An Agriculture and Business Consult, Lifecom Global Services has indicated its readiness to partner with the University of Ilorin in the establishment of a Plantation of a special large-fruiting and very juicy variety of guava, called Jumbo Juicy Guava (PSIDIUM GUAJAVA), within the University.

The team from Lifecom Global Services, led by Prof. S. A. Ibiyemi of the Department of Chemistry, University of Ilorin,  indicated the plan during a courtesy visit to the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, in his office last Monday (January 29, 2018).  

  In a presentation, the CEO/MD of the company, Mr Biodun Eniola, said that the company discovered that there seems to be no plantation of the variety yet in Nigeria .

While pointing out that each fruit of the guava variety could weigh between 200-600g and would meet both local and international needs, Mr. Eniola explained that at full-grown (3-4 years from the time of fruiting) a single tree of jumbo guava could produce 24-60kg of fruits.

Apart from the mutual financial benefits, the company official expressed the belief that students from the Faculty of Agriculture, especially those in the farm practical training programme, could learn and gain vital knowledge from the product.

The company CEO, therefore, sought collaboration with the University of Ilorin either through a partnership for large-scale production of the Guava Plantation or an arrangement for outright sales of the fruits to the University.

He described guava as the best source of Vitamin C, as the fruit contains 228mg of Vitamin C that is equal to 338% of RDA needed in the daily diet.

In his response, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, said that the coming of the company's delegates to the University was timely because the University in the past few months has been looking into how to make judicious use of the land mass that the institution is endowed with.

He said if it only requires giving a portion of the land, he could approve the proposal even before the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) document is ready. He said his administration would be glad to do that because of its benefits to the students and the institution as a whole.

Earlier, the Company's adviser, Prof. S. A. Ibiyemi, said the collaboration between the University and the Company would give the institution an opportunity to fine-tune the minds of their students to go into commercial agriculture.

He observed that once the students see the prospect in the plantation, it would be very attractive to them as entrepreneur skill development initiative and by so doing, have opportunity on a directional commercial agriculture. 

While also describing it as a product of research, the Professor of Chemistry said the institution may also want to do some research on improving the performance of the nutrients. 

He explained that it produces an opportunity for Research and Development in the institution while postgraduate students may also take advantage of  its benefits.

The company adviser said he has a vision for commercial farming in the University, saying, "This might generate money for the agricultural students during their holidays. The students may also decide to go into commercial farming and make money apart from academic knowledge”.

He urged the University administration to give them a chance to come up with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the partnership between the Company and the University, hoping that the University would not have any cause to regret.

The Vice-Chancellor was joined on the occasion by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Prof. Sidikat Ijaiya; the Deputy Vice-Chancellor(Research Technology and Innovation), Prof. Gabriel Olatunji; the Registrar, Mr. Emmanuel Dada Obafemi; the Dean of Agriculture, Prof. Kola Joseph; and the Head of Corporate Affairs Unit, Mr. Kunle Akogun.

Others are the Ag. Director of Unilorin Advancement Centre, Dr. Jeleel Ojuade; Head of Department of Agronomy, Dr. J. O. Olaniyan; the Ag. Director of Legal Unit, Mrs. R.R. Olokooba; the Deputy Director of Unilorin Consultancy Service, Dr. M.A. Ijaiya; the Ag. Director of PPU, QS A.T. Jimoh; among others.

In its sustained move to become the hub of renewable energy technology in Nigeria, the University of Ilorin will soon sign a partnership agreement in Nigeria, with Infobyte Power Solution Limited, an indigenous firm that specialises in renewable energy technology and alternative power generation. 

At a preliminary meeting between the University management and the company's representatives last Thursday (February 1, 2018), it was revealed that the University would be collaborating with Infobyte Power Solution Limited to produce technologies in reliable off-grid power storage systems that could also create sustainable employment.

