POMP AND CEREMONY AS SOKOTO STATE UNIVERSITY CONDUCTED MAIDEN CONVOCATION – BY MOHAMMED MUSTAPHA
Education has largely been defined as the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university.Education is also the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, morals, beliefs, and habits. Educational methods include teaching, training, storytelling, discussion and directed research. The crux of attempting to define education is to underscore its tremendous importance in any society .
Any society that is bereft of education , all forms, formal and non formal is therefore doomed to fail . It will perpetually lag behind in the scheme of things in a state , country or in the comity of nations. Sequel to these reasons and myriad of others, governments at all levels, make strenuous efforts to establish various educational institutions, from basic to tertiary. They also routinely fund them adequately to ensure that they thrive so as to function effectively .
Sequel to the insatiable quest of the people of the state for education and excellence, the idea of establishing the Sokoto State University was conceived by the former Governor of Sokoto State, Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, Sarkin Yamman Sokoto, currently representing Sokoto North Senatorial District when he established the Sokoto State University Implementation Committee in 2008. The University was the end product of the committee .
It was in the bid to commemorate the establishment of the University that recently the drums were rolled out . All roads, indeed led to Sokoto , the Seat of the Caliphate and the legendary citadel of learning , both formal , non formal and Islamic, to have a date with history . Several events were successfully organized proceeding to the Grand Finale, the Day of the Main Convocation ceremony , Saturday, 13th March , 2021. In fact, the Institution is now a decade, two years and some days old .
These wide range of events that were successfully contucted included a Pre- Convocation Press Conference addressed by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Muhammad Sani Dangoggo. He stated that, the University that held its Maiden Combined 1st, 2nd and 3rd Convocation Ceremony, on the D-Day for the 2016/2017, 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 Academic Sessions . The University had successfully churned out no fewer than 1473 students, out of which thirty six had First Class Degrees .
The D-Day was also preceded by the Maiden Convocation Lecture delivered by no less important person than the Iconic and Prolific Number Two Citizen of Nigeria, Vice President , Professor Yemi Osinbajo. The Lecture had as its Theme:” Nigeria: Some Defining Issues For the Future.”
According to the Vice President, the ethnic , cultrual and religious diversities of Nigeria should be it’s uniting factor, and not a divisive one.
Osinbajo added:” Our various differences should provide more opportunities for us to be more united .” Nigerians must establish the culture of tolerance , as there is a Nigerianness binding us together.”
The Vice President also chided some enthusiasts of division who have been trying to mobilize the followership along religious and ethnic lines.
He lamented that, those pundits of division were largely hinging their obnoxious actions on the national cake that is drastically reducing .
Osinbajo also noted that, Nigeria was abundantly blessed with myriad of potentials, adding ,” we have everything it takes to provide for all Nigerians, including generations yet unborn, inspite of the various challenges facing the nation.”
On security, the Vice President stressed the need for Governors to be more committed to ensuring the arrest and prosecution of all perpetrators of crimes.He also said that, the time has come for the decentralization of policing in the country , with the states and the local governments as the focal points .Osinbajo further said that, there was the need to expand the capacity of the state to react to the large and wide ungoverned spaces in the country .
He lamented that, those ungoverned spaces that were hitherto more safer and secure were now soft targets of bandits and other criminal elements .
Osinbajo also recalled that, President Muhammadu Buhari, had while decorating the new Service Chiefs recently, challenged them on this disturbing trend ,among several other thorny issues issues .
He also spoke extensively on other criitical issues like Nigeria’s large population and how it can be changed into opportunities, rather than curses, as well as climate change and it’s impact.The Vice President further averred that, the University holds the keys to development not only in Sokoto State,but Nigeria, in general.
Osinbajo said:” The academic community has greater roles to play in finding plausible solutions to the various challenges facing Nigeria .” Yet, the future is bright and everyone has a role to play in defining the future of Nigeria.”He admonished the Graduands that, they were graduating at a difficult time when there are various challenges that are not peculiar to Nigeria, but urged them not to despair, as there were more opportunities in the outside world .He specifically eulogized the former Governor of the state , Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, for establishing the Institution and hailed Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal for sustaining the legacy .
