Buhari was represented in the event by the Minister of states for Education, Prof. Anthony Anwuka.
He noted that the Federal Government is working hard to ensure best International practice in the education sector.
He urged Universities in Nigeria to intensify efforts aimed at attaining research breakthroughs in the new knowledge economy that will rely on brain workers so as to generate employment, wealth and prosperity for the people.
Buhari said, “In this day and age research that cannot be capitalized by the industry for the benefit of the people is as good as mere academic exercise. I wish to appeal to Lecturers who are still in the old idea of publish or perish to repeal their position, in the new economy, the slogan should be, publish, patent and produce, which enriches Universities and societies in other parts of the world.
“It is time for the university managements to change the narrative if they hope to remain relevant in the scheme of things, and also the issue of restructuring the curricular to bring them in line with the contemporary trends in other parts of the world.
“It is time for universities to join forces with reputable industry players to frame research topics that can solve the numerous problems which besiege the industries, for which these industries goes to seek answers abroad, creating jobs for people in those countries, which is an indictment in the research capabilities of the universities in Nigeria, that industries here continues to patronise their foreign counterparts for solution to their operational and logistics problems.”
He expressed happiness that a few Universities in Nigeria are bracing up with the challenges within the poor resources environment.
He commended the council, management, staff and students of University of Port Harcourt for the relative peace that has existed in the University saying that he is happy that the management of the university have not concentrated on giving only education to the students but also disciplining erring staff no matter how highly placed in the system.
“This should serve as a warning to the students and staff who may wish to disturb the peace of the University anywhere in Nigeria. Freedom without control is a call to anarchy, which is detrimental to the peace and progress of the university system.
“I am also happy to note that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has suspended its nationwide strike which paralyzed normal academic activities in the country for about three months.
“The Federal Government has shifted grounds to accommodate some genuine demands of ASUU, but it was quiet unfortunate that the union insisted on going for the last strike action. This at variance to the what ASUU stated aim of quality university education in Nigeria stresses,” he stated.
He stated that the Nigerian University system has under gone progressive transformation in the past four years of his administration saying that the result is the proof for all to see.
He said that Federal Government has released funds through the appropriate supervisory agencies for new structures, laboratory equipment, libraries and high impact research to the universities.
He said that Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), and the Need Assessment have done enough to improve University education in Nigeria saying that the result has been for the universities to enhance their capacities to deliver quality education to the students.
Earlier in his welcome address the Vice Chancellor of University of Port Harcourt , Professor Ndowa Lale appealed to traditional rulers and opinion leaders in the host communities to assist the University in onerous task of containing land speculators who he said randomly breach the statutorily recognised boundaries of the university.
He said that the management have been forced to go to court to claim some of the pieces of land encroached upon by the speculators.
He assured the school community and their host of their continued cordial relationship despite the avoidable experience.
He noted that the students have been impacted with discipline and right sense of living as they pass through the academic process.
He said that country’s near total dependence on oil amd gas resources at the expense of sustained human capital development has infected Nigeria with the dreaded ‘Dutch disease’.
A total of 9, 452 graduands were conferred with various degrees during the ceremony. According to records from the university, a total of 4, 681 graduands received higher degrees from the school of graduate studies for the 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 academic sessions, while 2, 971 candidates received the Master’s degree and 1, 329 received post graduate Diploma in various fields among others, during the ceremony