At Tech-U, We’re Building An Entrepreneurial University – Professor Oyewusi Ibidapo-Obe


Professor Oyewusi Ibidapo-Obe, OFR, Pro Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council, First Technical University, is a fulfilled man. At 70, he has distinguished himself as one of Nigeria’s most accomplished intellectuals and university administrators. At Tech-U, he brings his immense wealth of rich and balanced exposure to bear in nurturing the University, now noted as one of the nation’s most impactful citadels of learning.

A two time Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos and Federal University, Ndufu Alike, he is a distinguished professor of Systems Engineering who has devoted almost five decades to engaging in path-breaking research, passionate teaching and impactful community engagement. Widely traveled and numerously garlanded, he was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics at the University of Lagos in 1971; a Master of Mathematics degree in Applied Mathematics with a minor in Computer Science in 1973, and capped with a Doctor of Philosophy in Civil Engineering with specialization in Applied Mechanics/Systems in 1976 both from University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

An unusual academic, Professor Ibidapo-Obe epitomizes the finest ideals of an intellectual with an industry consciousness. A fellow and a past president of the Nigeria Academy of Science, he currently sits atop boards of such blue-chip companies as Zenith Bank Plc, Chams PLC, Zinox Technologies, among many others.

In this interview, Professor Ibidapo-Obe invites Tech-U Life’s Femi Babatunde and Dayo Alatise into his exciting and absolutely fascinating world. It is a collector’s item. Excerpts:

How does it feel to be 70?

Well, in terms of the physiology, there’s really no difference, but in terms of the enthusiasm and the ability to be more grateful, there is a sense of déjà vu. Otherwise, life goes on. It is a smooth process.

So, are you retiring soon?

The official retirement is 70. In effect, I have retired from everyday academic work, but I still do a lot of academic work though. After 70 you don’t expect me to go up and down the classrooms again and take chalk, but I still mentor and supervise a number of postgraduate students.

How were you lured into an academic career?

Basically, I would say I didn’t think of an academic career. If you had asked me, what I wanted to do, like any other person, was to become an Accountant, because my father was an Auditor. I liked what he was doing; going from one place to the other with his plenty of pencils, markers and stuffs like that. He was working with an accounting firm called Pete Manick and Co. That was my intention. But then, I had to study another course. I was admitted into the University of Lagos in 1968 – a year before when I should have come in. I was expected to come in 1969 but early in 1968, my father got me a form for the University of London GCE Exam. I took it and when the result came out in May, I did sufficiently well, and he felt I should apply to the University. I was actually enjoying the company of my colleagues at the college at that time and I never thought of being admitted into the university. So when I got to the university, I was afraid because I felt really inadequate. However, when we started lectures and I was doing, this time, excellently well, I became encouraged. As a matter of fact, I was the first person to make a First Class at the University of Lagos at that time and it was a big show. I won the Vice Chancellor’s Prize. There was only one prize then that was competed for by all. Hitherto, the winners had always come from the College of Medicine. I was the only one to have won it from non-medical sciences.

Was it a natural progression to a career in the academia?

Yes. Since I came into the University in 1968, it has been a natural progression, to be honest. At that time companies like John Holt, British Petroleum and many others came to recruit with mouth-watering offers. I took one of them and I was there for a while…

Which company was that?

British Petroleum, now called African Petroleum. It was there I started my professional career. The company was so nice to me that I didn’t want to leave. I was offered more money than my colleagues because of the First Class. But there was so much pressure to return to the academia from my teachers; I remember the late Professor Chike Obi and Professor Fagbemi didn’t want me to stay there. It was during Professor Saburi Biobaku’s tenure as the Vice Chancellor and they were very keen to build-up the successor-generation. That was why I came back as a Graduate Assistant. By the next year, I got several scholarships such as the Commonwealth Scholarship, Rhodes Scholarships, etc. I decided to take the Commonwealth Scholarship because it was an opportunity to go to Canada. I went to the University of Waterloo, which was new at that time and had affiliation to the University of Cambridge. With Rhodes scholarship, I would have gone to Cambridge; so, I thought going to Waterloo was better. Of course, I went to Waterloo in 1972 and I got my PhD in 1976. At this stage, I had cut my teeth and I knew what it was to do research and how to publish.

At that time, once you finish, you just come back home, because it was more attractive. That is why you can’t blame our young people today. At that time, my pay was $1,200 a month. I was treated like a star. Even with the Canadian Dollar stronger than the US Dollar, it was just about N500 only. When I got back here (UNILAG) as a lecturer on Grade II, they offered me a salary that was slightly less. So, I did a letter to the Vice Chancellor that I wanted to have a take-home pay of N500 or so and they increased my salary to N5, 946 per annum.

That meant they wanted to encourage you at all cost?

Yeah, they were very kind because they could have said no. Of course, I was ready to go. I also had an offer from the University of Ibadan. Then, UI wanted to build-up the Department of Industrial and Production Engineering. So, that basically was how I started and I quickly moved up the ranks. By 1983, I was already a full professor.

That must have been a record?

Yes, it was. But, I am sure it must have been broken now because many younger people are doing much better.

Since 1976 when you returned to the country, you’ve been an academic all the way. What is it you enjoy about your job? What has been the staying power?

It is discovery – ability to innovate and to discover new things. One, you are fairly independent. You try to bring up new things. Two, you teach students and get a lot of joy doing so. You know, young people are more enthusiastic and they don’t think of anything other than that. And to be fair, I have had good infrastructure to contend with. Emotionally, I have had a good home. So there was nothing else to look at. And, I have not been a particular fan of money. I have always thought that if I can have sufficient publications, I can become well-known in my area and that, for me, is better.

Expectedly, you must have had many memorable and exciting times in your career. Which of these experiences would you regard as the most exciting?

You know, my career has been punctuated with many strides. For instance, if you look at appointments or my publications, I have got and published many that excite me.

But within the global outlook, in 1982, the University decided to set up a consultancy called UNILAG Consult and the Institution, through the Vice Chancellor, decided to make me the pioneer Managing Director. That gave me some shaky steps. But I was the MD, and I had to set up the organization from zero. That itself, the challenges and the success it brought, made the University to see me as someone who can perform. That also brought some excitement about my interaction with the Private Sector. Some of my best friends, who are now directors and chairmen of banks and other organisations, I met them while doing that.

I did that for 5 to 6 years and then took a rest. I decided to take my sabbatical leave. I went into the industry because I wanted to know what was going on in the industry. I became a Director at Ikeja Hotels Plc. That was the company that built the Sheraton Hotels at that time. So, I also got my hands dirty building a big hotel that was linked up with chains of businesses. That was exciting for me.

Another experience could also be when I was the Dean of Engineering. Now, unlike things you could do on your own, like publishing papers, teaching well and then evaluated, this was completely different because you must learn how to practice democracy, go round and consult with your colleagues. It was not easy, but I became the Dean.

Why did I want to become Dean?

