By Eric Elezuo
The main hall of the African Centre of Excellence, and the premier hall, Oduduwa Hall of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, were beehives of activities as the university rolled out drums to celebrate a much deserved diamond jubilee anniversary.
The events marking the epoch making anniversary Kickstarter on Sunday with an interdenominational church service where praises were offered to God Almighty for 60 years of goodness and berthed at the main campus for a world press conference anchored by Mr. Abiodun Olarewaju, to address the achievements and challenges of a school described by all as the most beautiful in Nigeria.
On hand to address the media were senior officers of the university including the Vice Chancellor, Prof Eyitope Ogunbodede; the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Board, Owelle Oscar Udoji and the Registrar, Prof Margaret Idowu Omosule.
In his address, Prof Ogunbodede highlighted mind-blowing landmarks the Institution has recorded in it 60 years of existence including sustaining the legacies of the founding fathers, in excellence, producing multiple society influencing personalities, establishing interventions that are time bound, building a power plant that would sustain the Institution, and free it from incessant power interruptions prevailing in today’s Nigeria and churning out discoveries to the world in inventions.
He stressed with pride that the institution pioneered the Faculty of Pharmacy in West Africa, as well as the first Department of Chemical Engineering, first Technology Production and Development Unit and first campus intranet/internet facility in Nigeria.
Ogunbodede however, lamented insufficient funding as one of the many challenges the school is confronting.
“The insufficient financial allocations to the university by the Federal Government has had adverse effect on service delivery, coupled with students’ failure to pay commensurate tuition fees,” he said.
Lending his voice, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, congratulated the management and students of OAU on the milestone celebration, saying he was privileged to be part of it.
He promised that as the new Chairman of Governing Council, he will ensure, in collaboration with the VC, to see to the building of new hostel facilities for students and rehabilitate all other infrastructures.
“We will leave no stone unturned to ensure the growth and development of the institution,” he said.
The major highlights of the day included the unveiling of the 60th anniversary logo by the duo of Prof Ogunbodede and Owelle Udoji, and the cutting of the anniversary cake, supervised by the Registrar, Prof Omosule.
A lot of varieties were also presented to spice up the event. On the performing list were the school’s music department, the security department, the dramatic arts department and kegites club.
Among special personalities that graced the event were the Pro-Chancellor, Owelle Oscar Udoji; a Representative of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi; the Vice Chancellor, University of The Gambia, Prof. Fagir Muhammed Anjum; Deputy Vice Chancellor, UTG, Dr. Momodaianin Tarro, Mr. Ousainou Corr, Deputy Project Manager, Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, Gambia, Mr Ansmanne Demba, Rt. Honorable Barr. Eugene Odo, Prof. O. A. Sowande, Prof. Chris Ajila, Alhaji Daisy Bako Gumel, Mr. Gbolahan Ogunajo, Engr. Temitope Ajayi, Prof. Pierre Gomez, Prof. Yemisi Bola Amusa, Prof. Olubola Babalola, Prof. Yoni Daramola, Prof. Isiaka Aransi, Dr. Bisi Olowookere, Prof. Kayode Ijadunola, Capt. Bala Jibrin and wife and others.
Obafemi Awolowo University, formerly known as University of Ife, was founded in 1961 by the Western Region Government, under the administration of the then Premier, late Chief Ladoke Akintola.
The institution was renamed Obafemi Awolowo University University (OAU) by the Federal Government on May 12, 1987 in honour of the first Premier of the region, late Chief Obafemi Awolowo.