The Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, NUC, Professor Julius Okojie reiterated on Tuesday that the National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN and all conventional universities in the country share equal value over their respective certificates irrespective of different mode of learning.
The NUC boss who stated this at the NUC headquarters, Abuja when Pinnacle-InfoGallery correspondents visited the office on a fact-finding mission stated clearly that NOUN is among the approved and accredited federal universities in Nigeria and therefore rebuffed the notion that George Orwell’s ‘all animals are equal but some are more equal than others’ applies in the tertiary institutions in the nation as conceived in some quarters.
It would be recalled that the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and 10,652 other students of the National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN who satisfactorily met their requirements were on Saturday conferred with various degrees.
The convocation which was the fifth (5th) in sequence kicked off on Friday at the University Village, Jabi, Abuja with an inaugural lecture delivered by Professor Nuhu Omeiza Yaqub, OFR, Vice-Chancellor, Sokoto State University Sokoto, themed: “Open and Distance Education and Socio-Economic Development”, and chaired by Professor Suleiman Elias Bogoro, Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) had in attendance the NUC Executive Secretary.
The event however got to its climax on Saturday with the investiture of the institution’s first Chancellor; HRM Igwe (Ambassador) Lawrence Okolie Chikezie (Agubuzu of Olo Kingdom, Ezeagu LGA, Enugu State) and rounded off with awards of Certificates, Diplomas, Bachelor Degrees, Post-Graduate Diplomas, Masters, Honorary Degree and Award of Prizes.
The former President who was unavoidably absent at the event was conferred with MA (Masters degree) in Theology under the School of Arts and Social sciences having satisfactorily studied and completed his programme at NOUN Abeokuta Study Centre.
In an address by the Vice Chancellor of NOUN, Professor Vincent Tenebe, he charged the graduands to be good ambassadors of the university. Eulogizing the former President, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Vincent Tenebe stated that “this is unique considering his age and commitments” adding that “he also made a very good cumulative grade point”.
On the lingering conflicts between the Council of Legal Education, National Universities Commission and NOUN over its School of law, the VC who didn’t speak much on the issue however pleaded with the authorities to rescind from its unfavourable position in the interest of equity adding assertively that his students are evidently among the best in the country.
When our team visited the office of the Vice Chancellor today (Monday), it was said that the Vice Chancellor didn’t dwell much on the issue knowing that the matter is pending in the court of law, and therefore would amount to prejudice to do otherwise knowing it to be pending before a court of competent jurisdiction.
It would be recalled that the Law Graduates Forum (LGF) in conjunction with Law Students Association, (LAWSAN) had earlier petitioned the National Assembly for intervention towards the amicable resolution of the conflicts. In the petition signed by Chairman, LGF/LAWSAN Governing Council, Carl Umegboro, and National President LAWSAN, Paul Ndi-Oyemike, among others which was copied to the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria; Chairman, National Judicial Council; Executive Secretary, NUC among seven others, the two bodies categorically prayed the authorities to do the needful without further delay.
Similarly, the graduates and students of the Port Harcourt Study Centre on the other hand had instituted a suit at the Federal High Court with suit No: FHC/PH/CS/111/2015 challenging the position of the Council. In the suit filed through their counsel, Dr. Amuda Abiodu Kannike, SAN, the plaintiffs; Aaron George, Eric Onyenuforo and 5 Ors prayed the court to set aside the resolution of the first defendant (CLE) debarring the graduates from admission into the Nigeria Law School based on sections 1(2); 2(5);4 of the Legal Education (Consolidation) Act Chapter 206.
Other three defendants in the suit; NUC, Attorney-General of the Federation and NOUN have separately filed rejoinders stating that they individually did the needful and specifically recognized, approved, accredited the institution’s programme accordingly and therefore sought to be discharged as defendants in the suit.
Examining the atmosphere at the event, the graduands were manifestly joyous and overwhelmed with gratitude. Mr. Chiemelu Goodlite who bagged a Bachelor of Laws degree from the School of Law remarked, “To the glory of God Almighty, I am among the graduands honoured with LL.B (Hons) on January 16, 2016. Similarly, another law graduating law student, Sunny Urie succinctly said, “Thank God I made it. I am among the graduating students of School of Law 2016”.
The grand finale was the presentation of certificates to the graduands right at the venue which has become an exceptional practice of the university unlike other universities in Nigeria. None of the graduands in attendance went home without their respective certificates.