The Visitor to the University, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, stated that, Osinbajo’s paper was apt and timely, as it had touched on very fundamental issues that were critical .Tambuwal extolled the humility and uprightness of the Vice President,saying ,” these issues are with us and we must find solutions to them.” We must not play politics with the issue of security , just as the issue of national unity is also very important.
The Sultan of Sokoto said at the event that, Osinbajo is a great orator, Professor and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria ( SAN), saying,” we will hear from one of the best and he is Internationally renowned.”
The Pro-Chancellor of the University, Engineer Bello Suleiman, said that, there wouldn’t have been any better person to deliver the lecture than the Vice President.He commended Gov Tambuwal for his sustained support to the University,saying,” he has shown responsibility towards supporting us at all times.”
The Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Muhammad Sani Dangoggo, also lauded Osinbajo for finding time to come to Sokoto, to personally deliver the Lecture , as well as commended the Sultan for his facilitation of the visit .Dangoggo also thanked Gov. Tambuwal for providing all the logistics,including all the finances .
On the Main Convocation Day, Sokoto city was also agog. The Visitor to the University, Rt. Hon. Amihu Waziri Tambuwal started: ” It is with deep sense of gratitude to Almighty Allah that I welcome you all to this all important event that is indeed, a celebration of academic excellence. I give special thanks to His Excellency, the Vice President, Yemi Osibanjo, GCON, for accepting to give the first convocation lecture of this University and for being with us to grace this occasion.
” We are grateful to other dignitaries from within and outside the country, who accepted our invitation to join us in celebrating this day. We join our children, our brothers and sisters, the pride of this great nation, and the administration of Sokoto State University to celebrate this landmark maiden convocation ceremony and installation of the University’s Chancellor, His Royal Highness Alhaji Dr. Nuhu Muhammad Sanusi, CON, the Emir of Dutse.
” Education remains the pivotal factor in achieving any meaningful development in every society, particularly in this age of enlightenment, when knowledge remains the driver of socio-political, technological and economic development.
” It is in line with this reality seethat education remains at the top of the priority list of this administration. Pursuant to our policy of a State of Emergency on Education since 2015, when we first came on board and in the current dispensation from 2019 to date, our budgetary allocation to education has never fallen below 26%. In 2016, we had a whopping 29% allocation to education above the UNESCO benchmark and ever since, we have maintained the tempo by ensuring sustained funding for the education subsector.”
According to Tambuwal, Funding coming from the education levy, through the concern and goodwill of political office holders and civil servants in the state and a handsome budgetary allocation to education, have greatly assisted in turning around the fortune of the subsector in the state.
Also, the construction in 2016, of Model Government Secondary School, Balle in Gudu Local Government, hitherto the only Local Government Area without a Senior Secondary School in Nigeria, has set the standard guiding the expansion of the education subsector in Sokoto State.
Tambuwal added:” The intention is to build 40 such model secondary schools in the state, while our agenda of building 160 new primary and secondary schools in the state has recorded more than 50% of accomplishment. These, coupled with the renovation of 1500 primary schools and 180 junior secondary schools clearly point to our commitment to the enhancement of the fortunes of the education at the basic and secondary levels.
” Indeed, this unprecedented expansion is meant to provide access to education, particularly to the rural areas and the disadvantaged groups. The creation of the Agency for Girl-Child Education by our administration is aimed at implementing policies that are designed to promote the education of girls in the State.
” Among other things, the Agency sponsored the training of the first batch of 250 female teachers at Shehu Shagari College of Education Sokoto, in addition to the recruitment of teachers and establishment of Girls Secondary Schools in various parts of the state. The Model Government Girls Science Academy in Kasarawa and similar Girls Secondary Schools are intended to provide equal access to education for women in the state.
” Our administration has not been unmindful of the problem of out of school children. The establishment of additional primary and secondary schools is aimed at providing access to education and thus addressing the problem of this category of children in the state.
” Associated to the problem of out-of-school children is the problem of street begging by school age children. The various steps taken and still being taken by the state and Federal Governments towards addressing the problem of Almajirci will be pursued regourousl.”Governor Tambuwal further noted that, the Sokoto State Government was very much aware of the many success stories recorded by the university’s staff and students within and outside the country.
According to him, just last year, despite the challenges associated with the Covid-19, the University beat other tertiary institutions in the State in a keenly contested debate competition. So far, its products have not only been able to favourably compete against their peers from other institutions in the country, but are making significant contribution to the nation’s socio-economic development.
He averred, ” Apart from many of its graduates serving in different capacities in the state and around the country, the University has produced a member of the Sokoto State Executive Council, in the person of Comrade Bashir Gorau, who is already making significant impact as Honourable Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development.
” On this note, I will like to enjoin the University Management to liaise with the Governing Council to facilitate the recruitment of students who attain academic distinction, particularly those who graduate with First Class, as is the tradition in the university system.On our part, we shall not relent in providing all the necessary support and encouragement the University may require to achieve its mission, in line with the dream of its founding fathers. And in addition to sustained funding and grants, the State Government has always responded positively to the other needs of the this institution.
” We have recently approved the payment of different allowances for the University Staff, with a view to raising their morale to deliver on their core mandate of teaching and research. The state government is willing to provide necessary funding for research, so as to lay a solid foundation for a knowledge driven polity in the State.The ongoing construction of the State University Teaching Hospital and allocation of a building to the University at General Murtala Muhammad Specialist Hospital are to facilitate the successful take-off of the College of Medical Sciences in the institution.
” Government has equally made a provision for the establishment of two additional Faculities in the University in the 2021 Budget. There has equally been a provision for the construction of an additional student’s Hotel and completion of Staff Quarters. Towards providing qualified teachers for our rapidly expanding primary and secondary schools in the state, the State Executive Council has approved the upgrading of the Shehu Shagari College of Education to a University of Education. Already, an advisory Committee is set up to advise the government on steps for the successful take off of the University.
” The State Government has equally provided land for the establishment of Federal College of Education at Gidan Madi in Tangaza Local Government by the Federal Government. We have already provided a temporary site for the College. While we commend the effort of the Federal Government for such a wonderful intervention, we look forward to the establishment of a Federal Polytechnic in the state, considering that ours is among the few States in the Federation without a Federal Polytechnic.
” I will like to, at this juncture, thank the Vice President, His Excellency Professor Yemi Osinbajo, His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar CFR, mni, my friends, State Governors and other important personalities for honouring our invitation to grace this occasion. To the Chancellor and other recipients of the Honourary Degrees, I heartily congratulate you for the investiture, which is in recognition of your service to the nation and humanity. We sincerely thank you for your selfless service to the growth of the University, the state and the nation as a whole.
” To the graduands, I congratulate you for the successful completion of your various programmes and wish you Allah’s guidance and assistance in your endeavours, as you joined the league of enlightened members of the global community. And where ever it is you find yourselves, do always remember, “it all begins here!” Tambuwal commended the former Governor of the state, Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko,for his foresight and vision in establishing the University.
Also soeaking at the cereony, Kebbi State Governor, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, commended the Sokoto State University for the conferment of Posthumous Honorary Degree to late Marafan Sokoto, Alhaji Umaru Ali Shinkafi.He said that,the gesture was not in anyway miscplaced as the late Marafan Sokoto was an epitome of humility, scholarship, piety and patriotism.
He added : ” Let me join her excellency on behalf of Marafan Sokoto family in thanking the University and the visitor, the governor of Sokoto State, Rt Hon Aminu Tambuwal for the magnanimous recognition and award of the Posthumous degree to late Marafan Sokoto, Alhaji Ali Shinkafi”, he said. Bagudu noted that, the University has proven its mettle ,, saying, ” I am hereby directing the State Ministry of Higher Education, to liaise with the Management of the Institution and brainstorm on how Kebbi State Government can advance more support to it.”
Responding shortly after receiving the Honorary Degree on behalf of her late Father, Alhaji Umaru Aliyu Shinkafi, his daughter, Dr. Zainab Bagudu Shinkafi, the wife of Kebbi State Governor said that, the deceased was a firm believer of the desire to fully develop Nigeria.
‘ Marafa is a firm believer in the power of education to transform the development of our dear nation’, she averred.Accoridng to her, he was also committed to the educational development of Nigeria, especially the education of the girl child .Dr Zainab Shinkafi Bagudu announced the endowment of a N5 million naira to the Faculty of Arts and Islamic Studies of the University, under the Umaru Shinkafi Education Endowment Foundation.
The Wife of the Kebbi State Governor also announced a N250,000, Prize for the best graduating student in Arabic and Islamic studies, Political Science , as well as N 250,000, Prize,each, for the best female graduating student in Basic Sciences and Microbiology in order to promote girl child education as well as to develop Science engineering technology and medicine.Dr.Zainab Shinkafi Bagudu on behalf of the entire family of late Marafan Sokoto, expressed gratitude to University of Sokoto for the honor bestowed on her late father ‘ We are humbled and delighted beyond words for the award to late Marafan Sokoto’, she said.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, thanked Wamakko for establishing the University,just as he lauded Tambuwal for sustaining it to its present enviable position.The Sultan also appealed to the Management of the Institution,to among other things, set up the Faculty of Sokoto Caliphate Studies, to broaden the study of the myriad of literature written by the Founders of the Sokoto Caliphate,over 200 years ago.He also commended the university for the Posthumous award of honorary degree to late Marafan Sokoto, Alhaji Umaru Ali Shinkafi.
The Chancellor, Dr Nuhu Muhammad Sanusi, Emir of Dutse, said, ” I must congratulate Your Excellency for investing handsome resources in the educational future of your people.” The good people of Sokoto State are well assured that, contemporary and future generations stand to benefit from your vision, dreams and commitments in availing great educational opportunities to our youth .”
The Pro-Chancellor, Engineer Bello Suleiman , lauded Sokoto State Governor for sustaining the adequate funding of the University, averring,” he has shown extreme passion to ensure the successful conduct of its academic activities’.
Meanwhile, the Emir of Dutse, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi, was invested as the Pioneer Chancellor of the University, while he was also conferred with an Honorary Degree of Letters ( D. Litt.).In the same vein, the pioneer Pro-Chancellor of the University,the late Marafan Sokoto,Alhaji Umaru Aliyu Shinkafi, was also conferred with a posthumous Honorary Degree of Law(LL.D).Similarly,the Iconic Business Mogul, Alhaji Abdul Samad Rabi”u, Chairman of BUA Group, was also conferred with the Honorary Degree of Science ( D. Sc.) by the University.
Also responding on behalf of the BUA Group Chief Executive Officer, the Managing Direcror, Engineer Yusuf Binji,said,” I am proud to have received the Degree on behalf of my Chairman.” He is committed to the bolstering of educational development of Sokoto State and he has a renewed zeal, to contribute to the construction of the proposed Faculty of ICT.
” This will help in greatly bridging the infrastructural deficit in the Institution. I am also commending Gov. Tambuwal and the good people of Sokoto State for being grateful hosts.” I must also acknowledge the sustained support and tremendous goodwill of the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, towards the BUA Group.”The contributions being rendered to the Sokoto State University by Mutawalle Administration have tremendously assisted it to reach its current level.
Hon Commissioner for Higher Education Prof. Bashir Garba, MFR stated this in his vote of thanks address at the Combined 1st 2nd 3rd Convocation Ceremony of the University.The Commissioner thanked all those who contributed in one way or the other toward the success of the occasion.
In fact, it was incontestible that, history was tangibly chronicled, when penultimate week, the Sokoto State University successfully commomerated its establishment , twelve years ago . The University is still soaring to greater heights , it came , it saw and its conquering . Congratulations SSU, fly high and fly higher.
Mustapha is a Sokoto-based Journalist.