Today marks a remarkable day in the history of this young university. As we install our first chancellor and graduate our first intake of students at this maiden convocation, the Federal University Lokoja can indeed be said to have completed a full circle and so, truly come of age. From this point on, this university is poised to advance with giant strides and take its rightful place in the comity of tertiary educational institutions in our great country, Nigeria. We give gratitude to the Almighty God for making this day possible and we extend our appreciation to our proprietors, the federal government of Nigeria, Chief Innocent Chima, first pro-chancellor and members of the governing council which he led, Professor Abdulmumini Rafindadi the first vice-chancellor and the administration that he led, senate, congregation, officers as well as staff and students of the university, for their contributions in making this day a reality.
Let me therefore, very happily, on behalf of the governing council of the university, which I chair, commence by congratulating our chancellor, HRH Alhaji (Dr.) Muhammadu Ibn Abali Muhammadu Idriss on whose shoulders providence has placed the titular headship of this institution. We are encouraged by your antecedents, royal pedigree, amiable personality and informed stance on issues of local and international relevance. And so, we remain firm in our belief that you are already one of us and that you will give us the right leadership and guidance. Next, I extend council’s felicitations and great joy to the grandaunds, the very first set ever, who will formally be leaving this university today, having received an education that is appropriate to their respective disciplines to enable them contribute substantially to human development. Council urges you to use this foundation to continually improve yourself, bring honour to your university, make Nigeria a better place for all and advance the course of humanity.
Our establishment as a university in 2011 by the federal government of Nigeria in this confluence city of Lokoja, the cradle of the country, the origin of its history, a foremost centre of the nation’s educational conquest, and undeniably, the imprimatur of Nigeria, did not come by accident. It followed, among others, a conscious realisation of the need to extend tertiary educational opportunities with all their appurtenances to the people of central Nigeria. While thanking the federal government for this bold initiative, we announce, with a deep sense of responsibility that on our part, we are not oblivious of the obligation that is contingent on the assignment given to us to serve as the governing council of this great university with tremendous promise. Accordingly, in this unique position that council finds itself, it will superintend over the affairs of the university to emerge as a world class tertiary educational institution with universally accepted best practices in all aspects of its pursuit of creativity, knowledge generation and exploitation in order to be globally competitive. Additionally, the university will be supervised so that its scholarly and professional activities will have their strongest bearing and impact on the local community. Thus, the Federal University Lokoja will educate, inform and enlighten people from all races of the world and contribute substantially to improvement in their quality of life, with particular orientation to the people of central Nigeria.
Our dear chancellor, I am pleased to declare that work has already commenced in this direction. The vice-chancellor of the university, Professor Angela Freeman Miri, a woman of immense drive and energy placed before the reconstituted council at its inaugural meeting on 24 March 2016, her plans for tackling the huge and complex challenges of converting this university into a foremost global academic institution, the kernel of which was the movement of the operational base of the institution to its permanent site in Felele. Council approved the plan as our current site in Adankolo precludes further expansion and compromises our desire to enhance teaching and learning infrastructure, create new faculties and departments and expand student intake and community services. But the resources – financial and otherwise to achieve this is huge and cannot be expected to be derived from our proprietors, the federal government of Nigeria, alone.
Happily, council is invigorated by the response the university received at a recent one-day strategic meeting it held with friends of the university, including illustrious sons and daughters of our host state, the confluence State of Kogi. At that consultation, state governors, high ranking government officials, revered royal fathers, respected traditional rulers, seasoned academics, industrial moguls and business magnates all offered their friendship, support and resources. While thanking them for their promise of backing the institution, council wishes to reiterate that what the university seeks is a reciprocal and mutually beneficial relationship with them, in which, the university, as an important regional and national asset and component of their communities, works to improve the welfare of society and they all, in return, support the university to satisfactorily carry out its multiple functions. In the same vein, today we go one step further by launching an Endowment Fund to which I urge you all to commit your support. There is no better, quicker, easier and surer way to develop the Federal University Lokoja than through this partnership for progress and I urge everyone to be steadfast and to take their commitment seriously.
Mr. President and Visitor to our university, let me now welcome you in a very special way to this groundbreaking event. Along with you, Mr. President, may I also welcome the Honorable Ministers of Education, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission and the Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund. My council believes that you established the Federal University Lokoja for the common good and as an institution from which the nation and its immediate community should benefit. To be able to fulfil this mission, the university must carry out its multiple and complex functions satisfactorily. In fact, it is in doing so conscientiously that the institution acquires the fame, visibility, recognition, admiration and capacity that makes it a globally acclaimed university on the one hand, and one that positively affects the course of affairs in its locality in a profound manner, on the other. However, as determined as the university is to achieve this outcome, it is being hampered by lack of appropriate resources. May I then, call on government to review the current level of funding for this university and indeed for all the twelve new universities of its vintage. An upward review is necessary, Mr. President, to enable us to quickly establish ourselves in the execution of the onerous responsibilities before us.
Finally, I welcome and thank everyone here for setting aside all other commitments and for keeping a date with our university. We do not take your patronage for granted and we wish to assure you that we will work assiduously to maintain your confidence. May the Almighty God lead you safely back to your respective destinations.
Nimi Briggs, OON.
22 October, 2016.