18 Feb 2021

‘He Vouched For Me In My Absence… — Tributes As Tech-U Bids Pro-chancellor, Ibidapo-Obe, Farewell

It was an afternoon of commendations yesterday as members of the First Technical University, Ibadan, community as well as family members paid glowing tribute late First Tech-U Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, Prof Oye Ibidapo-Obe.

Ibidapo-Obe, first alumnus to be vice-chancellor of the University of Lagos, UNILAG, had died on 3 January, 2021 from COVID-19 complications.

At the tribute session, which commenced almost immediately after the remains of the deceased arrived at the university’s Km 15, Lagos-Ibadan expressway,the institution chancellor, Chief Tunde Afolabi, described the deceased as a dedicated scholar and administrator who did all he could and achieved excellently in moving the education sector forward.

Afolabi said Ibidapo-Obe “was synonymous with the spirit, vigour, rigour, commitment and passion that have kept university education going in this country – against all odds.
Apart from the fact that Professor Oye Ibidapo-Obe and I had been relating since decades ago, my passion for the development of education in Nigeria, had, for long focused my attention on experts like him. He was one of the reasons some of us have confidence in supporting and investing in education in our own way because we are convinced that whatever input we make would be met with the value that would ensure growth, both on the part of the educational institutions and students. When the First Technical University, Ibadan, thus brought us together – I as the Chancellor and, he as Pro-Chancellor – it became a meeting of like spirits: those who believe that sound education is what truly liberates a people and those who believe our youths deserve quality and the best of functional education.

“Based on what transpired in the about three years we related on the First Technical University Council, alongside other eminent committed members, I have no cause to regret being part of the dream. Professor Oye Ibidapo-Obe demonstrated quality learnedness and a will to genuinely imbue the university with profound character. This is not a venue to start highlighting various instances he demonstrated so, but I am proud to say he was the pioneer Pro-Chancellor of Tech-U with whom we are all pleased,” he added.

Vice-chancellor of the university, Prof. Ayobami Salami, in his tribute, said he is just coming to terms with the death of Ibidapo-Obe.

The VC, who said “the university has lost a motivator, inspirer and a depository of valuable professional and natural wisdom,” explained that “As I recounted in an earlier tribute, Professor Ibidapo-Obe, interestingly, knew me before the First Technical University united us. He was a venerable older academic, but he had formed an impression about me even before I was appointed as the VC. So, while the founding Visitor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, asked him to assess my suitability for the position of the Tech-U Vice Chancellor, he vouched for me in my absence, based on factors he advanced. That is a way in which I am indebted to him.

“Since the time we have been directing the Tech-U train together, I never had cause to regret working with him. As a widely experienced administrator, he understood and cherished the concept of the kind of practical, rich and novel technical education that Tech-U offers. He appreciated Nigeria’s dire need for all-involving tertiary education, connecting the intellectual with the entrepreneurial and vocational. Professor Ibidapo-Obe was so passionate about the Technical University that he deployed energy, vast experience and his networks, within and outside the country, to the growth of the university. Today, he may no more be physically with us, he is alive in the successes that Tech-U has continued to record.

“As the Vice Chancellor, I testify that Professor Ibidapo-Obe represented the best of global principles and practices. He stood for due process. He believed in exhaustive treatment of issues. He was emphatic but not dictatorial; he loved to operate in a climate of mutual respect despite his towering height.

“I have no doubt that the erudite scholar was a fulfilled man. And the development at Tech-u is one of those things that must have reinforced his fulfilment in the latter years. This is based on how dearly he held the university’s matters in his heart and how he celebrated our achievements as they rolled by. I can vividly remember how excited and further inspired he was the day the university recently unveiled the Engineering Laboratory, with state-of-the-arts facilities which, he gladly noted, would not only give our students the practical wherewithal, but also good for commercial activities,” he said.

Speaking earlier, Governor Seyi Makinde, who was represented by education commissioner, Barr. Olasunkanmi Olaleye, thanked the family for allowing the deceased served Oyo State, adding that “We should be proud because of the life he loved. Persons like him don’t die. He has reproduced himself with many technologists, scientists and others he has made. His legacies will continue to be celebrated. We thank him for his service and we thank the family for allowing him serve the state.”

One of his sons, Bambo Ibidapo-Obe, who spoke on behalf of the family, said his father was passionate about educational development. He recalled how, during the last October 2020 EndSARS protest which grounded Lagos, his late Dad found his way to Tech-U for a crucial meeting.
At the event were former vice-chancellors of the University of Ibadan, Prof Olufemi Bamiro and Prof Idowu Olayinka as well as a serving deputy VC, Prof. Nike Adeyemo