By the time I was moving rapidly within the system, an idea came to me that, look, I can be a Vice Chancellor. This came to me when I was the MD of UNILAG Consult. By this time, I had sufficiently understudied the system and also had the wherewithal in terms of my scholarship and experience. Of course, because of where I was coming from, quite a few staff felt I would not have time because of external engagements. So, I made up my mind that I was going to surprise them. I did the work diligently and brought a lot of fame to the faculty by organising lots of programmes, outreaches and bringing lots of top people in. I served for two terms. When I finished I became a Deputy Vice Chancellor for a short while.

Meanwhile, during this time I also had many professional engagements within the University environment and with the Nigerian Academy of Science. It was from my position as the DVC that I became an acting Vice Chancellor before become the substantive Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos (2002-2007).

And after this, I also did many other things. For instance, I also became the President of the Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS) where I served a five-year term.

There was also a time I was asked to set-up another Federal University in Ebonyi State. The Ebonyi assignment was quite exciting. In Lagos, it was more of human relations management- managing staff, students and your colleagues, especially managing the dichotomy between academic staff and non-academic staff, which was a key issue at a time. When I went to Ebonyi, I had to start from the scratch. We call it a green field; they just give you a forest with some touches of human beings living there, which they claim to be their ancestral land. Fortunately, we were able to build the University. The structures are there for everybody to see. When I was done, I came back to my office in UNILAG, as I have always done.

Basically, I have also been privileged to be appointed to perform several tasks. For instance, earlier in my career, I was asked to serve as the Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Brain Drain when the government introduced the International Monetary Fund devaluation. They set up a committee for academic staff, so we don’t lose all of them to the diaspora. Our submission at that time was to allow people who wanted to go to go, but that we should improve the condition in Nigeria. Some of them eventually relocated abroad and we have also had those who came back to help back home. Even that itself, in a way, led to the improvement in our condition of service, led to the vigorous emergence of SSANU and ASUU.

With your rich experience as an administrator, what would you say went wrong with our tertiary education system?

Neglect!

What sort of neglect are you talking about?

The universities were not encouraged. The universities we were not given what they were getting much earlier in terms of funding. For instance, I don’t think my predecessor, Prof Jelili Omotola, ever got any subvention in any form from government. And for the first two or three years or so of my administration, we also had to cope with what we could get around. That was when you saw the emergence of all those multipurpose halls, which we used to hire out to people who wanted to do functions. It was an essential component of our IGR. We would use the money to pay salaries. The idea of charging so heavily for postgraduate education was part of the pressure to ensure that the University could actively pay its wages. Government wasn’t doing anything. Just as we now know, it was not just education; they were not doing anything about power, health, roads and other sectors of the economy.

You have been an outstanding scholar and research leader, you have also been a vice chancellor for at least 12 years, in addition to experiences as a Pro-Chancellor; so, tell us, what does it take to build a 21st Century University that is relevant and responsive to the needs of the society?

Actually, you need vision. Apart from the University’s vision, which you see are all the same, you must have your own vision that must be rooted to the ground. When I was to become the VC of UNILAG, I needed to create a brand that was different from Eko for show – because quite a few of my friends who were spread across all the major universities had the perception that we were not doing any work here and that academics in UNILAG were always busy in Yaba. My first focus was to change that perception. How did we change that perception? It meant I would create a few items of academic nature that people had to look out.

Also, your web presence is very important. You must let people know what you are doing. What sorts of research you are undertaking and let people know where your papers are being published. I wanted the brand to be the number one brand in Nigeria. The concept of University of first choice and the nation’s pride, I coined it. I wanted everybody who was considering going to university to come to the University of Lagos. That was an objective that I wanted to achieve and that worked, not just in rhetoric, but based on the number of people that applied to come to the University of Lagos.

So, not only do you set an objective, you must set a benchmark without losing the infrastructure you can carry. We came up with this concept of carrying capacity- to know how many students who can stay in one classroom and hostels. We came out and said we were not going beat a dead horse and that we would assume every student that qualifies and we give an accommodation will get a squatter. That was a policy. Although we should not be having policy of squatting, but I prefer that I allow you to bring somebody rather than having everybody in the hostel you can’t account for. We had to check the sanity and the security of everybody on campus, especially with the University being a hub of Yaba, Iwaya and Akoka. These were certain little targets we wanted to meet. For example, when I was VC, if there was any crime on campus, I would get there in 5 minutes. You set up a threshold, because everybody blows whistle here. I was able to get everybody interested in the affairs of the University -including if water is leaking in a pipe, I would get to know in 5 minutes. Even if you dress provocatively, I would get to know and people would even tell you to go back. And that created the impression that this is indeed a University, apart from the beautiful environment.

To look at the 21st University, you need to understand the type of students you now have. Teaching is also totally different. It should be cooperative and learner-centred. Many students now have the opportunity to study ahead of the class and what they want to hear from the teacher is that superior experience, not just theories. In fact, I just did a book on the University of the Future, which will be published soon.

Talking about the First Technical University, what you clearly have on the Governing Council is a star-studded team with many accomplished professionals. So, I would like you to reflect on the experience so far. What is it that excites you about Tech-U’s unique model?

What is unique in the model is not so much the fact that it is called a Technical University- it is the combination of the skills, and these are measureable skills. For example, what are the problems we have now? One of the major things that attract people to the universities is the ability to get jobs. We’re now running a system where graduates, sadly enough, who have graduated for three to four years or maybe five, have no job. You can now imagine having an education that equips you be a job creator from the University. That is the Tech-U advantage. This education can give you the ability to generate things for yourself and do things in a way that everybody would see that you have a skill – may be as an electrician, builder, hairdresser or designer – in addition to their regular degree programmes. What is so important in our education is that we let the students know what is going on and prepare them accordingly. That is the unique selling proposition of the First Technical University. When they finish from this Institution, it is not likely any of them would need to look for a job. The whole idea is that they come; we train them and let them do it. Apart from the regular courses they know, in this place, we teach them to acquire diverse vocational skills. As you know, we have relationship with other world-class universities, with the major one being Texas Technical University in Lubbock, Texas, whereby our students have the possibility of a year to study in Texas. It is important because Texas Tech is the largest and the best known in the State of Texas. Our students would have the opportunity to study there and automatically return for their Masters in the United States. We thought this is quite unique. Then, our curriculum has been checked by the industry and it has been accredited by National Universities Commission.

In the last two years, First Technical University has made great strides; one of which the recent Webometric ranking. How would you describe the experience in the last two years?

It has been good. We are happy to be one of the most impactful universities in Nigeria. You see, the challenge with universities is to be impactful- to relate with the environment. So, if a young University that is two years old can get this kind of assessment, it encourages us to push more.

Fortunately, the make-up of the Council are people who are seasoned in University Administration – talk of seasoned bankers, managing directors of banks and other accomplished professionals – who appreciate that we can use education as a tool to cure all our problems as a nation – from unemployment, through elimination of hunger, through agric productivity, scientific intervention, energy and so on and so forth. Very soon we are going to have a permanent exhibition hall that will be just like our current hall to showcase what our students are doing and have invented.

Are you eager to recommend the Tech-U model to the university system in Nigeria?

Yes, I am very eager. When I was leaving the Federal University in Ebonyi, I put together a symposium where we discussed challenges and prospects of building an entrepreneurial university. Now, what we are doing at the Tech-U is entrepreneurial University. We are building it with a strong technical bias. Not only do you have to use your brains, you have to use your hands. Thus, we are going to the basics of work, because the whole idea is that when you finish from here you go on to become an employer of labour. We need to recommend the Tech-U curriculum wholesale to the Nigerian University system.

