Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike, yesterday gave a great gift of N50m to doctoral student living with disability, James E. Daniel, for bagging a Doctor of Philosophy degree and even offered him an automatic appointment as a lecturer at Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.
Governor Wike, who announced the reward during the 33rd convocation of the university, said the honour bestowed on Daniel was in recognition of his academic excellence, and for being a source of inspiration to persons living with disabilities.
The governor, however, cautioned all Rivers State-owned universities to stop indiscriminate conferment of doctorate degrees on all manner of questionable candidates and people of material influence.
He directed the governing councils and managements of state universities to sanitise their internal academic systems by stopping every inappropriate policy, practice or procedure that compromises the high quality academic standards required of tertiary institutions.
The governor noted that from inception, the Rivers State university had been at the forefront of providing tertiary education and training to people of the state.
Like the mustard seed, he said, the university had grown from its little beginnings to become one of the largest and leading state government-owned institutions in the country.
The governor emphasised that serious universities jealously guard their reputation and award doctoral degrees only to students who have gone through years of rigorous intellectual research and interrogation, and whose dissertation is independently adjudged to be sound and contributory to new learning.
He described as unfortunate, the current trend and practice in universities, including the Rivers State University, of awarding doctoral degrees indiscriminately, like chieftaincy titles, to all manner of questionable candidates.
His words: “This practice must stop in all Rivers State government-owned tertiary institutions as we demand greater character, commitment and responsibility from staff and management to the vision and fundamental objectives of university education.
“First of all, the programmes that you offer must equip the students with relevant skills, entrepreneurial or otherwise, so that on graduation they can start their own businesses and professional practice and become creators of jobs from the beginning, and not jobless seekers of elusive jobs.”
He commended the present Governing Council for its leadership and unprecedented achievements in infrastructural development for the last six years.