A postgraduate student of Arabic at the University of Ilorin, AbdulHafeez Adedimeji, died on Saturday, the day he was to receive his doctorate at a convocation.
Sources told PUNCH that another doctoral graduand died shortly before the ceremony.
Soon after the Dean, Faculty of Post Graduate Studies, Prof. Badmas Yusuf, informed attendants of the graduands’ demise, a gloomy atmosphere enveloped the lively UNILORIN auditorium where the 32nd graduation activities were being held.
Adedimeji, who until his death was a lecturer at the Fountain University, Osogbo, Osun State, was among 166 receiving doctoral degrees at the convocation.
He was said to have arrived in Ilorin for the convocation not long before his death.
The Vice Chancellor of UNILORIN, Prof. Abdulganiyu Ambali, said 67 of the 6,069 graduands for first degrees were first class, adding that it was an improvement on last year’s 41 first-class graduands.
He explained that 1,505 merited second-class upper division, compared to 1,234 last year; 3,200, second-class lower division; 1,124, third class; and 70, pass.
He stated that 1,903 postgraduate students, 8,038 first degree students and 68 diploma students graduated on Friday and Saturday, being the first two days of the 32nd convocation.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the Visitor to the university, assured Nigerians that the country would overcome the ongoing economic recession.
Buhari, who was represented by the Deputy Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, Prof. Chiedu Mafiana, said recession was not peculiar to Nigeria, adding that many other countries in the world were facing similar challenges.
According to the President, the recession was brought about by the collective failure of Nigerians as a people, dependency on oil exports to the exclusion of other products, insatiable appetite for foreign goods and services, including importation of food, corruption and lack of proper planning.
The President said his administration was doing everything possible to restructure the economy and change the nation’s ways of doing things.
The Visitor reiterated the Federal Government’s resolve to steer the attitude and values of the citizens, especially the youth, towards positive direction.
He stated that the responsibilities and obligations of university teachers in achieving this goal could not be overstated.
The NUC Executive Secretary, Prof. Rasheed Adamu, who was also represented by Mafiana, stated that he was saddened and dismayed by what he termed the growing tension and animosity in various university campuses.