What’s your take on education in Nigeria, from basic to tertiary; what are the problems?

The major problem is attention. When you look at our outputs from the Secondary School who end up in the Universities in United States and elsewhere, you would see where the problem is. I have known quite a bit who did excellently well. Even within the University here, my wife has shown a lot of interest in the welfare of the students, so there is quite a number of students who have passed through our hands and they finished and are on full scholarship in the United States. This means that there is nothing deficient about the students. The problem we have is the challenge of infrastructure. When we were students, our libraries were well-stocked. Every day, we got newspapers from all around the world. The enthusiasm that was held in any of the presidential elections then was unbelievable. They even took us to the United States Information Service and several other places where we had great exposure. Some of these things are lacking now. Everybody is left to his own device. Two, is the teacher’s training. The teachers here are not trained; they see teaching as a stepping stone. They don’t see it as a permanent job. We must make the conditions of service of teachers sufficient that they believe they can make a career and put all there is into it. I think that is a challenge.

If you go back, there are people who are undergoing such training; they would do very well, provided they’re not handicapped. There are more handicaps now than there were in those days. You can imagine that you have a hostel now with 18 students staying in a room. We were two in a room when I was an undergraduate, two wardrobes and desk and they were comfortable enough for you to read. Go and look at our hostels today, there’s no way you can raise intellectuals in them. In fact, sometimes, I marvel when we produce these First Class. Where are they coming from? Are they coming from the moon? It is like if I produce a paper now and it is adjudged a Nobel Prize article. The questions people would ask are where is his laboratory, where are his equipment, where are they from and how did he get such a sharp result? That is the problem.

Of course, the issue of Quality Assurance and need for the NUC to really take a proper look at the type of graduates is there. Yes, we know that quite a few would do well, but we know that a few have passed under the bridge that really should have not passed through.

What would you say are the recipes needed for the making of an outstanding scholar?

I think you must be focused. Doing the job as an academic in the University is not a part- time job. I always tell my junior colleagues, when you make your objective of being a professor, you can’t look elsewhere. While you are at it, it is a 24 hour job. You cannot be doing some teaching in UNILAG or any university and be doing part-time in another place. It would never add-up and you are going to get yourself into trouble, because you are neither going to be here nor there.

Two, you must have a target for yourself. Don’t worry if you don’t hit your target, you can recalibrate and start again. But you must have that focus in mind. You can decide, for instance, that in my area, I want to publish one or two a year. It has to be there. You must teach your students very well. You will not just go to the classroom and just be regurgitating what they have read in books or what they can study on their own. You must study before you go to teach. You must bring new knowledge for every teaching. They would like you for it. Those are the two things you must spend time on. I discovered that most young people are distracted.

Of course, I expect the university or government to provide minimum comfort level, because in a place like Lagos, you can imagine, a young lecturer living in Okokomaiko, Ajah or Alagbado, so that by the time he gets to Akoka in the morning, he is spent, especially if you have to take public transport. Whereas, if they give you a nice accommodation and with mobility, that will be fine. For me, I don’t believe in a non-residential university. It doesn’t work. I am sure they say University of London is non-residential, but maybe they have a tradition. For a University here, especially for an urban city like Lagos, you still need to find a way to accommodate people on campus to be able to get them focused on the job you want them to do.

You are an unusual academic who is comfortable with people in both the high and lower rung of the ladder. Tell us the secret.

Ability to listen, and you must generate flair such that people will have confidence in you. As I said when I was VC, anything that happened, within five minutes, I am there. It is not me flying all over the place, but the people have confidence that they can talk to you. And I also believe that my opinion should not be the only right one. If I have an opinion and I am the only one subscribing to it, something is wrong somewhere. At least, there should be some level of buy-in, even if it’s not 100%. Of course, I relate with young people. The people you are making policies for are young people. Your policies will not prosper if you don’t carry the young people along. To tell you the truth, young people have a lot of ideas and they are prepared to voice them out. The challenge with young people is that they don’t consider the constraints. They just take actions without constraint.

The gulf between universities and the industry is wide. The implication of this, of course, is that both parties are working in silos. As someone who sits comfortably on the boards of highbrow institutions, what do we need to do to get the two working symbiotically?

There must be a co-curriculum. We must determine what the industry needs and the university will now work towards meeting the objectives of the industry. In doing so, they would have a meeting point as to what we need to get. If you look at some of the laws setting up Board of Studies and Senates, it says we should invite external persons as part of our community relation to seat on our Boards of Studies and Senate, so that we would know what we want. There has to be that training and interaction between the industry and the universities. If we have that, the curriculum will be better. That is part of the unique things we’re doing at the First Technical University. All the industries around Tech-U, we’ve had some level of understanding with them that our students will be interacting with them. So, students are trained from the beginning.

There are issues relating to funding qualitative research, what is the First Technical University doing differently?

What we are doing, and we have had some limited success in this regard, is to get research organizations to sponsor local research. But you know, we’re just starting, but as we are developing, there is going to be lots and lots of grants coming from external agencies. This year, we are very lucky; we got lots and lots of start-up grants and training from Tetfund. That would attract many more staff. I think our future is bright.

Tech-U is a public institution with a private sector orientation. With the change in government, there have been anxieties in certain quarters. How would you describe the acceptance the University has enjoyed since the assumption of the new Governor?

The rationale for setting up Tech-U is not like what happens in the establishment of other public universities. The reason is that Tech-U would have to close-up the gap we’re seeing in man-power development, not only in Oyo State but in Nigeria. We have seen that there are lots of opportunities in both private and public sectors and graduates who have the right kind of training can benefit. Again, if you go into construction sites today, you would see many expatriates there and the reason is because they have the skill to close-up the gap that is needed in those industries. Now, Tech-U says there are jobs, but we have to train people to fit into them properly.

I understand that there are some anxieties. Fortunately, the Governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde is an engineering graduate of the University of Lagos and also fortunately, I am proud to say he was one of my students, and we know his passion for technical education. Also, the University has also made its mark as an entrepreneurial institution. So, from that point of view, Tech-U does not have any challenges. More so, it is not supposed to leech on government, but to provide values. What government is required to do is to support with capital projects. Tech-U, on its own, sources its own budget through fees, grants and other sources. What we desire is that we have sufficient flow of students and we are doing well. Our target is to go to population of 10,000 at full capacity.

I am not in a hurry, because I want the students to be well-taught and imbibe the culture and when they graduate they’re going to be great benefits to us. I am happy with the hostel they are in, the classrooms, lecture theatres and the learning environment.

Speak to our young people, what do they need to get to the top and contribute their own quota to national development?

