Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo and Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode on Thursday commissioned the new Senate Building of Lagos State University (LASU), expressing optimism that the ultra-modern edifice would go a long way in enhancing academic activities and positively changing the landscape of the institution.
Osinbajo, who delivered the 23rd Convocation Lecture of the university before inaugurating the Senate Building, also said time had come for African countries to invest more in education to lift the people of the continent out of poverty.
Speaking on the theme: “Africa Centres of Excellence in African Universities: A Veritable Catalyst for Nation Building and Development,” the Vice President also said that time had come for universities in Africa to be at the fore front of building research and collaboration to find lasting solutions to the myriad of challenges confronting the continent.
“So what do we need to do to convert our country to the greatest Centre for innovation and creativity in the world? Three things: number one education, number two education and number three education. The truth is that education is the most powerful force for socio economic change in the world. The UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report and the Education Commission’s Learning Generation Report provides important evidence on the impact of education on individual’s earnings and economic growth”, Osinbajo said.
While expressing Federal Government‘s commitment to continue to collaborate with the Universities to play up education of the people, Osinbajo said this has become imperative owing to the fact that education remains the most important force to global change.
He said through improvement in learning and quality education, Nigerians could be lifted from abject poverty, just as he also emphasized the need for more premium to be placed on girls’ education.
Speaking earlier, Former Ghanaian President, John Dramani Mahama, who chaired the Convocation Lecture, urged African universities to move away from the colonial system of education and focus on science and technology to engender growth and development of the continent.
He said universities must provide visionary leadership and have academic autonomy, while political institutions must also avoid interference with the running of academic institutions.
He said for African universities to set the tone as African centres of excellence, there must be adequate funding, while they must also collaborate with each other in terms of multiple campuses for different specializations in different countries.
“African universities can help bridge the gap created in African countries by focusing on science, technology and innovation which can be the catalysts for the development of Africa,” Mahama said.
On his part, Governor Ambode said it was gratifying to note that LASU was now well-positioned to be among Nigeria’s leading universities and a proper citadel of learning and character development.
Recalling some of the challenges the university was contending with in 2015 when his administration came on board such as backlog of unreleased results, low government subvention, infrastructure deficit, incessant industrial and student conflicts, among others, Governor Ambode said on assumption of office he immediately embarked on some reforms which today turned the story of the university around for good.
He said aside from amending the laws of the university and embarking on massive upgrade of infrastructure, the government also selected individuals with experience, dedication and a track record of remarkable leadership to lead the Governing Council, adding that the development changed the narrative of the University.
“Today, there is an atmosphere of peace and industrial harmony in LASU. The backlog of results have been cleared and our students are graduating every year; stepping out in flying colours, armed with qualifications, character and ideas to change the world.
“Our government increased the subvention for LASU and also amended the laws governing the Institution especially regarding the tenure of the Vice-Chancellor and making LASU a residential institution.
“We have embarked on an extensive infrastructural development which has entailed upgrading the network of roads within the institution and installation of street lights. In line with our efforts to transform LASU, our Government embarked on various projects to add to the infrastructural landscape of the University: The new Senate Building we are commissioning today; a project started by my predecessor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN); A new Students Arcade, An Ultra-Modern Central Library, The New Faculty of Management Sciences Building, and LASU Homes,” he said.
He said the Students’ Arcade which was at 75 per cent completion stage had already been fully paid for, while work on the Central Library was at 60 per cent completion stage and would be completed by the end of the year, as well as the new Faculty of Management Sciences and construction of 3 prototype blocks of Lagos Homs Apartments at the LASU staff quarters.
Also, the Governor said it was equally gratifying to note that 6000 bed student hostel initiated by his administration was on course to be delivered through a Public Private Partnership (PPP), while other initiatives have been implemented in the education sector, including the Ready.Set.Work project.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, the education of our youths is imperative. It will shape the future of our nation. As the State’s Number 1 tertiary institution, we have tried to give LASU the right attention it deserves. This is one of the reasons why I made it a point of duty to attend all the Convocation Ceremonies of this institution since we came into office in 2015.
“Asides what we have done in LASU, we have initiated programmes to prepare our youths for the challenges of this era; to enable them have a good mix of theoretical and practical knowledge to fit into life after school. One of such programmes is the ‘Ready, Set, Work’ Initiative for all final year students of Tertiary Institutions in Lagos State.
“Three years down the line, the ‘Ready Set Work’ initiative is already yielding the positive results we desired, with over 30,000 students trained through the face-to-face and online academy. Over 3,000 students have gotten internship placements with leading corporate organizations and the enthusiasm of our students to be part of this programme has grown from year to year. I am very confident today that our youths and graduates are ready for work and ready for innovation,” the Governor said.