Wednesday, November 9, 2016 3:21 pm
As its 68th Founders Day activities Commence, the University of Ibadan declare open a two-day Research and Development Fair
By Gbenro Adesina/Ibadan
The Group Managing Director, GMD, Nigeria Flour Mills, NFM, Mr. Paul Gbedebo, in the company of an erudite Professor, Oladapo Akinkugbe, Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan, UI, Professor Abel Idowu Olayinka and others, on November 8 2016, cut the tape to declare open the two day University of Ibadan Research and Development Fair, UIRESDEV, tagged, “UI Town-Gown Connect, 2016”, which was held at the premises of the institution’s International Conference Centre. The first day of the fair dedicated to the products from arts and humanities, had majorly, products from sciences exhibited in virtually all the stands. However, the Institute of African Studies made itself visibly conspicuous with the display of African varieties including African dance in Yoruba attire, exhibition of various African products like artefacts, locally produced herbal medicine, creams and others and series of academic publications on Africa. Basically, other departments including Philosophy, Media Centre, Communication and Language Arts, CLA, and English majorly exhibited books written by the institution’s scholars with English further showcasing English Language Clinic, chaired by Professor Adenike Akinjobi, which is into various activities geared towards better understanding and speaking of queens English.
The eminent Nigerians present were basically taken round the science stands where about 100 products manufactured by the staff and the students were exhibited which include: agricultural equipment like, cassava processing machine, pepper shedding machine, conventional smoking kiln, fish/animal feed pellets, dry fish, shredding machines, drugs specimen and food like processed ‘Ogi’, pap, different herbal teas – Gizo tea, Gimo tea, Tel tea Zomos tea, herbal soaps, herbal cream and ointment, fonio and sweet potato starches, instant hand sanitiser, portable picnic refrigerator, ant malaria suppositories, needle crusher, smokeless and insecticide charcoal, and android system for sharing information about IDP problems and solutions. Others include: blast resistant and steel fibre concrete, production of pro-biotic pineapple juice, and bio-cellulose, design of micro-hydro-power system, design and construction of an automatic solar power incubator for egg hatching, a single Axis Automatic solar tracker, a fuel Adulteration and crude oil co-mingling detector, development of a biogas-electricity generating system, and different seedlings from agronomy. During the fair, free medical services were provided including dental, basic medical tests and treatment of common sickness like malaria. UI theatre group and other entertaining groups added colour to the event.
Professor Olayinka in a short remark said that the essence of the fair is to connect ‘gown with the town’ for symbiotic relationship for mutual benefits that would translated to better Nigeria, as the primary priority.
In her welcome address, the chairperson, UIRESDEV, Professor Olanike Kudirat Adeyemo declared that UIRESDEV was established by the senate of the institution as part of the effort to promote the spirit of enquiry, research and discovery and to contribute to local and global development through creativity and innovation stressing, “This is in accord with the vision and primary function of the university which is to provide education, conduct research, public service, dissemination and create knowledge-all geared towards meeting societal needs”.
Adeyemo stated that for the fact that no single actor, be it public or private, has the all-encompassing knowledge, overview, information or resources to solve the complex and diversified problems in the society where there are vested interests, her committee was entrusted with the mandate of aligning town and gown for revolutionary national development, by developing ways of integrating the vocabulary of the university into the daily life of the town through a fair that would not only inform policy decisions, but also propel investors and investment, motivate inter-, multi-and trans-disciplinary collaborations that would ultimately set the tone for future research and development for positive societal transformation.
Her words, “The fair was aimed at fostering interaction between world class leading technocrats who would discuss the challenges in the various sectors ranging from Arts, humanities and sciences. I am optimistic that this interaction will bring to fore the opportunities inherent in synergizing our efforts for positive societal transformation. UI has also been impacting the society through community outreach/services; UI-Town Connect 2016 will also be showcasing some of these community services. While exhibition will be on today and tomorrow; today’s presentations from the town will be charting new directions for Arts and Humanities Research. Other fun activities, like our English Language clinic, where you can carry out a diagnosis on your command of the English Language, whether it is Ujesha English or Igbo English, Oyo or Ibadan English. We also have the Women’s Law Clinic, who provides legal support to abused women, amongst others”.
Delivering a paper titled, “The Academic Portrait, Humanistic Values and the Human Resource Development in the Industry”, Gbededo noted the absurdity of Nigeria as her human resources, which is her number one strength, is equally her number one obstacle on the path to progress. Stressing that despite the strength of the nation’s market with a large population of about 170 million, the top two indices of weakness of the country were infrastructure and endemic corruption saying, “We can therefore safely assert that our number one problem regarding economic competitiveness is corruption”.