Let me say that for youths generally, there are lots of opening at the top, it’s not crowded. They should not think it’s not possible to get to the top. There are several opportunities of either creating new things or changing the ways we do old things. There are new ways of thinking. Look at the discoveries in robotics, artificial intelligence and areas of technology. When you look at the bottom line, what are the issues? For instance, look at the issue of hunger, you can imagine how many of us can contribute to the elimination of hunger. For those who are energetic, they can farm and those who are not so energetic, they can have a garden and ensure that every morning, there are fruits and vegetables to sell. We can all do something about our common challenges. For young people, the sky is the limit. As a matter of fact, in each of the Sustainable Development Goals, there are things you can contribute. However, as I said, some of these things are hard-work. If they work hard, they should also pray for good luck and let them be focused. Once you do well, people will notice and recommend you for bigger things. We also need to mentor them and assist them to make the right decisions. We need to work now with young people to make this country great.

What are you own recipes for the making of a Nigeria we all can be proud of?

We should totally forget about ethnicity and do other things strictly on merit. When you do things on merit and you don’t get it, go back and you’ll get it. I think what is killing this country, is this issue of quota. As long as we have quota, you are not going to make too much progress, and quota will be very destructive. We should do away with it and work with people based on their different skills and strength. When we’re talking about representation, we should do things on merit.

As long as things are not done on merit, we will not survive as a nation. Today, if we scrap all these, you will see the immediate transformation in five years. I have had the opportunity to go to Rwanda, and if you ask any Rwandan which tribe he is, he will tell you I am just a Rwandan. It’s because they have learnt the hard way that all these things do not help them.

Of all your contributions to scholarship, which would you say you’re most proud of?

Well, I was the first to start this issue of artificial intelligence. That was why I worked with Prof. Olunloyo to set up Biosystems Engineering, because we thought that, going forward, the ability to think in a systems manner, to connect all the various, different nodes further would be necessary to move forward. And, it is applicable to all different things, including what I just said. For instance, how can we take advantage of diversity to achieve common goals? There is a tribe in India and what they are known for is that they can never steal, so everybody picks them as financial controller. That’s the kind of diversity we should learn from. We should learn from how countries like Canada, USA and others have managed their diversity.

Makinde pledges support for Oyo Tech varsity


Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State has assured that the state-owned university, Technical University, Ibadan, will receive all necessary support from his administration.

The university was established by the administration of the immediate past governor of the state, Senator Abiola Ajimobi.

The governor made this known when he received the Governing Council of the university on a courtesy call to him in his office on Wednesday.

Makinde, who received the team led by its Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, Prof. Oyewusi Ibidapo-Obe, noted that he was impressed with the calibre of eminent professionals who constituted the council.

“Looking at the composition of the council, I can say you are men and women of great accomplishment that is beyond the ordinary. You are some of the best we can get around.

“When we were dissolving boards, we made an exception to Tech-U, because we looked at the profile of the people involved and we were convinced that you are there on your own merit.”

“If I were to choose members of the council, I would have also chosen majority of you. We gave exception for Tech-U because of the work you’re doing for Oyo State.”

The governor noted that he had exercised caution on the university because he wanted more information on the ownership profile of the university.

Earlier, Prof. Ibidapo-Obe commended the governor for the strides he had so far recorded and assured that Tech-U would be available to provide the requisite intellectual capacity to achieve the vision of the administration and tackle developmental challenges of the state.

On his part, Tech-U VC, Prof. Ayobami Salami, thanked the governor and noted that with the strides already made by the university, including obtaining its first patent within two years of commencement of academic activities and the recent webometric ranking that ranked it as one of the most impactful universities in the country, Tech-U was poised to become a notable science, technology and innovation hub that the state could be proud of.

Makinde pledges support for Tech-U


Governor of Oyo Seyi Makinde has assured that the state-owned First Technical University (Tech-U), Ibadan, will receive all necessary support to succeed from his administration. The governor made this known when he received the Governing Council of Tech-U on a courtesy call on Tuesday.

Makinde, who received the team led by its Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, Professor Oyewusi Ibidapo-Obe, noted that he was impressed with the caliber of eminent professionals who constitute the council. He encouraged the university management to embark on a sustainability drive that would sustain the vision for which the university was set-up.

“Be free and creative to do something that is consistent with available resources and aspiration of the government and people of Oyo State. I will give you my absolute support”, Makinde remarked.

While restating his administration’s commitment to qualitative education for the people of the state, the governor announced that he approved the continuation of scholarship scheme to support indigent but brilliant students of the state studying at the university. He urged the university authority to come up with creative ideas that contribute to the development of the State.

Earlier, Professor Ibidapo-Obe assured that Tech-U would be available to provide requisite intellectual capacity to achieve the vision of the administration and tackle developmental challenges of the state.

Tech-U VC, Professor Ayobami Salami noted that with the strides already made by the university, including obtaining its first patent within two years of commencement of academic activities and the recent webometric ranking that put it as one of the most impactful universities in the country, Tech-U is poised to become a notable science, technology and innovation hub that the State can be proud of.

Why I Didn’t Dissolve Tech-U Governing Council — Makinde


The Executive Governor of Oyo State has assured that the State-owned University and Nigeria’s premier Technical University, First Technical University (Tech-U), Ibadan, will receive all necessary support to succeed from his administration.

The governor made this known when he received the Governing Council of the University on a courtesy call to him in his office on Tuesday.

Makinde, who received the team led by its Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, Professor Oyewusi Ibidapo-Obe, noted that he was impressed with the calibre of eminent professionals who constitute the Council.
“Looking at the composition of the Council, I can say you are men and women of great accomplishment that is beyond the ordinary. You are some of the best we can get around”.

“When we were dissolving boards, we made an exception to Tech-U, because we looked at the profile of the people involved and we were convinced that you are there on your own merit”.

“If I were to choose members of the Council, I would have also chosen the majority of you. We gave an exception for Tech-U because of the work you’re doing for Oyo State”.

The Governor noted that he had exercised caution on the University because he wanted more information on the ownership profile of the University.

Noting the dire financial state of the State, he encouraged the University management to embark on a sustainability drive that would sustain the vision for which the University was set-up.

“Be free and creative to do something that is consistent with available resources and aspiration of the government and people of Oyo State. I will give you my absolute support”, Makinde remarked.

While restating his administration’s commitment to qualitative education to the people of the State, the Governor announced that he has approved the continuation of scholarship scheme to support indigent but brilliant students of the State studying at the University.

Noting that his government would prioritize governance above politics, he restated the readiness of his administration to continue with useful policies of the last administration and would not hesitate to modify or discard outright any policy found defective and not done in the interest of the people.

He charged the university authority to come up with creative ideas that contribute to the development of the State.
Earlier, Professor Ibidapo-Obe commended the governor for the strides he has so far recorded and assured that Tech-U would be available to provide the requisite intellectual capacity to achieve the vision of the administration and tackle developmental challenges of the State

.

On his part, Tech-U VC, Professor Ayobami Salami thanked the governor and noted that with the strides already made by the University, including obtaining its first patent within two years of commencement of academic activities and the recent webometric ranking that ranks it as one of the most impactful universities in the country, Tech-U is poised to become a notable science, technology and innovation hub that the State can be proud of.

