Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), has called on the Federal Government to finance the operations of private universities in the country through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund).

He noted that the incorporation of private universities among recipients of TETFund grants will help private organisations, churches and established individuals who have ventured into the sector to further contribute to the development of the nation’s education sector.

Akeredolu made this call while speaking at the 12th and 13th combined convocation ceremonies of the Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo State where he was conferred with honourary degrees alongside Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Revd Henry Ndukuba, and Retired Archbishop of Lagos Province Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Revd Ephraim Ademowo.

This institution also conferred undergraduate, postgraduate and diploma degrees on 2,851 students including 85 who finished with first class honours and graduated from the school in both the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 academic sessions.

Akeredolu, while responding to the call made by the Supra Diocesan Board (West) Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Revd Joseph Akinfenwa, on government funding of private universities, said: “TETFund is education tax that is collected from everybody. I believe every institution must enjoy it.”

He further urged institutions of higher learning in the country to be relevant by producing problem-solvers and not just certificate holders.

The governor bemoaned the hollow repetition of outdated and inapplicable theories which are taught in tertiary institutions, noting that such theories can only produce highly certificated citizens who lack the capacity to solve basic problems, adding that “we live in a period when the interventions of true intellectuals are needed to illumine darkened paths.”

While noting that inadequate funding may be adduced as a factor militating against qualitative education, Akeredolu said there has been a “disconnect between the social realities and the pretentious emptiness served as diets of instruction.”

The governor said: “Any institution of higher learning or research centre whose focus is not on these practical means of coming out of doldrums betrays its mandate.

“They must enlighten us about the concept of federalism. We must know the limits and responsibilities of states as component units in a federation.

“We should be certain of the meaning of a constitution as the basic law of a democratic country. There must not be doubts as regards political ideas such as sovereignty, legitimacy, rights and duties of citizens.

“They must educate the people to understand why all authorities must be subordinate to the people and civil service must be made to actualize this objective.

“Our centres of research and learning must be ready to come up with innovations on how best to plant our food and feed our people. We must depend on our children to fix our roads, hospitals and secure the land.

“Certificates are mere evidence of participation in a process. They do not necessarily bear testimonies to capacity. The disturbing reality which finds expression in the presence of a multitude of unemployed graduates in an underdeveloped country should be a source of deep anxiety.”

Earlier in his address, Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of the institution, Dr Wole Olanipekun (SAN), averred that no nation of the world can be at peace when its youths are unemployed.

He further stated that the high unemployment rate casts doubts on the hope that youths will constitute the bedrock of the future, warning that a situation where youths and their able-bodied parents are unemployed portends a great danger to the country and urged the government to address the worrisome situation before these youths transfer aggression against not just the system but also the citizens.

Olanipekun said: “There is an imminent danger ahead unless we realistically address this troubling and worrisome situation. No nation can be at peace with itself when both its teeming youths and middle-aged population are wandering and roaming aimlessly in the unemployment market. There is much-transferred malice and aggression arising from this pitiable scenario.

“While Nigerian youths are leaving the country in droves, in search of the proverbial Golden Fleece, the fact remains that it is only a tiny proportion of them that can be accommodated in foreign countries, while a majority of them would be here with us in Nigeria, reminding us of the reality of our predicament. At this stage, we would also be pretending to be sleeping, but with our two eyes open.”

The vice-chancellor of the institution, Professor Timothy Adebayo, said he is optimistic that the graduands will contribute meaningfully to the social and human developments of the country.

“Though unemployment and limited career opportunities for graduates continue to be a big concern for all the stakeholders, our graduates have been equipped with the relevant skills, and we trust that they are competent, and can find their feet in the globally-competitive employment-search markets,” he said.

Prof Adebayo further urged the graduands to look for opportunities beyond their disciplinary boundaries, adding that “what you received here is education. Irrespective of your disciplines, you have been trained to think productively and you are mentally emancipated to surmount challenges that may confront you in your world.”

While Akeredolu was conferred with an award of Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa), Revd Ndukuba was conferred with Doctors of Divinity (Honoris Causa), and Revd Ademowo was conferred with Doctors of Letters (Honoris Causa) of the university.