Former President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has expressed concern over the unemployment rate in the country, stressing that if urgent steps are not taking to address it, “the country may be sitting on a keg of gun powder.”
He expressed this concern on Saturday at the 16th and 17th convocation of the Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun, Ijebu Ode, Ogun State.
The institution was also marking its 10th anniversary.
Obasanjo, who advised the graduating students to think outside the box to discover what they could do positively on their own to survive, noted that the state and federal governments must take the issue of job creation seriously.
He said, “If there is no job for the unemployed to feed themselves and also to contribute to the development of the country then, we will all be sitting on a keg of gun powder.
“We should be able to break the cycle of poverty, through job and wealth creations. We can achieve this at both the federal, state, local, family and individual levels.
“We must all see education as a tool for making positive contributions to our country. But, if after your education, there is no job, you must be able to think outside the box positively, that is one advantage education has provided for you and not making you a tool for evil machinations.”
Obasanjo, who was conferred with the honorary doctorate degree in Political Science, alongside the late matriarch of Awolowo family dynasty, Mrs. Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo and business mogul, Aliko Dangote, said his administration had 12 years ago mooted the idea of elevating four federal Colleges of Education into universities of education.
But he added that it was the National Universities Commission that should explain why it did not take action on it.
He said the colleges the Federal Government had proposed to upgrade included Adeyemi College of Education, Ivan Ikoku College of Education, and two others in Kano and Zaria.
Obasanjo commended the Ogun State government for taking up the initiative to establish the first University of Education in Nigeria.
He said, “The idea of creating a university of education in Nigeria came up 12 years ago, when I was the President of the country. I had thought that if we could have specialised universities for agriculture, specialised universities for science and technology, why not for education? Why can we not have a university designated for education?
“At that time at the federal level, four Colleges of Education, which belong to the Federal Government would have been turned into universities of education. They include the Adeyemi College of Education in Ondo, Ivan Ikoku College of Education, one in Kano and I think the other in Zaria. We were ready to go (well, why we could not go, Peter Okebukola is here, you can ask him and he will tell you).
“Well, the Ogun State government took this initiative and behold, we had the first University of Education in Ogun State. Mr. Governor, please help us to thank your predecessor for this.”
Obasanjo said he accepted the award, even when he had rejected the one from his own The BELLS University of Technology, Ota, because of the name, Tai Solarin, which the university was named after.
He added that he accepted the honorary doctorate degree because the late HID, was also given a posthumous doctorate degree, describing her as “a role model as far as education development is concerned in Nigeria.”
The state Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, said the convocation marked the continued demonstration of his government’s commitment to the production of qualified teaching personnel for the nation’s education system.
He noted that a university should be a place where fresh ideas should be generated and reflected in the environment where such an institution was located.
He said, “Let me enjoin you all that a university where ideas and ideals are always traded can never be static in outlook and in conduct. It must be dynamic always, interfacing and responding to its environment and all the challenges of its operating millieu.”
The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Oluyemisi Obilade, in her welcome address, said the institution was positioned to respond to national and global educational needs.
She added that the institution had equipped the graduating students with the necessary skills as well as content knowledge for effective teaching and learning.