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The Vice Chancellor speaks on University of Ibadan at 70: Greatness won with honest toil

2018-11-11
The University College Ibadan (UCI) opened on 18 January 1948 with a total of 104 students distributed into three Faculties, namely Arts, Science and Medicine. The temporary take-off site was an old site previously used by the 56th Military General Hospital at Eleyele, about eight kilometres away from the present site. In February 1948, the University of London allowed Ibadan its special relationship scheme. The formal opening of the College took place on 25 March 1948. Arthur Creech Jones, then British Secretary of State for the Colonies, turned the first sod at the permanent site of the University College, on 17 November 1948, which became the University's Foundation Day. The institution became the autonomous University of Ibadan in 1962, with a new Act, which, with subsequent amendments in 1972, 1976 and 1993, has remained the basic constitution. According to the Act, ‘it shall be the general function of the university to encourage the advancement of learning throughout Nigeria and to hold out to all persons, without distinction of race, creed or sex, the opportunity of acquiring a liberal education, and for the purpose of carrying out that function it shall be the duty of the university, so far as its resources permit, (a) to provide such facilities for the pursuit of learning and the acquisition of a liberal education as are appropriate for a university of the highest standing; and (b) to make those facilities available on proper terms to such persons as are equipped to benefit from the use of the facilities’. The success story of the University of Ibadan in its golden era has been attributed to a number of factors including the following: the authorities made conscious attempt to attract high caliber academic, technical and administrative staff; Staff composition was truly international, contributing to the rich academic and social culture of the university; A culture of research was built into the academic life of UCI/UI from the beginning; Student recruitment was stiffly competitive; the university admitted the very best students from all over the country; Physical and teaching/learning facilities were of high standards; Foreign institutions and foundations funded programs and facilities and promoted staff development initiatives; Staff development was taken seriously, including attendance at conferences; research and travel grants, and sabbatical leave attachment with internationally acclaimed centres of excellence. According to the founding Principal, Lord Kenneth Mellamby, who served in that capacity from 1947 till 1953, in his book (The Birth of Nigeria’s University. London: Methuen) : ‘the provision of teaching for our students and the prosecution of original research by our staff were our most important duties’. Similarly, our 6th Vice-Chancellor, Professor Emeritus Ayo Banjo, in his memoirs on his highly successful two terms of office from 1983-1991, commented thus ‘but the overarching aim of which I never allowed myself to loose sight was the realization and preservation of Ibadan as one of the most distinguished centres of learning in Africa, and among the leading universities of the world, as it had promised in its first twenty five years’. As aptly noted by the 8th Vice-Chancellor of our great University, Professor Omoniyi Adewoye, the history of the University of Ibadan, is in a sense, inseparable from the history of Nigeria after the Second World War. Ibadan went through a turbulent period from 1966 till 1999 on account of a highly unfavourable political and socio-economic climate characterised by gross underfunding, brain drain, unstable academic calendar, depleted and obsolete teaching and research facilities, very large student numbers, and loss of institutional autonomy. There was a steady fall in international reputation and unique brand. In spite of all the challenges, the University of Ibadan has remained a truly Nigerian institution. There was a new lease of academic life in the Nigerian University System, with the return to civilian democratic dispensation in May 1999. Major aspects of this involved the following: Vision and Mission for the 21st Century; John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Grants; Strategic Plan, 2009-2014 and now revised till 2020 and Internationalization Strategic Plan. As an institution of higher learning, our most invaluable resources are our students, staff and alumni. Happily, many of our two hundred and thirty two thousand, two hundred and twenty five graduates from inception till 2017 have done us proud. The only Nobel Laureate that the country has produced till date, Emeritus Professor Wole Soyinka, started his undergraduate studies at the University College Ibadan. The literary giants of all times -Chinua Achebe, Chukwuemeka Ike, Ken Saro-Wiwa, John Pepper Clark, Niyi Osundare - all cut their teeth, where else, but Ibadan! In commerce and enterpreneurship, you cannot but think of people like Dr Michael Omolayole (Alumnus 1948), late Deacon Gamaliel Onosode (Alumnus 1953), Elder Felix Ohiwerei, Sir Remi Omotosho, Rt Hon Justus Itsueli, Dr Toyin Philips, Mr Moyo Ajekigbe, Mrs Mosun Olusoga-Bello, Mrs Prisca Soares, Dr Adesola Adeduntan, Mrs Sola Borha, Dr Demola Sogunle, amongst many others. In public administration, you have distinguished people like the late Chief Bola Ige, Chief Olu Falae, Chief Jim Nwobodo, late Dr Olusegun Kokumo Agagu, Colonel Ahmadu Alli, Governor Godwin Obaseki, Governor Dr Umar Ganduje, Governor Professor Ben Ayade, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, Ambassador Dr Dapo Fafowora, Ambassador Senator Dr Professor Jide Osuntokun, late Ambassador Olu Agbi, Ambassador Professor Tunde Adeniran, Senator Orji, late Senator Uche Chukwumerije, Senator Jonathan Zwingina, Senator George Akume, Senator Professor Olusola Adeyeye, Senator Professor Borrofice, late Professor Babatunde Osotimehin, Professor Isaac Folorunso Adewole (Honourable Minister of Health). As the premier university in the country, it was not unexpected that Ibadan had to provide solid leadership for most of the first generation universities in the country. We are exceedingly proud of Ibadan-made scholars