The Edo State governor, Adams Oshiomhole, has condemned the sale of honorary awards by some Nigerian universities to individuals of “questionable character.”
Oshiomhole noted that such acts had dented the sanctity of the nation’s education system, calling for a review of such awards as a way of santising the system for future generations.
The governor spoke during the 19th convocation of the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State, where three Nigerians – the Esogban of Benin Kingdom, Chief David Edebiri; a philanthropist and businessman, Dr. Lee Ikpea; and Pastor Chris Oyakhilome of the Believers Love World, a.k.a Christ Embassy, were honoured by the institution.
He said, “One of the problems that confront us today as a nation is that even the ivory tower seems to have given up and many are now in a hurry to award honourary degrees even to people of clearly questionable character. That a man is rich doesn’t mean he is successful; what defines a successful man is the overall totality of his lifestyle.
“And so when we see universities giving honours to those who can dole out, it becomes award for the highest bidder and, of course, it disturbs the values of our younger ones. So, when universities give honour to people just because they are rich and even when the source of the wealth is so clear that it is not a result of industry and hard work, then I think it is very sad for Nigeria.”
Oshiomhole, who is the Visitor to the university, emphasised the need for a new national policy on education to provide equal opportunity based on intellectual capacity rather than socio-economic class.
He said, “We must revisit the question of appropriate national education policy so that it must be possible for the child of the poor to have quality education; no child should be denied access to the best schools.
“Even Oxford has had to reverse its policies notorious for providing spaces for only the children of the elite; they now have quota to ensure that a worker with requisite knowledge can go to Oxford University and the state provides subsidy to make that possible.”
Earlier, the Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Cordelia Agbebaku, lauded the state government’s support in ensuring that good learning environment was provided for the students.
She also noted that the institution would continue to provide policies that are aimed at improving its academic profile.
A total of 7, 882 first degrees, 239 higher degrees and 46 certificates were awarded at the ceremony.