The Moving Cheese And Challenges Of Nigeria’s Educational System


IN its annual tradition of focusing on topical issues affecting young people all over the world, the United Nations, this year, has again chosen very apt theme: Transforming Education. This theme focuses on “efforts to make education more inclusive and accessible for all youth, including efforts by the youth themselves”. This theme is pursuant of Goal 4 of UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. It seeks to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. Many societies are beginning to acknowledge that quality education is the most potent weapon for transforming the world. Educational transformation is very dear to me; having been active in providing tertiary education for over thirty years. I have also traversed our educational system as a student, a teacher and as an administrator at various levels. As an ardent stakeholder, I can state unequivocally that all hands are required on deck to harness our vast human and capital resources towards achieving educational transformation at local, regional and national levels. We must urgently proffer remedies for the current monumental infrastructural deficit, inadequate funding, irrelevant curricular, inadequate staffing, warped orientation of learners, dismal student performance, and the resultant dysfunctional system among other sectoral deficiencies. The consequences of poor education in Nigeria over the years are already evident in extremely high unemployment of educated youths, gross dependence on foreign technology, and lack of technical expertise for even simple tasks.

The world has become a global network with its attendant opportunities and challenges. Opportunities, because knowledge has become largely democratized, and challenges, because mediocrity no longer have a chance of survival in today’s dynamic competitive world. To fully explore the potentials of our intelligent youth populace, all stakeholders in the educational sector must agree on curriculum and delivery strategies that would elicit innovation, cooperation and ingenuity in educational spaces that guarantee practicality. We require the Government at various levels to provide infrastructure and funding commensurate to the urgency and extent of the transformation we need in the educational sector. The government must actualise the tenets of its recently declared State of Emergency in the sector. Our brand of education must deliver development and social progress all over the country in alignment to the nation’s developmental priorities.

Our strategy must be all-inclusive and we must endeavour to engage our people and indeed experienced adults throughout the implementation. We can no longer ignore the unfortunate statistics showing that Nigeria currently houses over 10 million out-of-school children. Activities of the Universal Basic Education Commission at the national level must be complemented by prompt release of counterpart funds by States. For us to elicit maximum productivity from our students, learning must be technologically-driven, participatory, resourceful and adventurous. There is need for top-notch facilities to support active learning in our educational institutions. Closely, linked to this, is the cardinal issue of welfare of teachers and all other professionals that make up the school system. It is certain that a poorly motivated workforce is unlikely to produce world-class graduates. The only way to attract and retain the brightest brains in the educational system is to remunerate well and ensure that workspaces are functional and comfortable.

While we must insist that it is right and necessary that the government increase its funding of education in the country, it is also wise that we explore additional funding models. What is needed is some measure of creativity and fresh vigour. For instance, funding and infrastructural strategies could include Public-Private-Partnerships (PPP), Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT), and Build-Own-Operate (BOO) models. It must be emphasized that subsidies, scholarships, endowments and study loans from various sources are still highly required given the economic inequalities in the country and the fact equality does not necessarily guarantee inclusiveness. More than at any other time in history, it is crucial for the government to increase its effort of equipping citizens; especially the young ones for the realities of a fast-paced knowledge economy. We particularly need the government to incentivize the educational process and develop requisite curriculum in tandem with national aspiration for human development needs of the nation. While government may not be the only spender, we must know that they still need to show leadership accompanied with the requisite policies to enable the buy-in of other stakeholders, especially the organised private sector.

Our teachers must become effective enablers of the new model of education, with emphasis on learner-centeredness, technology, innovation, and social responsiveness. We must find a way of making learning stimulating, enjoyable and attractive for our students, because they hold the key to the kind of future that awaits us. To ensure that policies are made to work and that all stakeholders do what is expected of them, we need to put in place well-motivated and thoroughly equipped Quality Assurance Units in our Ministries of Education and our educational institutions. This is to ensure that the education given to our children conforms to the best global practices.

  • Salami is Vice-Chancellor of Nigeria’s premier Technical University, First Technical University, Ibadan.

Moving cheese and challenges of Nigeria’s education system (2)


Ayobami Salami

Continued from Monday

Given the employability and skills gap crises in the country, it is pertinent to emphasize the need to recalibrate our education system to mainstream technical, vocational and entrepreneurial learning in all stages of education. The reality that should bother every concerned Nigerian is that the subsisting relic of colonial education that only prepared our people mainly for white-collar jobs is no longer workable. The cheese has since moved from the traditional station and our education system must be responsive so as to equip our teeming youths for this challenge.

We hope that the revolution we are leading at the First Technical University will spread and ginger other stakeholders to infuse technicality, practicality, innovation, and entrepreneurship into the currently theoretical widespread offerings. It is certain that the only way to stimulate productivity, promote technological development and kindle economic growth, is to nurture the creative potential of our young people. We must provide the right ambiance that would enable them to hone their skills in science, technology, and humanities.

Expectedly, this laudable approach has extensive implications for the pedagogy we currently employ in our education policy. We must now emphasize a learner-centered model, train our young people to ask questions and challenge the axiom, develop learners’ critical thinking capacities, create knowledge pools, interactive platforms and involve relevant participants from the larger society.

Equally central to the proposed transformation paradigm is the urgent need to bridge the yawning divide that currently exists between our ivory towers and the industry. We must realize that there is no way we can have the kind of quantum leap that we desire without synergy between these two critical sectors of society. Institutions, which by their very nature, are a sacred temple of experimentation and knowledge production for development, must now link up with the public and private sectors to work out ideas founded on sound theoretical frameworks.

Whereas it is easy to be overwhelmed by the challenges that currently stare us in the face, it is important to state that this is about the best time to be a youth. The opportunities around you abound. All you need is the courage to see through the darkness and catch the brightness that awaits you at the end of the tunnel. Take responsibility, and decide what your contribution would be to make society better. Deploy your unique gifts and talents. You must realize that in the midst of the gloom of the current challenges lies the opportunity for you to emerge from the rubbles as a significant force in this generation.

While I encourage you to take good opportunities and globalize your thinking and training, you must never abandon your cultural heritage. That is your identity and claim to uniqueness in the alluringly competitive global space. Through a deliberate commitment to life-long learning, beyond the limits of the four walls of an academic institution, you owe yourself, your family, our nation, the African continent and indeed, the world at large the obligation to develop the requisite intellectual and psychological capacity needed for the transformation of our world.

While the educators are preparing world-class platforms for better education, you must come into institutions well-prepared for the kind of education you desire. You must completely eschew fraud and cheating during qualifying examinations, read ahead and develop a genuine passion for the kind of learning that brings national transformation. Similarly, take time to develop relational skills to properly integrate other ideas, cultures, attitudes, and paradigms that are replete in today’s interactive world.

We must get education right in our nation. It is the main opportunity the older generation has to deliberately transmit accumulated knowledge, skills and values to the younger ones. We must evolve a system that adequately prepares our youths for both global relevance and local impact. We need to promote intense intellectualism in concord with a sense of civic responsibility that embraces collaboration instead of unhealthy competition. We must also promote honesty, synergy, diligence, innovation, technical expertise, entrepreneurship and deliberately reward excellence. I call on all stakeholders to join hands in transforming our education system. It is the surest way to move our society from mediocrity and limitations into enlightenment and sustainable development.