like Professors Ishaya Audu (Alumnus 1948), Iya Abubakar and Oladipo Akinkugbe (Alumnus 1951) at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria; Professors Olatunde Ajose, Hezekiah Oluwasanmi, Ojetunji Aboyade, Cyril Agodi Onwumechili (who was the youngest to attain the grade of Professor at the University College Ibadan at the age of 30 years), Wande Abimbola, Adeniyi Osuntogun and Rogers Makanjuola who served at various times as Vice-Chancellor at the then University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife); were either staff and/or students of the University College/University of Ibadan. Professors J.F. Ade-Ajayi and Nurudeen Alao served in that same capacity at the University of Lagos. Prof Grace Alele Williams who made history as the first female Vice-Chancellor in the Nigerian University System is an Ibadan Alumna. She served as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Benin-City. Professor Andrew Onokhreaye, another Ibadan Alumnus was also at a time the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Benin. This is a partial list which can be extended to the other second and third generation Universities in the country. At least on this account alone, Ibadan is easily a primus inter pares. Ibadan has the highest number of alumni/alumnae and academic staff with the Nigerian National Order of Merit and fellowship of the various national academies (Science, Letters, Engineering, Education and Social Science), continental (African Academy of Sciences) and global (Third World Academy of Sciences). People like Emeritus Professors Ayo Bamgbose (the doyen of Linguistics in Africa), Umaru Shehu, Professors Akinlawon Mabogunje (the first African Professor of Geography), Mosobalaje Oyawoye (the first African Professor of Geology), Oluwafeyisola Sylvester, Adegoke, Jibril Aminu, Tam David West, Afolabi Toye, Mark Nwagwu, Oladele Falase, Oye Tomori, Sunday W. Petters, Siyan Malomo, Temitayo Shokunbi, G.O.S. Ekhaguere, Wuraola Shokunbi, Olufemi Bamiro, Gabriel Falade, Gabriel Ogunmola, Catherine Falade, Gladys Falusi, Abiodun Falusi, Oye Gureje, Adesola Ogunniyi, Ebenezer Farombi. Chinedum Peace Babalola, Edith Ajaiyeoba, Iruka Okeke, Deborah Enilo Ajakaiye, Tomilayo Adekanye, Julius Okojie, I. F. Adu, Peter Okebukola, Bisi balogun, Biyi Daramola, Adeniyi Gbadegesin, Labode Popoola, Chris Ikporukpo, Eghosa Osaghae, PAI Obanya, T A Oyejide, B.A. Elugbe, T.A. Oyejide, Abiola Odejide, J. I. Okogun, Grace O. Olaniyan-Taylor, R.K. Udo, T.N. Tamuno, T.O. Ogunlesi, E.O. Akande, Adelola Adeloye, A.A. Olaniyi, M.A. Omolewa, Adebisi Sowunmi, Munzali Jubril, Femi Osofisan, Adenike Osofisan, Funmi Olopade, Ikenna Onyido, Olabode Lucas, Joseph Ahaneku, Joseph Ajienka, Arinola Sanya, Ademola Ariyo, Duro Oni, Mabel Evwierhoma, etc. In the legal profession many Ibadan Alumni are Justices of the Court Appeal and of the various High Courts. Many are senior advocates of Nigeria, including Dr Alex Iziyon, Chief Adeniyi Akintola and Kehinde Ogunwumiju. Professor Oluyemisi Adefunke Bamgbose, Quondam Dean of Law at UI, is the first female academic in the Nigerian University System to be elevated into the inner bar. Education is universally acknowledged as the most critical factor for promoting national and global development. Tertiary, especially University, education bears the burden of realizing this goal through, among others, innovation, technological break-through, optimal management of national and global resources; and In goal-oriented climes, the University is the intellectual back-bone for effective, efficient, and orderly process for creditable management of the polity. According to the 23rd President of Harvard University, James Bryan Conant, ‘there is only one proved method of assisting the advancement of pure science- that is picking men of genius, backing them heavily and leaving them to direct themselves’. Implicit in this statement are three core elements of a world class university namely a high concentration of talent (students, staff, internationalisation), funding (from the proprietor, the users and donations/investments/endowments) and favourable governance (institutional autonomy, academic freedom, supportive regulatory framework, leadership team, strategic vision and a culture of excellence). To the extent that universities are not-for-profit institutions they are not businesses. Nonetheless, universities are economic enterprises in-so-far as they need adequate financial resources to survive, thrive and excel in carrying out their core mandates of teaching and training, research and uptake. As pointed out by our much respected Ibadan Alumnus, Emeritus Professor Oladipo Akinkugbe, a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin and of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, 20 years ago ‘central to decay and desecration is funding and it does not need a gift of prophetic wisdom to surmise that unless this is addressed positively and aggressively, there can be no turnaround in the status of Nigerian universities’. The vision of the University of Ibadan for the 21st Century is to be a world-class institution for academic excellence geared towards meeting societal needs. The mission statement: To expand the frontiers of knowledge through provision of excellent conditions for learning and teaching; To produce graduates who are worthy in character and sound judgment. To contribute to the transformation of society through creativity and innovation. To serve as a dynamic custodian of society’s salutary values and thus sustain its integrity. Meanwhile, as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the University of Ibadan, we acknowledge with gratitude the support of the Federal Government and its agencies, our alumni/alumnae, our students and Friends of UI, both at home and abroad. The past has been glorious. With your continued support, the future is even brighter. Let us clink our glasses and toast to our greatness, won with the honest toil of our founding fathers and ancestors, many of whom are still living. To all of us, a happy 70th Anniversary. As it is widely acknowledged, 'If it is from Ibadan, it must be of outstanding quality'. We are 'Sustaining the Legacy, Raising the Bar'. Idowu Olayinka Vice-Chancellor University of Ibadan Ibadan Sunday, 11th November 2018