The CEO/MD of Infobyte Power Solutions Limited, Mr. Abdulhamid Kayode Babatunde, an alumnus, told the University management, led by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, that through the provision of unbiased research results to all stakeholders, the company should be able to provide support in evaluating current and future technologies for powering electric tricycles that would serve the immediate needs of the university community and Nigeria as a whole.

He said that the envisaged partnership would help the University to become a hub for innovation assessment on renewable energy technologies from pre-incubation and also establish the core infrastructure, service and competence to support production of renewable product and technologies trough post-incubation periods.

Mr. Babatunde explained that the programme is an innovation-based incubator programme, which seeks to work with the University in engaging the participation of stakeholders throughout renewable energy technology innovation chain such as the engineering departments and higher education institutes, science counsels, SME, original equipment manufacturers, innovators and entrepreneurs. 

The Infobyte CEO disclosed that the partnership would be the first of its kind in the country that would hopefully make the University of Ilorin more attractive to future investments and reference points in the research and development of renewable energy technologies in Nigeria. 

While welcoming the team to his office, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Abdulkareem, said that he was glad that the alumni of the institution are coming back to appreciate their Alma Mater.

Prof. Abdulkareem pointed out that even though the University does not have enough money to invest on the project, he believed that when the company robs minds with the Unilorin researchers from various disciplines on the idea that has already been formed, they would be able to transfer the knowledge to students. 

The Vice-Chancellor said, “In whatever way you believe you can work with us maximally to bring not only the lecturers into the picture but also the students is what we want out of the collaboration. 

Prof. Abdulkareem then recommended that a workshop or training be organised for interested researchers from the Departments of Chemistry, Physics, Electrical Engineering and other Departments that are interested in working on the project. 

While pledging his administration's support “to realise hopefully a win-win situation”, the Vice-Chancellor expressed the hope that interested researchers would work with the Unilorin Renewable Energy Centre (UREC) so that the institution can benefit maximally. 

He also announced his readiness to share his knowledge and experiences with the interested researchers. 

Commenting on the status of the CEO as a 1993 graduate of the Department of English Language, University of Ilorin, who has now become an expert in renewable energy technology and alternative power generation, the Vice-Chancellor observed that “in every scientist there is a lot of humanities that would come out and in humanities there is a lot of science people that would come out. So I am not surprised to see a graduate of English Department becoming an expert in alternative power generation”.

In his remarks, the Director of the Unilorin Renewable Energy Centre (UREC), Prof. C.O. Akoshile, said that the team has brought ingenuity into the battery setting because one of the challenges of the solar PV system is the toxicity of battery. 

Prof. Akoshile observed that Nigeria is a buyer of PV system and a buyer of batteries, adding that each time Nigeria imports battery, it also imports toxicity into the country.  

The UREC Director said, “If therefore it is possible to reduce the toxicity by going the way of the project, if the business people would not support us, the environmentalists would do. 

Prof. Akoshile also observed that there are so many things that are coming into the country that are benefiting people outside the country. “In my desire, I believe some of these things can be produced in Nigeria, which we can also export to other countries of the world. 

Earlier, the Director of Unilorin Advancement Centre, Dr Jeleel Ojuade, who facilitated the meeting, thanked the University lecturers for the kind of knowledge they were imparting into the students. 

Dr Ojuade said he graduated from the University in 1993 and was fortunate to bring somebody who graduated the same year with him to add value to the institution. 

He said when he heard of Mr Abdulhamid Babatunde Kayode after 20 years of no contact, he discovered that the then graduate of English from the Faculty of Arts of this University was into renewable energy and information technology. 

Dr. Ojuade said, "I heard of his success in the field and I felt the need to bring the alumnus, who has distinguished himself, back to his Alma Mater. 

Also in the team of the Infobyte Power Solution Limited was Mr Muyiwa Daniel while the Vice-Chancellor was joined at the meeting by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Prof. Sidikat Ijaiya; the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Management Services), Prof. Adedayo Abdulkareem; the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research, Technology and Innovation), Prof Gabriel Olatunji; representative of the Bursar, Mr. M. Dere; representative of the University Librarian, Mrs. Eunice Akinboro; the Ag Director of the Physical Planning Unit (PPU), QS A.T. Jimoh; as well as the Deputy Director of UREC, Dr. J.O. Olaoye; among others.

