ABUAD 2ND DISTINGUISHED LECTURE: catalyst for self-reliant graduates
The Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Nigeria played host to people from all walks of life on 17th May 2012. The occasion which was the celebration of the Second Distinguished Lecture of the University had the chief Medical Director of the Federal Medical Centre, Ido-Ekiti, Dr (Mrs.) Ololade Olusola Ojo as Chairman, while a foremost Lawyer and Pro-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) was the Special Guest of Honour.
The title of this year’s lecture was “SAVING THE AFRICAN UNIVERSITY FROM ITSELF”. It was delivered by Prof. Oladipo Olujimi Akinkugbe, an Emeritus Professor of Medicine from the University of Ibadan. According to him, the need to justify a respectable position in the pecking order of the “world of learning’’ and how characters can assist in preparing such roles effectively in the subsequent world of work was the main push for choosing the topic. He explained that translating concepts and mantra into reality are often faced with the vagaries of our society which intrude into their smooth implementation hence ‘’town now complicates gown’’.
Prof. Akinkugbe believed that the time is now ripe to save African Universities from its self –inflicted problems. In attempting to solve these problems, Prof. Akinkugbe opined that we must first understand its nature, peculiarities of our culture and terrain. He identified such problems as including:
- Lack of initiative towards making university training available to the majority of Africans which often limited their impacts on various aspects of the African socio-economic environment and development.
- The numerous conferences on African higher education and African nations were long on discourse and short on effective implementation hence achieve little or nothing. In addition, the think-through of ground-norms for the smooth running of academic programmes was in many instances poorly contrived and implementation fared even worse.
- There are widespread economic crises, local managerial hiccups and continuous politicization of the campus leading to student unrest and staff union down-tools. This worked hardship on stable progress in higher institutional development therefore a less committed faculty and a restive undergraduate community.
- Society itself has complicated the scenario further as Universities do not normally rise above their own societal identity where declining values and crises in moral integrity within the wider community hold sway.
- Original thinking is a rare commodity in our own setting. Socio-economic backwardness, our inability to make maximum use of minimal resources and our penchant for importing foreign ideas without adapting their potential application to our peculiar circumstance, all these combined to push us towards limping after the Western intellectual tradition without questioning their purpose.
In proposing solutions to the problems, the Emeritus Professor believed that:
African Universities must stand back, take stock and ensure that stated goals are matched by proven performances. He enjoined them to improve the dynamics of population control in favour of adequate family planning thereby earning for Africa, the respectability that is due to cultures with internal discipline and external order. According to Prof. Akinkugbe:
African Universities should as a matter of priority embark on various Research that give due premium to major challenges within the African society. They must link with our national institutes to maximize their outcome and meaningfully apply results to benefits our teeming population while University staff must show absolute commitment and total loyalty. In this regard, African Universities must pursue excellence in their own modest way without breaking their neck competing with institutions that have been existing for centuries and have fine tuned their strategies for funding.
He believed that a definitive role should be embarked upon in alleviating poverty in the continent through pointing their searchlights towards ensuring increasing numbers of our community subsist on more than one US Dollar per day. Integrated curricular development which is crucial to wealth creation and germane in the challenge of nation building must be put on the front burner so as to buttress character imperatives. He called on African Universities to get their own house in order, cooperate with the private sector, tailor their individual agenda toward academic progress and ensure that stakeholders work toward a common goal. He urged University authorities to devote more time in sourcing substantial funding from long term investments, alumni support and income generating ventures.
Earlier, the Guest Lecturer, Prof. Akinkugbe had poured encomiums on the Founder, Aare Afe Babalola, for his foresight. His reminiscence on Aare’s life was summarized as a veritable odyssey of unquenchable thirst for knowledge. The Emeritus Professor thanked the Almighty God for endowing the Founder with opportunity and access to adequate resources which have combined to permit him to actualize his noble dream. He commended Aare and his family, the Management, staff and students for being part of this wonderful and exciting experience of watching an institution grow from nothing into steady academic maturity.
In her address, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Sidi Osho, welcomed guests to the occassion. She explained that their invitations are based on their passion for the development of his University and their legendary contributions to the upliftment of the society. She told the gathering that there is stability in our academic calendar adding that there is harmonious relationship among students and staff. On admission into ABUAD, Prof. Osho stressed that entrance into the institution is merit –based.
The Chairman of the occasion, Dr. (Mrs.) Ololade Ojo, applauded the Founder, Aare Afe Babalola and the University’s Management for making the institution a pace-setter in academic and discipline. She called on students to be focused and shun vices that could truncate their ambitions.
In his remark, the Special Guest of honour, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) thanked the University authority for embracing entrepreneurial studies in its curricular. The vision of the Founder, according to him, will reduce unemployment since graduates from ABUAD will be job- creators and not job- seekers. He appealed to the Federal Government to support the University at all times
Responding, the Founder and President Emeritus, Aare Afe Babalola, reaffirmed his commitment to make ABUAD compete favourably with the best universities in the world. According to the Founder, his idea of distinguished lectures was aimed at producing self-reliant graduates that will embrace qualitative skills and high competence in their various callings.
He promised adequate funding and called for more commitment from both staff and students. He thanked guests for gracing the occasion and wish them journey mercies to their various destinations.