Concluded

Moving cheese and challenges of Nigeria’s educational system


For our students to be productive, learning must be technologically-driven, participatory, resourceful and adventurous, writes Ayobami Salami

In its annual tradition of focusing on topical issues affecting young people all over the world, the United Nations, this year, has again chosen very apt theme: Transforming Education. This theme focuses on “efforts to make education more inclusive and accessible for all youth, including efforts by the youth themselves”. This theme is pursuant of Goal four of UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. It seeks to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. Many societies are beginning to acknowledge that quality education is the most potent weapon for transforming the world.

Educational transformation is very dear to me; having been active in providing tertiary education for over 30 years. I have also traversed our educational system as a student, a teacher and as an administrator at various levels. As an ardent stakeholder, I can state unequivocally that all hands are required on deck to harness our vast human and capital resources towards achieving educational transformation at local, regional and national levels. We must urgently proffer remedies for the current monumental infrastructural deficit, inadequate funding, irrelevant curricular, inadequate staffing, warped orientation of learners, dismal student performance, and the resultant dysfunctional system among other sectoral deficiencies. The consequences of poor education in Nigeria over the years is already evident in extremely high unemployment of educated youths, gross dependence on foreign technology, and lack of technical expertise for even simple tasks.

The world has become a global network with its attendant opportunities and challenges. Opportunities, because knowledge has become largely democratized, and challenges, because mediocrity no longer have a chance of survival in today’s dynamic competitive world.

To fully explore the potential of our intelligent youth populace, all stakeholders in the educational sector must agree on curriculum and delivery strategies that would elicit innovation, cooperation and ingenuity in educational spaces that guarantee practicality. We require the government at various levels to provide infrastructure and funding commensurate to the urgency and extent of the transformation we need in the educational sector. The government must actualise the tenets of its recently declared State of Emergency in the sector. Our brand of education must deliver development and social progress all over the country in alignment to the nation’s developmental priorities.

Our strategy must be all-inclusive and we must endeavour to engage our people and indeed experienced adults throughout the implementation. We can no longer ignore the unfortunate statistics showing that Nigeria currently houses over 10 million out-of-school children. Activities of the Universal Basic Education Commission at the national level must be complemented by prompt release of counterpart funds by states.

For us to elicit maximum productivity from our students, learning must be technologically-driven, participatory, resourceful and adventurous. There is need for top-notch facilities to support active learning in our educational institutions. Closely, linked to this, is the cardinal issue of welfare of teachers and all other professionals that make up the school system. It is certain that a poorly motivated workforce is unlikely to produce world class graduates. The only way to attract and retain the brightest brains in the educational system is to remunerate well and ensure that workspaces are functional and comfortable.

While we must insist that it is right and necessary that government increase its funding of education in the country, it is also wise that we explore additional funding models. What is needed is some measure of creativity and fresh vigour. For instance, funding and infrastructural strategies could include Public-Private Partnerships (PPP), Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT), and Build-Own-Operate (BOO) models. It must be emphasised that subsidies, scholarships, endowments and study loans from various sources are still highly required given the economic inequalities in the country and the fact equality does not necessarily guarantee inclusiveness.

More than at any other time in history, it is crucial for government to increase its effort of equipping citizens; especially the young ones for the realities of a fast-paced knowledge economy. We particularly need the government to incentivise the educational process and develop requisite curriculum in tandem with national aspiration for human development needs of the nation. While government may not be the only spender, we must know that they still need to show leadership accompanied with the requisite policies to enable the buy-in of other stakeholders, especially the organised private sector.

Our teachers must become effective enablers of the new model of education, with emphasis on learner-centeredness, technology, innovation, and social responsiveness. We must find a way of making learning stimulating, enjoyable and attractive for our students, because they hold the key to the kind of future that awaits us. To ensure that policies are made to work and that all stakeholders do what is expected of them, we need to put in place well-motivated and thoroughly equipped Quality Assurance Units in our Ministries of Education and our educational institutions. This is to ensure that the education given to our children conforms to the best global practices.
––Salami is the Vice Chancellor of Nigeria’s premier Technical University, First Technical University, Ibadan
Quote

It is certain that a poorly motivated workforce is unlikely to produce world class graduates. The only way to attract and retain the brightest brains in the educational system is to remunerate well and ensure that workspaces are functional and comfortable

Moving cheese and challenges of Nigeria’s educational system


In its annual tradition of focusing on topical issues affecting young people all over the world, the United Nations, this year, has again chosen a very apt theme: Transforming education. This theme focuses on “efforts to make education more inclusive and accessible for all youth, including efforts by the youth themselves”. This theme is pursuant to Goal 4 of the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. It seeks to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. Many societies are beginning to acknowledge that quality education is the most potent weapon for transforming the world.

Educational transformation is very dear to me; having been active in providing tertiary education for over 30 years. I have also traversed our educational system as a student, a teacher and as an administrator at various levels. As an ardent stakeholder, I can state unequivocally that all hands are required on deck to harness our vast human and capital resources towards achieving educational transformation at the local, regional and national levels. We must urgently proffer remedies for the current monumental infrastructural deficit, inadequate funding, irrelevant curricula, inadequate staffing, warped orientation of learners, dismal student performance, and the resultant dysfunctional system among other sectoral deficiencies. The consequences of poor education in Nigeria over the years is already evident in extremely high unemployment of educated youths, gross dependence on foreign technology, and lack of technical expertise for even simple tasks.

The world has become a global network with its attendant opportunities and challenges. Opportunities, because knowledge has become largely democratized, and challenges, because mediocrity no longer has a chance of survival in today’s dynamic competitive world.

To fully explore the potential of our intelligent youth populace, all stakeholders in the educational sector must agree on curriculum and delivery strategies that would elicit innovation, cooperation, and ingenuity in educational spaces that guarantee practicality. We require the government at various levels to provide infrastructure and funding commensurate to the urgency and extent of the transformation we need in the educational sector. The government must actualize the tenets of its recently declared state of emergency in the sector. Our brand of education must deliver development and social progress all over the country in alignment with the nation’s developmental priorities.

Our strategy must be all-inclusive and we must endeavour to engage our people and indeed experienced adults throughout the implementation. We can no longer ignore the unfortunate statistics showing that Nigeria currently houses over 10 million out-of-school children. Activities of the Universal Basic Education Commission at the national level must be complemented by the prompt release of counterpart funds by states.

For us to elicit maximum productivity from our students, learning must be technologically-driven, participatory, resourceful and adventurous. There is a need for top-notch facilities to support active learning in our educational institutions. Closely linked to this is the cardinal issue of welfare of teachers and all other professionals that make up the school system. It is certain that a poorly motivated workforce is unlikely to produce world-class graduates. The only way to attract and retain the brightest brains in the educational system is to remunerate well and ensure that workspaces are functional and comfortable.

While we must insist that it is right and necessary that the government increase its funding of education in the country, it is also wise that we explore additional funding models. What is needed are some measures of creativity and fresh vigour. For instance, funding and infrastructural strategies could include Public-Private-Partnerships (PPP), Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT), and Build-Own-Operate (BOO) models. It must be emphasized that subsidies, scholarships, endowments and study loans from various sources are still highly required given the economic inequalities in the country and the fact equality does not necessarily guarantee inclusiveness.

