Celebrating the First Female University Chancellor, Folorunso Alakija @ 69

“It’s my birthday today and I have many reasons to be thankful. I want to take this moment to appreciate you all, for the love and support you’ve shown me over the years. May the good Lord cause men to celebrate you as you have celebrated me”.  Folorunso Alakija

Folorunsho Alakija, Vice Chairman, Famfa Oil Ltd., marks a glorious 69 years on earth today. The Nigerian and global community is not only happy for a graceful life but one with enduring legacies. Mrs Alakija represents different things to many people but one difference she has made and continues to make which nobody can doubt is her noble and immense contributions to the development of higher education in Nigeria. She is quoted to have said recently that: “Education is something my family and I do not take lightly. I was taught from a very young age by my mother that education starts from the home. Thinking opens the doors to our minds and makes us receptive to the very idea of broadening our horizons and learning new things. Two instances are worthy of mentioning.

The construction of the access road to Osun State University-Main Campus was commissioned on 19th October 2017. Mrs Folorunso donated 250 Million Naira towards the completion of the road project later renamed Folorunso Alakija Boulevard. The access road to the Main Campus was

for many years in a state of disrepair until Alakija’s swift intervention.

On the 22nd of November, 2018, the foundation for the 250-bed Osun State University Teaching Hospital (UNIOSUNTH) was laid. As Chancellor of Osun State University, Mrs Alakija showed a strong commitment to the viability of a teaching hospital and went all out to ensure this noble idea was realised. Given her love for education, Mrs Alakija donated UNIOSUNTH which, when completed, will consist of a Community Health Unit, Maternity & Neonatal Medicare, Research and Diagnostic Laboratories, state of the art operating Theatres, cutting edge Diagnostic Imaging, inclusive of C.T Scan, M.R.I Scanning Facility, Ultra-Sound Scanning Facilities, X-ray and Radiotherapy Suites, Lecture rooms, Necropsy and Morgue. Alakija noted that: This paediatric hospital has been part of my dream for humanity and being the Chancellor of Osun State University has given me the opportunity to make this dream come to reality. We are eager to surmount all odds and begin this project and formally lay the foundation.

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Mrs Alakijas philanthropic gesture was recently extended in support of the Federal Governments fight against COVID-19. Alakija, through Famfa Oil, contributed 1 Billion Naira as part of her response to resolving the scourge of COVID-19 in Nigeria.

Dr Mrs Folorunsho Alakija has distinguished herself and put a conviction on the role the womenfolk can play in the development of the society and humanity. Mrs Alakija philosophy of the hand that gives rose has not only contributed to the development of the society but has, in turn, elevated her. Mrs Alakijas appointment as the first female chancellor in the Nigeria public university has been propelled by her philanthropic virtue which has distinguished her as a woman of substance, value and of immeasurable worth.

Her contributions to the educational sector of Nigeria has been of immense significance as it represents an exemplary role towards encouraging more private stakeholders, people of philanthropic like-minds and private investors to contribute their quota to education so as to checkmate the falling standard of education in Nigeria. Mrs Alakijas service to humanity and society has become an inspiration and watchword for the emerging generation.

On the 26th of January, 2016, Mrs Alakija and her husband, Modupe Alakija, donated a Law Faculty to Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, in her philanthropic act of re-vitalizing education in Nigeria. The building which cost about 1 billion Naira was affirmed by Mrs Alakija as a testimony to the love God almighty bestowed upon her family. The three-story building consists of standardised facilities that support the convenient and effective practice of law, four departments with offices for lecturers, Heads of Department, a moot court for practical sessions, two libraries, an electronic library, student activism offices, seminar rooms, five big classrooms of 100 student capacity each, big auditorium of 750-capacity equipped with borehole water and a new electricity transformer. The infrastructural contribution was described by the pro-chancellor of the university as an uncommon contribution to the law profession. Accordingly, the Chairman Board of Trustees of the Institution described the Law Faculty as an act of philanthropy by a Nigeria whose reputation for giving is acknowledged nationwide.

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Mrs Folorunso Alakija is a role model exemplar and represents what a real African woman should be. At every point in time, she recognises the role her husband, Modupe Alakija, has played in her life and show at all times that she is the better half to her husband. Modupe Alakija, on the other hand, considers his wife as not only a better half but a Diamond in the Rough. Mrs Alakija loves her husband, respects him to a fault and remain a loyal companion to him. She is an embodiment of a true Omoluabi.

As a philanthropist par excellence and a worthy leader of men and women, we congratulate Mrs Folorunsho Alakija on this auspicious occasion of her birthday and wish her excellent health today and tomorrow. May Folorunsho Alakija be continuously relevant in the service of Nigeria and humanity at large. Amen

Prof. Siyan Oyeweso writes from Osun State University, Osogbo, Osun State, Nigeria

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