UNILORIN: Celebrating 40th Year of Academic Distinction By: Akorede Shakir
Since the departure of the colonial era and the early periods of independence, public education in Nigeria has become devoid of an efficacious system that operates a modern standard of curriculum, technical, logistic, administrative and other aspects of premium education in the milieu of the 21st century.
It will give me a deep satisfaction to start this piece with a brief about the state of education in Nigeria, as captured in the shocking statement of a social-network guru, Japeth J. Omojuwa, who says “it is a thing of generational shame to see Nigerians run to Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, even Sudan, to acquire tertiary education. There are even Nigerian students in Ghanaian polytechnics. We spend over N200 billion/year on paying school fees in Ghana. Is that not a shame? Why are our schools still teaching courses that prepare students for the jobs of the 1960s…?”
The aforesaid is indeed a shameful generational challenge!
It doesn’t need any equation or graphical proofs to show how repugnantly Nigerian education has deteriorated in the recent decades. However, there continues to be a renewed and re-encouraged optimism that education in Nigeria would still retake the global standard. The 29th Convocation lecturer, Ambassador Walter C. Carrington (Former United States Ambassador to Nigeria) said on the podium of the university of Ilorin auditorium on Monday 20th October 2013 that “there is a more optimistic world yearning to be born.”
Lending credence to this hopes, I want to say it categorically that University of Ilorin has over the journey of forty years become an “epitome of excellence” in the midst of its senior and second-generation contemporary universities in the country. The university, without any doubt, has never ceased to remain an outstanding institution that builds young potentials with rare brands of excellence and championship in various fields of learning, research and life endeavours. This citadel of learning is second to none in the recent age of our country, in terms of its standard and vast overall growth. The truth of the matter is that Unilorin takes the lead among other institutions that keep the hope of those that cannot afford schooling abroad. The numbers of exchange programmes enjoyed by students of the university, internships, scholarships, leadership training, and in fact the increasing number of international students from across African regions (including Anglophone and Francophone countries) schooling therein will continue to attest to the internationality of the University.
As an affiliate college to the premier University of Ibadan, Unilorin started in 1975 with 200 admitted students, sequel to an entrance examination. In the mean time interestingly, a proper academic work started on 25 October 1976. The university’s sojourn in tertiary education however started with only three academic faculties of Arts, Science and Education. Today, this university has become fully-fledged with rapid human, learning and structural evolvement. It has rose through highest ranks championing unprecedented milestones in the Nigerian education sector. Her imitable feats have won her, severally and repeatedly, the ‘Number One University in Nigeria’ award. At the moment nonetheless, Its quite enthusing as the Fortieth Anniversary of the University brings forth outstanding moments to celebrate the institution’s Founder’s Day and other awesome historic events that impel every mind to eulogise the monumental strides of this great citadel of learning and appreciate its enormous contribution to the development of tertiary education in Nigeria.
The world-class innovations by the varsity, such as: the CBT exam, fifteen years of uninterrupted academic calendar, Tablet PC for new students, plantations and e-voting at Student Union level and other first of its kind feats in the history of tertiary institution in Nigeria pose irrefutable justifications for the international encomiums showered on her as she celebrates her 40th anniversary. It is noteworthy that the strenuous efforts by her staff are indeed commendable. It is impossible to dispute however, that the university has day-in-day-out caught up with many of the first generation universities, competed with them and has become better by far than many of them. As the most-sought-after university in Nigeria today, the roles of all heroes –the past and present Vice Chancellor(s) and the Students’ Union leaders of the University can never go unacknowledged. They are duly appreciated for the sustained mechanism put in place to foster stability, peace and progress of the university. In all variables, Unilorin has really achieved a lot of feats to make her proud at 40th.
As the town and gown of the university look forward to a resounding anniversary, the university is set to host several international icons ranging from giant African leaders; outstanding academics; monarchs; top government officials, to accomplished entrepreneurs, among other dignitaries coming to celebrate with her during the anniversary and 31st convocation ceremonies. President Muhammadu Buhari and his Ghanaian counterpart, President John Dramani Mahama shall make the most-distinguished personalities to confer great honours on this university, as they both would be present on Friday, October 23, 2015. The Ghanaian President and Chairman of ECOWAS shall be delivering the University’s anniversary lecture entitled “Africa’s Agenda 2063: Ending Poverty and Ensuring Prosperity in Africa” on that day. While in honour of this thrilling anniversary, a commemorative Book “Unilorin @ 40: The Soaring Eagle” shall be unveiled, as well as commissioning of about 22 new projects executed by the University administration in the last one year which shall be anchored by the Visitor to the University, President Muhammadu Buhari.
As we observe this monumental event, areas of inefficiency and dysfunction in the education sector must be seriously discussed. The staunch challenges facing our education must equally be underscored and worked upon by the government and all stakeholders so as to throw life to the hopes of the people without further hesitation. As a matter of dire need to achieve this, the Buhari-government must be charged to develop and ensure thorough implementation of policies that will resuscitate Nigerian education and reposition it to fit in with the modern class. Also, matters revolving teachers and students’ welfare should also be looked into with the progressive mind of making education endearing, affordable and absolutely empowering to the citizens., once again. As the nation enters a new era of governance that preaches positive change, measures to fast-track education development must be made paramount. On a special note however, I once again reiterate my support for the opinion by Chief Dele Momodu that the President should make his government more committed to the youth and students by hosting public events on campuses and engaging them constructively. Hopefully by this, the Nigerian campuses and other youth constituencies will witness significant transformations that are highly required.
I’m one of the classified ones by destiny to be part of the products of this remarkable year. As such, it gives me a proud memory to join voice with other colleagues to congratulate ourselves saying: VENI VIDI VICI.
We celebrate this great Alma matter particularly on this twin occasion. We congratulate the management, especially the Vice Chancellor, Professor Abdul Ganiu Ambali and his efficient team, all staff and students of the university on the 40th anniversary and the 31st convocation. Our prayer for the university is to continue to keep championing excellence. By the next ten years when the school shall be reaching the golden jubilee age, we have strong convictions that greater climax of academic landmarks would have been attained.
A hearty “congratulations” to the better by far University!
THE WRITER: Akorede is a fresh graduate of Arabic Department, University of Ilorin, a university scholar throughout his years of learning, research and unionism, a former NANS Chairman (Kwara State) and a veteran contributor to the developmental success of the Student Union activities of Unilorin. He tweets from @akorive001, and can be contacted on: firstname.lastname@example.org