Tuesday, November 19, 2019 3:03 am
It was an array of dignitaries on Monday November 18, 2019, at the conferrement of Honourary Degrees on five eminent Nigerians by the University of Ibadan, UI, during the institution’s 71st Foundation Day and Convocation of 343 PhD graduands, with Temitope Oluwaleye emerging as the overall best PhD candidate and Oladipo Olufemi Omotosho, coming second. The honourees are: Are Afe Babalola, Doctor of Letters; Professor Folagbade Olajide Aboaba, Doctor of Science; the institution’s 9th VC, Emeritus Professor Ayodele Olajide Falase, honorary Fellowship; Dr Alex Chika Eze, honorary Doctor of Science. However, Professor Emmanuel C. Edozien, who died recently, was posthumously conferred Doctor of Science.
Among the dignitaries that graced the occasion, apart from Vice chancellors of over 40 universities in Nigeria were: Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, General Overseer, The Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, an industrialist, Dr Felix Omoikhoje Aizobeoje Ohiwerei, the founder and Chancellor of Lead City University, Ibadan, Prof Jide Owoeye, Professor Oladipo Akinkugbe, Mrs Olajide Oluwafunmilola, office of Lagos State Governor, Professors Abiola Odejide and Olusoji Ofi, former UI Deputy Vice Chancellor, Akinyinka Omigbodun, former Provost, College of Medicine, Ayo Bamgbose and former UI Vice Chancellors, Professors Ayo Banjo, Olufemi Bamiro, and A. B. O. O. Oyediran.
Also in attendance were: Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, Alaafin of Oyo, Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji, Aje Ogungunniso1, Ewi of Ado Ekiti, Oba Rufus Adeyemo Adejugbe Aladesanmi III, Owa Obokun of Ijesa Land, HRM Oba Dr. Gabriel Adekunle Aromolaran II, Alaaye of Efon Kingdom, Oba Emmanuel Adesanya Aladejare, Agunsoye II, and Oloye of Oye-ekiti, Oba Oluwole Ademolaju.
In his speech, the Chancellor of the institution, who is equally the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakah 111 pointed out that one of the honourees, Professor Emmanuel C. Edozien’s award would be unfortunately conferred post-posthumously, adding “They are all highly-regarded personalities in their different callings. The honour we are bestowing on them is very well deserved. While congratulating them, I wish to challenge them that the University and indeed the Nigerian nation, still count on them for greater participation and contribution to the success of our national heritage”.
Speaking in the same direction, the institution’s Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council, Nde Joshua M. Waklek, described the honourees as internationally renowned individuals, who had tremendously impacted the University and the nation at large. “The honourary degrees and fellowship constituted symbol of the University’s recognition of your immeasurable contributions and success in your various endeavours, while they are also to challenge you to do more for this University and humanity. I rejoice with you all on this well-deserved recognition and honour. Consider your pedigree, one cannot but appreciate God for the grace He has given you to receive the honour alive”, he said.
Speaking on the award, the institution’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Abel Idowu Olayinka stated that the institution is known to confer its honorary degrees and Fellowship only upon persons of notable intellectual, scholarly, professional or creative achievement or service to humanity consistent with the rich tradition of the Institution. In the light of this, therefore, he felicitated with all the five recipients.
Responding on behalf of the honourees, Babalola rhetorically sought to know who knew that the University of Ibadan was planted by Sir William Hamilton Fyfe, the former Vice Chancellor of University of Aberdeen and the leader of a delegation sent by international university. “In his beautifully researched paper titled, “The Pearl in the Pack” delivered on the 10th anniversary of the founding of ABUAD by the revered Professor Temitope Alonge, the immediate past Chief Medical Director of UCH on October 19, 2018. He said: “It was he, William Hamilton Fyfe who on the 28th of November, 1948 b 5:30pm, as leader of delegation sent by the inter-university council for higher education in the colony that pushed his way into a few miles into the town of Ibadan until they reached a clearing where it was possible to see a few yards ahead. He planted his walking stick firmly into the ground and said “here shall be the University of Nigeria. It was not until July 1947 that the first principal of the University of Ibadan, Dr. Kenneth Melamby stepped into the university to begin the arduous task of the joint commission by initiating the building of the first university in Nigeria, the University College Ibadan now the university of Ibadan where we all sit today. We the honourees of today pay special tribute to Sir William Hamilton Fyfe, Kenneth Melamby and all the founding fathers of the institution and all those who had worked assiduously in the last 71 years to sustain the tempo of development”.