Pointing out that the determination to develop the human resources in the industry is critical to Nigeria’s quest for economic competitiveness and industrialization, Gbedebo noted that the factor that makes human resources potentially a disadvantage rather than an advantage is deeply rooted in the non-entrenchment of humanistic values in the development of the nation’s resources. Aptly put, he said, “Therefore, the role of our academic institutions in shaping our nation’s humanistic values is central to the development of human resources in the industry”.
For the marketability of the Nigerian graduates, he called on the nation’s universities to add a set of universal humanistic values which includes: performance, integrity, initiative, leadership, ownership and teamwork to the academic priorities embedded in various disciplines of study.
Specifically, he mandated the Nigeria academic institutions to produce the graduates that are worthy in character and sound judgement, that would contribute to the transformation of society through creativity and innovation and; serve as a dynamic custodian of society’s salutary values and thus sustain its integrity.
According to him, humanistic values like self-direction, integrity, initiative, leadership, ownership, teamwork, benevolence, patience, humility, kindness, good manners, diligence, etc have become more important than science, arts and humanity discipline, for the preparation of thoroughly bred graduates, prepared for the 21st century industry. “These are far more important set of qualifications than traditional language, numerical and logic skills that stood out the successful graduates of the 19th century in the industry. I dare say that the decline that most researchers refer to might just be a product of the absence of this critically important value block in many, if not most, of our present day graduates’, he added.
He called for academic curriculum review to ensure that the university does not turn out first class graduates who are lone rangers and lacking in teamwork pointing out, “The industry had been investing in management trainee schemes, which had been elongating in duration over the years, in response to how wide the gulf of humanistic gaps in our academically certified graduates are. The contents of such schemes have since shifted from three months induction to introduce our graduates to the industry and company policies, to three year programs that seem to provide another graduate school curriculum to our already baked graduates”.
He concluded by challenging the premier university to commission a study to quantify the gap between the quality of graduates produced by the universities, and, the demand of the 21st century adding, “The curriculum of the universities should be reviewed to ensure the gaps are closed. The effort should not be one-off, rather, the study should be sustained to ensure that the volatile dynamics in the industry is proactively tackled, to avoid the development of such gaps in the future”.
Also, the founder of Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy, ISGPP, Dr. Tunji Olaopa who spoke on, “The Humanities, and Social Transformation: New Directions for Research in Nigeria”, lamented the way the humanities has been relegated to the background. According to him, in Nigeria as with the most of African countries, the problem of development is essentially the problem of education and the educational problem is compounded by a lopsided curriculum strategy which sees the sciences and engineering courses as the most suitable for development purposes whereas, the humanity have the critical mandate of moderating scientific knowledge from running away with itself.
He asserted that the humanity remains the soul of the sciences, therefore, while the sciences are concerned with the concrete achievements of goals that instantiate worldly progress, the humanities decide which goes the sciences ought to purpose in the interest of composite wellbeing of the people. “The humanities cannot escape the pointed barb of relevance and this is because the humanities are circumscribed all round in the context of injustice, violence, terror, corruption, fundamentalism, gender inequality, income imbalance, economic recession. How then, can the humanities remain in a box? The humanities in Nigeria and in Africa at large have more reasons to survive and be active even if capitalism is emasculating them in the West”, he explained.
Olaopa advocated for a better teaching method that would enable graduating humanities students not to constantly wait for white collar jobs. He said, “Pedagogy therefore speaks to what we teach, how we teach them and how what we teach feeds into the larger reality that circumscribing education and existence in Nigeria and resonate with those who live that reality and want to make meaning of it. This pedagogy stands right in between our research agenda and our praxis framework. We cannot afford, as teachers of the humanities, to ground our pedagogical strength solely in our capacity to pummel humanistic theories and methodologies into our students”.
He further advocated that the humanities, as the arts of living, must work out pedagogy of relevance that empowers the students and scholars to infiltrate the Nigeria reality with cogent analysis and critique.
Concluding, while noting that the discourse of the humanities must necessarily feed into policy dialogue in the larger society, he emphasised that the humanities must actively cultivate a town and gown relationship that brings practitioners – broadcasters, linguistic experts, literary personalities, sages, film makers, musicians and composers, traditional medical practitioners, poets, as well as those with one link or the other to policy issues – into active conversation with intellectuals.
Also, the Director General, DAWN Commission, Ibadan, Mr. Oladipo Famakinwa and the Chairman and CEO Omni-blu Aviation Limited, Engineer Akinola Olateru spoke on “Emerging Frontiers in Stem Research and Innovation”, and “Town-Gown Connect: Cutting-edge Researches and Innovations in Science and Technology/Growth in the Industrial Sector: Drawing the Synergy”, respectively.
The programme heralds the 68th Founders Day and Graduation Ceremonies of the University slated for Monday 14 to Thursday 17 November 2016.