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, has described Prof. Rasaq 'Deremi Abubakre, a renowned scholar of Arabic Language and Literature, as a proud employee and a worthy Ambassador of the University.

Prof. Abdulkareem made the observation penultimate Saturday (January 20, 2018) at a book launch in honour of the retiring septuagenarian at the Faculty of Arts Lecture Theatre.

While congratulating the celebrator on behalf of the University community, Prof. Abdulkareem observed that it takes the grace of the Almighty Allah to attain the age of 70 years and to retire with honour. 

The Vice-Chancellor, who spoke through the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Management Services) Prof. Adedayo Abdulkareem, said that the occasion was rare and significant.

The three-in-one event marked the 70th birthday of Prof. Abubakre; it was a programme marking his retirement from the services of the University and it was also a book launch. 

According to the Vice-Chancellor's representative, “Each of the three is important as it takes the grace of Almighty Allah to be septuagenarian in a country where the average life expectancy is 53 years. It is also part of Allah's blessing to retire with honour because it is not automatic for everyone employed to retire from service just as it is not automatic for every matriculated student to graduate. Then as a man of letters, it is equally striking that a book, 'Islam, Intellectualism and Integrity: Essays in Honour of Prof. R.D. Abubakre at 70' is being launched”. 

  Prof. Abdulkareem, also, described the celebrant as a unique personality and intellectual giant, whose contributions to the status of the University of Ilorin were unquantifiable. 

He said, “Prof RDA has grown to become a rallying point for his discipline, Arabic Language and Literature, in Nigeria and a well-respected authority in academic circles across the globe”.

In his address, the Chairman of the occasion and a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Oba Abdulraheem, described the celebrant as a strong pillar and support during his administration in the University. 

Prof. Abdulraheem said, “We have been long-standing friends. When destiny got me here as the Vice-Chancellor, in spite of the difficulties of that time, the gentle man stood firm as a staunch friend. He was a very strong pillar of support during the period of our administration and we have ever since continued in that brotherly relationship”. 

In an interview with Unilorin Bulletin, the honoree, Prof. Abubakre, said that his greatest achievement that he would continue to be proud of was in the area of education. 

“A school system that is examination-driven creates more problems for learners than it is solving. The Nigerian school system paints the picture of arenas where teachers and learners have no other thing to think and work on than how to take and pass examinations. Consequently, many otherwise beneficial skills, competencies and abilities are almost forgotten or swept under the carpet. Instead of bringing out good products, schools are busy separating and categorising learners into good, average and poor. The good ones can move forward, average ones may manage but God help the poor for they are not fit for anything.

“Any educational system that continues to do this is backward for the world we live in now and needs reengineering. The worst aspect of this is that the examinations are high stakes and they place heavy demands on learners. The result of this is widespread cheating, certificate racketeering, and even falsification of continuous assessment scores.” 

It was a grand celebration of reunion penultimate Monday (January 15, 2018) at the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ilorin, when the Oluwatoyin Mojisola Akintola Foundation (OMA) and members of the 1999 set of the Department jointly presented various awards and prizes to the best performing students at various levels of the Department.

The well-attended event, which took place at the Faculty Lecture Theatre, was jointly organised by the Class of '99 and an ex-student of the Department, Mr Kayode Akintola in memory of his late wife,  Mrs. Oluwatoyin Akintola, who incidentally was also an old student of the Department of Sociology. She passed away on January 14, 2008.

The event, which was described as first of its kind in the history of the Department since its establishment in 1984, featured presentation of prizes and awards to the best female 300 level student, the best female graduating student, the best 100 level, 200 level, 300 level students as well as the best overall graduating student.

