In the same vein, it is not out of place to thank Olubadan in Council and the entire Ibadan people for their generosity with their land. Ibadan is a city of open arms. The friendliness of the natives draws all like a mystic magnet. Ibadan people gave the university much latitude to thrive as there has never been a record of hostility between the university community and the native of Ibadan. Kudos to our brothers and sisters of Ibadan origin.
Clearly, this 70th anniversary commands singing, drumming, dancing, champagne popping, jollification and merry making. It deserves a year-long commemoration that has been declared. This institution, where academic prowess is combined with intellectual sagacity deserves to be celebrated by all Nigerian for its impressive achievements and contributions to the country. It was the former President Goodluck Jonathan who noted with delight, some years back that every Nigerian bears the influence of UI. According to him, "if you did not attend UI, somebody from your family must have finished from UI. If that is not the case, but you went to school in Nigeria, you must have been taught by someone who graduated from UI or who was taught by someone who finished from UI.
Therefore, you bear the influence of UI". This could not have been an empty assertion. More so when UI produces 45 percent of all Vice Chancellors of other universities in the country. At a recent press conference, the UI Vice Chancellor, Prof. Olayinka disclosed that UI has since inception produced 232,225 graduates in various disciplines. Today, Ibadan is the producer of the highest number of Ph.D degree holders in Africa with over 400 professors on its staff list. It is the intellectual capital of Nigeria; a scholastic beehive where cerebral honey is being produced for the world.
Interestingly, In spite of buffeting of time, UI is still as strong as it was in the beginning. It is sustaining the legacies and raising the bar of scholarship. Without exaggeration, this university is a shining star among the galaxy of stars with continued conversation on intellectualism. As postulated by an Indian boxer, Vijender Singh, "achievements are precious and timeless, just like the precious metal platinum. And what better way to celebrate milestones than with precious platinum." This platinum jubilee ought to be celebrated with wine and sweet words. That is exactly what will be happening on campus in the next one year. This is because from inception till now, it has been one leap of progress unto another. UI has been soaring higher and higher with the strength of its own wings, encouraging the growth and maturation of other universities.
Meanwhile, are the UI alumni standing on this occasion? It is obvious they are scattered all over the world, but this is the time for them to come back for a flashback. This 70th anniversary is big enough to bring back those who were baked by Ibadan. The alumni should remember their alma mater with a view to assisting the school that made them. The relationship between old students and their former schools is analogous to the relationship between a father and his children. When the father is old, the children come back to assist. At 70, most of the facilities put in place in 1948 have become ramshackle and bedraggled.
Given the array of its products, UI has no reason to be poor. By the way, this is an open invitation to all UI alumni all over the world to come and assist their university. The money coming from the Federal Government is barely enough to run the university. UI pays electricity bill of N60 million per month, buys diesel of about N5 million and pays N16 million for the cleaning of the campus. The VC hairs have suddenly become grey as he constantly racks his brains on how to get money to run the university. UI certainly needs help from those it has helped with knowledge.
Apart from coming to donate to the university, alumni can as well bring their wives, husbands and children to celebrate with UI on this occasion. It is good to come and check out those places where youthful exuberances were displayed in those days. It will be more amazing to see developments that have taken place on campus, halls of residence, Urbar dam, zoological garden, botanical garden, Agbowo, Bodija, Sango, Ojoo, Mokola, Dugbe among others. Indeed, it will be an opportunity to bond better with former lecturers and associates left behind in Ibadan.
For instance, 1988 graduates of Economics came back to the university recently, marking 30 years of leaving UI. They made a modest donation to their department, instituted scholarship scheme and left. This was commended by the Management as the set enriched the university. The 1967 set has been so marvelous in this direction. They are probably the most organised set of all graduating sets. They built the main gate, erected an intellectual bust and have been meeting regularly in order to see how they can further give back to their former school. This is a challenge to all graduating sets. They should know that they are obligated to remember the university that made them. They are expected at this anniversary.
Saanu is media assistant to Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan.