Cel­e­brat­ing UI at 70 (2)

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - OPINION - By Sun­day Saanu

IN the same vein, it is not out of place to thank Olubadan in Coun­cil and the en­tire Ibadan peo­ple for their gen­eros­ity with their land. Ibadan is a city of open arms. The friend­li­ness of the na­tives draws all like a mys­tic mag­net. Ibadan peo­ple gave the univer­sity much lat­i­tude to thrive as there has never been a record of hos­til­ity be­tween the univer­sity com­mu­nity and the na­tive of Ibadan. Ku­dos to our broth­ers and sis­ters of Ibadan ori­gin. Clearly, this 70th an­niver­sary com­mands singing, drum­ming, danc­ing, cham­pagne pop­ping, jol­li­fi­ca­tion and merry mak­ing. It de­serves a year-long com­mem­o­ra­tion that has been de­clared. This in­sti­tu­tion, where aca­demic prow­ess is com­bined with in­tel­lec­tual sagac­ity de­serves to be cel­e­brated by all Nige­rian for its im­pres­sive achieve­ments and con­tri­bu­tions to the coun­try. It was the for­mer Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan who noted with de­light, some years back that ev­ery Nige­rian bears the in­flu­ence of UI. Ac­cord­ing to him, “if you did not at­tend UI, some­body from your fam­ily must have fin­ished from UI. If that is not the case, but you went to school in Nige­ria, you must have been taught by some­one who grad­u­ated from UI or who was taught by some­one who fin­ished from UI. There­fore, you bear the in­flu­ence of UI”. This could not have been an empty as­ser­tion. More so when UI pro­duces 45 per­cent of all Vice Chan­cel­lors of other univer­si­ties in the coun­try. At a re­cent press con­fer­ence, the UI Vice Chan­cel­lor, Prof. Olayinka dis­closed that UI has since in­cep­tion pro­duced 232,225 grad­u­ates in var­i­ous dis­ci­plines. To­day, Ibadan is the pro­ducer of the high­est num­ber of PH.D de­gree hold­ers in Africa with over 400 pro­fes­sors on its staff list. It is the in­tel­lec­tual cap­i­tal of Nige­ria; a scholas­tic bee­hive where cere­bral honey is be­ing pro­duced for the world. In­ter­est­ingly, In spite of buf­fet­ing of time, UI is still as strong as it was in the be­gin­ning. It is sus­tain­ing the lega­cies and rais­ing the bar of schol­ar­ship. With­out ex­ag­ger­a­tion, this univer­sity is a shin­ing star among the gal­axy of stars with con­tin­ued con­ver­sa­tion on in­tel­lec­tu­al­ism. As pos­tu­lated by an In­dian boxer, Vi­jen­der Singh, “achieve­ments are pre­cious and time­less, just like the pre­cious me­tal plat­inum. And what bet­ter way to cel­e­brate mile­stones than with pre­cious plat­inum.” This plat­inum ju­bilee ought to be cel­e­brated with wine and sweet words. That is ex­actly what will be hap­pen­ing on cam­pus in the next one year. This is be­cause from in­cep­tion till now, it has been one leap of progress unto an­other. UI has been soar­ing higher and higher with the strength of its own wings, en­cour­ag­ing the growth and mat­u­ra­tion of other univer­si­ties.

Mean­while, are the UI alumni stand­ing on this oc­ca­sion? It is ob­vi­ous they are scat­tered all over the world, but this is the time for them to come back for a flash­back. This 70th an­niver­sary is big enough to bring back those who were baked by Ibadan. The alumni should re­mem­ber their alma mater with a view to as­sist­ing the school that made them. The re­la­tion­ship be­tween old stu­dents and their for­mer schools is anal­o­gous to the re­la­tion­ship be­tween a fa­ther and his chil­dren. When the fa­ther is old, the chil­dren come back to as­sist. At 70, most of the fa­cil­i­ties put in place in 1948 have be­come ram­shackle and bedrag­gled. Given the ar­ray of its prod­ucts, UI has no rea­son to be poor. By the way, this is an open in­vi­ta­tion to all UI alumni all over the world to come and as­sist their univer­sity. The money com­ing from the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment is barely enough to run the univer­sity. UI pays elec­tric­ity bill of N60 mil­lion per month, buys diesel of about N5 mil­lion and pays N16 mil­lion for the clean­ing of the cam­pus. The VC hairs have sud­denly be­come grey as he con­stantly racks his brains on how to get money to run the univer­sity. UI cer­tainly needs help from those it has helped with knowl­edge. Apart from com­ing to do­nate to the univer­sity, alumni can as well bring their wives, hus­bands and chil­dren to cel­e­brate with UI on this oc­ca­sion. It is good to come and check out those places where youth­ful ex­u­ber­ances were dis­played in those days. It will be more amaz­ing to see de­vel­op­ments that have taken place on cam­pus, halls of res­i­dence, Ur­bar dam, zoo­log­i­cal gar­den, botan­i­cal gar­den, Ag­bowo, Bodija, Sango, Ojoo, Mokola, Dugbe among oth­ers. In­deed, it will be an op­por­tu­nity to bond bet­ter with for­mer lec­tur­ers and as­so­ci­ates left be­hind in Ibadan.

For in­stance, 1988 grad­u­ates of Eco­nom­ics came back to the univer­sity re­cently, mark­ing 30 years of leav­ing UI. They made a mod­est do­na­tion to their depart­ment, in­sti­tuted schol­ar­ship scheme and left. This was com­mended by the Man­age­ment as the set en­riched the univer­sity. The 1967 set has been so mar­velous in this di­rec­tion. They are prob­a­bly the most or­gan­ised set of all grad­u­at­ing sets. They built the main gate, erected an in­tel­lec­tual bust and have been meet­ing reg­u­larly in or­der to see how they can fur­ther give back to their for­mer school. This is a chal­lenge to all grad­u­at­ing sets. They should know that they are ob­li­gated to re­mem­ber the univer­sity that made them. They are ex­pected at this an­niver­sary.

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