University Of Ibadan @ 68 and the education of Nigeria


The 2016 convocation and 68th Foundation
Day ceremonies of Nigeria’s premier
university, University of Ibadan (UI), clearly
provided a platform for interrogation of
some, not only educational issues, but also
critical national matters which deserve
continuous considerations and appraisal with
a view to solving them. Beyond pushing some
crucial matters of national interest into the
front burner, UI at 68 ceremony attracted the
attention of the richest man in Africa, Aliko
Dangote who gave the institution the
whooping sum of N250 million for the
development of UI School of Business. This is
not only thrilling to the ears but good for the
system that has been longing for help and
healing! The donation, at this point in time is
indeed a lifeline.

There is no doubt that UI, has, over the years,
secured a place in the pantheon of the great
academic institutions across the world
through the production of well-bred, well
baked, and world-class graduates who are
making waves across the globe. Evidently,
UI’s products are its pride. However, the
Chancellor of the University, Alhaji
Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar lll, who is also
the Sultan of Sokoto, called the attention of
the elated gathering to a rather debilitating
national issue: corruption. He wondered why
Nigeria was so much enmeshed in corruption
despite the sound education received by the
ruling class. His words, “Today, one of our
major challenges as a nation is the
widespread corruption among the
elites, many of whom are graduates of our
universities. The revelations in the last one
and a half years have shown the absence of
moral consciousness in our elites who found
it easy to defraud the public treasury of
mind-boggling amounts, which are meant for
the development of the society”

The Sultan of Sokoto was not done. He
turned to the university administrators. “We
need to ask the universities to revisit the
content of their training and find out where
exactly this quest for material acquisition
finds its ways into the psyche of the educated
elites. Our educational institutions mould the
minds of our future generations and no
society can have a future, if its educational
institutions are imparting the wrong values
or are operating at variance with those
values, which alone build strong societies.”
What a challenge from the Chancellor! Sadly
enough, as this writer was putting this piece
together, a Pro-chancellor of a Federal
University in South-West of the country, the
Vice Chancellor and the Bursar of the
university were being dragged to court to
answer questions on corruption and
complicity. This is in addition to various
cases of corruption involving some judges
and politicians as well as some professionals
in various courts of the land. Perhaps it is
safe to say Nigeria is a country subsumed
under the crippling culture of corruption. To
overcome this virus, therefore, UI and other
universities are expected to assist the
country. Ivory towers generally are required
to proffer solutions to many of the national
challenges.

As if responding to contemporary demands,
UI seems to be yielding to the modern needs
of this generation with the new
undergraduate programmes underway. Prof.
Olayinka reported that the erstwhile
Department of Economics has evolved into
the Faculty of Economics with four academic
departments including Economics,
Accounting, Business Administration and
Banking and Finance. Again this is a welcome
development. Many candidates had in the
past shunned UI because all these courses
were not available, rather, the University ran
only Economics. But with the assistance of
the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which has
built a gigantic structure that will house the
Faculty, these courses will now be mounted
as from the next academic session. UI is truly
great, swimming with the tide of time, an
attribute of a 21st-century university you may
say.

Again, in line with its internationalisation
vision, the University, now has 274
international students. A world-class
university must reflect the diversity of the
universe by a good mix of its student
population. In the early years, up to the 70s,
UI had foreign students and lecturers across
the globe living on Ibadan campus. The
university’s popularity soared because of the
presence of foreigners who really felt at
home in Ibadan. Good enough, Ibadan is a
city of open arms. The people in the city
possess in abundance, the friendliness that
draws all like a mystic magnet. No wonder
they say there are no strangers in Ibadan.
There is no doubt therefore that UI will
reclaim the past glory with the return of
more international students. It is even a
testament to the quality of education in
Ibadan if we have more of them.
Again, an important matter that was
highlighted by the ceremony has to do with
Nigerian value system. To my mind, the
quality of people a society venerates speaks
volumes of the value system such a society
upholds. In Nigeria, thieves are often
celebrated as Chiefs. Paradoxically, morons
are regarded as barons because the value
system has been skewed towards
materialism. But UI seems to be teaching the
Nigerian society to learn to honour only men
of conscience. The university is passing
across this lesson by examples. The
university has only been honouring men and
women of impeccable character every year
through its honourary awards. For this year,
three men of probity made the
list, including the business mogul and the
richest man in Africa, Alhaji Aliko
Dangote, the literary giant and the world-
acclaimed poet and writer, Prof. Niyi
Osundare and an accomplished entrepreneur,
Chief Bode Amao. These three men, in the
estimation of UI and in the court of public
opinion have attained greatness through
honest toil.
By and large, this year’s convocation and 68th
Foundation Day ceremonies were so
impressive and successful. The truth remains
that in this world of accelerating change,
intensifying complexity and increasing inter-
dependence, no serious nation, determined to
be relevant, can afford to trifle with
development-inspired research. This is
where the government has a major role to
play. Education must be accorded the
required attention and priority. A situation in
which university workers and knowledge
facilitators are not paid their full salaries by
the government is as horrid as it is awful.
There is no doubt the economic heat is
becoming blistering for everyone in the
country. Civil servants are the worst hit.
Their meagre salaries must not be
“amputated” by the shortfall in personnel
cost. Education must be given attention.
Workers in the sector must equally be
treated well if academic excellence must be
maintained. Education remains the only tool
of economic empowerment and social
advancement.
• Saanu is with the Directorate of Public
Communication, University of Ibadan. 




Thomas
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