Ralph Waldo Emerson, a philosopher of no means insignificant said:“Be not the slave of your own past, plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with new self respect, with new power and with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old”.
Ibadan, the ancient city of Oyo state was besieged with many august visitors on the 21st of August, 2021 as the Lions and Lionesses of the Alumni association of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka converged in the city to hold their 106th National Executive council (NEC) meeting geared towards breaking new frontiers for their Alma Mater.
The event which was a gathering of top privileged class of people in almost all works of life: entrepreneurial world, executive arms of Government, professional bodies, royal fathers, big wigs in the academia, religious leaders, Government functionaries, and Alumni members took place on the campus of Dominican University, Samonda, Ibadan.
During his welcome address at the occasion, Sir Ben Okoronkwo, FNIVS, the National President of the Association, described the theme of the event, UNIVERSITY AND NIGERIA: A CRITICAL SURVEYas a very apt conversation to engage, considering the fact that Nigeria as a country has been grappling with the fledgling Educational System; particularly as it relates to Universities in the country, which is fueled by under-budgeting, ASUU, SSANU, strike actions, etc.
In line with the objectives of the Alumni Association for organizing the 106th National Executive Council meeting (NEC),to facilitate a collaborative efforts towards breaking new frontiers for their Alma Mater; the University of Nigeria; Sir Ben affirmed that the event, through various lectures, addresses, speeches, awards amongst other line up, was programmed to better inform Alumni members on ways and means towards paying more attention to our University Education in Nigeria, especially University of Nigeria, Nsukka, through proper integration into the National Developments Programme which will invariably engender good Governance and yield better results.
At 61, Sir Ben said, the University of Nigeria and her ever increasing population which includes academic, non- academic staff and students have over stretched the facilities of the School and infrastructure on ground. The Government subventions can no longer cater for the ever increasing needs of the University.
The school, for obvious reasons of old age, dwindling economy,which has affected Government subventions, ever increasing number of staff and students, is in a pitiable infrastructural decay, especially the hostels where our students and the future members of the Association resides.
Credence to this, the President of the Ibadan branch of the Alumni Association, Mogaji Salaudeen Kamorudeen Adeleye, who was at the centre of the steering committee for the Conference; disclosed that the theme of the conference was carefully chosen to address the obvious ruins that our University is in today. He vocalized the fact that our Universities today have become glorified secondary Schools where majority of the products turned out, become Okada riders and jobless Nigerians. Strike actions, year in and year out; have also become the order of the day, compared to what was obtainable many years ago. This is due to the insensitivity of Government and stakeholders in the field of education. He enunciated that the 106th National Executive conference of the Alumni Association was geared towards addressing the menace.
The Chancellor of the University of Nigeria, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Baba Tunde Ogunwusi, Ojaja II (Ooni of Ife), who was unavoidably absent but was ably represented by Oba Adewusi, the Ala Odaye of Ara Land, Ife; sends his greetings to Alumni members of the Association and called on them to brace up for the task ahead towards recovering back the glory of their Alma Mater from the present ruin it is now drowned in, as a result of many years of neglects. He charged them to come together as a formidable force to give back to their school in every way possible to rescue.
Oba Adeyeye, Ojaja II, through his representative said that the Alumni have the power to introduce discipline in the School.
The Governor of Oyo State, His Excellency, Engr. Oluseyi Makinde FNSE, who was obviously the chief host for the event; ably represented by his Deputy, His Excellency Engr. Rauf Aderemi Olaniyan, FNSE; an alumnus of the University of Nigeria also charged members of the Alumni that it is now time for them to pass through the school, having allowed the school to pass through them by being an old students of the school. He highlighted that the best way to do this is to pay back to the school.
He also enjoined them to summon the courage to seek for ways to vote the best leaders into power in the nation as that will be the determinant of what will be the future of Universities in the country, asserting that funding of Federal Universities is still in the purview of the Federal Government.
Her Excellency, the First Lady of Ondo State, Arabinrin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, an Alumnus of the University of Nigeria when she took the rostrum, during the event, called the attention of all the members of the Association to a viral video on the despicable state of a hostel in the University of Nigeria. She disclosed that the ruin was as a result of the neglects by the Federal Government and the alumni Association. She then charged the body to rise to take up to the challenge of putting the hostel back in shape as a major entry point to begin something towards restoring the dignity of the school. She said, “I am taking up the challenge and I want you to join me so we can all do it together”.
The guest lecturer for the event, Rev. Fr. Prof. Anthony Akinwale, OP, who is the Vice Chancellor of Dominican University, among many of his presentations during the lecture, debunked the claim by many people that private universities do not have standard. He affirmed that anywhere in the world, standard is a collective exercise which involves the statutory bodies in the University, management, Governing board and other units as it is obtained in the public University.