Pointing out that the nation’s Premier University has produced over 300,000 graduates, some of whom have also become the chief executive of the institution; he paid special tribute to Professor Bamiro and described him as a great man. He said, “In November, 2009 when I went to the NUC to obtain the operating license for Afe Babalola University, I was told that our university, ABUAD would be mentored by the University of Ibadan. I objected and I told NUC that there was nothing to emulate in any public university. NUC upheld my objection. This did not go well with Prof Bamiro, the Vice Chancellor of University of Ibadan at that time. However, in 2014, the Association of Vice Chancellor of Nigeria Universities (AVCNU) held its 29th Annual Conference on the cool calm and serene campus of ABUAD. Prof. Bamiro was present. When he saw the beautiful layout of the University, the imposing structures and world class teaching materials, he recalled the position he took in 2009. He said, “I grudged the founder on what he said in 2009 but with what I have seen in this university, “I pocket my pride”. It is only great men who admit their mistake openly. Regrettably, this quality is in short supply in our country. We all have a lesson to learn from Prof. Bamiro”, he added.
Clearly calling for the autonomy of public universities in Nigeria, he pointed out that without autonomy, it is an illusion that public universities would do well. His words, “I wish to utilize this auspicious occasion to address an issue that worries me day and night which is the autonomy of public universities. The fact remains that quality and functional education is a very expensive enterprise. It is a notorious fact that UNESCO had recommended that government should spend minimum of 26 percent of his budget on education. However, the budgeted allocation for education in Nigeria since 1966 is between 6 and 10 percent. It is an understatement that the challenges facing public universities in Nigeria include among others, inadequate funding, non-payment of salaries and other remuneration, strike, unpredictable academic calendar, infrastructural decay, lack of modern teaching materials and above all, erosion of university autonomy”.
He stated further, “Before the colonial masters approved the establishment of University of Ibadan, Justice Asquith Elliot had recommended that all colonial territories that were able to fund and support university education should be given permission to do so on condition that the universities must be autonomous and free from the encumbrances of government in power. The questions I ask myself are: Are federal and State Universities adequately funded by government and are federal and state universities autonomous? My answers are in the negative. In fact, I do not see the day when public universities would be adequately funded to enable them compete adequately with world class universities or top class private universities in Nigeria. Public universities in Nigeria can be likened to government parastatals where the government funds universities, appoints vice chancellor or approve or appoint vice chancellor, pro-chancellor, members of council. In some cases, the government even controls the use of the money allocated to them”.
Justifying universities’ autonomy, Babalola said, “To attain world class standard, the public universities must be autonomous and free from encumbrance imposed by government on universities. Top universities must be free to charge fee which will vary according to the nature and requirements of each programme. They must be free to set standard and admission criteria. They must be free to appoint qualified and appropriate council members, pro chancellor and vice chancellor. What the government should do is to give subvention to universities as is done in civilized countries”.
The legal luminary urged the alumni to cultivate the idea of given back to the university that made them, pointing out, “If the Alumni Association had been generous, loving and pro-active and had contributed generously like 5 percent of their income to endowment, the total contribution annually would be in billions of dollars. By now University of Ibadan should have become less and less dependent on government funding. In addition, Nigerians generally including parents and politicians who starch their wealth in European banks are generally selfish, self-centred and stingy. We the honourees of today are using this opportunity to appeal to the Alumni of this institution to reciprocate in kind by supporting this university”.
He concluded, “As a tribute to the efforts of the founding fathers of this university and those who have sustained the vision of the founder, and as a legacy of those coming after us, I have today invested in perpetuity, the sum of N11, 000,000 to yield at least N1, 000,000 interest in perpetuity for annual prize award to the best student in Economics, the best student in Law and the staff that demonstrates highest leadership quality in the year”.
Babalola was born into a modest farming family in Ado-Ekiti. He attended Emmanuel Primary School at Ado-Ekiti. His formal education ended at Primary six as his family could not afford to send him to secondary school, what was then known as Standard Six. He passed the Cambridge Senior School Certificate Examination in 1950 through private study, six GCE Ordinary Level papers of London University and four advanced level papers in 1954. He enrolled for BSc. Economics of London University and passed with Honours in 1959. Still studying privately, he passed the LL.B Honours of London University in 1962 as an external student. He was called to the Bar in UK in 1963. He is still a member of the Lincolns Inn. In 1987, he was admitted to the Inner Bar as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. He is a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, the Leadership Institute of Nigeria, Nigeria Society of Engineers, West Africa College of Nursing, Nigeria Institute of Marketing, Nigeria Institute of Chartered Arbitrators, and a former member of the Body of Benchers. He has made outstanding contributions to the development of Nigerian Law and Jurisprudence through advocacy in the Court of Law, He was Pro-Chancellor of the University of Lagos between 2001 and 2007 and he has authored six law books. He has produced 19 Senior Advocates, 1 Federal Attorney General, 4 State Attorney Generals and many Judges, and he has trained over 1000 lawyers. In 2009, he set up Afe Babalola University, a private University lauded by the Nigerian Universities Commission. He owns the prestigious Award of the Officer of the Federal Republic, OFR, and Commander of the Order of Niger (CON).
