President Bola Ahmed Tinubu revealed over the weekend that the Federal Government is actively working on reinstating the policy of full autonomy for universities.
Speaking through the Minister of Niger Delta Development, Mr. Abubakar Momoh, during the 48th convocation ceremony of the University of Benin, President Tinubu affirmed that this shift will empower individual institutions, and streamline performance accountability.
The proposed policy aims to grant universities greater autonomy, allowing them to develop at their own pace as determined by their councils and senates. This move is seen as a strategic approach to liberate institutions from external bottlenecks and bureaucratic hurdles.
President Tinubu assured the public that the current administration is dedicated to formulating sustainable policies that will endure beyond its tenure. He highlighted the belief that university autonomy is a positive step toward fostering excellence in service delivery within tertiary institutions.
In his address, President Tinubu stated, “University autonomy, no doubt, transfers the responsibility of performance directly to the individual institutions rather than the current state of uncertainties.” He emphasised the administration’s commitment to repositioning tertiary institutions and the education sector for optimal service delivery.
Acknowledging the concerns arising from months of unpaid salaries for university staff, particularly during the eight-month industrial action, President Tinubu announced a four-month salary payment to mitigate the impact. This gesture, however, does not negate the government’s ‘No Work, No Pay’ policy.
The President reaffirmed the government’s commitment to enhancing welfare conditions in universities, citing ongoing efforts through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) to provide essential infrastructure. He encouraged staff and students to leverage on these improvements for increased productivity.
President Tinubu urged education policy makers and universities to adapt policies to accommodate diverse youth populations through specialised skill acquisition programmes and internships. He stated the multifaceted responsibilities of universities, including research, technological breakthroughs, skills development, and fostering moral values.
Commending the University of Benin for its contributions, President Tinubu expressed optimism about the institution’s potential to reach new heights. He pledged his administration’s commitment to transforming higher education, positioning institutions to compete globally.
At the convocation ceremony, honorary degrees were conferred on notable individuals, such as Dr. Kayode Adegbulugbe, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki, and Mr. Gbenga Olu Komolafe. Adegbulugbe was recognised for his contributions to the Nigerian oil and gas sectors.
In response, honoree Gbenga Olu Komolafe highlighted the importance of societal recognition and encouraged the youth to contribute to national development. Former Governor Babatunde Fashola urged graduands to view their degrees as a service to society, emphasising the commitment of honorees to the University of Benin.