Why we want what we want

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Text of the Address Delivered by the Vice-Chancellor, University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Professor Is-haq O. Oloyede, on the Occasion of the Founder’s Day and 25th Convocation Ceremonies of the 2008/2009 Graduands of the University of Ilorin on Friday October 23, 2009 at the Auditorium, University of Ilorin, Ilorin.


I welcome you distinguished and eminent ladies and gentlemen to our Founder’s Day and convocation ceremony. I thank you most sincerely for sharing the joy of this moment with us, our esteemed graduands and their families. I especially welcome the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, our Visitor, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, GCFR, ably represented by the Governor of Kwara State, His Excellency, Dr. Bukola Saraki, for whom the Deputy Governor, our own Baba, Chief Joel Ogundeji, is standing in. I also welcome a very distinguished Nigerian, our Honourable Minister of Education, His Excellency, Dr. Sam Egwu, as well as the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Prof. Afolabi. I acknowledge the presence of the whole super-structure of the Nigerian university system, represented by the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Julius Okojie, and the Director of Higher Education, Dr. Jemilat Suara.

I want to begin by thanking Allah for life and for the privilege of witnessing this special day in the lives of these graduating young men and women. Every new day we see is a privilege not a right and we cannot thank Him enough. I also thank the Federal Government of Nigeria for its support to the University of Ilorin at all times and its recent injection of N5.5 billion into the University through the Education Trust Fund (EFT) Special Intervention Fund. We are grateful and we use this opportunity to re-affirm our commitment to the rationale behind our establishment as a University in 1976. We hope not fail Nigeria and the world.

I also specially welcome and thank our host, the Kwara State Governor and Chairman of Governors’ Forum, Dr. Bukola Saraki, who has been very supportive to the University through different layers of assistance. I warmly welcome our Royal Father, the Emir of Ilorin and the Chairman of Kwara State Traditional Council, HRH Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu Gambari. I welcome you all, our guests from Nigeria, Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian and other world universities as well as every single person here present. I crave your indulgence to disallow me from wasting your precious time by mentioning you by name. I have the mandate of my Chancellor, HRM Dr. Benjamin Ikechukwu Keagborekuzi I, the Dein of Agbor and the Pro-Chancellor, Alhaji Tukur Mani, CON, the Tafarkin Katsina, to thank you for gracing this occasion.

The Visitor and Chancellor sirs, today marks the grand finale of the convocation ceremonies that started last Monday with the Vice-Chancellor’s press briefing. In the press briefing, which I called What We Want, I summarised some of the developments in the University essentially on the basis of our vision and mission statements. As I congratulate our 3,876 first degree/diploma graduands and their 1,491 higher degree/ postgraduate diploma counterparts, I believe that it would not be out of place to reiterate why we want what we want at the University of Ilorin.

More than any other time in history, human beings appear to be on the tinderbox. Humanity is confronted by unprecedented challenges posed by climate change, economic meltdown, social contradictions and outright wars, small scale or large scale, to mention but a few. Africa especially has more than a fair share of the contemporary challenges and to us, it is only through proper education, the one that is efficient and consistent, that we can surmount the daunting tasks that confront the world, Africa and Nigeria. Why we want what we want is that the future of humanity lies in the youth of today and without education, the youth have neither today nor tomorrow.

It may be very difficult to solve the problems of the world; let the leaders of the world mind that serious business seriously because they are in charge. It may very difficult to solve the problems of Africa; African leaders have a duty to fix the problems. It may be very difficult to solve the problems of Nigeria; let Nigerian leaders continue to work hard to solve the problems. The same way the University system has its problems; people who operate within it should rise to the occasion. At the University of Ilorin on which we are accountable, what we do is to do our own, not oblivious of many problems, but convinced that cutting the head is not the recipe for headache. That is why we are what we are.

In other words, why we want what we want is that we desire to accelerate the pace of national development through our contribution to the human capital of the country, our greatest asset as a nation. We wish to scale all heights, fathom all depths and traverse all horizons such that we give our students the best and we provide the right atmosphere for our staff to excel. This is why we cherish our students and we prioritize the welfare of our staff. We value you our graduands. We congratulate you. We appreciate you. The future lies in you. We wish you the best.

I mentioned last Monday to the distinguished members of the press some successes recorded in the University focusing mainly on those in this month of October because they are so many. I am delighted to tell our audience and graduands that between last Monday and now, I still have some fresh news to share. I just received a letter from the Registrar of the Institute of Planning, Nigeria, that one of our students, a student of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, came first in the national Independence Essay Competition organised recently for undergraduate students all over Nigeria. This week as well after the briefing, my attention was drawn to the fact that a joint medical research a Professor in this University with his colleagues at the Imperial College, London, is not only recognised globally but it is listed as number one on the list of the best 50 biomedical articles in the world between 2004 and now. This is on www.recentmedicalfindings.com. It is not gratuitous when we to say that our lecturers are among the best in the world and our students receive the best training available. We are proud of them.