Falase, who was conferred with the Fellowship of the University of Ibadan, FUI, was the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan from 2000 to 2005 and an Emeritus Professor of the University since 2015. He is a renowned cardiologist and Doctor of Medicine. He made his mark as a seasoned administrator uplifting the University from the sixteenth position on the ranking of the National Universities Commission in 2001 to first position in 2004. He is a recipient of several merit awards including the Nigerian National Order of Merit, NNOM, and Fellowship of the Nigerian Academy of Science, FAS, for his innovative contribution to the field of cardiology.
Edozien, who was conferred with the Honorary Degree of Science, D. Sc. gained admission into the University College Ibadan to study Economics and graduated in 1962. He obtained a M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Michigan in 1964 and 1966 respectively. He was employed at the University of Ibadan in 1967, where he rose through the ranks to become Professor of Development and International Economics. He served as the Dean, Faculty of the Social Sciences, and Hall Master of Independent Hall and Tedder Hall of residence. On the national front, he was the First Chief Economic Adviser with full Cabinet Rank to the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria between 1979 and 1983. He was Chairman of the Boards of many organisations including Olokola Liquefied Natural Gas, Nigeria Reinsurance Corporation, Board of Broad Bank of Nigeria Limited, Wages and Salaries Relativity, Study Group to Review the Nigerian Tax System and Administration, and Technical Committee on Privatisation and Commercialisation Sub-Committee on Partial Commercialisation of the Delta Steel Company and Partial Privatisation. He has received many awards, including Officer of the Federal Republic, OFR, Doctor of Science Degree, Honoris Causa Bells University of Technology, Ota, Distinguished Fellow of the Nigerian Economic Society, FNES, and winner, ThisDay Lifetime Achievement Award, 2009.
Ezeh, who was conferred with the Honorary Degree of Science, D. Sc., is a distinguished alumnus of the University of Ibadan, the Dornsife Professor of Global Health, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Honorary Professor of Public Health, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Centre for Global Development, Washington, DC. He has been one of the foremost promoters and influencers of tertiary education on the African continent. He obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree from Imo State University, MSc. Sociology from the University of Ibadan and later obtained a Ph.D. in Demography from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia in 1993. He later came back to Africa as a Senior Research Fellow at the African Population and Health Research Centre, APHRC, in Nairobi, Kenya, where he pursued a strategy of partnership with higher education institutions in Africa in building research capacity. Two of his signature initiatives in this regard are the African Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowship, ADDRF, and the Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa, CARTA. He was the foundation Executive Director of the two projects before handing over to his successors, a South African and a Ugandan. He currently occupies an endowed chair of Global Health at Drexel University Medical School, Philadelphia.
Aboaba, a professor of Agricultural Engineering was born on March 8, 1933. He attended C. M.S. Grammar School, Lagos State from 1944 to 1949. In 1959, he obtained a B. Sc. Agric. from University College, Ibadan, before attending King’s College, University of Durban, Newcastle Upon Tyne, England, where he bagged his M. Sc. Degree in Agricultural Engineering in 1962. His PhD degree in Agricultural Engineering was obtained from University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, USA in 1971 as an African-American (AFGRAD) Fellow.
He started his university working career in 1964 at Obafemi Awolow University, OAU, Ile-Ife, Osun State, as a part time lecturer in Agricultural Engineering. In 1965, he moved to University of Ibadan to continue his academic career where he worked and made significant contributions to Agricultural Engineering profession in Nigeria. In 1972, Aboaba moved from Agronomy Department to the institute of Applied Science and Technology, now Faculty of Technology, to head the Department of Agricultural Engineering and he became the first Dean of the Faculty in 1975. He was responsible for developing the Agricultural Engineering programme for the Department while teaching various courses in Agricultural Engineering. He also undertook varied research projects which resulted in his publications of high quality papers both in the national and international journals before retiring in 1992. He has trained several Nigerian Agricultural Engineers at both M.Sc and PhD levels.
He is a member of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, ASABE and also a member, Nigerian Institute of Agricultural Engineers, NIAE. He is a registered Engineer with the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria, COREN. He was a seasoned administrator while in the university system. He has varied professional and administrative experience both within and outside the university. Within the university, he was Head of Department, Foundation Dean of Technology between 1975 and 1978. He was also one of the pioneering directors of training and research farm, UI.
Today, Aboaba is recording other outstanding feats in a new field he found himself, the banking industry. He was once the chairman of Global Bank plc, Lagos State, Nigeria. He held several other appointments and some of these include: Chairman Governing Council, Federal Institute for Industrial Research, Oshodi, 1976-1979, Secretary General, Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, 1993-1998; Foundation Pro-Chancellor/Chairman Governing Council, Redeemers University, RUN, 2003-2013.