More than at any other time in history, it is crucial for the government to increase its effort of equipping citizens; especially the young ones for the realities of a fast-paced knowledge economy. We particularly need the government to incentivize the educational process and develop requisite curriculum in tandem with national aspiration for human development needs of the nation. While the government may not be the only spender, we must know that they still need to show leadership accompanied by the requisite policies to enable the buy-in of other stakeholders, especially the organized private sector.

Our teachers must become effective enablers of the new model of education, with emphasis on learner-centredness, technology, innovation, and social responsiveness. We must find a way of making learning stimulating, enjoyable and attractive for our students because they hold the key to the kind of future that awaits us. To ensure that policies are made to work and that all stakeholders do what is expected of them, we need to put in place well-motivated and thoroughly equipped Quality Assurance Units in our Ministries of Education and our educational institutions. This is to ensure that the education given to our children conforms to the best global practices.

Technical varsity; one year after


Penultimate week, pioneer students of Nigeria’s premier technical university, First Technical University, Ibadan, made history. They completed their year one examination and so, officially ended their first academic session at the nascent university. Upon its completion, expectedly, the students straddled the expansive campus joyously, chanting and cheering one another for the historic feat. Well, the students’ excitement is certainly not misplaced, for their beloved Tech-U has indeed, within just its first academic session, proved sceptics wrong and has courageously trod on an uncharted path with a bagful of sheaves dotting it.

To put it in context, when the university made its entry into the increasingly saturated tertiary education space last year, only very few saw hope in the horizon. Their concern, albeit genuinely, was predicated on the fact that, with the perennial questions of funding and quality bedevilling public universities in Nigeria today, the university was dead on arrival. Alas, that concern has turned out unfounded.

Running with a vision of a world-class institution fully grounded in entrepreneurial practices, unique innovation, sustainability science and international best practices, Tech-U prides itself for an exceptional learning model of blended theoretical knowledge and practical skills imparted by a mix of first-rate scholars and experienced industry hands. Through the deployment of the principles of Science, Engineering, Technology, Research and Innovation (SETRI) for societal transformation, Tech-U is steadfast in its pursuit of effectively combating the saddening scourge of youth unemployment in Nigeria.

Located in Ibadan, West Africa’s largest city, reputed for its many firsts in Africa, the First Technical University campus, located along the Ibadan-Lagos Expressway, spreads on an expanse of 200 hectares of well-endowed land mass. The campus, inserted in the fledging Free Trade Zone Area of Ibadan projected to house a consortium of industries, is an excellent fit for any worthwhile academic adventure. Apart from its state-of-the-art facilities, the pastoral but absolutely enchanting ambience of the campus supports learning and research in a way that rivals the tranquillity obtainable in any leading technology and innovation hub across the world. The lure of Tech-U is radical education that births world-class thinkers and doers with abiding innovation and development-oriented bent.

A peep into the achievements of the university in the last one year is, to say the least, very comforting. To begin with, the quality of reception that has trailed the entry of the university from the organized private sector has been largely gratifying. This is because for too long, universities in Nigeria have failed to nurture their products in a way that readily makes them industry-ready needs; hence, the skills-gap crisis in the country. Of course, with its mission of nurturing industrious and market-ready graduates, Tech-U deserves the increasing acclaim and partnerships it is currently enjoying. For aside its promise of fully industry-integrated education, the university offers training in unique areas of cyber security, mechatronics engineering, software engineering, biomedical engineering, among others. All with a focused goal of producing the sort of relevant manpower that can practically advance the course of national development.

Earlier in the year, as a way of deepening linkage between the town and gown, the university hosted stakeholders from leading brands and groups such as the Nigerian Employers Consultative Council (NECA), Council for the Regulation of Engineering (COREN), the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) and several others for a curriculum review summit. The gathering proved very successful, as it afforded the stakeholders to offer informed perspectives to shape the institution’s curriculum framework. Therefore, we are invited to look forward to the future with much excitement as Tech-U leads the way for more enduring universities/industry partnerships.

Realizing the urgency of the global knowledge economy, Tech-U has broadened its staff structure to include topflight scholars from Europe and America. Aside the immediate impact of this laudable move on the quality of learning at the university, it has significantly enhanced the prevalent institutional research architecture and visibility. Similarly, the university enjoys a virile partnership with the Texas Technical University, Lubbock, United States of America. This certainly is a master stroke. With this, Texas Tech, reputed to be among the top-three of the best universities in the global current webometric ranking, provides mentorship for Tech-U and also facilitates exchange programmes between staff and students of both universities.

It is worth noting that Tech-U has also raised the bar in students funding. This is in form of a scholarship bank worth over N700 million. The endowment comes from industry donors to support indigent but brilliant students unable to afford the sort of qualitative education offered by the university. Undoubtedly a very laudable scheme, it has brought to fruition the dreams of many underprivileged deprived students.

Tech-U students are carefully baked with the goal of making them globally competitive in science, technology and innovation. As such, they are trained from the beginning to acquire competencies in French, in addition to at least two vocational skills relevant to their disciplines. It is exciting to report that the efforts being made to enable students acquire hands-one business development skills are already yield bounteous fruits. One of such notable efforts, a week-long business start-up immersion programme, facilitated by the Abuja-based Ventures Platform, provided students with a seed capital of over N1.5 million. The testimony of Precious Omodunbi, an agricultural engineering student in at Tech-U is instructive: “Learning at the First Technical University is a great and awesome experience that involves the developing of minds and the training of hands. Tech-U students are trained to be responsible future leaders, creative inventors, innovators and ingenious entrepreneurs. I must say that Tech-U has got a conducive environment for learning, with attendant 21st century learning facilities available to make learning absolutely exciting”.

The National University Commission (NUC), much like other regulatory bodies, deserves much gravitas for not only identifying with the university, but for also nudging her on the path of enduring success. In this connection, also, the news of Tech-U’s enlistment as a TETFUND beneficiary is welcomed as a step in the right direction. This is because, owing to its radical model, a handsome TETFUND grant would lend the much needed fillip for focused and creative infrastructural drive.

It remains to be said that the Tech-U management, led by Professor Ayobami Salami, a distinguished professor of space application, has given an impressive account of itself. Perhaps, we should not expect anything less, considering the star-studded team of managers behind the vision. These include the chancellor, a renowned oil magnate; pro-chancellor and chairman of governing council, Professor OyewusiIbidapo-Obe, who is a distinguished university administrator and former vice chancellor of the University of Lagos. He leads a vibrant council that includes such industry bigwigs as Mrs. IbukunAwosika, chairman, First Bank Plc.; Professor TunjiOlaopa, accomplished public administration scholar; Jacob Ajekiigbe, notable entrepreneur and former managing director of First Bank Plc.; DoyeAyoola, foremost industrialist, and host of other leading industry minds.

  • Babatunde works as the Public Relations Officer, First Technical University, Ibadan.

Dgs:

Penultimate week, pioneer students of Nigeria’s premier technical university, First Technical University, Ibadan, made history. They completed their year one examination and so, officially ended their first academic session at the nascent university. Upon its completion, expectedly, the students straddled the expansive campus joyously, chanting and cheering one another for the historic feat. Well, the students’ excitement is certainly not misplaced, for their beloved Tech-U has indeed, within just its first academic session, proved sceptics wrong and has courageously trod on an uncharted path with a bagful of sheaves dotting it.

