By Babajide Okeowo
President Muhammadu Buhari has challenged universities of agriculture in the country to bridge the gap of food insecurity and address the nation’s dependence on imported foods.
Buhari said this on Saturday, at the 10th Convocation ceremony of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike (MOUAU), Abia.He said the specialised universities must play their crucial role in catalysing the development of the agricultural sector, to help Federal Government achieve its goal of a sustainable green economy.
The president, who is a visitor to the university was represented by Dr Mohammed Abubakar, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, who said the government was looking up to the universities as lead drivers of the agricultural sector.Buhari, who admitted that Nigeria is currently facing challenges of funding, however, said that its endowments were far greater than constraints.
MOUAU Chancellor, HRH Alhaji Shehu Abubakar, commended President Buhari and the university management for the smooth running of the institution.
Abubakar, the Emir of Gombe, congratulated the graduands and urged them to be ambassadors of the university anytime.
He commended the university host communities for their cooperation and called on relevant government agencies to extend helping hands in alleviating problems hindering the fast development of the school.
Earlier in his address, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Maduebibisi Iwe, disclosed that the university was graduating a total of 6,606 students, with 4,115 belonging to the 2018/2019 academic year at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
Iwe, who is the sixth vice-chancellor, in his breakdown, said 5,817 obtained bachelor’s degree, 92 with postgraduate diploma, 454 had master’s degree while 243 were awarded a doctoral degree.
“Out of the 5,817 first degree graduands, 92 obtained first-class honours,,1775 with second class honours upper division, 2,905 had second class honours lower division, 1226 with third class and 18 with pass,” he said.
Iwe said the university had recorded many breakthroughs but called for a significant infusion of funds for the upgrade of its physical environment. The university conferred honorary degrees on four distinguished Nigerians in recognition of their positive contributions to society.
The awardees are : Oba Akeem Ogungbangbe, the Ajagbusi-Ekun VI Owaloko of Iloko-Ijesa, Osun; Alhaji Usman Kansila, Founder, UYK Nigeria; Dr Cosmas Maduka, Founder and Chairman of Coscharis Group and Mr Chika Ikenga, Founder and Managing Director of Eunisell.