Mr. Kayode Akintola of OMA Foundation presented cheques of N100,000 each to the best female 300 level student and the best female graduating student, Olanrewaju Joy Abidemi and Obakunle Isinmioluwa both of 2016/2017 session respectively.

The 1999 set presented N20, 000 cheques to each of the best performing students in 100 level, 200 level and 300 level, Abdulrazak Oluwakemi Tawa, Folorunsho Sunkanmi Adams and Olanrewaju Joy Abidemi respectively. The best graduating student with a first class honour, in the 2016/2017 session, Khalid Raji, went home with the sum of N40, 000.

A close friend of late Oluwatoyin Mojisola Akintola, Mr. Elijah Olugbade, who was in attendance, also donated the sum of N5,000 each to all the recipients of OMA Foundation prizes while James Omogeafo also donated the sum of N200,000 to support the OMA Foundation for the purchase of text books for the Department.       

In his remarks on the occasion, the Director of the Centre for Peace and Strategic Studies (CPSS), University of Ilorin, who is a former Head of the Department of Sociology, Prof. Noah Yusuf, commended the Class of '99 and  Mr. Kayode Akintola for blazing the trail by remembering the Department that produced them.

The CPSS Director urged other old students to take a cue from OMA Foundation and the '99 set so as to collectively add value to their Alma mater.

Prof. Noah said, "You will all agree with me that the gesture by Mr. Akintola and Sociology '99 Class in instituting an annual award for the best students in the Department deserves appreciation from all and is worthy of emulation. One can imagine the number of awards that our best students would receive annually if all the Sociology sets that we have produced have similar programme".

Also speaking, the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Prof. Bashir Salawu, who is also a Professor of Sociology, thanked the initiators of the prizes for extending their hands of fellowship to the students and Department in general.

In his remarks, the founder of OMA Foundation, Mr. Kayode Akintola, thanked God for giving him the opportunity to fulfill his promise of immortalising his late wife and promised that the donation will be done annually during the University convocation.

Speaking on behalf of the '99 set, Mr. Akin Ibimidun said that the gesture was a collective effort by members of his set to contribute their quota by giving back to the institution that provided them with University education.

In her vote of thanks on the occasion, Dr. (Mrs.) D. Adekeye appreciated the organisers of the awards and prayed God to continue to lead them through in their official and private endeavours.

Highlights of the event included the launching of a book entitled "Toyin's Season" written by Mr. Kayode Akintola, the husband of late Oluwatoyin Akintola, and cash donation to a blind student of the Department.

Among those that attended the occasion were the Dean of Student of Affairs, Prof. L. T. Ajibade; the Dean, Postgraduate School, Prof. S. A. Bolu; and the Ag. Director of the Unilorin Advancement Centre, Dr. Jeleel Ojuade, among others.

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, has enjoined staff members of the University to imbibe the work ethics of the Americans by going the extra mile in the discharge of their duties.  

Prof. Abdulkareem gave this admonition last Wednesday (January 31, 2018) in his remarks at the maiden Alumni Dinner organised by the Kwara State Chapter of the U.S. Government Exchange Alumni Association of Nigeria.

The Association, an assemblage of exchange programme grantees and beneficiaries, aims at fostering cordial relationship and professional development among members while simultaneously encouraging other academics to enjoy the benefits of the exchange programmes.

Addressing members of the Alumni body at the event that took place at The Researchers' Lodge Restaurant, Prof. Abdulkareem said, “There is one thing I will continue to pass on as message which is- if you don't go anywhere else before you die, please go to America and the reason is that as a young chap, I left this country and grew into manhood among the Americans … but something I have respected about the Americans is this: no matter the madness, when people get to the gate of the University, they become normal; they become sane; they become civilised. Those are the things I cherish about their country; they don't bring politics on the campus …”

According to the Vice-Chancellor, “America is a very open society; when they don't like you, they will let you know and when they like you they let you know. Now, I believe if we learn that from them, it will make life a lot easier and better for us here”

He said, “Something else I, learnt from working with them for over two decades is that, I know Japanese are known to be hardworking and so are the Chinese; but I have never seen where somebody will be in the cold (minus 30 degrees), in the morning or afternoon and be sweating in the snow, working… I consider Americans' work ethics to be the highest I have ever seen in a human being…people are dedicated to whatever is their occupation over there …they are always proud of whatever they are doing. That which we can borrow from their culture will help us. Too many of us are too ill-willing to our fellow human beings and it is not helpful.”

