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Former Nigerian President, Passionate About Anti-Corruption War, Says Pro-Chancellor

A former Nigerian President, Chief (Dr.) Olusegun Obasanjo, has been described as very passionate and fully committed to the fight against corruption in the country, because of the way and manner he tackled the menace.

This observation was made by the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council of the University, Dr. Barr. Aboki Zhawa, during the visit of members of Council to the former President at his Hilltop Residence, Abeokuta, Ogun State. According to him, “Even the people very close to you have been sent to prison. You brought about the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that helped in fighting corruption during your tenure and EFCC is still there till today”. Dr. Zhawa noted that maybe Nigeria was far behind the former President because the country seemed not to understand how to fight corruption and hence, corruption had started fighting back.

The Pro-Chancellor gave the main reason why the delegation visited the former President; to register their presence in Ogun State, adding that it was also to request for his prayers, saying “The reasons we have come to see you are two, which are to register our presence and to pray for us”. Dr. Zhawa, who reminisced on his first official relationship he had with the former President, when he was standing in for the erstwhile Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Ufot Ekaete, noted that the former President was fond of telling anyone who worked with him that “Never say ‘no’ to your boss”. The Pro-Chancellor, who described Chief Obasanjo as someone who had high regards for superior opinion, stated that nobody had a monopoly of knowledge.

“I am pleased to inform you that the Governing Council of FUNAAB, is made up of highly intelligent people. The University cannot survive without your blessing and we would always consult you; to tap from the wisdom God has given you”, he stressed. The Pro-Chancellor, who holds a national honour of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON), requested that the former President should be part of a programme in the establishment of a Diabetics Centre for the University, saying that “We have to tap from your experience, and your presence which will bring a lot of things”. Responding, the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo reminded his guests of the immense support he got from the Nigerian civil service while superintending over the affairs of the country. He stated that what he learnt from civil servants was that, they never say ‘no’, adding that the good ones would give advice while the bad ones would neither say ‘no’, nor carry out directives.

The former President, who is an honorary awardee of FUNAAB, recalled that the University passed through a period of turbulence, recently, charged the Pro-Chancellor and Council members to reinforce their efforts at holding the University together. He noted the high contribution of agriculture to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), adding that there was virtually no state in the country, where agriculture was not the mainstay. Chief Obasanjo, however, stressed that that the impact of FUNAAB and other universities of agriculture should be felt more in Nigeria, noting that universities should think outside the box. He said, “We have to act, not only think, we have to pursue and be unique”. Congratulating the Governing Council members for their worthy appointments, the former Nigerian number one citizen prayed that they would have a successful administration.  According to him, “I believe in prayer and God has never disappointed me”.

In a related development, the Council members visited the Alake and Paramount Ruler of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, who reiterated the need for the government to suspend the idea of scrapping management courses in FUNAAB. Oba Gbadebo restated this call while receiving the Council members at his Ake Palace, Abeokuta. The monarch contended that agriculture cannot stay without proper management training, imploring the newly-inaugurated Council members to make Abeokuta the food basket of Nigeria. According to him, “Agriculture without management can never stand on his own”.

He expressed delight at the current peaceful state of the University, urged that FUNAAB should rise up to become the number one university in Nigeria. “We are particularly concerned about FUNAAB. Some years back, it was ranked Second Best University in Nigeria. I am not sure of its current ranking now, but I urge you to take the University to the top and let us have the full effect of the University. It’s achievable. All you need to do to get there is available to you”. Commenting on the leadership qualities of the Pro-Chancellor, the Alake said that he had done a little bit of background check on him; to conclude that he was a confirmed leader. According to him, “You are a proven leader and I have done a bit of study about you. As a leader, I have no doubt in my mind that government has done what is right in bringing you to FUNAAB”.  Oba Gbadebo, however, stated that he hoped that the University would continue to be peaceful as an academic community.

The Paramount Ruler of Egbaland said FUNAAB had been the best thing that had ever happened to Ogun State. “When we are particularly concerned about the progress of that place, do not blame us. Just understand that we want the effect of that University to permeate the society”. He, therefore, clamoured that results of the University’s research output, as regards extension services, to get to Ogun State farmers.

Earlier, the Pro-Chancellor, Dr. Barr. Aboki  Zhawa, commended the Alake for making the environment habitable for the University, while seeking for his continued support. According to him, “We have come to see you and pay our respect and thank you for making the place habitable and for providing a serene atmosphere for us to be able to operate”. Dr. Zhawa stated that members of the Governing Council had resolved to have a working relationship with the traditional council, adding that anytime the Council ran into difficulties, the Alake could always advise. He noted that traditional institutions provide stability, saying that anyone who wanted stability, should obey the tradition.

He, therefore, clarified the rationale behind the courtesy visit, saying that “On assumption of office, I felt it was incumbent on me and the Council to pay our respect to the traditional institution. You cannot just go into anybody’s house without taking excuse and, therefore, we felt we should come and take excuse from you, to bless us”. The Pro-Chancellor said that the University would need the assistance of the First Class Monarch from time-to-time, adding that he (Alake) made himself available for the different programmes the University had embarked upon.

Meanwhile, the University Management, has paid courtesy calls on some important personalities in Ogun State. At the Federal College of Education (FCE), Abeokuta, the Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Enikuomehin had a meeting with the Provost, FCE, Abeokuta Dr. Ayodele Ajayi and the Management team. During the visit, Professor Enikuomehin appreciated the Provost, Dr. Ajayi for accepting the request for the courtesy call and made it known that the main aim of the visit is to introduce the leadership of the University to the Management of the College and also to thank them for their supports in all ramifications to FUNAAB, especially, in leasing their land at Camp, which FUNAAB presently uses, as the pick-up point and the bus-stop for the FUNAAB Bureau of Transport (FUNAABOT) buses, conveying the students to and from the University and to also appreciate the College for its support for FUNAAB during its trying moments.

The Acting Vice-Chancellor described both institutions as partners in progress with common issues of interest to share. He relished the opportunity to meet the Provost one-on-one, and thanked the Colleges’ Management for the good work they were doing as an institution of learning. Responding, the Provost of FCE, Abeokuta, Dr. Ayodele Ajayi thanked FUNAAB team for the visit. He said that the College was glad because of the very smooth relationship that existed between both institutions. Dr. Ajayi described the relationship between both institutions as symbiotic and pledged that the Colleges would gladly be ready to render any support to FUNAAB, especially, when it had to do with FUNAABOT Bus-stop at Camp. Top management team from the University in attendance included the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic, Professor Oluyemisi Eromosele; University Librarian, Dr. Milikat Salaam; the Director, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Bureau of Transportation (FUNAABOT), Dr. Olasunkanmi Ismaila and the Head, Directorate of Public Relations, Mrs. Emi’ Alawode.

He noted that he had equally observed that the pressure at the Camp junction had escalated over the last two years, due to urban restructuring, which had brought about the migration of business people and artisans. Dr. Ajayi wished the Acting Vice-Chancellor to have a successful tenure in office. Meanwhile, the Acting Vice-Chancellor also visited the Ogun State Commissioner of Police as well as the Director, Department of State Services, Ogun State, as part of his familiarisation visits.