Stakeholders in the education sector, including the Chancellor of the Precious Cornerstone University (PCU), Ibadan, Bishop Francis Wale Oke, have called on the Federal Government to extend the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) to private universities.
They averred that support from TETFUND is essential in a bid to engender equitable development of the education sector in the country.
Bishop Oke and others made the call during the PCU second Convocation Ceremony for the Award of First Degrees and conferment of honorary doctorate degrees on some outstanding personalities at the Olaogun Campus of the university in Ibadan, on Saturday.
This, according to the key education stakeholders, would serve as an impetus to encourage the private universities to make greater impacts and have a better sense of belonging in the Nigerian project.
The chancellor, who is also the President of The Sword of the Spirit Ministries, said his joy knew no bound and thanked God for the celebration of the second convocation ceremony of the institution.
The cleric recalled that, in the past five years, the university had witnessed tremendous progress evident in the quality of graduates that were turned out by the institution.
He said graduates of PCU were seasoned in academics, fear of God and practical training in their chosen entrepreneurial fields.
“We nurtured the vision of PCU for 11 solid years, praying, working and planning, with the guidance of the National Universities Commission (NUC).
“By the 17th of December, 2018, we obtained our license to operate the university, but we waited for 11 years. You may ask me why. We wanted to operate in a credible manner with integrity.
“Even though we had the facilities, we decided at the board meeting that we were not going into operation illegally.
“Today, we had the second convocation ceremony and we are glad to welcome you. The university made a stride in the scientific realm.
“This university discovered and produced a COVID-19 vaccine and processed its patency with the NAFDAC.
“The first Vice-Chancellor of this university (who is outgoing) is an erudite scientist and a First Class scholar.
“This university is noted for zero tolerance for cultism, promiscuity and vandalism. We teach our students to fear God and take their academics seriously; it is a faith-based university.
“Of course, there is no interruption in our academic calendar. These stand us out.
“So we want parents and guardians anywhere to send their children to this university and we will give them room to excel in academics and moral.
“We don’t want to produce intellectual crooks and thieves but we want to produce people who are sound mentally and morally.
“I want to admonish the government of Nigeria to please invest in the youth as a matter of deliberate policy.
“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, all the distraction is over. Please, make it a top priority, not just to appoint the Youth Minister. We appreciate and commend you for that.
“Please, invest in the youths. Invest in their education and in creating employment and enabling environment for them. The youths are restless; they want to do something.
“If government at the federal, state and local levels make deliberate heavy investment in the youths and give them enabling environment, we would stem the tide of brain drain.
“Our people are leaving the country at a very alarming rate and those countries are picking our best in medical, the best in science, the best in education and the best in engineering to develop their economy, taking advantage of the situation in Nigeria.
“Make the nation attractive to Nigerian youth. They are scared of insecurity. They are scared that there is no job and they are scared of a situation where One Dollar will buy One Thousand Naira.
“Federal, state and local government, invest deliberately in the youths. Let’s stop harassing them. Yes, there is end to EndSARS, but the police is still harassing them. This has not stopped.
“Then, let the public, private enterprises join by investing in the youths. That was why PCU was set up,” Bishop Oke said.
Asked about what the government should do to support private universities, the Bishop said, “I know there is TETFUND and other funds.
“I am of strong conviction that TETFUND should be extended to private universities. The private universities are doing a lot. You heard the Vice-Chancellor speak.
“Private university is not a profit-making venture. 30 after a university has started off, they are still investing in it.
“We need the Federal Government to extend the largesse they are giving the public universities to the private universities.”
He lauded the PCU Board of Trustees, its Governing Council, the Council of the Sword of the Spirit Ministries and the Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Professor Julius Kola Oloke and his team for their outstanding performance and support.
Bishop Oke urged the graduands to remain focused and to reflect always on the experience that they gathered within the course of their studies.
He added that they should impact the society positively with the knowledge gained in their various fields of study.
In view of the godly virtues and trainings impacted to them, the Pro-Chancellor advised them against the get-rich-quick syndrome that has become prevalent.
Chairman of Council, in his address said, “When God made it possible for this university to take off, five years ago, we were convinced that He will accomplish that which He started. Today, we are all witnesses to the great wonders and workings of our God.”
He commended the Vice Chancellor for confronting the challenges of pioneering a university, saying he had judiciously used “his God-given and endowed academic and administrative experience to make a mark and impact the institution.”
To the graduands, he said: “To whom much is given, much is expected. Never take for granted the solid academic training you have received and harmonious relationship that you have developed with God.”
In his address during the ceremony, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Julius Kola Oloke, acknowledged the support given to him and his team by the proprietor and Visitor; Chairman of the Board of Trustees and members of the Board for their commitment to the development of the university.
He urged the graduands to face life with courage and trust in God that they can make it under any circumstances.
In her valedictory address, Mojolaoluwa Oluwatimileyin Salami, overall Best Dtudent who graduated with First Class Division in Economics in the 2023 academic season, expressed appreciation to God, the parents and the management and staff of the institution.
Salami said: “My sincere appreciation goes to all the staff of PCU, especially my lecturers in the Department of Economics who tutored me and helped me to be who I am today.
“Also, I appreciate my wonderful parents, Mr. and Mrs. Owolabi Salami and my siblings for their unending support. God bless you all!
“My fellow graduating students, I say a big congratulations to us all. The journey of a thousand miles has finally ended; four years of training development has come to an end.
“We have closed this chapter of our lives by the grace of God and we are starting a new phase of life.
“I want us to know that graduation is not an end itself; it is a part of the larger journey of life.
“Life is a journey and all accomplishments we achieve during this course should be taken as starting points for further achievements.
“Our graduation should serve as a launching point. As the motto of the institution says, ‘Let there be light,’ let’s go into the world and take up kingdoms, nations and territories wherever we are shining the light of Christ in all we do and making PCU proud.
“As we all know, challenges are inevitable in life but Thomas Edison once said, ‘Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to try one more time.’
“Therefore, let’s not give up in the journey of life. To all current PCU students, know that it takes discipline, diligence, determination, direction and dedication. Keep focused and you will get there.
“Finally, I want us all to know that success cannot be achieved without God. Our relationship with God would determine how much we succeed in this life and the life to come (3 John 1 verse 2).”
With the PCU Pro-Chancellor at a press conference held at the university Conference Hall were his wife, Rev. Victoria Tokunbo; Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council of the university, Dr Samson Adebayo; incoming Vice-Chancellor, Professor Timothy Adejumo; and two Governing Council members of the university, Elder Wole Okunola and Bishop Oladapo Ogunsola.
Five of the graduands made First Class in the Faculty of Management Sciences; 14 made Second Class Upper Division; 15 had Second Class Lower Division; while 5 made Third Class.
In the Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences, five made First Class Honours, 16 made Second Class Upper, 32 made Second Class Lower, while eight made Third Class Division, all totalling 100.
In the Department of Economics, Oluwatimileyin Salami, Esther Adeniyi and Ayobami Eleshinla made First Class, while in Accounting, Inioluwa Awe and Oluwadamilola Olurotimi made First Class.
In the Department of Natural Sciences, Deborah Odunola, Chinazaekpele Chiduma, Ememobonglecinta Bassey and Ayanfeoluwa Aremu, made First Class.
Oluwatimileyin Salami won the prize for Best Graduating Student overall, with about 11 other prizes.
Those awarded with honourary doctorate degrees are Chief Sampson Olukayode Taiwo, Ayokunnu Ibukun Ojeniyi, Debo Adayo (a.k.a Mr Macaroni) and Olaoluwa Ayobami Adegoke.