OAU Former VC, Prof Cyril Onwumechili, Dies at 91
The Authorities of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, say they received, with a heavy heart and deep sadness, the news of the passing of the fourth substantive Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Prof Cyril Onwumechili, at 91.
This is contained in a release by the Public Relations Officer of the University, Abiodun Olarewaju, on Friday in Ile-Ife.
Olarenwaju stated that the esteemed former Vice-Chancellor was a visionary leader, an exceptional academic, and a compassionate individual, who made invaluable contributions to the growth and success of institution.
According to him, Onwumechili was Vice Chancellor of the University from 1979 to 1982.
The PRO said that the renowned Physicist, Prof Onwumechili, played a pivotal role in shaping the university’s trajectory, steering it towards excellence and upholding its commitment to academic rigor, innovation, and societal impact.
Olarenwaju described the late University helmsman as a detribalised Nigerian and a renowned academic of high repute.
The current Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof Adebayo Simeon Bamire, said that Onwumechili championed progressive policies, fostered a vibrant academic community, and favoured inclusivity.
He said that late Onwumechili left an indelible mark on the 62-year-old University and the countless lives he touched.
“Under Prof. Onwumechili’s leadership, the University experienced remarkable growth and advancement in various fields of study, research, and outreach.
“As he spearheaded strategic initiatives that fostered interdisciplinary collaboration, established partnerships with renowned institutions worldwide, and ensured the university’s relevance in an ever-evolving global landscape,” he stated.
Prof Bamire further explained that beyond his administrative duties, ”Professor Onwumechili was an exceptional scholar, renowned for his groundbreaking research as a Physicist.”
He said Onwumechili inspired generations of students and faculty members through his profound knowledge, unwavering dedication, and unrelenting pursuit of academic excellence.
The Vice-Chancellor added: “In fact, Professor Onwumechili was a compassionate mentor, a trusted confidant whose genuine concern for the well-being of staff, students and faculty resonated deeply within the University community, fostering an environment of support, growth and collaboration.”
Prof Bamire, therefore, “extends OAU’s deepest condolences to Professor Cyril Agodi Onwumechili’s family, friends, and loved ones during this difficult time.”
Bamire affirmed that the late former VC’s legacy will forever be etched in the annals of Obafemi Awolowo University, serving as a guiding light for future generations. The university will be forever grateful for his unwavering commitment and profound impact. (NAN)
Nasarawa Varsity Confers Honorary Degree on Gambari, others
Nasarawa University, Keffi, has conferred a Honorary Degree (Honoris Causa) on President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari for his contributions to the country in his fields of endeavours.
The management of the university conferred the degree on Gambari at the Institution’s 7th Convocation ceremony held in Keffi Local Government Area on Saturday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that also conferred another Honorary Degree on a 93-year-old renowned Polish Scholar, Prof.Brunon Holyst.
NAN also reports that Gambari was conferred with the Honorary Doctor of Letters (D.Litt), while Holyst was conferred with the Honorary Doctor of Philosophy (D. Phil).
Speaking on the conferment, Gov. Abdullahi Sule described the honour as well deserved, adding that the duo have distinguished themselves in their various fields of endeavours.
He thanked them for their contributions to the development of the university and the academia in general.
Sule also assured that his administration would continue to prioritise the education sector as education remains the most endearing legacy parents can bequeath to their children.
He said: “I make bold to say that no amount of investment and sacrifice is too much to provide quality education considering its envious importance in tackling insecurity and other vices.
“It is for this reason that we have sustained our commitment to the education sector since our assumption of office. ”
The Vice-Chancellor of the Institution, Prof. Suleiman Bala-Mohammed said that the gestures were due to the significant contributions made by both awardees to human endeavours.
He also said the duo have contributed in various ways to improving educational standards at the university, hence the approval of the university’s Senate to award them the degrees.
“Prof. Ibrahim Gambari is being conferred with a Honorary Doctorate Degree for his tremendous role in Nigeria’s foreign policy, being one of Nigeria’s longest serving Ambassadors to the United Nations.
“While Prof. Holyst Brunon isa renowned Professor of Criminology, Victimology and Criminalistic Psychology at the Management Academy of Applied Science in Warsaw, Poland.