Prof. Abdulkareem, however, noted that “it is not that the Americans are smarter, but they are more daring. They are more open; they are people that, if you have an idea, they will not run it down and that gives a lot of room for everybody to develop.” 

He said, “If you look at it now, I find myself in a position trying to beg everybody to work like me but it's been difficult. But I believe we have a long way to go. We have to show the spirit of this American life in everything we do. You don't have to copy…but just see that there is goodness in going the extra mile every time you are challenged. That, I believe, each and every one has learnt in America, and we can actually share it with our fellow Unilorites.”

The Vice-Chancellor, who lamented that too much emphasis is placed on money in Nigeria, opined that “if you conscientiously do what you are given as assignment by God, He has a way of paying you…But I am willing to promote as many of us Nigerians as possible to have a taste of America because it is not a matter of just living there; you can just see sincerity of purpose in everything people do, that is what we lack here...most of us want instant gratification for doing something extra… that sacrifice in all of us, I pray it stays with us and help us in our individual endeavours”. 

Also speaking at the event, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research, Technology and Innovation), Prof. Gabriel Olatunji, described America as a land of unlimited opportunities. 

The German-trained scholar said, “If you check the internet and peruse the various kinds of academic opportunities, you will see that America has the largest in the whole world, yet there are certain foundations in Germany …but we don't have so many in Germany like we have in America. And you have been part of those who were lucky to have benefitted from that kind of Fellowship, it is a wonderful thing”.

While commending the Association's initiative to expand its membership beyond to Fulbright fellows, Prof. Olatunji disclosed that plans are also on to ensure that all those who had benefitted from the German education come together and the German plenipotentiary is invited to inaugurate the proposed Association. He further charged members of the University to imbibe the culture of honesty, progress and passion for hard work in their duties.   

Earlier in his speech, the Chairman of the U.S. Government Exchange Alumni Association of Nigeria in Kwara State, Dr Ameen Mubarak of the Department of Chemistry, University of Ilorin, said the Association intends to actively sensitise and assist members of the University community towards benefitting from the various programmes of the US Department of State, launching of community development projects within the University and its environs, as well as organising public lectures, symposia and training to enlighten the community on topical issues. The Chairman thereafter solicited the support of the University management in the successful execution of these programmes.

In his lecture, “Us Exchange Programmes and Alumni”, delivered at the event, the immediate past Ag. Director of the Centre for Peace and Strategic Studies, Dr Mahfouz Adedimeji, articulated the 'What, Where, Who, When, Why and How' of the exchange programmes, which, he termed as a 'subtle diplomacy' through which the U.S. has been able to train many people across the globe. 

According to him, through the exchange programmes, the U.S. has been able to develop a crop of global leaders selected from 168 countries across the world. 

Speaking on his experiences as a Fulbright scholar, Dr Adedimeji, who described the programme as a “wonderful experience”, noted that a lot of opportunities abound in Nigeria with specific regards to the various American exchange programmes. He said, “I want to believe that all of us that are here as alumni, would have had our various experiences in many US universities to learn several new things, to unlearn many of the things that we thought we knew about America said to relearn.”

Colleagues and students of Prof. Musbau Adewumi Akanji at the Department of Biochemistry, University of Ilorin, last Wednesday (January 24, 2018), organised a welcome party for him on the completion of his duty tour as Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Minna (FUTMinna).

The event, which took place at the Faculty of Life Sciences Boardroom, was well-attended by Principal Officers of the University as well as academics from other Faculties, especially the Faculty of Physical Sciences. 

In his remarks at the event, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, who was represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Management Services), Prof. Adedayo Y. Abdulkareem, described Prof. Akanji as a thoroughbred scholar in his field. He said that the University was proud of the honoree's stewardship as Vice-Chancellor of FUTMinna.

He said, “No doubt, he had left indelible marks in these institutions. Here in the University of Ilorin, Prof M.A. Akanji has rendered great services and has contributed immensely to the growth and development of this noble institution through the different positions he has occupied.

“Indeed, he is a teacher of teachers, a professor of professors, and, of course, he is an astute administrator. His life as a scholar, as a manager of human and material resources and as a family man had been a cornucopia of grace. To this end, I must commend the efforts of the Biochemistry Department, University of Ilorin, for organising this event. No doubt, what Minna is missing in Prof. M.A, Ilorin is regaining back after his tenure in that institution.”

The Vice-Chancellor added, “We have started making use of him as our treasure…appointing him as Chairman of a powerful Committee to look into students' failure attrition rate in the University in our bid to ensure quality in our system”, praying that “I wish Prof. M.A. sound health, abundant wealth, unending prosperity and happiness as he continues to render his services to humanity.”

Prof. Abdulkareem noted that the Department of Biochemistry has produced Deans, eminent scholars and Vice-Chancellors of universities, saying the University was proud of the Department;…we have a number of oracles in the Department of Biochemistry, to all these oracles, we doff our hats.'

Also speaking at a luncheon in honour of Prof. Akanji, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research, Technology and Innovation), Prof. Gabriel Olatunji, noted that “somebody from Ilorin going elsewhere as Vice-Chancellor is not easy. When my brother was leaving for Minna, I had to go down on my knees for Almighty Allah and pray God to please protect my brother for me; to let him go and come back safely and he went safely and came back safely with wonderful, tremendous, monumental achievements.”

Prof. Olatunji recalled that “we were in NURESDEF roughly about two years ago in Awka”, saying, “I saw what Minna brought to that NURESDEF, thanks to Prof. Akanji's innovative ideas, and wonderful energetic impressions and at the end of the score, Minna got higher marks than us…and I saw the report on how TETFUND was utilised and I was happy.”

While noting that Prof. Akanji “will continue to mentor all those who want to be mentored”, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor stated that “we can only thank God that he went safely and has come back safely and we want to continue to wish you success as you go through the last phase of your career in the University. Prof. Olatunji congratulated the honoree's family and appreciated the Department for honouring the former Vice-Chancellor of FUTMinna. 

Also speaking at the event, the Vice-Chancellor of the Summit University, Offa, Prof. H.O.B. Oloyede, described Prof. Akanji as a bosom friend and a good ambassador of the University of Ilorin.  He noted that Prof. Akanji was being celebrated today because he served.  “As he was serving, he was gathering experience”, he added, commending the University of Ilorin for producing many Vice-Chancellors of institutions in Nigeria, which portrayed the University as indeed 'better by far'. 

While appealing to Professors to continue to support younger academics in the system, Prof. Oloyede said, “The University of Ilorin has given us a lot; I pray that this University will continue to move from strength to strength.”

In his goodwill message, the Registrar, Mr. Emmanuel Obafemi, described the honoree as a man whose humility did not change despite occupying high office.

A former Dean of the Postgraduate School, Prof. Clement Bewaji, also described Prof. Akanji as a courageous and fearless man, who showed concern for others and touched lives. 

The Deans of the Faculties of Life Sciences and Physical Sciences, Prof. A.T. Ande and Prof. U.B. Eke as well as the Heads of Departments in both Faculties, took turns to shower encomiums on Prof. Akanji. 

Prof. Ande said, “We know him as an oracle, a lover of the young and old and all of us know him too well as an epitome of humane living”.

Responding, Prof. Akanji appreciated members of the Faculty for the warm welcome, saying, “I feel very elated”.

