ADDRESS BY THE VICE CHANCELLOR, UMARU MUSA YAR’ADUA UNIVERSITY, KATSINA, NIGERIA PROFESSOR IDRIS ISA FUNTUA ON THE 2ND CONVOCATION OF UMARU MUSA YAR’ADUA UNIVERSITY, KATSINA, 25th MARCH 2017

It is with gratitude to Allah that I welcome you all to the 2nd Convocation Ceremony of Umaru Musa Yar’adua University (UMYU), Katsina and the investiture of our own Alhaji (Dr) Umaru A. Mutallab, CON as the Chancellor. The last Convocation, which was the maiden, was in February 2013 in which the first four sets of graduates of 2008/2009, 2009/2010, 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 sets were awarded degrees. Today, we are assembled here for the second convocation ceremony and to confer degrees on another four sets including postgraduates for the 2012/2013, 2013/2014, 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 and an honorary degree on the Chancellor, Alhaji (Dr) Umaru A. Mutallab, CON.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, upon my appointment and resumption as the Vice Chancellor, opportunity was presented for past sweeping changes to take UMYU to greater heights. This opportunity is from the enormous potential of UMYU that can be seen by everyone, and certainly this is not present in most other similar institutions. Within the period of less than two years we have carried out reforms in both our academic and administrative functions to enhance and perfect service delivery. Such reforms in the academic include review of the curriculum, changes in conduct of examination and other forms of assessment of students, result processing, introduction of e-learning modules, training and re-training of academic staff and thrust in research with increase in access to research funds and other opportunities.

Due diligence exercise was carried that brought out changes in the appointment and promotion guidelines for the academic and non academic staff, regulations governing the appointment of senior staff, policy for staff training and development and reorganizations in the Registry, Bursary and other service units of the University.

Your Excellencies, our academic programmes have been expanding as the University commenced with 3 Faculties, 13 Departments and 26 programmes and presently, there are 5 Faculties, 21 Departments, 35 undergraduate and 21 postgraduate programmes.

The last two years has witnessed an increased activity at the Postgraduate level with approval and commencement of M.Sc. Biology, M.A. English and Postgraduate Diploma in Information & Records Management (PGDIRM), M.Sc. Economics, and M. (Ed) Educational Management.

All our 35 academic undergraduate programmes have full accreditation status from the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC). This is an enviable record and we intend to maintain it.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, with two sources of funding for staff training and development namely the Staff Training Development (STD) and Tertiary Education Fund (Tetfund), UMYU have an impressive record of sponsorships for study fellowships, workshops, seminar and conference attendance resulting in large improvement of quality of staff. From 2007 to date a total of 210 and 130 were sponsored for Masters and PhD degrees respectively. Total expenditure for study fellowship was N1,417,898,136.89 consisting of N788, 474,372.28 from STD and N629,423,764.61 from Tetfund. The expenditure for workshop, seminar and conference attendances amounted to N354, 874,177.34 with equal contributions from STD and Tetfund over the same period.

With these levels of funding 174 have completed Master degrees and 51 have completed PhDs. Challenges of high exchange rate and the access of foreign exchange slowed down our fellowship programme and brought hardship to our fellows as their stipends dwindled down despite palliative measures put in place to assist them. We have now lined up 119 staff in training (20 Masters and 98 PhDs) for sponsorships over the next two years with a different strategy that may include joint awards with partner Universities.

Your Excellencies, the University from its inception noted the important role of energy towards the socio-economic development of the people of Katsina State and Nigeria in general. This prompted the quick establishment of the Centre for Renewable Energy Research in 2009 barely two years from inception of the University. A lot has been achieved. The Centre houses a pilot 50m3 biogas digester for domestic cooking and public institutions for demonstration and further research activities, a wind-solar hybrid power generation pilot system with the potential for deployment in rural off-grid power supply and many other applications. There are also active research projects of concentering solar power (CSP) with fuel cell storage backup and that of coal briquettes in collaboration CNES, Niamey and University of Maradi, all in Niger Republic.