“He is being conferred with a Honorary Doctorate Degree in recognition of his immense contributions to the academic community especially in the field of criminology and Criminalistics Psychology,” he said.
The vice-chancellor said that for the undergraduate programme, 5,984 graduands were found worthy to be awarded first degree in various disciplines.
According to Bala-Mohammed, for the postgraduate programme, 1,677 graduands were awarded various postgraduate degrees.
He said: “The breakdown of the undergraduate programme is as follows: First Class 33, Second Class Upper 1,598. Second Class Lower 3,906, with Third Class graduands numbering 447.
“For the postgraduate programme, Phd graduands are 134, Academic Masters 633, Professional Masters 357 and Postgraduate Diploma graduands numbering 553. I congratulate all the graduands.”
In a remark, Gambari, who described his presence at the university as a home-coming expressed joy over the conferment, adding, ”I accepted the honour with great sense of privilege.
”I will dedicate the rest of my life to the service of the Institution, Nigeria and the international community as a whole.”
In his own remarks, Holyst, who described the conferment on him as a surprise, however admitted,”It is a dream come true and i will always relish the honour bestowed on me by school.
“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to management of the university for accepting me into their academic community. The degree granted me has brought me immense pride.”
Holyst also delivered the Pre-Convocation lecture titled : A New Approach to Criminology: A Global Perspective”. (NAN)
Commencement Speech AUN 2023
I am highly honoured by the opportunity to deliver the 2023 commencement address of this highly respected University. Many thanks to the Founder and former Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, H.E Atiku Abubakar, for the wisdom of establishing this university and making it a beacon of hope for the minds willing and able to explore the unknown.I thank him for his vision in setting up a university of this excellence and also in the decision to focus the University on development issues. His support for education in Nigeria is legendary. In addition to this University, I am also aware of the AUN Academy as well as his advocacy work for improvements in the education sector overall.
Special appreciation to Senator Ben Obi, members of the Board of Trustees and members of the Governing Council for this privilege and for finding me deserving of the very high honor of the award of an honorary degree of Doctor of Human Letters of this Prestigious University.
To you, the graduands, whom we are all gathered here to celebrate, I say “Congratulations”! I am sure your years at this great University have severely tested your talents, perseverance and your commitment to hard work. You sit in this hall today, hooded, because you all passed the tests. Now that it is all over and you step into a new beginning, I am sure some of you will do so with trepidation, unsure of what the future holds. That is understandable because as you look into the horizon, you see thickening clouds of uncertainty and few rays of hope. Wars, hunger, violence, terrorism, climate change, poverty and overall economic malaise define your daily encounter with the news and present a most daunting environment for any young graduand. As difficult as it may sound, I want you to know that the situation is not unique to you. I want you to know that like the legendary Egyptian bird, Phoenix, that got burnt and rose from its ashes, you too can emerge as a star out of the violent cacophony of today’s turbulent world.
As you ponder your future, I will like you to listen to my own story. Forty years ago, back in 1983, I was like you, a young graduate full of life, ideas and aspirations. I also graduated into a Nigeria that was going through its worst economic crisis in decades. The economy was in a very bad shape. A crash in oil prices exposed macroeconomic management weaknesses, which tipped the economy into recession; the economy contracted by more than 10%; there was massive unemployment, inflation soared as import licensing and, price controls led to unprecedented scarcity of basic supplies. Citizens queued for hours to buy simple cooking oil, for instance. The environment was most daunting for a young man fresh out of school, with big ideas about how to contribute to society.
In the midst of the challenges, I saw an opportunity and invested my time and energy in it. I chose not to be controlled by development I had no control over. I charted my own course in the midst of the turbulence. And today, I stand before you, 40 years later as President of African Export-Import Bank, a bank that has become a critical piece of Africa’s financial architecture. So, dear graduands, I want to assure you that you can be all you want to be; you are the author of your destiny, dream big dreams and allow your aspirations to roam. You will soon find that as you turn the corner of any adversity, an opportunity may beckon.
And the opportunity for you today may be found in the story of my life I just narrated. If you listened carefully, you would have noticed that, as it was forty years ago, so it is today. I am sure you will be wondering whether time stood still in Nigeria.
