November 3rd, 2021 was an epoch-making event at the Olagunsoye Oyinlola’s Auditorium UNIOSUN  Main Campus, Osogbo where the Valedictory lecture took place with the out-going Vice-Chancellor Professor Labode Popoola.

 

In his well packaged, thought-provoking  educative, and informative lecture,  the Don took the audience to the memory lane of what the core academia look like, its challenges, and future prospects.

 

The lecture captioned: Nigerian Universities. The World is Watching, Worried, But not Waiting’’.

 

According to professor Labode, ‘’Each of the keywords starts with a ‘’w’’, and that is instructive. World Wide Web(www) – There is nowhere to hide’’, he said.

‘’ The academia,  according to prof. Labode Popoola is best described ‘’as the body of individuals engaged in the business of knowledge and research endeavours most especially at the higher educational level’’.

 

The academic in this sense is expected to be of high moral rectitude and an epitome of demonstrable integrity. This implies that so much is expected of an academic in the cultivation of academic culture which thrives on fairness, rigorous debate, and crystallization of ideas. The academic, though human is expected to act and behave as above-average human levels because it is only through this way that he or she can be seen to be objective in his or her conclusions’’.

 

Professor Olabode, a  specialist in forest Economics and Sustainable Development says’’, Two institutions have defined the advances made in all spheres of life by the United States of America. They are the Academia and the Military.

Similar trends are observed in other advanced countries of the world. Indeed President  Bill Clinton  of the United States of America once posited that:

 

A Snapshot with the Out-going VC

‘’…’’ Economy may be a useful slogan for an election campaign, but it is misleading in setting priorities for sustainable development. It’s not primarily the economy, nor money, that makes the world go round and determines progress in human well-being. Much more important than the content of people’s wallets are the contents in their heads. And what is in our heads is formed and enhanced by the education which, in turn, helps fill the wallets, improves health, improves society and the quality of institutions, strengthens resilience at all levels and even makes people happier….’’.

Labode says,’’ the academia in Nigeria,’’ which used to be noted for its rigour and integrity is presently experiencing a tumble down the hill slope.

‘’ This is evident and best captured in the words of a former Executive Secretary of the National Universities  Commission(NUC) Distinguished  Professor  Peter Okebukola that ‘’Nigerian Universities are not socially relevant’’.

‘’The truth is, many Nigerians hold similar perceptions. If this is the case, then the question should be how the academia/ivory tower got to this sorry and despicable state? Some of these questions can be answered after a  thorough and critical examination of the present observable chaos in Nigeria’s University system.

 

‘’The university today has become an all-comers’ affairs, where intellectualism does not thrives’’. ‘’It has become a place where godfatherism and nepotism hold sway. It is no more news that cronyism has taken over the processes in our universities. The situation  is so bad that the gown  no more sets the pace and standard  for the society,  rather, the gown  has bought  hook, line, and sinker into every thinkable and unthinkable  vice from the Nigerian society’’

Gradually, our universities are becoming more famous for the number of cases in court and the number of closures, rather than the numbers of inventions and solution initiatives that we proffer’’, he said.

According to him as noted by Okebukoa,’’ the level of corruption which directly and indirectly impacts on academic integrity is high in Nigeria, more so, in the last couple of years. ‘’We cannot have a saintly university system in an ocean of corrupt lager community reeking with persons with dishonest attributes, where parents are key agents in ‘sorting by inducing lecturers for marks for their children and wards and bribing admissions officers to secure admission; where professors extort money from students under whatever guise’’.

 

Prof. Popoola posits that ‘’contemporary Nigerian University and research systems can not truly contribute to national development for several reasons, prime among which is the complete loss of the time-tested university/Academic culture which drives processes for good governance.’’.

‘’Not many Nigerian Universities can lay claim to a good number of academics  who adhere to the culture of Critical Thinking, Neutrality(Objectivity), Evidence-based conclusions, (Inquisitive mind), Communication Skills(Persuasive)Development(Comprehensive), Frugality, Pride, Elegance, (low but neat), virtue, well informed, Collaboration(we), Humility(student not a scholar ), Collegiality, critical, openness(full discourse sources) and Accuracy.  The erosion of these values has led to the breeding of ‘’leaders ‘ who are more political than academic leaders.

 

‘’The resultant effect of this, according to  Professor  Labode is’’ promotion by patronage, and not by excellence. ‘’Many become professors controversially, and of course, thereafter contribute nothing to the system other than to play dirty and self-destructive politics. Sadly, many of the upcoming ones see this as the path to tread’’, he said.

