Tuesday, November 25, 2014 11:18 am
Soyinka, others honoured at 66th Foundation Day of University of Ibadan and combined convocation of two sets
The joy of many knew no bounds when Nigeria’s premier tertiary institution, University of Ibadan, UI, between 13 and 17 November 2014, turned out 14,732 graduands, covering the first, second, and third degrees for two sets –– 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 –– at its 66th Foundation Day anniversary and 2014 Convocation ceremonies which took place at the institution’s International Conference Centre.
Out of the figure, 614 were Ph.D graduands, 212 made First Class, and 1875 made Second Class (Upper Division). From the institution’s Distance Learning Centre, six made First Class and 207 made Second Class (Upper Division).
At the colourful ceremonies, elated graduands and their families could not hide their joy, especially those who were supposed to have graduated last year but could not due to a face-off between the government and Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, leading to a prolonged strike action that made it impossible for the convocation ceremony of the institution. They also had cause to be grateful as some graduands had lost their lives before this year’s convocation. Among the deceased were a Ph.D graduand from the Department of English, Ilolo Akpoghene Onorievarie, whose thesis, “Vowel Reduction in Educated Isoko English”, was supervised by Dr. Adenike Akinjobi, who described her death as an irreparable loss to her; and another Ph.D graduand of the Department of Political Science, Ambassador Adeyemo Francis Olorunsola, whose thesis was titled “Nigeria and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, 1960-2006”. Olorunsola died in November last year.
The programme of events, which began with religious services at the university’s Central Mosque and Chapel of the Resurrection, also featured an anniversary lecture delivered by the Governor, State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. Also, a book fair and exhibition, night of reminiscence, and performance of a play, titled Alapata Apata, were held in honour of Nigeria-born Nobel laureate and erudite scholar, Professor Akinwande Oluwole Soyinka, in celebration of his 80th birthday.
The peak of the event was the Foundation Day ceremony which saw the conferment of honorary Doctor of Letters, D. Litt., on Soyinka and a former vice-chancellor of the university, Emeritus Professor Tekena Nitonye Tamuno; honorary Doctor of Science, D.Sc., on Emeritus Professor Theophilus Oladipo Ogunlesi; and honorary Doctor of Law, LL.D, on former chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, and immediate past pro-chancellor of the institution, Chief Oluwole Oladapo Olanipekun, SAN.
Responding on behalf of those honoured, Soyinka lampooned the President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration over its inability to curtail the activities of terrorists in the nation, specifically showing his disgust over the government’s failure to rescue the abducted Chibok schoolgirls.
Describing the ineptitude of the present government as a national embarrassment and humiliation, the cerebral professor of Literature minced no words in blaming the crisis on lack of genuine leadership on the part of the Federal Government, urging that the country to raise a monument for the missing Chibok girls. He said, “Yes, it is a festive occasion but we know that we are sitting under a very heavy cloud; it is a cloud of embarrassment, of shame, a feeling of dereliction, of solemn irresponsibility towards children; we are sitting here under a cloud of impotence of a calamity that was not without notice. You all know why we are all here. We are here in the course of learning and till death, we will not stop learning. It is all about learning and that is what life is all about. We will never stop learning. We sent our children out on an errand and they did not come back. The errand on which we sent them is what we are celebrating today. This is what creates this festive atmosphere.
Though it is a festive mood, but our young protagonists went on that errand, we gathered them together in preparation for this day and they never came back. It is something we can never allow our souls to forget.”
He continued: “Let us remain faithful to our temple of knowledge by safeguarding its moralities. It is the morality that engages us in the protection of the future. The temple of knowledge is dedicated to a very simple expression; the pursuit of truth. It doesn’t matter whether we are herbalists, Buddhist, Hinduists, or Christians. There is only one sanctuary that is open to all of us and it is the temple of learning. It is a festive occasion and I am not ready to cast a pall on it. I wish I could be among you celebrating over and over again. I wish to congratulate the Vice-Chancellor and members of the community on the vast changes I have noticed in the university. It is a festive occasion and as I said, I will not cast a pall on it. I am happy to see the Minister of Education, Malam Shekarau, my friend. He invited me once and I came all the way from Los Angeles to address some issues. I came here. That address did not take place. Mr. Shekarau knows why it did not. Something happened. It is what we are undergoing today.
“There is nothing new to say. It has been with us for a very long time and I have decided I am not going to say anything new and I would quote from a speech I made three years ago at the University of Science and Technology in Cross River. I asked the students: where is the University of Maiduguri today? I told them bring back the University of Maiduguri and if you don’t, it will be the turn of this university sooner or later…”