He charged the old students of the University of Nigeria to collaborate in order to strengthen other young and emerging Universities in Nigeria as a way of helping to strengthen tertiary education in Nigeria, thereby preventing the general ruins the tertiary institutions in the country has plunged into.
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Prof. Charles ArinzeIgwe, though not palpable in the event was honorably represented by the Director of University Advancement Centre, University of Nigeria; Prof. Ike. He lent his voice on the issue of University and Nigeria, a critical survey. He reported that University education in Nigeria is yet to get to where it supposed to be in providing a technical support for assuring the future of Nigerians. It is still a wobbling system that has no footings on the ground with the status of a glorified secondary school.
He added that the University system of education in Nigeria today has not been given the deserved attention by both the Government and the politicians. They are yet to see anything justifiably good in education as they are only so much concerned about their pockets.
Today, he said, the annual percentage of allocation for education falls below expectation, and one should not therefore be curious to discover that all we have in the country is education without inculcating skills. Most of our hostels are so dilapidated that they are only best for chickens, and both Government and politicians are the culprits. He asserted that it is not actually an atomic bomb that may likely destroy the world but lack of proper education. He therefore called on Government to re-channel her attitude towards investing in education.
The former Auditor General for Local Government in Oyo State, who is also an Alumnus of the University of Nigeria, a former President of the Alumni Association; Alhaji A. M Adeyemi having received an award from the Association disclosed that awards are given to spur one to do more and as at today, a lot still needs to be done in order to properly reposition University education in Nigeria as a platform for the development of competent leaders who will take the nation to a greater height.
He affirmed that things are not as the way they were years ago when it comes to the state of our University system in the country; and this is why Government and all stakeholders have to collaborate to work towards improving the system.
Several awards were given to deserving members of the Alumni Association during the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the University Of Nigeria Nsukka in order to spur members to look for ways to do more for their Alma Mater and salvage her from the present state of infrastructure decay and low investment incapacity development.
The awardees and the awards given to them are:
Her Excellency, Arabinrin Chief (Mrs) Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu. Distinguished UNAA First Lady Award.
His Excellency, Engr. Rauf Adeyemi Olaniyan, Deputy Governor, Oyo State. Distinguished Eminent UNAA Patron Award.
Alh. Ademola Musibau Adeyemi, fmr. Auditor General for LGAs, Oyo State.Distinguished UNAA Patron Award.
Rt. Hon. Adebo Ogundoyin, Speaker, Oyo State House of Assembly. Distinguished merit Award in Politics and Governance.
Hon. Stanley Olajide, Member, Federal House of Representative. Distinguished merit Award in Politics and Governance.
Mogaji Ismail Bioku, President, Omo Ajorosun Club, Ibadan. Distinguished Merit Award in Leadership and Culture.
Prof. Charles Binam Bikio, Executive Secretary, CERDOTOLA, Cameroon. Award for Excellent Performance in Documentation of African Languages and Heritage.
Mr. Laidi Ayoku, DMD, United Bank For Africa, Lagos. Award for Excellent Performance in Human Relations and Business.
Prof. Chinedum Peace Babalola, Vice Chancellor, Chrisland University. Award for Excellent Performance in the University System.
Engr. Remi Oseni, MNSE, CENG, Regional Overseer, Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries.
Award for Excellent Performance in Politics and Business.
Mr. Paul Ilona, Country Director, Harvest Plus, IITA, Ibadan. Award for Excellent Performance in Agriculture and Business.
Prof. Patrick Okedinachi Utomi, Pan Atlantic University, Lagos.Distinguished promoter of University Excellence Award.
Chief Michael Adeojo, Elizade University, Ilara Mokin, Ondo State. Distinguished promoter of University Excellence Award.
Mr. Lanre Gbajabiamila, Director General, National Lottery Regulation Commission. Distinguished Promoter of Lottery Excellence Award.
Comr. Olaleye Quadri, National President, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria. Distinguished Labour Advocate Award
Besides the presentation of awards to spur members to do more work in order to salvage the University of its present ruins, the National President of the Alumni Association, Sir Ben Okoronkwo presented the image of the proposed Iconic monument which is to serve as the Alumni Multipurpose Complex to the members and executives of the Alumni Association.
He commended the efforts of the immediate past Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Benjamin Ozumba for approving a 5200m2 plot of land for the building. He also informed Alumni members that the architectural design was prepared by Arch. Inno. Nwaogwugwu of the Port Harcourt branch of the Alumni and donated free of charge to the Association. The engineering drawings comprising structural, electrical, mechanical aspects and the bill of quantity have also been completed, he added.
So, the stage is now set for the re-invention of the University of Nigeria; beginning with the construction of the Iconic Multipurpose Complex by the Alumni Association.