To put it in context, when the university made its entry into the increasingly saturated tertiary education space last year, only very few saw hope in the horizon. Their concern, albeit genuinely, was predicated on the fact that, with the perennial questions of funding and quality bedevilling public universities in Nigeria today, the university was dead on arrival. Alas, that concern has turned out unfounded.

Running with a vision of a world-class institution fully grounded in entrepreneurial practices, unique innovation, sustainability science and international best practices, Tech-U prides itself for an exceptional learning model of blended theoretical knowledge and practical skills imparted by a mix of first-rate scholars and experienced industry hands. Through the deployment of the principles of Science, Engineering, Technology, Research and Innovation (SETRI) for societal transformation, Tech-U is steadfast in its pursuit of effectively combating the saddening scourge of youth unemployment in Nigeria.

Located in Ibadan, West Africa’s largest city, reputed for its many firsts in Africa, the First Technical University campus, located along the Ibadan-Lagos Expressway, spreads on an expanse of 200 hectares of well-endowed land mass. The campus, inserted in the fledging Free Trade Zone Area of Ibadan projected to house a consortium of industries, is an excellent fit for any worthwhile academic adventure. Apart from its state-of-the-art facilities, the pastoral but absolutely enchanting ambience of the campus supports learning and research in a way that rivals the tranquillity obtainable in any leading technology and innovation hub across the world. The lure of Tech-U is radical education that births world-class thinkers and doers with abiding innovation and development-oriented bent.

A peep into the achievements of the university in the last one year is, to say the least, very comforting. To begin with, the quality of reception that has trailed the entry of the university from the organized private sector has been largely gratifying. This is because for too long, universities in Nigeria have failed to nurture their products in a way that readily makes them industry-ready needs; hence, the skills-gap crisis in the country. Of course, with its mission of nurturing industrious and market-ready graduates, Tech-U deserves the increasing acclaim and partnerships it is currently enjoying. For aside its promise of fully industry-integrated education, the university offers training in unique areas of cyber security, mechatronics engineering, software engineering, biomedical engineering, among others. All with a focused goal of producing the sort of relevant manpower that can practically advance the course of national development.

Earlier in the year, as a way of deepening linkage between the town and gown, the university hosted stakeholders from leading brands and groups such as the Nigerian Employers Consultative Council (NECA), Council for the Regulation of Engineering (COREN), the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) and several others for a curriculum review summit. The gathering proved very successful, as it afforded the stakeholders to offer informed perspectives to shape the institution’s curriculum framework. Therefore, we are invited to look forward to the future with much excitement as Tech-U leads the way for more enduring universities/industry partnerships.

Realizing the urgency of the global knowledge economy, Tech-U has broadened its staff structure to include topflight scholars from Europe and America. Aside the immediate impact of this laudable move on the quality of learning at the university, it has significantly enhanced the prevalent institutional research architecture and visibility. Similarly, the university enjoys a virile partnership with the Texas Technical University, Lubbock, United States of America. This certainly is a master stroke. With this, Texas Tech, reputed to be among the top-three of the best universities in the global current webometric ranking, provides mentorship for Tech-U and also facilitates exchange programmes between staff and students of both universities.

It is worth noting that Tech-U has also raised the bar in students funding. This is in form of a scholarship bank worth over N700 million. The endowment comes from industry donors to support indigent but brilliant students unable to afford the sort of qualitative education offered by the university. Undoubtedly a very laudable scheme, it has brought to fruition the dreams of many underprivileged deprived students.

Tech-U students are carefully baked with the goal of making them globally competitive in science, technology and innovation. As such, they are trained from the beginning to acquire competencies in French, in addition to at least two vocational skills relevant to their disciplines. It is exciting to report that the efforts being made to enable students acquire hands-one business development skills are already yield bounteous fruits. One of such notable efforts, a week-long business start-up immersion programme, facilitated by the Abuja-based Ventures Platform, provided students with a seed capital of over N1.5 million. The testimony of Precious Omodunbi, an agricultural engineering student in at Tech-U is instructive: “Learning at the First Technical University is a great and awesome experience that involves the developing of minds and the training of hands. Tech-U students are trained to be responsible future leaders, creative inventors, innovators and ingenious entrepreneurs. I must say that Tech-U has got a conducive environment for learning, with attendant 21st century learning facilities available to make learning absolutely exciting”.

The National University Commission (NUC), much like other regulatory bodies, deserves much gravitas for not only identifying with the university, but for also nudging her on the path of enduring success. In this connection, also, the news of Tech-U’s enlistment as a TETFUND beneficiary is welcomed as a step in the right direction. This is because, owing to its radical model, a handsome TETFUND grant would lend the much needed fillip for focused and creative infrastructural drive.

It remains to be said that the Tech-U management, led by Professor Ayobami Salami, a distinguished professor of space application, has given an impressive account of itself. Perhaps, we should not expect anything less, considering the star-studded team of managers behind the vision. These include the chancellor, a renowned oil magnate; pro-chancellor and chairman of governing council, Professor OyewusiIbidapo-Obe, who is a distinguished university administrator and former vice chancellor of the University of Lagos. He leads a vibrant council that includes such industry bigwigs as Mrs. IbukunAwosika, chairman, First Bank Plc.; Professor TunjiOlaopa, accomplished public administration scholar; Jacob Ajekiigbe, notable entrepreneur and former managing director of First Bank Plc.; DoyeAyoola, foremost industrialist, and host of other leading industry minds.

  • Babatunde works as the Public Relations Officer, First Technical University, Ibadan.

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Oyo lawmaker advocates entrepreneurial skills for graduates


The Speaker of Oyo State House of Assembly, Adebo Ogundoyin, has called for more entrepreneurial training programmes for the youth to empower them with skills and technical competency to face developmental challenges in life.

Ogundoyin, who decried the unemployable status of most Nigerian graduates, spoke at the First Technical University, Ibadan, when he led some other lawmakers on a working visit to the institution established about two years ago.

The speaker said it was time for a review of the nation’s educational system at all levels to accommodate and make adequate provisions for more technical and professional training to position graduates to be a creator of jobs and wealth for sustainable economic development.

Ogundoyin urged the First Technical University to carve a niche for itself as a trail blazer in the provision of functional education for technological innovation and advancement.

According to the Speaker, the House would formulate workable policies that will transform the education sector in line with the vision of Governor Seyi Makinde, who has placed a high priority on educational development as evident in the scrapping of school fees and other levies at primary and secondary school.

He congratulated the management of the university for sustaining the vision of the institution.

While speaking earlier, the Vice-Chancellor of First Technical University, Prof. Ayobami Salami, said the present educational system in the country was dysfunctional.

Salami said the recent ranking of the university as the 43rd out of 252 higher institutions in Nigeria by Webometric, a global rating body, was a manifestation of its promising commitment to changing the narrative of the Nigerian education landscape.

He said that it was the vision of the university to become Nigeria’s first self-sustaining university, adding that aside from their education, the students are mandated to acquire skills in robotics and automation, systems security among others.

The Vice Chancellor expressed optimism that the university would grow in leaps and bounds if there are a synergy and working relationship between the technocrats in the institution and the executive arm of government in Oyo state.