 

Professor Labode, however, says all is not lost in the academia.’’The crisis hitting academia is by far deeper than the assumption of a simplistic conclusion that provision of adequate funding will lead to or guarantee rebirth in academia.

‘’I make bold to assert that there can be no rebirth in the academia except there is a return to the core values  of the idea of the academy, which is strongly pillared on the foundation of academic culture and integrity ‘’. ‘’What this reinvigoration will entail is huge in the sense that the academia will need to shed or rid itself of the self–imposed and imbibed vices from the society at large. The very first in this realm is to emphasize scholarship. I mean genuine academic interest in rigorous pursuance of scholarship as the basis of the essence of the academia, he emphasized.

 

‘’Of course, the present renewed interest in anti-corruption and other vices within the system also suggests that hope is certainly not lost. While the present invitation of academic leaders to the EFCC or to other of such organizations appears a bit harsh on the system, the good side of the whole experience is that excesses and flagrancy can be curbed.

 

Let me however,aver  that there are a couple of cases of sanity with flourishing date palms in the university system. The only effort needed is to support these individuals and groups who are standing up for the academia as a form of encouragement to them and the academia, he added.

Going further, Prof. Labode  says,’’ the university’s development trajectory in the last eight years may be likened  to a coat of many colors, combining the good, the bad and the ugly.’’

 

‘’A combination of factors has negatively impacted its smooth–running and the ability to effectively deliver on its vision and  mission statement. These challenges include, but are not limited to inadequate funding, infrastructural decay, poor industrial and public relations, negative perception of Nigerian universities, inadequately trained and experienced staff, weak links to end-users of research, society, and alumni, financial leakages, leading to high operational costs, indiscipline and indiscretion among a cross-section of staff among others.’’.

 

He said,’’ though, the spirit and letters of the university strategic plan dwell essentially on approaches, to mitigate and overcome these challenges, achieving the desired goal will require exemplary and skillful leadership, with the strength of character, integrity, creativity, innovation, team –spirit, accountability, prudence,  transparency, honesty, diligence, resourcefulness, incorruptibility, experience and passion’’.

 

While giving the account of his stewardship, the out-going VC says, Every now and then, I would pick up the vision and mission document and evaluate performance. Details of our stewardship is contained in a published document which I hope will be made available to every unit in the university’’. ‘’The only way to have moved away from the abyss was to introduce tactical but drastic reforms, which naturally would never have gone down well with people set in their ways. And so, for almost two years, the reactionary storm raged, and with it came physical and mental torture and reputational damage. We denied ourselves of even legitimate entitlements, yet they won’t relent. God of the providence of course, has His ways of dealing with these situations, and so, the storm was finally stilled. I dare say, that similar situations abound in the university system across the country’’. With scenarios like these, the world will certainly not wait for us, unless there are deliberate efforts to reverse these untoward trends’’, he added.

 

Acting VC-UNIOSUN

At the occasion, the  Osun State University  Pro-Chancellor and chairman of the governing Council Yusuf Alli,(SAN) announced the appointment of a 45-years old professor of Geo-Technical  Engineering, Afeez Bello, as the Acting Vice-Chancellor.

 

Dr. Bello, who until his appointment into this exalted position, was the deputy vice-chancellor(Administration and Development). He is expected to resume office on Friday, November 5th when the tenure of office of the incumbent term of office will expire on Thursday, November 4th,2021.

 

The Resume of the Acting VC:

He was born on October,11,1976, and hails from Ilobu, the headquarters of Irepodun Local  Government Area of Osun State.

He attended Ilobu Secondary Commercial Grammar  School and completed it in 1993.

 

The acting VC attended the Ladoke Akintola University(LAUTECH), Ogbomoso in 1995 where he studied Civil Engineering and had his Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Ibadan in 2005 and moved further to  Ahmadu Bello University(ABU), Zaria where he obtained his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering in 2010.

 

Dr, Bello began his career in lecturing in 2007 and has taught in different higher institutions, including his Alma-mater.

 

 

Dignitaries at the occasion include the Executive Governor of Osun State ably represented by the Commissioner for Education, Hon. Bamisayemi,  Royal Fathers, the Olunisa of Inisha, Oba Joseph Fsikun Oladunjoye Oyedele Fasikun 2 JP, His Royal Majesty, the Orangun of Ila Orangun ObaAbdul WahabOlukayode  Oyedotun Bibire 1, Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of UNIOSUN, Mallam Yusuf Ola Olu Al i(SAN), Provosts, staff and students of the university, ,Prof. Lawal  Abdulazeez of Fountain university, the media, and a host of others.

 

 

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