ByIduozee Paul, Benin Correspondent
Nigeria’s former head of state, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd) has sued for urgent peace in the various university communities in the country so that Nigeria can achieve great and diverse development.
Gen. Abdulsalami who, made the appeal at the 20th Anniversary celebration of Igbinedion University, Okada, Benin city, said the growth and development achieved since the inception of the university is a clear indication that the founder, the Esama of Benin Kingdom, Chief Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion is a good manager of human resources.
Abdulsalami who chaired the event said, it gave him great pleasure to chair the occasion and described the approval of the first premier private university, as a unique platform that has produced leaders and managers across the world.
Gen.Abubakar who is also an alumni of the institution thanked the founder of the university and management and all who graced the occasion.
In his address, vice-chancellor of Igbinedion University, Okada, Prof. Lawrence Ikechuckwu Ezemonye, described the university as the first and the best in Nigeria. He said since the last 20 years, the record of performance of the institution has been great,adding, that, all the relevant courses are accredited, academic and professionally intact.
The VC described Chief Esama Gabriel Igbinedion as a great pillar that has affected the lives of many people.
He said what people are seeing at present are the fruits of a dream and a visionary man,Chief Igbinedion. He concluded that the goal of the university is to produce the best and improve the quality of lives of people.
Stating how Esama Igbinedion patiently followed the approval of his university,the guest speaker, Professor Emeritus, Prof Munzali Jibril, ’ said, “When a new head of state took over in June1988, Sir Gabriel went to work on him to plead that the applications for the establishment of private universities “be brought out of the deep freezer’’.
Gen. Abubakar was favourably disposed to the idea and so we were given another verbal directive to resume the processing of the applications. With in some months, we were able to recommend the first three applications for approval, namely, Igbinedion University, Okada, Madonna University, Okija, and Bab cock University, Ijesha-Remo.
Igbinedion University stood head and shoulders above the rest hence its designation, as the first among equals.”
Dwelling on the short-comings of private universities in Nigeria,Prof Jibril who was the former executive secretary of the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC), identified the tendency among many of the private universities to create staffing and other resource and their
neglect of staff development and general welfare as well as a weak corporate governance regime in most of the universities.
Said he, “When private universities appeared on the Nigerian scene,there was a great hope that, they would help to expand access to higher education vitally. By their number they account for47 per cent of the universities in Nigeria (total of 168-47 Federal, 42 State and 79private). Their total share of enrolment is a mere five per cent.
“The plight is the level of poverty in the land, and the middle class’s lack of capacity to afford the fees charged by private universities.’’
The chairman, Committee of Pro-Chancellors, Past / President, Nigerian institute of Management (Charactered), while looking at the successful private universities of the future said, “Successful private university of the future will not be for-profit. It will have multiple sources of funding with the aim of achieving excellence.It will plough back whatever surpluses are realized into the provision of teaching and research facilities for the university.
“It will have attractive staff development and staff welfare policies. It will have a core of vibrant and loyal staff, who will remain with the university throughout their career.It will have sound corporate governance policies, and practices, which ensure that all officers, and organs of the university keep to their assigned roles and function.
‘‘It will have a proprietor, and a Board of Trustees, who are only interested inmobilizing resources for the university, and not in accessing those resources for their own personal use. Those are the universities that will out-perform the best public universities of today and that will be ranked among the best in Africa and the world,’’ he declared.
In his commendation, Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki,who was represented at the event by his deputy Comrade Philip Shuiabu described Chief Esama Igbinedion as a great industrialist who has used the university to affect the lives of many Nigerians.
Obaseki said education is the only key to unlock and bring great development to the society, and expressed happiness that Igbinedion University is established in Edo state. He added that the university has added value to the state.
The governor said he is proud of the graduates that had passed out from the institution and how they are making great impact across the globe.
He thanked Gen.AbdusalamAbubakar for approving and signing the license that led to the founding of the institution, and stressed that the institution did not only add value to the state, but is also creating a good image for the nation.
The chancellor, visitor and chairman Board of Regent of IUO, Chief
Osawaru Igbinedion going down memory lane, narrated the plight he
went through before he got the license for the university and thanked Gen.Abdulsalami Abubakar for granting him the license for the establishment of the institution.
Also speaking, deputy chancellor of IOU and former governor of Edo State, Chief Lucky Nosakhare Igbinedion described the anniversary event as a unique day for him to step into his father’s shoes and remember all the key players who played the vital roles that led to the establishment of the university.
Chief Lucky Igbinedion described the institution as a dream initiated by his father, and said his heart is filled with great emotion over the great gains recorded by the school. He commended the commitment and contributions made by past and present chairmen of the university since its inception.