MATRICULATION ADDRESS PRESENTED BY PROFESSOR FRANCIS OGBONNAYA OTUNTA, VICE-CHANCELLOR, MICHAEL OKPARA UNIVERSITY OF AGRICULTURE, UMUDIKE, ON THE OCCASION OF THE 26TH MATRICULATION CEREMONY OF THE UNIVERSITY ON FRIDAY, MARCH 22, 2019.
I humbly wish to express my gratitude to the Almighty God for His grace for bestowing on us life and good health that has enabled us to assemble here for me to deliver this speech and welcome you all to this 26th Matriculation Ceremony of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike. I am highly honoured to see this arena filled to this enviable capacity. My joy is premised on the fact that despite several distractions, academic activities nationwide had commenced in earnest, giving room for our youths to be trained on skills that would enhance their performances in different endeavours that would add value to our national development. It is on record that just as administrative activities was picking up after the industrial action embarked upon by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) for enhanced salary status and other conditions of service, the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU) which had conditionally suspended an earlier industrial action on 14th September, 2017, resumed an indefinite strike on the 4th of November, 2018. ASUU embarked on the strike following Government’s failure to implement the agreement reached with the Union in November, 2016. This agreement bothers on issue of improved funding of Universities, and infrastructural development. The Union’s position was aimed at repositioning the nation’s Universities for global relevance. The business of Universities was disrupted nationwide as a result of this industrial action. Fortunately, the strike was suspended on the 7th of February, 2019, and the business, academic is booming in earnest across the country.
2. STUDENTS ADMISSION
For the 2018/2019 academic session, a total number of five thousand six hundred and forty six (5646) were admitted to pursue different programmes in Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (MOUAU). The total quota allowed by Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) for the University for this academic session is four thousand three hundred and fifty (4350). Out of this number, a total of four thousand and sixty nine (4069) gained admission in the distribution of three thousand seven hundred and forty five (3745), for normal admission, and three hundred and twenty four (324) for Direct Entry admission. This figure is grossly inadequate based on the teaming population of candidates seeking admission into the University.
The shortfall in the total number of admission seekers into the University was caused by the delisting of some courses in some Colleges. This was in compliance with a directive by the National Universities Commission (NUC) that specialist Universities should revert to their core mandate in establishment of programmes. It was for this reason that Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike was constrained to offer only agriculture-based courses. Unfortunately, most of the departments affected in the delisting exercise were those that are highly subscribed for by candidates in Joint Admission Matriculation Board admissions. Apart from this constraint, another frustrating factor was a series of conditionalities by JAMB in which candidates who applied for the 2018/2019 admission into any Nigerian University were to upload their O’Level SSCE result to JAMB portal. So many candidates that lacked knowledge of this new development missed the admission already granted them by the University.
In the meanwhile, the admitted students have registered, undergone orientation process, commenced lectures and matriculating today, 22nd March, 2019.
3.Matriculation ceremony marks the formal admission of
Students into the University and the conferment of certain rights and privileges. It is an annual ritual through which students are acquainted with the system operatives and familiarization of the University environment and history. Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike is one of the three Federal Universities of Agriculture in Nigeria established to accommodate the drive towards national food security and rural development in addition to providing functional education in a range of science-based disciplines in order to make their graduates self-reliant, job and wealth creators. The institution is located in the well-known Agricultural Training and Research city of Umudike, about ten kilometers from Umuahia, in an axis along Umuahia/Ikot Ekpene road. Umudike and other host neighbours are agrarian communities. This brings to fore the role of the University as one specializing in agriculture and related programmes. The University is rapidly evolving as a centre of excellence where training, research and community service for the achievement of National development goals and global relevance are emphasized in an atmosphere that promotes social cohesion and responsible citizenship.
4. The University as a community has certain rules and
guidelines aimed at orderly conduct and peaceful co-existence of its citizens. It is a mixed society. A society of people of diverse tribes, race, cultures and creed. Man as a social animal has the tendency to associate and interact with others. A person’s character is moulded through the influence of the character of others. This is the reason why you must be discreet in the choice of your friends. Avoid those who are not focused and who exhibit evidence of lack of parental orientation. Be not deceived, evil communications corrupt good manners (1Cor. 15:33). University life is far different from Primary and Secondary school days’ life. Then, your social life was strait-jacketed within the purview of parental direction. University life has a lot of freedom, as an average undergraduate is presumed to be an adult capable of self-control and ability to take decisions independently. However, this freedom is exercised within the ambits of the regulations governing the University.
