All roads led to the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan, UI, for the grand finale of the 2017 convocation ceremonies and the 69th Foundation Day Anniversary of the premier institution. The day witnessed the convocation of 402 Ph.D graduands and the conferment of honorary Doctorate Degrees on three eminent Nigerians: Dr. Emmanuel Onu Egbogah, The Right Hon. Chevaler U. J. Itsueli, (Doctors of Science, D.Sc.), and Emeritus Professor Ayo Bamgbose (Doctor of Letters, D. Litt.) Also, the Fellowship of the University was conferred on the former Vice Chancellor of the institution, Professor Allen Bankole Oyediran.
The occasion was spiced with music from the Premier University Band and cultural troupes that displayed a masquerade. However, one dark spot in the ceremony was the apprehension of a pickpocket who was almost beaten to a pulp before he was rescued by the security forces.
Among the dignitaries in attendance were: former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Oyo State Deputy Governor, Chief Moses Alake, Registrar, Joint Matriculation Examination Board, JAMB, Professor IshaqOloyede,former Nigerian Ambassador to The Netherlands, Ambassador Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu,Ambassador Audrey Jose, Former UI Vice Chancellors: Professor Ayo Banjo and Professor Olufemi Bamiro, former Deputy Vice Chancellors including Professor Abiola Odejide, a playwright, Professor Femi Osofisan, Founder/Chairman, Splash FM, Chief Bayo Akande, Chief Medical Director, University Teaching Hospital, UCH, Professor Temitope Alonge, and Founder, Scripture Pasture Christain Centre, Pastor Olubi Johnson, traditional rulers and clergy men.
Also in attendance were: Vice Chancellors and representatives of some Nigerian universities including: Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, LAUTECH, University of Maiduguri, UNIMAID, Redeemer University, MountainTop University, Lead City University, National Open University, NOUN, Adeleke University, Osun State University, Crawford University, Convenant University, Kola Daisi University, Federal University of Technology, Akure, FUTA, Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Crisland University, Abeokuta, University of Jos, University of Lagos, and Olabisi Onabanjo University, OOU.
In his speech, President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of State , Education, Professor Anthony Gozie Anwukah, noted that he is determined to fight corruption in the country with the last blood in his vein stressing that the on-going fight against corruption would not exclude tertiary institutions in the country.
He also charged the nation’s universities to wake up to their responsibilities, calling on them to embark on programmes that would help the government to alleviate poverty in the country.
Buhari, who assured the universities in the country the maximum support of the Federal Government, noted that education is very expensive and for a nation to get it right in the education sector, stalkeholders must partner with all the universities to make them attain the peak of their best.
He further promised that more resources would be committed to university education.
Worried about the incessant strike actions in the universities, Buhari appealed to all the unions in the education sector to embrace dialogue to resolve issues rather than protest which always disrupt academic calendars to the detriment of the students.
While expressing his determination to continue to diversify the nation’s economy, he called on all the graduands to be entrepreneurs instead of looking for white collar jobs, equally appealing that Nigerians should patronise made in Nigeria products.
Speaking, the Chancellor of the institution, and Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakah 111 who said, “There are only two universities in Nigeria: the University of Ibadan, UI, and others”, called on the Federal Government to immediately effect a special allocation to the institution. He added, “At this point in the history of Nigeria, University of Ibadan cannot be getting the same allocation with other universities. The institution should be put on special allocation which should be higher than other universities so that it can continue to maintain its leading position in Nigeria and in Africa”.
From left, UI VC, Prof. Idowu Olayinka, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, The Right Hon. Chevalier Justus Itsueli and his wife, Bridget Itsueli
In the same direction, the institution’s Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council, Nde Waklek Joshua Mutka said, “We also want to appeal to the Federal Government to expedite action on the release of fund for the University Ten Megawatt (10MW) Solar Plant commissioned last year to resolve the energy crisis on campus”.
Professor Abel Idowu Olayinka, the Vice Chancellor of the Premier University, noted that the university has continued to experience a systematic return to its enviable place and has taken strides towards attaining new heights of academic excellence with key indices of a 21st Century University.
According to him, the university has invested significantly in the development of its human resources for quality teaching and cutting-edge research: infrastructure for a conducive teaching and learning environment, and building a time-tested academic culture and tradition. “Today, the university maintains its place as a high-level human resources provider for the nation and a key player in research for development activities. The university is already repositioning itself to become the top five universities in Africa among the first 500 universities in the world”, he added.
He said, “I wish to renew our plea with Mr. President that the University of Ibadan be given special attention in the form of special rehabilitation funds and increase in allocation that may run for about five years in order for it to compete favourably with top institutions in the world as was the case about 40 years ago”.
In his remark after the conferment of honourary degree on him, Professor Bamgbose said that the occasion was very important to him because that was the first time he was being formally admitted into a degree adding that he was abscent for his Bachelor Degree and Ph. D convocations ceremonies.
He said, “Alumni Degree of the University of Ibadan is the best of the best. It is a coveted one. You don’t get it because you want it. You will get it because you merit it. I compare it with a Nobel Prize. It is a reward of what you have done before, maybe 20 years ago or more”.
Continuing, “The time has come when University of Ibadan should concentrate on postgraduate programmes specifically Ph. D. We have had enough of undergraduate. Today, Ph. D graduands are 402. I look forward for when the universities will be graduating over a thousand yearly. They should be producing man power for other universities. I appeal to the Federal Government not to treat University of Ibadan equally with other universities when it comes to fund. UI should be given more funds than the other universities”.
Some of the Ph.D degree recipients are: Titilola Esther Aiyelari, wife of UI Deputy Vice Chancellor, Administration, Professor Emilolorun Aiyelari, from the Institute for Peace and Strategic Studies, Saturday Editor of Tribune Newspaper and former Chief Press Secretary to Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Former Governor of Osun State, Lasisi Olagunju, from Communication and Language Arts, Assistant Commissioner of Police in Oyo State, Sybil Olufunmilayo Akinfenwa, from Psychology, Tolulope Adeoluwa Akinseye, a lecturer in the Department of English, UI , Akinwumi Azeez Sesan, a lecturer at the Osun State University, both from English, Peter Olusegun Oke from Religious Studies, Adebola Kehinde Ojo from Computer Science, Christianah Ndidi Emuh from Geography, Mahmudat Olawunmi Muhibbu-Din, a lecturer from University of Maiduguri, from Political Science and Evelyn Imariaghowan Aiyede, from Teacher Education.