The immediate past VC, Prof. Oluwafemi Balogun (with mic), handing-over to the new VC, Prof. Olusola Oyewole while the Pro-Chancellor, Chief Lawrence Ayinde Olakunle Osayemi (Left) and other Council members applaud cheerfully.
The Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 went agog as members of the University community filled the Julius Amioba Okojie Lecture Theatre Complex, to witness the official change of baton from Professor Oluwafemi Olaiya Balogun to the Fifth Vice-Chancellor, Professor Olusola Bandele Oyewole.
The historic event, which was first of its kind in the annals of the University, was witnessed by a mammoth crowd, comprising of members of the Governing Council, Management, Staff, Students, stakeholders and invited dignitaries.
Delivering his Valedictory Lecture with the theme, Driving National Development through Higher Education – FUNAAB’s Modest Contribution, Professor Balogun said for the African continent to experience significant economic growth and release itself from the shackles of poverty, hunger and deprivation, there must be significant investment in the development of education, particularly, at the tertiary level.
He stressed the need for the continent to realize the importance of education, particularly, at the higher level, as an elixir to its socio-economic transformation.
According to him, the secret behind the success of other emerging world economies like Malaysia, Korea, Singapore, India, among others, is their abilities to link higher education to economic development.
Professor Balogun argued that tertiary education paved the way for the acquisition of relevant and qualified skills needed for the labour market, adding that the level of education of the citizenry helps for adaptation and the capability to appreciate, understand and make judicious use of global knowledge in science, technology, art, agriculture; to improve humanity and enhance standard of living.
He, however, gave a wake-up call to politicians and administrators of higher education in Africa, on the need to rise up to the challenge of the harsh realities of ravaging poverty, through opportunities offered by higher education.
The University Don recommended a review of the prevailing legislations which constituted bottlenecks to increasing higher education enrolment and improvement of teaching methods.
Professor Balogun advised that African nations should also be mindful of the fact that tertiary institutions will thrive and be more responsive when they enjoy adequate autonomy, noting that “experience had shown that a system that centralizes the process of policy making on higher education usually made it difficult for higher institutions to respond appropriately to knowledge requirements, labour market and economic diversity”.
The former Vice-Chancellor advised governments across Africa, to ensure the provision of qualitative standard of education at both public and private Universities while ensuring that curricula were designed to support the pattern of developmental initiative and skill requirements of individual nations.
He also called on the African Union to facilitate the legislation for integration and synergy across countries and continents as well as between institutions, running similar programmes, noting that the former United Nations’ Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, had observed that “the University must become a primary tool for Africa expertise; they can enhance the analysis of African problems; strengthen domestic institutions; serve as a model environment for the practice of good governance, conflict resolution and respect for human rights, and enable African academics to play an active part in the global community of scholars”.
Speaking on the contributions of FUNAAB to the improvement and expansion of quality teaching, research and extension service, Professor Balogun disclosed that some Colleges and Centres were restructured, while new ones, including Institutes and Directorates were established, in line with the national socio-economic needs.
He stated that the University, through its Institute of Food Security, Environmental Resources and Agricultural Management (IFESRAR), recently added two new varieties of Ofada rice to the nation’s food staple, as its contribution to the amelioration of poverty and hunger.
He added that the activities of University’s Agricultural Media Extension Centre (AMREC) had been further boosted as students under the B. Agric Programme now practice enterprise-based agriculture for one year, in rural communities including Odogbolu, Ode-Lemo, Isaga-Orile and Iwoye-Ketu, all located in Ogun State.
Other contributions highlighted by Professor Balogun included the FUNAAB Foreign African Scholarship Scheme, as well as staff capacity building initiatives, through sponsorship to national and international training programmes, virile staff and students’ welfare.
The immediate-past Vice-Chancellor highlighted his achievements while in office to include staff welfare, content and physical development, saying his five-year tenure was totally devoid of local strike action.
The former Vice-Chancellor said that the University’s extra-governmental earnings increased from a paltry N338 Million to a whopping sum of N1.05 Billion, as at close of the 2011 fiscal year.
On the results of the recentlyconcluded Institutional Accreditation, the out-gone Vice-Chancellor disclosed that FUNAAB made an ‘A’ score, which means that the University could operate in the next seven years, without bothering by the National Universities Commission.
Professor Balogun, who disclosed that the secret to the success of his administration was embedded in entrenching the core values of justice, accountability, fairness and transparency, charged his successor to always be accessible to the students and carry them along in his administration without directly influencing in any way, the administration of their Union matters.
To his successor, he charged: “Do not waver in leadership; be decisive in decision-making after carefully weighing alternative options. However, never depart from the application of the instrument of due process”.
Also, he admonished that “staff and other community members are equal partners in the quest for achieving the desired mandate and goals of the University, treat them with due respect, while firmly maintaining discipline”, he added.
The Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council, Chief Lawrence Ayinde Olakunle Osayemi lauded Professor Balogun for his contributions to the nation’s education system, especially through FUNAAB.
He described his tenure as one in which the University rose from its position of obscurity to a place of high visibility with students’ population and Internally- Generated Revenue, rising at a geometric level.
Chief Osayemi pointed out that in terms of infrastructural development; the physical structure and the lush-green landscape of the University speak volumes of Professor Balogun’s administration.
The Pro-Chancellor charged the new Vice-Chancellor to improve on the achievements of his successor, noting that the University was yet to reach the pinnacle of its success. According to him, the vision 20:2020 Agenda of the Federal Government is determined to make agriculture the driving force of the nation’s economy while the University has a key role to play in the achievement of the goal.
The Chairman, Governing Council commended the University’s research contributions to Rice and Cassava production, adding that more could still be done, to make research findings more visible and applicable.
He expressed satisfaction at the selection process that led to the emergence of a new Vice-Chancellor, noting that due process was adhered to, devoid of any bias or favourism.
Chief Osayemi called on members of staff and students to cooperate with Professor Oyewole, while praying that during his tenure in FUNAAB, the University will not only be the best in Africa but in the world.
The handing-over ceremony featured the public presentation and launching of the book, Mission Accomplished, which was reviewed by a retired Professor of Demography and Social Statistics at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.