President Muhammadu Buhari has urged stakeholders in Nigeria’s education sector to continue to toe the path of dialogue in resolving the crises that have led to frequent strikes, disruption of academic activities, with a view to finding lasting solutions to them for unfettered development.

The president made the call in his address as the Visitor to Federal Polytechnic Nasarawa in Nasarawa State during the school’s 10th Combined convocation ceremony held on Saturday, 18 June, 2022.

The school also conferred its honorary fellowship on 6 eminent Nigerians.

Expressing concern over the negative effects of such strikes, however, the President admitted that some of the demands by the lecturers were genuine.

He said, “Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I have noted with great concern, the increasingly frequent disruption to education access due to incessant strike actions by academic and other Polytechnic workers. No doubt some of your demands are very genuine, but the overall effects of strike actions usually have heavy negative consequences.

“As the Visitor to Federal Polytechnics, I have received the Draft White Paper Committee Report on the Visitation Panels to Federal Polytechnics. The final White Paper would soon be made public after completing the necessary administrative processes. Let me assure you that this administration will, very soon, come up with modalities of addressing your grievances so that we attain stability and balance in the system.

“Our resolve to address the decay in the system is not in doubt, just as our collective resolve as a government and a people to move the system forward is unwavering. We invite you to come up with meaningful suggestions that will add value to the system.

“It is my belief that exchange of views and ideas will assist us in arriving at mutually acceptable solutions to most of our today’s problems in the educational sector. I, therefore, call for continued dialogue and consultations among all the stakeholders in the system.”

Representative Of The President At The Occasion

While congratulating the graduating students, staff, parents, and sponsors for the achievement being celebrated by all, President Buhari charged the graduands to use the skills acquired in the course of their studies to better their lives on the one hand and to serve humanity on the other, charging them to be good ambassadors of the institution both in character and learning.

“It is pertinent to state that the motto of this Polytechnic is ‘Learning, Technology and Service’. I, therefore, enjoin you all, to use the skills acquired in the course of your studies to better your life on the one hand and to serve humanity on the other. You should always be mindful that the degree you are being conferred with today emphasise both character and lea ‘ng. You are therefore expected to be a beacon in Society displaying impeccable character traits to serve as good example to the younger ones. You would all agree that it is high time our youths eschewed greed and untoward behaviour that can destroy their future. No nation can rise above the quality of its cultivated citizens,” he said.

The president noted with concern that the fact that a larger proportion of the Nigerian population are youths is a clear indication that Nigeria has a lot of potential and that the growing population will require adequate preparation to ensure that they have access to quality and timely education.

“That explains the commitment of this Government to invest time and resources in the provision of massive infrastructure across the country. These infrastructure will enhance provision of jobs and improved services across all sector of the economy,” he said.

Buhari, who stressed that what is needed is manpower that drives development, urged the graduands use the skills learnt to establish themselves as entrepreneurs by keying into government interventions being administered by some agencies instead of waiting for white collar jobs that may not come handy.

He said, “Distinguished graduands, I charge you today, to utilise the skills you have acquired to venture into the entrepreneurial field, which is prevalent even in the international realm. Instead of waiting for white collar jobs which are increasingly becoming scarce, create businesses and be the employer of labour.

“Government through its agencies such as the Central Bank of Nigeria, Bank of Industry and other social intervention schemes provide resources to budding entrepreneurs. I urge you to utilise and maximize such opportunities. There is the enduring need to produce manpower that does not only have the capacity but also the readiness to drive our national development; manpower that is not only employable but also has sufficient knowledge-based preparation and creative capacity to employ itself.”

Tasking the institution on innovations and inventions that could bring out competitive product that meet international standards and appeal, the president who urged the staff, students, and other stakeholders to cooperate assure that government on its part was committed to ensuring that conducive environment for learning is provided.

Representative Of The President (left) Presenting The Institution’s Honorary Fellowship To Nasarawa State Governor, Eng. AA Sule

The president enjoined all state governments to render support and encouragement to our polytechnics and other institutions situated in their various domains, urging them to consider such support as a direct support to the value of education in the state, while pledging that the federal government through Tertiary Education Trust Fund [TETFund] would continue to provide intervention funds to all public tertiary institutions in Nigeria for development of human capital.

Urging the managements of the institution and other polytechnics in the country to find alternative ways of lessening the funding burden on goverment President Buhari encouraged FEPONAS authorities to embark on viable research projects that would facilitate the exploration and exploitation of the vast solid mineral deposits in the state for the benefits of the community, the state and the nation at large.

“It is apparent that, the issue of funding to our Polytechnics remains a major challenge for both government and management of our Polytechnics. Indeed, the challenge extends to the entire education sector. It is no longer feasible for Government alone to shoulder the overall cost of running public institutions. We must collaborate and synergise.

“I am also aware that Polytechnics, through training of skills manpower, can ease the challenge of unemployment in our nation and I urge to give this more priority. As a Polytechnic situated in Nasarawa State —the ‘Home of Solid Minerals’ – I wish to encourage the institution to tap the resources and opportunities domiciled at its door step by embarking on viable research projects that will facilitate the exploration and exploitation of the vast solid mineral deposits in the state for the benefits of the community, the state and the nation at large.

“This government has already established additional three new federal polytechnics in Kano, Abia and Delta states and is making arrangement to establish more in remaining states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory where there is no federal Polytechnics before the end of my tenure in Office,” he said.

Touching on the security situation in the country, the president said, “I must not end this speech without calling your attention to the issue of insecurity in this country today. Lack of access to education due to unsafe school environment and attacks on educational institutions has led to loss of learning time and increase in out-of-school children.

“Educational institutions should take the security of their staff and students seriously. The issue of security is the responsibility of all of us, therefore, report any suspicious movement and action of anyone around you to the law enforcement agencies. Vigilance is the key to absolute security, when you see something say something.”

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