The Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has charged university graduates in Nigeria to shift attention from white collar jobs and embrace agriculture as a means of stemming the tide of unemployment.
The Governor stated that the present economic situation has shown Nigerians the need to encourage farming as the only alternative to crude oil.
Aregbesola gave the charge while addressing a gathering during the 6th convocation ceremony of Fountain University, Osogbo.
He noted that there is no aspect of life that can do without agriculture, saying Nigerian graduates must henceforth stop searching for formal jobs that seems to be no longer in existence.
The Governor called for productivity, resilience and hard-work among Nigerians, stressing that the present nation’s economy demands one to be self-employed.
According to him, there is no other alternative to sustain our economy than for us to build the required interest in agriculture and brace up with anything that can promote food production capacity.
Aregbesola held that Nigerians must, as a matter of urgency, invest in things that would prevent farming in the next five years if truly the nation was ready to overcome her present economic challenges.
Lamenting on the dwindling revenues from the crude oil production, Aregbesola said unless the country sees the need to promote agriculture, efforts to bring back the dwindling economy may be gloomy.
“There is need for us especially our young graduate to lead the nation in promoting agriculture as the only realistic surviving alternative to economy.
“We must not but embrace farming because it is only agriculture that has direct links to all aspects of life.
“Nigeria has grown to the stage through which her food production capacity must be urgently expanded to meet the general needs of the citizenry and as well enhance exportation.
“The time to enhance productivity has come. We must all embrace productivity. We must produce whatever we desire to consume”, he added.
Congratulating the graduating students, Aregbesola charged them to adapt to the virtues they acquired in the institution.
He called on them to get prepared for the challenges ahead and life after university which he described as “challenging”.
“You must all prepare the challenges ahead especially at this period of over saturated tendencies of labour market. You need grim determination to succeed. You must be rational and critical in the application of the knowledge you have acquired”.
He used the occasion to appeal to those who are using the precious and reputable name of Islam to perpetrate violence, saying “violence is directly antithetical to Islam.”
“All hands must be on deck to end terrorism in the country as the act is tantamount to the tenets of Islam.”
Earlier in his lecture, Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, charged both private and public organisations in the country on the need to invest more in education.
He said the country has gone to a stage where education should be seen by all as a bedrock for national development, hence calls for the need to encourage participation in both basic and higher education.
Prof. Rasheed the Executive Secretary, National University Commission, NUC, said all hands must be on deck to promote tertiary education.
He implored stakeholders in the private and public institutions in the country to as a matter of necessary rescue the nation from her present education backwardness by establishing more universities in the nooks and crannies.
The Guest Speaker said Nigeria is the only country in Africa with presence of minimum university compared with her population, saying “we need more universities if we want to compete favourably with our counterparts in the comity of nations”.
Speaking on the low level of university education in Nigeria, Prof. Rasheed attributed most of the challenges being faced by higher education seekers in the country to what he described as “abysmal inadequate number of the universities in the country.”
According to him, the endowed Nigerians need to be encouraged on the need to invest hugely in education by establishing more universities across the length and breath of the nation.
He added, “If truly we are ready as a nation to improve on our education standard and compete competently and effectively with our counterparts in terms of technology, science and other aspects of human life, thus, we must not fail to improve on our university system.
“We must see education especially university education as the only way through which the nation’s challenges could be tackled and solved because it is only an educated nation that can ply successfully through the present worldly challenges.
“Once we have enough universities, then the issues accompanying university admission would be a thing of the past because most of our children who found it difficult to be enrolled at the universities are doing so because the nation lacked adequate universities that can accommodate the population of the admission seekers.
However, Prof. Rasheed said National University Commission has been working tremendously to review most of the curricula of the existing universities by making them more flexible, competent and interesting so as to attract more participation in view of enhancing national development.
“We have strived harder to upgrade the academic qualities and standards of our university system as we are developing policies that would help to move university education forward”, he stressed.
Prof. Rasheed said the Commission would not relent in ensuring that universities in the country take their proper roles in promoting the required quality and standard in university education.
He therefore called on the management of the existing universities in the country to do the needful by improving on their admission criteria so as to accommodate better and achieve an improved university participation and enrollment.
In his remarks, the Acting Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Abdullateef Usman called for better funding of university education.
He said the country can only develop if proper attention is given by all towards the provision of quality education.
Prof. Usman called on government to further invest in education saying doing this would save the country and as well serve as panacea to economic growth and development.
According to him, as much is expected to be done by governments at all levels on improving the standard of university education just as there is need to encourage better funding.
“Our governments must do more in educating citizens who are expected to pilot the future affairs of the nation.
“If we really want to develop capacity in quality education and churning out graduates equipped with required virtues, thus no stone must be left unturned in ensuring better and adequate funding.
“The governments are expected to do the needful by earmarking better funds to support education both in terms of academic infrastructures and finances.
Prof. Usman, who congratulated 128 graduating students, implored them to multiply the virtues acquired in the university as they enter the new world of challenges.