By SADIQ ABUBAKAR, Maiduguri –
The University of Maiduguri was on Saturday enveloped in a frenzy of academic recollection as Vice President Kashim Shettima shared his reflections on the significance of education and service to humanity.
Speaking during the 24th Combined Convocation Ceremony of the university, Sen. Shettima inspired graduands as well as dignitaries at the event with lessons learnt from the school, attributing his current position to the values instilled in him during his formative years as a student.
The Vice President who was also honoured with an Honorary Doctorate degree by the citadel of great learning, acknowledged the profound impact of his educational journey, noting that he is a product of a civilization that valued education.
In a heartfelt address delivered at the event, the VP said, “I was born into the heart of a civilisation that favoured education. So, I entered a world where a map had been provided for me—the path of scholarship. Wherever I go and whatever I do, I am reminded of this noble heritage. Wherever I go, I realise that the noblest duty a person must undertake is to serve the people.
“But, to serve humanity, one must train the mind, shape character, and find a purpose. This institution nurtured those aspirations, pointing me in a direction that has led me to where I stand today,” the VP harped.
Acknowledging the role of teachers and mentors in shaping his path, Sen. Shettima recalled their patience while imparting a great deal of knowledge to him, just as he said, “This homecoming is to express my gratitude for the lessons learned in the halls, the premises, and in the service of this esteemed institution.
“The choices I’ve made since being certified by this institution to pursue my dream have taken me to heights I could have only imagined. In each room and at every event, I find a reason to utter a prayer for the training acquired here. I am a child of a collection of patient teachers and mentors, so I’m acutely aware that this honour is not mine alone to claim,” he was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to The President on Media & Communications, Stanley Nkwocha.
The Vice President expressed his commitment as an ambassador of the University of Maiduguri, noting that it was a privilege to uphold the institution’s values, part of the reason he said he was deeply moved to accept the honorary degree.
He continued: “To you, I will always be a student, and with all the privilege to remind me of my ambassadorial duty to the University of Maiduguri. This is why I am excited that I am not here today for defying a code of conduct, for that would have meant that I failed as a flag-bearer of my alma mater.
“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, receiving an honorary doctorate from the institution that has been instrumental in shaping one’s formative years can only signify that one has followed the path of an indescribable principle. However, this honour is neither for me nor for you alone; it is a grand testament to the equalizing power of the education fostered here. This gathering symbolizes our collective aspirations as an institution.
“Here, on the fine sands and under the lush trees of Unimaid, I was taught that education is the brick with which a purposeful life is built. However, the education in question isn’t what you cram to pass your examinations; it’s what you do with what you have learned. I am where I am today because I learned here that intellectual curiosity is the preservative of every enduring civilization,” Sen. Shettima emphasised.
The VP also recollected the security challenges faced by Maiduguri, stating that even though the city is renowned for its fidelity to education, it had come under attacks and threats.
He however noted that in the face of these challenges, the Borno State capital has remained resilient, even as he described the city as “a prime intellectual powerhouse, prepared for the disruptions of the era”.
Urging the graduands, those before them and the institution itself to become symbols of the privileges that a well-tailored education offers, the VP emphasised the importance of purpose in education, stating that the true value lies in what one does with acquired knowledge.
“Unless we strive to become the reference points of why this edifice exists and why our teachers labour to prepare us for tomorrow, we will never defeat the anarchists obsessed with dragging us back into the darkness that our ancestors devoted their lives to end. We must be the light of humanity, the hope of the downtrodden, and the rhetorical motivation of the skeptics,” he said.
Acknowledging the power of education, Sen. Shettima implored the graduands to dwell on the need to repay the debt owed the institution by becoming ambassadors of its values.
He emphasized the importance of excelling beyond professional achievements, stressing that without purpose education would be a mere self-stimulation.
Accepting the honorary doctorate degree, Vice President Shettima said he considers it as an invitation to greater responsibility, just as he pledged to stay on the track that favours humanity, drawing inspiration from the invaluable lessons learned at the University of Maiduguri.
“Here, ladies and gentlemen, I humbly accept this honorary doctorate. This, for me, is not a culmination but an invitation to greater responsibility. This, for me, is a reminder of the obligation I carry, alongside each one of us, to dedicate ourselves to the cause of the nation and to the service of humanity,” the VP stated.
Palpably enthralled by the Vice President’s humility to honour the invitation, the Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Aliyu Shugaba, had earlier thanked Sen. Shettima for gracing the occasion, acknowledging that the VP has given much to the school.
Urging the graduands to be good and worthy ambassadors of the institution, Prof Shugaba counselled them to imbibe the spirit of entrepreneurship to enhance their livelihoods before picking up white-collar jobs.
“Every success in life brings with it challenges. You are graduating today, our nation is faced with myriads of problems. I believe the university has adequately prepared you to contribute to proffering solutions to these problems.
“The era when graduates look up to the government for answers to all problems is fast fading. I encourage you to specifically utilise your entrepreneurial training in the university to decide your employability status. Start an enterprise, no matter how small your capital or idea is,” he advised.
Noting the current challenges bedeviling the university, the Vice Chancellor appealed for more support for tertiary institutions across the country.
On his part, Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum, noted that the state government was committed to supporting the institution in ensuring that its students contribute to the growth of the society.
Expressing appreciation to the school for conferring what he described as a well-deserved honour on the Vice President, the Governor observed that the honorary doctorate degree is a reflection of Sen. Shettima’s dedication to the development of the nation.
Prof Zulum Commended the university for what he termed its unwavering commitment to shaping and equipping the students as part of their contribution to national development.
He applauded philanthropists such as business mogul, Alhaji Muhammad Indimi and Chairman of BUA Group, Abdulsamad Rabiu, for their unflinching support to the institution.
Also speaking at the convocation ceremony, a former Registrar of the institution, Alhaji Dahiru Bobbo, thanked the school’s Senate and management for finding them worthy of such an honour, saying it will deeply spur them in their endeavours, just as they will continue to hold the University of Maiduguri in high esteem.
Other dignitaries present at the convocation ceremony included the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Umar Garbai El-Kanemi; Governors Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, Governor Agbu Kefas of Taraba State and Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State; Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), George Akume, and Deputy Governor of Borno State, Umar Usman Kadafur.
Others are Senator Ali Ndume; APC Deputy National Chairman, Alh. Bukar Dalori; Director General of FRCN, Mohammed Bulama; Executive Director, Projects, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Engr. Ibrahim Abba Umar; Senator Kaka Shehu Lawan; former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai (rtd), ministers, members of the House of Representatives, including Engr. Ahmed Satome and members of the Borno State Executive Council, among others.