Retreating for diamond jubilee

From October 28 to 31, the Obafemi Awolowo University campus in Ile-Ife was a rendezvous for those who had passed through the citadel of learning where they were molded to become a success story they are in different fields of human endeavors at home and beyond the shores of Nigeria.

They converged to be part of the historic 60th anniversary of the citadel, which was founded on June 18, 1961 by the defunct Western Region Government.  Though ranked in August the third among 500 universities in Nigeria, according to a ranking web, Webometrics, latest release, it is on record that the OAU, had once occupied top position on the table for five consecutive years.

Webometrics is the “largest academic ranking of Higher Education Institution” according to the assessment of Composite Indicators and Web Impact Factors.

This slip is said to be a springboard to actualization of the institution’s dream to break more ground.

The gathered that the university is close to generating an independent electricity for the entire academic community to free itself from the claws of the national grid, which is said to have done an incalculable damage to reputation of the institution over the years.

In June, Vice-chancellor, Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede specifically affirmed that the university had obtained marketing license to distribute 8.03 Megawatts power to the school.

It was also learnt that plan was already underway to site airstrip along Ife-Ilesa highway with a view to improving aeronautic engineers’ education. And the Vice-chancellor confirmed the development and revealed efforts so far made in that regard.

“The university is collaborating with relevant government agencies and corporate organisations to construct an airstrip located on the university land along the Ibadan-Ilesha Expressway, capable of serving as training ground for the newly-established Aeronautic Engineering programme and also supporting national, regional movement of goods and services.

“Aeronautic Engineering programme is based in a new department with a building that is near completion,” he said.

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Apparently aroused by this stride, the Obafemi Awolowo University Alumni Association, reactivated their energy, coming up with a consensus to play an active role in the anniversary, hence members’ pilgrimage, dubbed retreat, which brought together ‘lost’ class and roommates under a convivial atmosphere for three days.

Resplendent in a customized Ankara fabric and shirts matched with caps, the members conducted themselves in a way which confirmed the veracity in the motto of the school, which is, learning and culture. Piloted by leadership of the association currently headed by the Global President, Engineer Olawale Olaleye, they all participated actively in all programmes which included gyration night, jumat service, lecture, documentary, web portal, cultural performances, technical session, gala night and award presentation.

Preparation for the grand occasion had commenced months earlier as effectively coordinated by the association through its different branches home and in the diaspora, using various online platforms, especially whatsapp to sensitise members on requirements to participate at the event.

“Notification for the retreat was well circulated at branches and on social media. It was nostalgic feelings seeing people you probably did not imagine you would meet again after many years of graduation. I am impressed by the turnout as people travelled in even from abroad. It was a moment of fun and reflection and preparation for future because the association has projects ahead to impact more on the school. Throughout the event, I felt more proud of having attended the ‘Great Ife,’ Mrs Yetunde Buge said.

Engineer Olaleye confirmed Yetunde’s submission as regards future of the association, revealing that the retreat was, in addition, aimed at strategizing with a view to repositioning their alma mater in the comity of institutions of higher learning in Nigeria. The president promised that the association would stop at nothing in securing the respectable position of the OAU, adding that the past 60 years had witnessed remarkable accomplishments which, according to him, aligned with vision of the founding fathers.

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“Sixty years is a remarkable period for an Institution, more so, when the Institution has fulfilled the mandate of its establishment. Obafemi Awolowo University has fulfilled the mission and vision of its founding fathers, towards ensuring the Great Ife maintains its academic standards and excellence as well as its leads in other areas such as sports and culture.

“We have placed a lot of emphasis on the awareness and encouraging of more members to key into the Association agenda towards providing serious and meaningful intervention on our Alma mater,” he said, adding “renovation of lecture theaters, drilling of boreholes, renovation of faculty buildings, donations of books to the library, equipping of the Econometric laboratories, renovation of Hostels, donation of drugs consumables to the health centers among others are the alumni intervention.”

Guest lecturer was Director and Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria French Language Village Ajara-Badagry, Lagos State, Professor Babatunde Ayeleru who hit at Nigerian universities including his host on their failure to confront challenge, which the dreaded Corona virus pandemic, posed to the world, unambiguously berating the nation’s reliance on foreign expertise for succour.

Titled “Repositioning Nigeria University towards Sustainable National Growth And Development’, the paper was unsparing as it stated: “No Covid vaccine has been researched and concluded by any of the Nigerian universities and approved by World Health Organization (WHO) for the benefit of the citizenry instead we are looking, cap-in-hand, toward the Oxford AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson and Moderna NIAID vaccine from a foreign university and research institutes abroad.”

Vice-chancellor, Professor Ogunbodede, the immediate past Pro-chancellor and Governing Council, Dr Yemi Ogunbiyi, an outstanding alumnus, Alhaji Rafiu Ebiti and the composer of the university anthem, Barrister. Olasupo Ojo made it to the podium as recipients of award of merit.

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Appreciating the alumni association for the retreat and their general impact on the school, Professor Ogunbodede explored the opportunity to attest to the school’s standard right from birth through childhood to adulthood.

While drawing curtain on the historic retreat, which added a new chapter to history of the alumni association, the visibly gratified global president declared, “I appreciate you all for deeming it fit for sparing your times to celebrate the OAU 60th anniversary and alumni retreat.”

Olaleye assured, “We have placed a lot of emphasis on the awareness and encouraging of more members to key into the Association agenda towards providing serious and meaningful intervention on our Alma mater.”

It was learnt that few days after the retreat, the US branch of the association also held the school’s anniversary at Maryland where Engineer Olaleye joined and addressed members with goodwill message from Nigeria.

Relying on a report by the Global Publicity Secretary, Professor Akeem Amodu, the US event also recorded an impressive turnout from alumni members from different parts of the US.

“In his goodwill message delivered at the event, the Global President Great Ife Alumni Association, Engr. Wale Olaleye FNSE congratulated the leadership of American Chapter of the Alumni Association for a successful outing. The Global President, among others, called for unity and continued synergies in the effort to give support to our Alma Mater.

“According to Engr. Wale Olaleye FNSE “there is strength in unity, when we work together we achieve more”. He enjoined all the branches in America to join hands “so that we can all be part of the global Alumni structure.  With the global Alumni structure we will all be able to contribute our ideas and intellectual prowess towards the development of our Association and our Alma Mater”.




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