The seventh convocation of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), which recently saw to the graduation of 14,769 students, including its pioneer PhD graduate, Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo, was a beautiful sight to behold as the university practically brought to the fore its highly-cherished academic culture, writes FELIX KHANOBA.
In many ways, the seventh convocation of NOUN will remain indelible not only in the annals of the institution but also in the entire Nigerian University System.
Apart from producing 14,769 graduates at once, the highest to be recorded by any university in the country, the convocation saw to the graduation of eminent Nigerians, including popular actor of the ‘old masquerade’ fame, Chika Okpala, also known as Chief Zebrudaya Okorigwe Nwogbe alias 4:30, as well as former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who bagged PhD in Theology.
Obasanjo, whose presence attracted heavyweight politicians like Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, Senator Andy Uba, former Niger State governor, Babangida Aliu, among others, in his characteristic jovial gesticulation, led other graduates in a procession to the convocation arena to the thunderous applauds of spectators and well-wishers.
The event, which also witnessed the presence of several Vice Chancellors and highly respected educationists from far and near, was a beautiful sight to behold as graduating students decked in their charming convocation attires, severally held the audience spellbound with ecstatic outburst of emotions as the various deans of faculties took turn to announce their worthiness, both in learning and in character, to receive degree certificate from NOUN.
The magnificent buildings that line across the massive expanse of land that play host to the national headquarters of NOUN also took many first time visitors by surprise.
Speaking at the event, the visibly elated Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu, said the ability of the university to graduate 14,769 students at once was not unconnected with its taking over of data management from the overwhelmed external vendors.
He said the recent amendment of NOUN Act by the Senate would further catapult the institution to a greater height as more students would be attracted to the University.
“One of our outstanding developments in 2017 was the passage of our amended Act at the Senate on 6th July 2017. You may recall how the Council of Legal Education has refused to admit NOUN law graduate into Law School to be called to the Bar.
“With the amendment of our Act, this should subsequently pave the way for law students to be admitted to the Law School, as well as participate in the National Youth Service Corps.”
The visitor to the University, President Muhammadu Buhari, who expressed delight over NOUN’s exploits, said the institution has lived up to its expectations.
Represented by the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, Buhari said government would continue to accord NOUN graduates due recognition to buttress the fact that they are not inferior to those from conventional universities.
“There shall be no discrimination in terms of employability and opportunity for graduates of Open and Distance Learning (ODL) programmes to pursue higher degrees either in conventional universities or the ODL setting,” he said.
The convocation, which was heralded by lecture delivered by erudite scholar and Vice Chancellor of Igbinedion University, Okada, Prof Eghosa Osaghae, also provided an avenue to deliberate on the burning issue of restructuring that has continued to raise dusts in the nation’s polity.
Osaghae, who spoke on the theme, ‘Restructuring and True Federalism: Nigeria in Perspective’, however called for caution, postulating that restructuring the present system would not be a magic wand to address the nation’s woes.