Highlighting his experiences and rising through the ranks, since he joined the services of the University of Ilorin on September 16, 1986, the honoree submitted that “God decides the affairs of men”.

Recalling incidences leading to his appointment as Vice-Chancellor of FUTMinna, Prof. Akanji emphasised the importance of sacrifice, transparency and inclusive governance. He said, “All the things I did was what I carried from here.” 

He enjoined the younger academics to work hard and place less emphasis on money. “If you are not prepared to be a servant, you can never be a master. You must be prepared to serve anywhere you find yourself ….people are placing emphasis on money and it is not good especially for our students who are young who will replace us tomorrow; money will come later, but work must come before this …We must do our duties. If you do your duty, you are helping yourself. Those of us who are students must study hard; we have been like you before. If we are lazy, we would not be here. You must work very hard because in you, is the future of Nigeria …I want to thank you for this wonderful reception. I want to pledge that I will continue to do my best…”   

A Professor of Educational Evaluation in the University of Ilorin, Henry Olumuyiwa Owolabi, has called for an overhaul of the country's education through the declaration of a state of emergency in the sector in order to engender fundamental improvements that would transform the nation into a scientific, economic and technological giant that can be reckoned with by the rest of the world.

Prof. Owolabi, who is of the Department of Adult and Primary Education, Faculty of Education, made this submission last Thursday (January 25, 2018) while delivering the 177th Inaugural Lecture of the University, entitled “Quest for Value and Raising its Worth”.

According to the Inaugural Lecturer, the weaknesses observed in the sector makes it imperative for the declaration of state of emergency on the nation's education and reforms instituted “in order to translate the country from its present giant size only in terms of population and landmass into a scientific, economic and technological giant the world will have to reckon with.”

Prof. Owolabi submitted that “schools have failed to create the necessary environment to produce critical thinkers as classroom interaction and instructional processes are still teacher dominated. Rather than engage the thought processes, learners carry on with unthinking memorisation of facts, law, principles or formulae. Therefore, they find themselves deficient in the world that requires problem solvers.” He noted that “this is a major deviation from the value emphasised in the nation's policy.”

Given the late advent of technology education in the nation's educational development, the don observed that many Nigerians operate under the erroneous impression “that those whose heads or minds are weak should be allowed to learn via handwork.”

Prof. Owolabi said, “Wherever the wrongly held impression that weaker persons should attend technical and vocational institutions came from, it has sowed the seed of negative values into the educational system”, pointing out that “currently, few secondary school graduates want to proceed to a polytechnic, monotechnic, college of education or other such institutions to acquire the much-needed life skills that could generate quality livelihood and add value to both the beneficiaries and the society.”

According to the inaugural lecturer, “There is a need to ask ourselves why a university graduate in Nigeria begins to pick the vocations they vigorously rejected earlier in their educational pursuit just before they finish their undergraduate education at the university or immediately after they graduate. Why will someone finish the first degree and then begin to learn how to be a seamstress, photographer, cabinet maker, producer of cakes and confectionaries, bead maker, livestock or fish farmer and the likes under any guise?  In this way, the system is asking for a makeup for this missing value…”

He further noted that “though many tertiary institutions now offer courses in vocational skills which they have called entrepreneurship, the skills acquired appear to be devoid of the development of the entrepreneurial mind set”.

He pointed out that findings from a research carried out by him and his colleagues among undergraduates exposed to courses in vocational and professional skills in a University showed that only about 15% were willing to engage in any form of self-employment after graduation while close to 85% desired paid public or private sector employment.  

The Inaugural lecturer therefore recommended among others that “evaluation should be made to play its role in the nation's education by ensuring that no decision, policy, programme or practice is put into place or modified except it has been subjected to evaluation.”

“This should start with the ministries and extend to agencies, departments and institutions as well as non-governmental agencies. Policy somersaults, which have been regular with the education system, will thereby be checked and well-informed decisions will be taken instead of those emanating from the parochial interests of leaders”, he added.