Over-dependence on crude oil was at the root of the economic crisis in 1983; it is the same today. And therein lies the opportunity, the chance to contribute in building an economy that is diversified, resilient and dynamic so that in 40 years’ time we will have a transformed, more modern society.
The African Continental Free Trade Agreement and Digital technology have provided platforms that are helping to unleash the power and creativity of our youth, even in the midst of difficulties. A quiet revolution that will redefine our future is in the offing.
So, graduands, you have your destiny in your hands; your future is yours to shape. American Philosopher, Eric Hoffer, once wrote that those with skills to move mountains do not need the faith that moves mountains. Your training in this university has prepared you for the future. There is no “mountain” you cannot move; there is no challenge you cannot overcome.
Today, we must celebrate not just the end of your most recent academic journey, but the beginning of a life-long commitment to making a difference. The core of my message today is focused on the latter. Making a difference means more when you are from a continent where young and able people believe that they have no better option but to attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea in search of greener pastures, despite the high probability of death. It means more when you are from a continent that is home to more than 60% of the world’s arable land but can’t feed itself. It means more when we are home to much of the world’s remaining mineral resources but account for only 3% of global trade and 3% of Global GDP. It means more when you are from a continent that accounts for 17% of the world’s population and 66% of all young people globally yet contributes almost 40% of the global poor. Making a difference means abandoning all those evils that hold us back as a people. You must say no to tribalism, religious bigotry and extremism, greed and selfishness. You must always strive to rise above the self and protect the collective interest because in an interconnected world, you will prosper when the group prospers.
You have all acquired an important asset, namely education. However, I would like you to see education from perspective offered by the Irish poet William Butler Yeats who noted that “Education is not about filling a bucket but lighting a fire”. I hope that your time over the last few years at AUN has lit a fire in you, a fire to go and change the world, starting with Africa. I would also like to emphasize that education is not a finite destination, rather it is a lifelong pursuit.
While hard work and education are critical, they are not enough. I can’t think of anything more important than love for country and continent. It is through the love for country and continent that we develop the deep passion that is required to drive change.
I would also like to remind you that those who fought for the independence of African nations, did so as young people. As I said in another speech, Kwame Nkrumah and his contemporaries “invested their youth in that project. Instead of the luxury of serving the colonial masters, they chose deprivation that came with agitation for independence; instead of the safety that subservience would have assured them, they chose the danger that littered the path to political independence; instead of living for the present, many sacrificed their present for a better future for all Africans”.
While they won the battle for political independence, which you and I enjoy today, we are deep into another struggle, the fight for economic independence. How would we fight this raging battle? The leaders of my generation have made efforts in this regard but have had limited success. It is You, the educated African youth in this arena and similar universities around the world, that can help us to eventually win the battle. And it is a battle we must engage in and win as it will define the future of the African. Otherwise, we will remain at the periphery of the global scheme of things. It is because of the new knowledge economy that Apple has a valuation today that is almost the size of Africa’s GDP. And as Artificial Intelligence and other technology gain ground, it is you, our youth that will ensure that this time, the country is not left behind and that we take control of our destiny and compete effectively globally. In this new world we are in, a new struggle is raging.
As I had said in the past and repeat here in quote “A revolution is sweeping across the African continent without bloodshed or conflict. It is peaceful and will fundamentally alter our world, shatter old assumptions and reshape our lives. It is easy to underestimate as it is not accompanied by banners or fanfare. The revolutionaries are of a different breed. Instead of being trained in military camps, the freedom fighters for this new battle are being trained in technical schools and universities; instead of fighting in trenches, this battle will be fought in factory floors and tech incubation centres; instead of guns, the battle will be fought with ideas, hard work and investments. While bravery was required for the political struggle, courage is a necessity for the economic liberation struggle. Tech, and not armed guerrillas; ideas and not bullets will constitute the potent forces for victory in this new struggle. And as with the political struggle, Africa needs partners that can support it to prevail. The partnership we seek is one beyond aid and grant, but one founded on mutual respect and trust, win-win economic cooperation and pursuit of shared prosperity.”
We will know we are winning when we produce as many tech Unicorns as other parts of the world. We will know we are winning when we have mechanisms for control of our intellectual property. There is still some way to go to arrive at the promised land but the journey has commenced.
