Former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, is expected to deliver a major treatise on education and national development at the 41st convocation of the University of Nigeria on Thursday.
The Obasanjo Convocation Lecture came after similar ones earlier delivered by some distinguished Nigerians, including Lagos State governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, former Minister of Information and Communication, Prof Dora Akunyili, and the Country Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria and Managing Director of Shell Petroleum Development Company Nigeria, Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu.
An Israeli expert and President of Galilee International Management Institute, Nahalal, Israel, Dr. Josef Shevel, is also billed to speak on economic development based on education and higher education in Israel.
UNN Vice Chancellor, Prof Bartho Okolo, disclosed at a pre-convocation briefing that the Obasanjo lecture would be one of the highlights of week-long activities for the 41st Convocation.
The university would confer first degrees on 10, 243 graduands and higher degrees on 1,253 recipients. 94 of the graduands would receive First Class Honours, 2, 305 Second Class Honours Upper Division, 1,593 Third Class Honours and 858 persons unclassified certificates and diplomas.
He said that 170 persons would graduate with doctorate degrees, 892 with Masters Degrees and 191 with post graduate diplomas.
Okolo assured that UNN was making significant progress in its avowed “ambition to become a truly 21st century university that will enjoy international recognition”.
The institution he noted, has collaborations and linkages “with universities in every continent of the world” while its ranking among world universities and locally has continued to improve.
The UNN Vice Chancellor added, “In May 2011, the Executive Congress of UNESCO adopted our biotechnology centre and upgraded it to a UNESCO category 11 Biotechnology Institute- the only one of its kind in the whole of Africa. This feat was achieved after a keen competition that involved proposals, presentations and defence by universities from other African countries.”
Okolo said UNN was investing heavily in manpower development as well as replacement of ageing faculty. The institution had in the past one year sent about 30 staff overseas for doctoral programmes while it recruited 40 of its graduands with First Class Honours degrees. It is also offering tuition-free scholarships to academic staff pursuing doctorate degree programmes.
Okolo said University Management was also devoting considerable resources to developing infrastructure to meet the increasing demands on the institution.
He was grateful to various benefactors who had endowed programmes or sponsored the provision of facilities. These include the Central Bank of Nigeria which is sponsoring an N1.6b Institute for Financial and Capital Market Studies, and the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria whose $100m Shell-UNN Centre for Environmental Management and Control is nearing completion as is the Centre for Excellence in Vocational Technical Education.
On its part, UNN has built an International Scholars Village “dedicated to the accommodation of visiting researchers” and has commenced work on the construction of six new buildings for Personnel Services, Economics, Data Centre, an Administration Complex in the Enugu campus and Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences.