President Muhammadu Buhari has described the National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN, as the best and only solution to the challenges of admission into conventional universities in Nigeria.
Mr. Buhari was speaking Saturday at the seventh convocation ceremony of NOUN held at its headquarters in Abuja.
“Open Distance Learning is the best alternative to the challenges of gaining admission into the universities in Nigeria,” the president said.
“All the conventional universities cannot admit more than one-third of qualified candidates annually. But we are happy that, in line with global education, open distance learning, ODL, being run by NOUN will soon completely eradicate the challenges of admission into universities.”
The president, who was represented by the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, NUC, Abubakar Rasheed, also reaffirmed that the federal government would accord due recognition to NOUN graduates.
He said there will be no discrimination between ODL and conventional universities.
The president also congratulated former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who bagged a Ph.D. in Christian Theology.
“Let me congratulate former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. You are indeed the father of open distance learning in Nigeria,” he said.
He also congratulated other 14, 770 graduates and urged them to be good ambassadors whereever they may find themselves.
In his remarks, Mr. Obasanjo explained the rigours of academic life he went through at NOUN.
“I understand that there is no age limit, no status limit and no social barrier to education.
Before I started from the beginning, I told everyone concerned and the university that, I should not be given any special treatment.
“I carry my bag like any other student. I carry my books like any other student and did all my researches myself, like any other student, I also went through the rigours of academic life like any other student.
“During the period of my research work, I went to the North-East not only once and interviewed several persons by myself. This improved my knowledge very well about many things I did not know before,” said President Obasanjo.
He called on the present administration to give enough resources for the development of open distance learning in Nigeria.
“For me, I will use what I learned to develop the society,” he said.
In his speech, the Vice Chancellor of NOUN, Abdalla Adamu, said the NOUN was graduating 14,769 students across the disciplines, which marked the largest number of students so far graduated in the university.
According to Mr. Abdalla, among the first degree graduates are 41 first class holders.
Veteran entertainer, Chika Okpala, popularly known as Chief Zebrudaya Okorigwe, was among the MBA graduates from the Faculty of Management Sciences.
“But our greatest pride, today, however, is the graduation of our first Ph.D. student, and he is no less a person than His Excellency, Olusegun Obasanjo, a former President and also a Head of State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“His patience and perseverance in pursuing a doctorate degree program at his age, station and status in life, is a roadmap to all of us and clearly communicates three credo: you are never too old to learn, you are never too powerful to learn and you are never too full of learning,” said Mr. Adamu.
Meanwhile, Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State has expressed his delight with the way the former president went back to school.
He promised to enroll for an academic programme in NOUN after his second term in office.
“Establishment of NOUN is a great vision. I did not know the magnitude of this university, until when I came for the first time today,” said Mr. Dickson who spoke at the convocation.
“With former president as your Ph.D. student and having graduated 14, 771 students today, you are achieving your mandate of democratisation of knowledge. That is taking knowledge to the people wherever they live.