Crawford University, Igbesa, Ogun State, last week graduated 253 students with dignitaries including the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Tunde Lemo, calling on the Federal Government to pay compensation to unemployed graduates, SEGUN OLUGBILE reports
Those who attended the fourth convocation of the Crawford University, Igbesa, Ogun State, last Wednesday would have wished the nation’s policy makers were there. They would perhaps wish that government integrate all the lofty ideas suggested by prominent speakers at the ceremony into efforts being made to reduce graduate unemployment and raising the standard of education. But they were not there to listen to the Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Tunde Lemo, and the Pro-Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Peter Okebukola, who called on government to stem the rising tide of graduate unemployment in the country.
While Lemo called on the Federal Government to adopt the unemployment compensation policy of the United States of America as a strategy to reduce poverty, crime and social vices, Okebukola called for the return of the Higher School Certificate programme and the scaling up of the war against corruption in the nation’s university system.
Lemo, who spoke on “National Development: Youths and the Entrepreneurial Challenge,” lamented the high rate of unemployment in the country and concluded that the menace was killing the self-worth of graduates. He added that graduate unemployment was also responsible for high crime rate in the country.
To reverse the trend, Lemo urged the Federal Government to adopt the unemployment compensation policy started by the USA and now adopted by other nations of the world. According to him, the US created the policy through the enactment of the Social Security Act of 1935, adding that it helped 3.2 million Americans out of poverty in 2010.
He argued that by adopting this strategy, the unemployed would get the needed support to cope with joblessness and its attendant pains.
“A number of countries have adopted the unemployment compensation policy to serve as strategy to reduce poverty, crime and social vices. They support the unemployed through social welfare programmes. These employment benefits include unemployment insurance, employment compensation and subsidies.
“The Federal Government should institute an unemployment compensation policy in Nigeria to assist the teeming population of unemployed youths in the country to migrate into gainful employment,” he said amidst thunderous applause from the audience including graduating students, parents and principal officers of the institution.
But apart from the policy, Lemo urged the Federal Government and all stakeholders to provide incentives to young farmers.
“Agriculture is and still remains a key strategic sector in addressing issues of teeming unemployment, persistent poverty and inconsistent economic growth and development. The government should grant agricultural incentives to young farmers in the form of seeds, fertilizer, working tools, soft credit, planting and harvesting guidance,” he said.
Though he said that exposure of youths to entrepreneurial studies would mitigate unemployment, Lemo argued that government should improve infrastructure, increase budgetary allocation to education, improve fiscal support for small scale enterprises, strengthen institutions in order to make the initiative achieve its goals of making Nigerian youth job creators.
However, Okebukola, while addressing the audience, said that to improve quality of graduates in the nation’s university system, stakeholders should work harder at eliminating corruption in the sub-sector.
“In 2013, we should slay the dragon of corruption through scaling up the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences commission and the National Universities Commission initiative on the prevention of corrupt practices beyond the universities to cover the entire education system,” he said.
He also added that teachers at all levels should be trained on the use of technology and ICT so as to improve their delivery of education.
“We should also restore the Higher School Certificate programme. We should restore religious and moral education to stem the tide of obnoxious social vices including lesbianism, homosexuality, cultism and examination malpractice,” he said.
And contrary to calls by some university administrators that students should be discouraged from wasting their time on social networks on the internet, Okebukola said such a call should be discountenanced. Social media, he said, should be turned into a classroom where difficult subjects should be taught.
“Any person advocating that our youths should stay off Facebook and Twitter should ask the anopheles mosquito to stay off sucking blood! What most educational communities all over the world are doing is to put these media that the youths are so much attracted to, to pedagogical advantage. In Australia, Asia, Europe and North America, teachers supplement their lessons with assignments given to their students on Facebook.
“Rather than clamour for a ban on students using social media, our goal in 2013 should be on how schools can leverage on such media to improve learning and on how students can spend productive time , rather than all their wake-up time using such media on matters that are injurious to their psychosocial health,” he said.
Okebukola, who said that the university had produced 557 graduates since it was created seven years ago, urged the 253 graduating students to go into the world and become champions, positive transformers of the society and an army for Jesus Christ.
Earlier, the institution’s Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Samson Ayanlaja, had told the audience that of the 253 graduating students, 14 obtained first class degree in various disciplines while 18 were awarded second class upper degrees.
He added that 114 graduated with the second class lower degrees, 45 made third class while the remaining two had ordinary pass degree in Microbiology and Business Administration respectively.
Ayanlaja added that the university was able to score 100 per cent score in the accreditation exercise conducted on the institution’s programmes by the NUC in 2012.
The VC added that the institution’s accountancy programme at the undergraduate level had given professional approval by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria. With this, he said, all past and present students of the institution would enjoy exemption from ICAN courses and would also be ICAN certified after taking only a few regular courses of the institute.
Other achievements recorded by the university in the outgoing year, Ayanlaja said, included the establishment of the institution’s postgraduate school, provision of physical laboratory and some national awards won by the students.