us move our emphasis from productive to knowledge economy where the new engine that propels economic growth in advanced countries. Wealth now comes from our brains and thinking and not from the soil.
9. The honorary degrees recipients are distinguished sons of Nigeria. Your awards are well deserved; in recognition of your many years of meritorious service to humanity and fatherland. By virtue of your new status, you have become major stakeholders in the Benue State University, and it is expected that you will make meaningful contributions to its development.
10. Distinguished invited guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, the greatest challenge confronting education and other key sectors in the state is funding. Government is aware of this and is making every effort to address it.
11. I, therefore, urge all stakeholders in the Benue State University project, spirited individuals and corporate bodies to join me in thinking out of the box to tackle these challenges. On our part as Government, we will continue to support Benue State University and indeed the education sector within the resources available to the State. Government has now embraced the concept of Crowd Funding. We have approved the establishment of Benue People’s Education Project (BePEP). This crowd funding is to mobilize resources from various sources to be used strictly for education development in Benue State.
12. My address will not be complete without appreciating the Honourable Chancellor for the fatherly role he has brought to bear on the proceedings of the University. I would like to also commend the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council with his members for providing good and purposeful leadership in repositioning the university. You have free hand to ensure that BSU is able to fully achieve the goal of its founding fathers. Also to be acknowledged is the Vice-Chancellor of the University and his management team for their efforts, dedication, and commitment to duty. Let me salute staff, student and the entire university community for their tremendous support to my administration.
13. The recent Conference on herdsmen and farmers’ conflicts organized by the University is further prove that the institution is alive to its responsibility and the sensibility of the people. We believe that the relevant authorities will implement the recommendations of the conference.
14. Security agencies must also brace-up to the responsibility of disarming those who possess weapon illegally. Be they herdsmen or farmers and arresting and prosecuting those who commit atrocities. The provision of security for life and property in the state will continue to remain our priority as we sustain collaboration with the conventional security apparatus of the state. We call on our people to help in the task of intelligence gathering.
15. The position of the Benue State Government on this major challenge remains the establishment of ranching as a permanent solution to incessant attacks with the attendant monumental losses. Going forward, we must explore appropriate resources including planting of special grass to feed our cattle in ranches. Ladies and gentlemen, regulation of herdsmen, enforcing ranches is the only solution for the current Nightmare.
16. Finally, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I cherish the spirit and unity of purpose in the onerous task of moving the University and indeed the entire state forward.
17. Once again I congratulate the graduands and wish all of you God’s blessings in your future endeavours.
18. God bless you all.
19. In God we trust.