OAU @60: THAT GREAT IFE MAY REMAIN GREAT! THE ROLE OF ALUMNI AND THE PRIVATE SECTOR

Sheyi Babaeko

The prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University Ile - Ife, otherwise known as The Oba Awon University celebrated her sixth decade of advancing the frontiers of knowledge locally and internationally on the 8th of June, 2021. It is fitting therefore to join the ever conscious Great Ife students, the entire staff and management team and of course the Great Ife Alumni worldwide to celebrate this great feat of academic excellence. 

However, considering the foundational ethos upon which Ile-Ife is built, that is, "omode gbon, agba gbon lase da Ile- Ife". It is on this basis that I am calling and appealing to the entire alumni, friends of the alumni and the corporate organizations across the globe to mobilize grants from the government, the international community, corporate organizations and alumni worldwide. The recent events of ranking locally and globally have made this call imperative for our collective responsibility to give back to our Alma Mater so that the death of our heroes past and the contribution of our living legends will not be in vain.

The underfunding of education in Nigeria has contributed to the myriads of problems facing the university because OAU Ife is a microcosm of the macro society, Nigeria by extension. The Late Obafemi Awolowo, the first Chancellor of the University in his speech on Monday 15th of May, 1967, as the then titular head of this great citadel of learning wished that the institution has a ratio of 3 to 2 with the ratio of 3 for science-based courses and the 2 for humanities, knowing fully well that science and scientific methods if properly mastered and applied, will provide the master key to all our problems - be it technical, political, economic or commercial. 

It is sad, worrisome and disturbing that during his lifetime and even years after his death, his dreams to make OAU Ife a world-class University were yet to be fulfilled, things are improving but can still be better considering urgent actions to be taken by injecting funds to the University. There is no better time than now, that Great Ife is 60. With a track record of great and high achievements globally, it calls for celebration not only for our generation but generations to come. The current state of our infrastructure calls for urgent action to rededicate ourselves to the orbit of our glorious past with the view to project Great Ife into her glorious future.

Haddock famously declared that "The power to think, consecutively and deeply and clearly, is an avowed and deadly enemy to mistakes and blunders, superstitions, unscientific theories, irrational beliefs, unbridled enthusiasm, fanaticism". It is an incontrovertible fact, that OAU is equipped with scholars that have impacted generation after generation with learning and culture, but today some university's halls of residence need repairs and face lifting, though some have been repaired, however, the current view of Hezekiah Oluwasanmi Library shows the need for urgent attention both internally and externally.

As a leading ICT University, Prof. Ogunbodede leadership must be commended for visionary leadership, he has demonstrated responsive and responsible leadership and therefore can be said to have what it takes to reposition OAU, for the overall national development - be it in research, and infrastructure but without adequate funding, there is no way this can be done. 

Also, the Engineer Olaleye Alumni leadership must be commended for hitting the ground running especially on his call for the restoration of the Students Union and focus on the welfare for indigent students but there is an urgent need for him and his team to as a matter of urgency expand the scope of work with collaborations and incorporation for the public, private partnership.

The newly inaugurated Governing Council under the able leadership of Mr. Owelle Oscar Udoji is a welcome development. I do not doubt that the Pro-Chancellor with his team is an added advantage. To make Great Ife great is our collective responsibility. Sustaining the Awo Legacy through funding of the Obafemi Awolowo University is a task that must be done, though this noble task is enormous and gargantuan, yet it remains a task that must be done collectively.

In relative to the collective effort, the government should endeavour to increase funding of education at all levels, including universities, meeting UNESCO's recommendation of 26 per cent budgetary allocation; and improvement on the university staffs' welfare should be looked into. 

Lastly, all alumni members should be ready to contribute their quota towards the development of OAU, their Alma Mater. 

Long Live Great Ife @60.

Long Live Nigeria.

Sheyi Babaeko, aka Kevolutionary - Kelvin K.K, is an OAU alumnus, a social commentator, policy analyst and counter-terrorism strategist. He writes from Kabba, Kogi State, Nigeria. 

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