Abuja - President Muhammadu Buhari, has said that human capital development is an important factor in the quest for economic diversification of Nigeria.
Buhari made this known at the fifth convocation of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) on Saturday in Abuja.
Represented by the Prof. Julius Okojie, the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Buhari said that recent downturn in the oil and gas market called for economic diversification.
"Education at the tertiary level is the most important sector that defines the life, the value, the political culture and the economic power of a nation."
"Recent events in the oil and gas sector has undoubtedly demonstrated that this great nation’s economy cannot survive mainly on the oil and gas sector but requires a deliberate and conscious diversification of economy."
"The success of such diversification of the economy will depend on the benefits accruing from the development of human capital through education."
"The top candidates for such endeavour certainly include agriculture, solid minerals, hospitality industry, industry, information and communication technology and other sectors."
Buhari listed India, Singapore, China, Japan and South Korea as countries that had diversified their economies through human capital development.
He said that education was the bedrock for the development of any nation, adding that in democratic societies, universal access to education was a fundamental responsibility of the state.
He said that Nigeria, as a state, that acknowledged its responsibility would not spare any effort at delivering quality education to its citizens.
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Buhari said that the Federal Government, through NOUN, had expanded access and provided opportunity for those unable to engage in the regular full time formal education.
"Nigerian has 141 universities servicing a population of 170 million people; despite the seeming large number of universities, there is gross inadequacy of available spaces for candidates seeking admission."
"Consequently, one of the consistent focal point of government is the expansion of access to education."
"NOUN was established in 1983 as a fulcrum for the evolution of an open and distance education that will facilitate the provision of education for all," he said.
The president said that the Federal Government was pleased with NOUN’s seriousness in terms of innovation.
He listed some of NOUN’s latest achievements as the establishment of 72 study centres and the establishment of the School of Agricultural Science and the School of Health Science.
Buhari also commended NOUN for setting up the Open Educational Resource Unit (OER), among others.
Earlier in his address, the Vice-Chancellor of NOUN, Prof. Vincent Tenbe, said that the institution was poised to revolutionalise tertiary education through the OER in partnership with UNESCO.
He said that NOUN had keyed into the global vision of using instructional materials for a vibrant and sustainable educational system for the world through free and open sharing of knowledge.
According to him, NOUN has a well developed ICT package to ensure efficient delivery to students as its uses state of the art ICT learning platforms to drive e-learning.
The media reports that a total of 10, 653 graduating students participated in the convocation; 15 of them bagged first class honours.