My distinguished graduands, let me again congratulate you. I have heard some of you whisper that the University of Ilorin is not easy. I agree with you as long as we all agree that life is not easy, it is a struggle. And not only for the Maddiba, Nelson Mandela, who wrote in an address that the struggle is my life, each and everyone of you, and indeed all of us, know that life is about struggle - struggle against odds; struggle against evil desires; struggle against internal and external conflicts. The challenges you had passed through were meant to make your future challenges and struggles easier and I know you will be proud of yourselves now. The gold is assayed in fire and nothing great comes easily on a platter of gold. I know that your training and experience here have added more quality to your life and more value to your worth. You are in a distinct class of great Unilorin alumni and it is just the beginning of greater successes in your lives. I wish you well in your endeavours and I wish you God’s grace and guidance in your steps. The world is changing and in the larger world you are graduating into, changing the face is not what matters, facing the change is the ideal. Do not change your face. Face the change!

As I said during the inauguration of your junior colleagues in the 2009/2010 Student Union executive and representative council last June 26, this year, “to whom much is given much is expected.” The University motto, probitas doctrina or “character and learning” should be your operational blueprint so that you will continue to be good ambassadors of the University of Ilorin. Be men and women of impeccable character and do not allow your integrity to be tarnished by mundane things. Comport yourselves with dignity and integrity and the world will respect you. Then, take learning seriously and never think that you have finished schooling. Life itself is a University in which we learn till we die as I once said. And as our Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Management Services), Prof. Albert Olayemi, said two days ago, he who is too big to learn will be too small to lead. Learning is a life-long experience. I admonish you to continue to learn and promote learning.

The Visitor and Chancellor sirs, the 2008/2009 first degree and diploma graduands that are convoking today, who represent themselves and their colleagues, are 3,876 (which Faculty-by-Faculty, are: Agriculture, 105; Arts, 259; Basic Medical Sciences, 205; Business and Social Sciences, 1,311; Clinical Sciences, 252; Communication and Information Sciences, 119; Education 676; Engineering and Technology, 231; Law, 112 and Science, 606). Out of this figure, 252 are MB;BS. Others are 13 First Class, 515 Second Class Upper; 1,808 Second Class Lower; 981 Third Class; 180 Pass and 127 Diploma graduands.

For the Higher Degree/ Posgraduate Diploma graduands, they are 1,491 in number (i.e. Agriculture, 67; Arts, 98; Basic Medical Sciences, 8; Business and Social Sciences, 907; Clinical Sciences, 69; Communication and Information Sciences, 13; Education, 145; Engineering and Technology, 14; Law, 1; and Science, 169). This figure comprises 81 Ph.D, 470 Master’s, 67 MPH, 559 MBA, 56 MPA, 89 MILR, 12 MIGS, 13 MIS, 141 Diploma and 3 Certificate graduands.

In line with our tradition of adopting best practices, our graduands here present are not coming back tomorrow, next week, next month or next year to collect their certificates, they have them already. We do not issue ‘To Whom It May Concern’ for any reason and statements of result now expire after six months. Let all graduands who are not here come and collect their certificates. We believe that what is worth doing at all is worth doing on time. Our convocation continues to hold regularly and every graduand that attends the convocation at all would be sure of having his/her certificate before the Founder’s Day, which is today’s date.

Also in line with the practice we started again last year and as stipulated in the University Act, this is not meant to be a long address. The usual Convocation Address would ordinarily take a long time as an attempt is made to recount the developments within the year. Instead, we have our 2008/2009 Annual Report to present. On behalf of the Council, Management and staff of the University of Ilorin, I respectfully present the Annual Report to you, our Visitor, sir.

In conclusion, it is part of our culture to give honour to whom it is due. Our modest achievements during the 2008/2009 session could not have been made without the support and cooperation of the Council, constituted this year under the Chairmanship of Alhaji Tukur Mani, CON, who complements the efforts of our dynamic Chancellor, HRM Dr. Benjamin Ikechukwu Keagborekuzi I, the Dein of Agbor and the youngest monarch in Africa. Our assiduous Chairman, who is also the National Financial Secretary of People’s Democratic Party and Chairman of the Governing Council, Hassan Usman Katsina Polytechnic, Katsina, carries along every member of Council and Administration in order to ensure that everything is done as well as it can possibly be. An accomplished civil servant who was appointed Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Commerce and Tourism in 1994 and served meritoriously in other Ministries before he voluntarily retired from the Federal Civil Service in 2001, our Pro-Chancellor and Council Chairman has contributed immensely to the socio-economic and political development of his home state and the nation at large. He had been a Director, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Boards as well as Member of the National Political Reforms Conference. We appreciate him.

We also thank the Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian universities here present and their representatives as we appreciate as we thank those cannot make it for one reason or the other. We appreciate the Vice-Chancellor of Suleyman Demirel University, Isparta, Turkey, Prof. Metin Lutfi Baydar, and our Convocation Lecturer and Secretary General of Magna Charta Observatory, Bologna, Italy. We acknowledge the delegation from the University of Cape-Coast led by the Pro-Chancellor, Prof. Prof. Haruna Yakubu. We are equally grateful to the First Bank for its sponsorship and Mallam Yusuf O. Ali, SAN, who donated a twin dormitory to the University during the session. We are very grateful to every member of the University Council, our esteemed Principal Officers of the University, my distinguished colleagues in Senate as well as our teeming staff and students. We are all one in the determination to make our University positively different.

Thank you all for coming. Thank you all for listening. God bless and be with you all.

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