Advancement Foundation as a bold measure of the OAU to fight against the decline of infrastructure

As public universities continue to struggle with dilapidated infrastructure and obsolete equipment due to inadequate government funding, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, has sought a lasting solution with the planned launch of a foundation for the trillion naira advancement of the OAU, marking its 60th anniversary. Uchechukwu Nnaike Reports

With the growing effects of inadequate funding in Nigerian public universities, the government has, in various forums, reaffirmed that it cannot fund education on its own and that universities should consider alternative sources of income generation.

Some universities have taken the load into account and have implemented various initiatives to increase their internally generated income. The proposed launch of the Foundation for the Advancement of the OAU has been described as a step in the right direction.

According to the Chairman of the Great Ife 60th Anniversary Celebrations Committee, Professor Charles Ukeje, the foundation’s launch on December 4 in Lagos is based on the fact that all over the world continued existence, success and development overall value of any institution depend largely on the financial and material benevolence of its alumni community, as well as of its friends, benefactors and other stakeholders.

Ukeje, who said this during a briefing to reporters in Lagos on behalf of Vice Chancellor Prof Eyitope Ogunbodede, noted that at the heart of the project is the quest to “receive global support for global development and the real-time growth of our renowned university – Great Ife.

He said the foundation would help, among other key responsibilities, to reposition the university to meet 21st century standards as can be achieved in other climates inside and outside of. Africa.

“It will also help us to maintain and support the ideals of the founding fathers of our great institution so that the OAU is ranked first in Nigeria and Africa,” noted the VC.

Ogunbodede said all of the foundation’s board members are impeccable men and women.

He added that the composition of the board, which will be unveiled at the official launch of the foundation, includes a prominent Supreme Court lawyer; two prominent lawyers and board gurus, a very seasoned Pan-African banker and a renowned scholar.

“We are proud of their accomplishments and delighted that they are using their rich experience to drive the affairs of the Foundation for the Advancement of the OAU,” added the VC.

He stressed that the foundation’s money would not be spent lightly but on sustainable things. The board, in its wisdom, will determine which priority projects to support in the university when the need arises, according to Ogunbodede.

Another highlight of the upcoming event will be the recognition of 60 distinguished alumni and pioneers.

Regarding the selection criteria, he said that it was difficult to choose 60 people among the many alumni who have distinguished themselves in different fields of activity inside and outside the country.

“These are also people who, at different times, have always been there for us. And for me it’s also a bugle call for those who haven’t, hoping that with the celebration of these 60s they will also appreciate the need to come forward to be counted in terms of supporting university, ”Ogunbodede said.

When asked why the institution has taken so long to come up with the initiative, Ukeje said the university has set aside resources for rainy days in the past. He said the founders deliberately ensured that the university could weather the storm at a difficult time. But the circumstances of the mid-1980s, the crisis of structural adjustments along with economic austerity eroded many resources in all institutions.

Ukeje said the new initiative is meant to address the imperative of the 21st century and beyond.

He regretted that public universities are in such a state of disrepair because they are free, unlike private universities which use some of the money generated by student fees to maintain facilities.

“When you send your kid to primary school, like a lot of us have, and you pay so much. You send your kid to high school and you pay so much. Your child is now attending a public university and your education budget is shrinking. Something is wrong with such a society, ”he said. “So when you hear about the hostel collapse in a public university, that’s what you get. What you put is what comes out. Nigerians must have a major national conversation about the future of higher education. If we want higher education, we must be prepared to finance it. h

He called on alumni, friends and benefactors of the university at home and abroad to contribute to the foundation.

Highlighting the contribution of alumni, Ukeje said the university is working with the African Import-Export Bank to set up a center on the intra-African trade zone. He said Ife would be the main, bank-backed center for research training on the continent around trade issues.

He added that the university has enjoyed the magnanimity of individuals across the country in various forms and that the 60th anniversary is an opportunity to seek more favor.

Among other activities planned to celebrate the university’s 60th anniversary, Ukeje said an art exhibition titled “60 by 60” will be held for 60 days from December 1, 2021 to January 30, 2022.

“We invited 60 alumni to each present a work of art that best represents them. We have received over 150 entries of artwork from distinguished artists around the world who have affiliations with the Department of Fine Arts. It was a very difficult task for us to be able to have a shortlist of 60. ”

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