Visitor to the Cross River State University and governor of the state, Prof Ben Ayade may just have taken a swift political move by accepting the conferment of a doctoral award on the national chairman of the PDP, Senator Ahmed Makarfi at the combined convocation of the university.
Those who were also honoured with such awards were the Bayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson as well as the leader of the APC in the south-south and minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.
Makarfi bagged a doctorate degree in Business Administration (Honoris Causa) while Dickson was awarded a doctorate degree in Environmental Management (Honoris Causa). Amaechi was not present at the convocation.
There have been speculations before now, that Ayade was not supportive of the Makarfi group. Others had speculated that Ayade was considering moving to the APC, where Amaechi holds sway in the region.
Also, there have been speculations that Ayade and Dickson were the two governors that had sympathy for the Amodu Sheriff faction, before the Supreme Court ruled on the issue of the factionalization of the PDP.
Even when the issue has been put to rest, there are still some suspicion, that Ayade and Dickson may be looking the other way. The awards at CRUTECH may just be fuelling the speculations. However, aides of Ayade and Dickson have at different times denied that their bosses were planning to leave the PDP.
At the convocation, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Anthony Owan-Enoh, announced that a total of over 6,900 graduates were being awarded bachelor's and postgraduate degrees, stating that the Chancellor, Dr. J. D. Agba and the other three honorary doctorate degree awardees were being honoured for “their individual greatness.”
“This combined assembly is witnessing the formal graduation of 6,632 first degrees. Out of this number, 19 bagged first class, 1,609 passed with second class upper division, 4,994 made second class lower division, 1,104 earned third class and 10 students earned a pass. 293 students are also graduating with postgraduate diplomas and master degrees, while the two doctoral students could not be added due to the chequered school year we have had to contend with. They have completed all conditions but the university could not accelerate the process just for this purpose in its firm belief in maintaining the high standards required at this level.”
The VC explained why Makarfi, Amaechi and Dickson were selected for the award by saying that “CRUTECH is in no hurry to start without the kind of foundation we desire; it does not aspire to be a copy of other Universities, but must as well grow out of the peculiarities of our existential conditions: social, political and economic.
“The selection and offer of the highest level of award, the doctorate, at an honorary level, for such men with outstanding credentials and distinguished service was intended to coincide and inspire the first fruits of our most noble achievement, the doctorate, to the ideals of excellence for which the degree truly signifies.
“Senator Ahmed Makarfi, Honorable Seriake Dickson and Honorable Rotimi Azubuike Amaechi truly deserve our honor, just as we too do look up to them for inspiration. They mean well for the institution.”
The Pro Chancellor, Dr. Emil Inyang in his address lauded the Visitor to the university, Governor Ben Ayade for increasing the monthly subvention of the institution, providing other facilities, saying the combined convocation ceremony means the university was back on track.
“This convocation ceremony is once again bringing back the university on track of graduating our students as at when due. This is a landmark achievement worthy of commendation.
“A university is a complex system with varied interests and networking. It requires sensibility and good working relationship among members of the system to work towards a common goal and attaining the desired objectives as a whole.
“Modalities are in place to internally generate revenue; we hope tomorrow will be better. The governing council wishes to heartily congratulate our granduands and awardees on their successes and charge them to remain worthy ambassadors of this great institution. Do not forget to join the University Alumni Association, a very viable platform for you to contribute your own quota in the development of CRUTECH,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of other awardees, Dickson said he and other recipients were highly honoured for being the first set of persons to be awarded honorary doctorate degrees by the institution.
“We understand what it is to found a university especially in this trying times, we understand what it means to nurture a university already founded.
“We call for more understanding and support from students, parents and guardians, all Cross Riverians, all Nigerians to the growth and development of this university.
“We have become part and parcel of this university, we will become part and parcel of the assets and liabilities of this university. This is what it means to build a nation, to build bridges,” he said.