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Government, citizens must join hands to revamp public University system – Owelle Oscar Udoji

Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Nigeria, Owelle Oscar Udoji, has said that government and citizens must join hands to revamp the public university system in Nigeria to make it responsive to the changing imperatives of the 21st century.

Owelle Udoji said this at the Foundation Day commemorative event of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of the University held on Tuesday, June 8, 2021.

The Pro Chancellor, who acknowledged that the public university system in Nigeria “is at a major crossroads,” stressed that the attainment of the desire of all for a better public university system that “is well-positioned to train world–class manpower for the country with cutting-edge teaching and learning,” and one that is “at the forefront of responding to – and tackling the myriad challenges of national development” requires collective effort.

He said the responsibility is too important to be left to government alone and too dangerous to be left in private hands unregulated, insisting that all stakeholders, government and citizens should “rise up to the task of pulling our universities back from the brinks.”

Owelle Udoji noted that old boys and girls (alumni) of universities have special roles to play in this effort and he, therefore, called on all “Great Ife Alumni at home and abroad, in all walks of life, to stand up and be counted.”

He praised the efforts of the incumbent Vice Chancellor, Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede, in sustaining and advancing the strides that have been achieved by succeeding leaderships since the inception of the “truly world class University – Great Ife.”

He also promised on behalf of other members of the Council that they would “leave no stone unturned in working with and supporting the University administration” to uplift the institution “from greatness to more greatness.”

Full text of the Address:

ADDRESS OF THE PRO-CHANCELLOR AND CHAIRMAN OF COUNCIL, OBAFEMI AWOLOWO UNIVERSITY, ILE-IFE, OWELLE OSCAR UDOJI, AT THE FOUNDATION DAY COMMEMORATIVE EVENT OF THE DIAMOND JUBILEE CELEBRATIONS HELD ON TUESDAY, 8TH JUNE 2021.

The Vice-Chancellor,

Deputies Vice-Chancellor,

Registrar and all Principal Officers of the University here seated,

Members of Council,

Provosts and Deans,

Heads of Departments and Units Distinguished Guests and Alumni, Professors and members of the University community, ladies and gentlemen.

GREAT IFE! GREAT IFE!! GREAT IFE!!!

I consider it a great and privileged time for this Council to be in place in this University. A time another milestone is being attained in the history of this institution of pride, not only for Nigeria, but also the entire continent of Africa. In fact, it is most remarkable that we are all here as the Obafemi Awolowo University turns Sixty (60). Sixty diamond years, sixty years of impeccable growth and giant strides, sixty years of valiant contribution to the universe of knowledge, sixty lofty steps with incredible generational footprints, sixty years of sublime legacies, sixty years of innovative leadership and excellent scholarship.

At age 60, one is mature and experienced, having gone through the vagaries and vicissitudes of life. One is wiser, resilient and has seen through the ages, the promises, pain and sweetness of attaining greatness. Yet, this celebration, more than anything else, is to renew and re-dedicate our commitment to nurturing the seed of learning and culture that this University embodies.

I know I speak on behalf of my other colleagues, Distinguished members of Council, all of us newly appointed, that the University can be assured that we shall leave no stone unturned in working with and supporting the University administration. We are more than determined to contribute to uplifting this institution from greatness to more greatness.

In the two days that I arrived, attending the Interdenominational Church Service to start the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, and also Chairing the first meeting in the life of this Council only yesterday, I have already seen early signs of the quality stuff that the University is made of. I am indeed impressed by the institutional thinking behind current efforts by the University administration.

I pay special tribute to the foresight and dedication of the founding parents of this University for birthing a truly world class University – Great Ife. Their vision has continued to reproduce catalysts and change agents that are transforming society in various fields.

I also pay tribute to all those who have led this great citadel of learning since its inception to date. I would like to make our current Vice-Chancellor, Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede, a point of contact, to show our deepest appreciation for the hard work and selfless service to the University community, our country, Nigeria and the entire world.

Of course, it could only be providence that I stand before you today as your Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council. I promise to follow the traditions of those men (sadly, no woman for now) that came before me, to lead with utmost commitment and care.

There is no doubt that the public university system in our dear country is at a major crossroads. I know that we would all want a better public university system; the type that is well-positioned to train world–class manpower for the country with cutting-edge teaching and learning. We would want a public university system that is at the forefront of responding to – and tackling the myriad challenges of national development.

To achieve this is as much a responsibility of government as it is that of every citizen. I dare say, permit me, that the challenge of revamping the University system in Nigeria to make it responsive to the changing imperatives of the 21st Century is too important to be left to government but certainly also too dangerous to be left in private hands unregulated. My belief is that all stakeholders, government and citizens alike, would rise up to the task of pulling our universities back from the brinks.

I would like, ladies and gentlemen, to make a special note on the important role that old boys and girls of this University can and should play. I know that at age 60, this University has produced old boys and girls that occupy prominent positions across all fields of endeavour in all continents of the world.

This is the time for the University to reach out to them, not just because we have needs but also to carefully cultivate and keep them abreast of developments in the Citadel. More importantly, I call on All Great Ife Alumni at home and abroad, in all walks of life, to stand up and be counted. I believe that our Alumni community should not wait to be called upon but should more proactively approach and give back generously to the University.

I am proud of the fact that our products represent a shining light all over the world, helping to build a respected and respectable profile/reputation that inspires the courage on our part, to do more. For generations aspiring to come to Ife, current students, alumni and staff, we owe it to each other to preserve our sense of community and loyalty to a University that stands out among its peers and gives us reasons to celebrate her.

As we look forward to the great events scheduled to mark this anniversary, I like to, once again, congratulate the Vice-Chancellor and his team, members of the 60th Anniversary Committee and the entire University community.

Happy 60th Celebration!!! Great Ife!

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