To be clear, it is not all doom and gloom, there are some examples we can look at. Despite infrastructural challenges, the youth-led entertainment industry in Nigeria has achieved tremendous success over the last two decades. Nigerian movies have now become a staple on Netflix and Amazon Prime and watched across the globe. Nigerian artistes have become household names and now play in the topmost arenas and events around the world, including World Cup Finals, Champions League Finals amongst others. It is no longer rare to have Nigerian artistes nominated for most respected entertainment awards. The entertainment industry now contributes more than 5% to Nigeria’s GDP and is growing at a fast pace.
Nigeria has also produced a few Unicorns, such as Flutterwave, Interswitch, Opay and Andela. And in the old economy sphere, the gigantic Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical Plant was commissioned just a few days ago placing Nigeria in the global map of serious players in petrochemical and petroleum refining industries.
Nigeria also has a significant pool of entrepreneurs and bankers who made the most of what Nigeria has to offer. As you graduate today, you must set your goals clearly and keep your eyes on the ball. The quality of education you received in this University has prepared you for the World. You will always aim for the best and never be content with substitutes. You must never allow yourself to be consumed by those negative attributes that divide us as a people because you can thrive without them and help us to build a better Nigeria.
As I close, I will like to once again congratulate all graduands for making a huge success of their endeavors in this great university. Congrats are also in order for your parents and guardians for their support and commitment to your success.
As you enter the world, I will like to inform you that Afreximbank, the Bank that I lead offers a comprehensive suite of products that can support you as you build your career. For those of you intent on pursuing higher degrees who will like to be considered for internship positions, the opportunities abound.
Finally, I would like to convey my appreciation to the Founder, H.E Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, as well as to Senator Ben Obi, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, members of the Board of Trustees and Governing Council and the Interim President for the honour to address you today. I am in particular very grateful for the high honor of the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Human Letters awarded me. I will cherish it throughout my life. And as this University has proven itself in the fields of development, we will explore other support and linkages we can develop, such as sabbatical opportunities, internships, research grants etc. We look forward to a deeper and broader partnership.
Thank you for your kind attention.
Speech delivered by B. O. Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors , Afreximbank on the Occasion of the Fourteenth Graduation Ceremony of the American University of Nigeria and Receiving a Honorary Degree of Doctor Commencement Speech Delivered by Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of thr of Human Letters on 27 May 2023
Education Minister Hails Buhari as Benefactor at Valedictory Ceremony
By Evelyn Terseer, Abuja
The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu has expressed gratitude to president Muhammadu Buhari for giving him the opportunity as the longest serving Minister in his administration despite his shortcomings.
‘’I was a poor and angry journalist and never saw myself in rising to become a Minister.I became the Minister simply because of my relationship with President Buhari’’ He added .
Mallam Adamu Adamu expressed joy as being the most lucky person to have the best people to man different parastatals in the education sector.
He further apologized to civil servants who thought his administration was ran with only his friends whereas it was a wrong notion.
At the valedictory ceremony also, the Minister for State for Education, Nanah Opiah expressed gratitude to president Buhari and the entire ministry of education for the great opportunity and cooperation he got during his course of work.
According to Nanah Opiah, the ministry of education has helped him to discover the problems bordering the education sector such as,out of school children problem, adolescent girl problem, inadequate facilities and so on which help him to eloquently present the challenges to the National Assembly.
Furthermore, Executive Secretary Tertiary Education Trus Fund(TETFUND), Sunny Echono also commended the integrity of the work of Mallam Adamu Adamu.
He stated some numerous achievements of the Minister of Education such as establishment of six universities of Health sciences in the country, two additional universities of Technology, three additional universities of Agriculture and increase of colleges of Education under 8yrs in office compared to Nigeria’s 60 years.
Sunny Echono appreciated the Minister for helping him achieve phenomenal growth in revenue from 2%-3% which will help in hitting the target of five billion naira targeted at giving the tertiary education yearly.
He also added that there is increase in publication of books and delivery of projects.
In the remarks of permanent secretary, Andrew Adejoh, he called on workers in the education sector to emulate the good deeds of Mallam Adamu Adamu and Nanah Opiah .
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