5. The University has no other business than that of
learning, teaching, research and other activities intended to foster values which make for good citizenship. The duty of the lecturer in an academic community is to research and teach, while the students learn. This is a symbiotic activity in which the creative genius of the student is provoked by impartation of the skills and knowledge garnered by a lecturer through research. This makes it expedient for the student to take his or her lecture sessions serious. An ideal student should be attentive to grasp all instructions given out by the lecturer. He should be prepared to take notes during such sessions, for future reference and refreshment of his/her memory. The student should also get prepared ahead of time for examinations to avoid the temptation of examination malpractices. Examination is an academic exercise through which a student’s scope of understanding and his dexterity is tested for promotion to a higher level. This makes it a serious business in the University culture. No University will ever condone examination malpractices. That is why culprits are always sanctioned to serve as deterrent to others.
6. This University operates its business within the context
of global best practices. Management is employing all known techniques to ensure it becomes a world-class University. An average University is a knowledge industry that transforms insipid people into jewels found worthy in character and learning. For such excellent products to be churn out, the production processes and materials must be according to specifications. That is the reason this University has zero tolerance for cult activities and other anti-social behaviours. Cultism is a social menace that has eaten deep into the fabrics of the society. This informal grouping has become a breeding ground for criminal elements. Those who kowtow to their sects do unleash havoc in the society in obedience to superior orders. No parent would be proud to be identified with a child society tabooed as a cultist. So, to make your parents proud, face your business in the University squarely. No matter the coloration of their activities; cultism is evil. The Bible says, there is no peace for the wicked. Without peace, you can never achieve your aim for being in the University. A rape of the rudiments in your academic progress would jeopardize your status in the society, in the long-run. For instead of honours, it is dishonor. Shun cultism. Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike has no space, no place, I mean no tolerance for cultists and cultism.
7. A University should be a community of decency and
moral decorum. It should not be a society of rascals or a hub for arts of prostitution. It is a virtue for the female folk and even the male, to dress modestly. Moving around half-naked in the name of fashion makes one a temptation. Immodest dressing exposes one as a prey for rapists and other sexual abuses. A lady is not judged by how sexy she looks, but by her good characters. The University has a dress code. Management had just resolved that every student should hang his or her identity card to be able to be distinguished from touts who come into the University in dissimulation with a motive of influencing the chaste orientation of students. Most students are culpable of sexual trade tagged “runs” indulged in either for pecuniary interest or practiced to hoodwink lecturers into award of underserved marks. This is illicit: A certificate obtained under false pretences has a repercussion, as the person would not be able to defend its value when the need arises. You are not just here to be prepared as employable entities after graduation, but for the inculcation of fundamental values which make for good citizenship.
8. A father rejoices when his child is of good behaviour
and sound reputation. To encourage such good behaviour, the father would strive to put all motivational measures in place to ensure the child does not deviate from such righteous course. The Management of this University has never lacked in zeal to provide infrastructural facilities and amenities to create a conducive environment for both learning and teaching. As a father, I am proud of you, for scaling through the huddles of academic competitions in your Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board examinations by gaining admission into this University. I have not lost focus of my vision of making the University an educational institution of choice for nurturing professionals, fit for the world of work, and to make it a model University of Agriculture which ranks among the best in the world and is responsive to the creative and innovative abilities of the Nigerian people in food and fibre production. That is why the curricula for all programmes are well structured. The courses are rich both in scope and content, and are designed to bring to fore the creative genius in you to enable you maximize your potentials. Even the lecturers are crops of professionals willing to impart skill and knowledge to you through well-researched topics. Therefore, your duty is to avail yourself of such a unique opportunity by regular attendance of lectures.
9. I want to encourage you to face your academics
squarely and not give room to the devil. Management will enforce all the academic and administrative rules of the University in order to ensure the production of quality graduates. This is an ivory tower. You were admitted here to be refined both in character and creative ability that would improve the technique of performing specific tasks thereby increasing the efficiency of your personal and societal efforts. The activity of acquisition of knowledge requires high deal of concentration. For this reason, I implore you to shed off some illicit attitudes that you brought from your various homes like hazardous use of psychoactive substances and other vices inimical to conducive learning environment.
10. I wish to conclude this address by expressing
gratitude to the parents of the matriculating students who in their capacity saw education as better legacy to be bequeathed to their children. For an average parent, this is a task that requires lots of sacrifices. An ideal student should not allow the sacrifice to be in vain. The University has no stringent rules that are difficult to observe. The rules are academic regulations and rules of residence that would make life meaningful for your stay in the University. They are premised on the scriptural rule that stipulates; do not do unto others what you shall hate to be done unto you. This is natural and logical. For if you would not want to be hurt by others, strive as well not to indulge in any act that may hurt others. Simplicity in inter-personal relationships cannot provoke hurt. Be reminded once again that Management maintains zero tolerance to cultism. Do not fall victim of Management’s drastic measures. Shun all acts that would be inimical to your peaceful process to graduation.
Once again, I welcome our matriculants and wish our
visitors a safe return to their destinations.
Francis O. Otunta Ph.D, PHF, FNAFE, FIIA, JP