The Energy Centre is also the lead agency for an EU project on sustainable development of farm agroforestry and fuel wood conservation system in North Western Katsina State, under the farmer managed renewable energy production initiative. The following achievements have been made under the EU project:

  • Planting of 2 million trees in 6,200 farmlands across the 5 LGAs with total coverage of more than 30,000 hectares.
  • Establishment of 300 nurseries across the 5 LGAS
  • Training of more than 6,000 farmers on various models of agroforestry practices.
  • 500 youth and women from 25 CBOs and cooperatives from the 5 LGAs have been trained on Non-Wood Tree Product processing techniques.
  • 250 local porters have been trained on production of the improved mud wood stoves
  • Establishment of mud stoves production centres at the LGAs with total capacity to produce 10,000 mud stoves per annum.

We are very grateful to EU for given us another opportunity to serve our community with this high impact project.

Ladies and Gentlemen, in a renewed research effort towards Research and Development, within one year a total of 33 research projects were funded to the tune of N54,353,614.00 and the research areas range from mathematical model of recent development of commutavity of rings in mathematics to the literary (songs) works of Barmani Choge.

Your Excellencies, in addition to the very good infrastructure provided at the establishment of the University, the last three years witnessed the execution of forty two projects under Tetfund (normal intervention, special Intervention), Needs Assessment and Katsina State Government. Thirty six of these projects are completed and in usage with the remaining six near completion. We consider ourselves a success story in what has been achieved so far. One of our prides in UMYU is a robust ICT infrastructure, which over the years have benefited from assistance on several occasions from Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

Your Excellencies, towards enhancement of internally generated revenue to supplement the government provisions, UMYU Consult is revamped and made to be more businesslike and already we have started seeing good results, UMYU Microfinance Bank is licensed and fully in operation, UMYU Press was similarly established and fully working. A Service Station for petroleum products is to be constructed and operated in the Campus in a public partnership arrangement and all these are additions to the already established training services rendered by the Consultancy Unit.

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, today we are presenting a total of 4,129 graduating students from four sets, who will receive degrees and postgraduate diplomas, having been found worthy both in character and learning. 4,027 are first degrees, 46 are postgraduate diplomas, 105 are Master degrees and one is a PhD. There are 54 first class among the graduands.

I extend my congratulations to the graduates, their families, and friends.  You have worked hard and accomplished much.  You have a great deal to look forward to, as many interesting and gratifying opportunities await you and I wish you the best of luck.

The advice to the graduates is to stay optimistic.  Things like getting a job or starting a career may take longer time than expected most especially in the present economic situation we find ourselves but usually things have a way of working out. 

Again, everything around you may seem static but in reality things are changing too fast, many may be planned but many others occur as accidents.  It will pay, therefore, to be creative and open-minded as you search for and consider opportunities.  Look most carefully at those options that will give you a chance to learn new things, explore new areas, and grow as a person. 

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to use this opportunity to call upon all our stakeholders to show more interest backed by commitment to add value in this our near success story. There is still more work to be done and we will keep on raising the bar to keep up with anticipated expectations of our people. Our stakeholders should not just onlookers and leave the State Government to shoulder all the responsibilities of funding this University.

We are grateful to Emeritus Professor Munzali Jibril for the eloquent delivery of pre-convocation lecture; it was timely and calls for reflection and action to re-direct the affairs of UMYU.

Our appreciation goes to the Chairman and members of the Governing Council that directed the policies of the University, the Senate members for working hard in bringing needed changes in our academic mandate, the staff of the University for Understanding and commitment to work. The contributions of the two earlier Vice Chancellors, Professors Abdullahi Mustapha and Mu’atasim Ibrahim is highly commendable especially for successfully going through the rigours of establishing and developing a young university.

The University is indeed grateful to the Visitor, His Excellency, The Governor of Katsina State for the continuous engagement, understanding, assistance and guidance.

Even with the current economic climate our Visitor makes us feel special by meeting our requests whenever made. We are indeed grateful Your Excellency.

On a final note, we want to thank you all for gracing this occasion and we want to thank each and every one that has one way or the other assisted towards holding this ceremony.

Thank you all

Professor Idris Isah Funtua

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