President Muhammadu Buhari, said this in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital on Saturday during the 22nd and 23rd convocation of the University of Uyo.
He was represented by the Minister of State for Education, Prof. Anthony Onwuka. He noted that historically, universities have always been known to be research centres for the advancement of civilisation.
Buhari said the government has been supporting research in all the institutions of higher learning in the country.
He said that the inability of some nations and their institutions to play a significant and leading role in the global competition for technological and scientific research was the major cause of their underdevelopment.
The president said that Nigeria cold not afford to lose any part of the country through secession, dismemberment or any other process, adding that the elite and political class also have a role to play in healing and reconciling the nation.
“I am tasking our universities to conduct research and come up with empirical solutions for this national problem which is plaguing and even threatening our continued existence as a country today.
“Historically, it is the tertiary educational institutions, notably the universities and similar institutions, that have generated, through research, the greatest amount of knowledge for the advancement of the present world civilisation.
“At present, all the scientific and technological developments the world has witnessed today are research-generated, research-supported and research-sustained.
“This explains why the Federal Government has supported research in all ramifications in our universities. Through TETFund, the FG has made more than N3bn available for scholarly and high impact researches,” Buhari said.
Earlier, Gov. Udom Emmanuel, of Akwa Ibom, who was represented by his deputy, Mr Moses Ekpo, charged universities to key into science and technology to advance the course of mankind.
He said that was why the Akwa Ibom Government allocated enormous resources to sustain its free education policy to ensure conducive learning environment for our children.
“As the new graduands receive their academic laurels today, I challenge Nigerian universities, especially University of Uyo to be guided by the reality of the 21st century, which is technologically driven.
“Inasmuch as liberal science remains defining block of understanding of our social relationship, we should begin to tailor our curriculum around the area of science and technology as the world today is being served by ideas and ideas create wealth.”
The Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Enefiok Essien, said despite the difficulty the university was passing through, it has been able to produce graduates that have won laurels at national and international levels.
He said that given the commitment of the present government to prudent management of the nation’s resources, it was hoped more money would be found to fund education.
“It is my expectation that some of the funds saved through prudence in the running of government would be channelled into the revitalisation of education in the country to bring our level of funding to UNESCO’s minimum of 26 per cent of annual budget.
“It is my earnest desire and wish that Nigeria’s university education should be revived to a point where nationals of other countries will be coming here for learning as it was in the early 1960s, 1970s, and even up to early 1980s.”
The combined convocation witnessed the distribution of certificates to 8,012 graduates with 22 students bagging first class honours.
Three prominent Nigerians, Alhaji Muhammadu Indimi, the executive chairman, Oriental Energy Resources, Mrs Ime Essien Udom and Mr Kevin Onuchukwu were awarded honorary degrees.