Tech-U will become irresistible choice for admission seekers – VC, Professor Adesola Ajayi
TEXT OF ADDRESS OF THE VICE-CHANCELLOR, FIRST TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY (NOW ABIOLA AJIMOBI FIRST TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY), IBADAN, PROFESSOR ADESOLA AJAYI, AT THE 2ND CONVOCATION CEREMONY
HELD ON FRIDAY, 31ST MARCH, 2023
WELCOME AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
On behalf of the Management and the entire Tech-U Community, It is with much delight that I welcome Your Excellencies, Your Royal Highnesses, Dignitaries, and eminent personalities to another historic occasion in the life of First Technical University, Ibadan. To God Almighty who makes things possible be the glory and praise for making today a reality. For it was exactly a year ago that we had our maiden Convocation Ceremony. The historical relevance of this 2nd Convocation Ceremony is that it marks the graduation of the pioneer set of engineering students. It is worthy of mention that despite the prolonged COVID-19 lockdown and the associated challenges, Tech-U has kept faith with the ideals of its establishment by ensuring that students graduate on record time, exactly 5 years after the admission of engineering students in 2018 and after 4 years for those science students admitted in 2019 for four-year degree programmes.
I warmly welcome the Visitor and Executive Governor of Oyo State, His Excellency, Engr. (Dr.) Oluseyi Makinde. Your Excellency, Sir, your esteemed presence is a great encouragement to the entire University community but more importantly to these pioneer engineering graduates and those coming behind them. It is a testimony to your recent affirmation that you have broken the glass ceiling for young people to aspire to be who they dream to be. On behalf of the Convocation, I congratulate Your Excellency on your re-election and are delighted to have you as the Visitor over the period of your tenure. Sir, please be assured that Tech-You will continue to avail the State at all times the benefits of the rich pool of technical and scientific competencies available in the University.
The University is delighted to welcome our revered Chancellor, Chief (Dr.) again Tunde J. Afolabi, MFR over the years has stood as both a strong pillar of support and an ardent believer in the vision of this University. Thank you, Sir, for seeing in Tech-U the possibility of achieving your unrelenting and burning desire for youth empowerment through your unquantifiable contributions and donations to the University. I also acknowledge the esteemed presence of Engr (Chief) Seyi Afolabi who has delighted so much in this institution and has endeavored to attend all our programmes in the company of our Chancellor.
Your Imperial Majesty, Oba Mohood Lekan Balogun, Alli Okunmade II Olubadan of Ibadanland, it is always our delight to host your esteemed royal presence at University events like this for by the royal generosity of Your Majesty, Tech-U has continued to flourish in Your Majesty’s domain. From both the Ajala/Lanlokun family who donated this land and the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII) which has always stood by us in all Town and Gown matters, it is our joy, Kabiyesi, that Tech-U has found so much acceptance in Ibadanland.
I welcome all government functionaries and appointees who accompanied the Visitor to this auspicious occasion and who in their personal and official capacities have continued to encourage and motivate the Management.
I wish to specially acknowledge the presence and welcome the Chairmen of all the Local Governments in Oyo State and share in their joy of seeing the fruits of their investment in the education of these young ones. About 90% of these graduands enjoyed full scholarships from their respective Local Government Areas through the Tech-U-Local Government Scholarship for Youth Education and Empowerment.
Your Excellencies and Distinguished audience, Convocation is one of several University traditions and a time-honored coming together of members of the University in a solemn ceremony for the award of academic degrees, diplomas, certificates, and conferment of honors. It is a time to also highlight the achievements of faculty and staff members, as well as the commitment of these young ones all of which culminated in their being found worthy in character and learning for the award of the Bachelor’s Degree of First Technical University, Ibadan, in the respective academic disciplines.
The State Of the Institution
I wish to acknowledge the benevolence of the Almighty God by whose grace and election through the Governing Council who by the authority of the Visitor, appointed me as the Vice-Chancellor to succeed the Pioneer Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ayobami Salami.
Some of the graduands
The Visitor, Sir, I took office as the 2nd Vice-Chancellor on the 8th of May 2022 after having served the University as the pioneer Director of Academic Planning and Partnerships (2017-2018) and Pioneer Deputy Vice-Chancellor (2018-2022) under the tutelage of Professor Ayobami Salami whose courage and doggedness gave the University a strong and sound foundation upon which the future of the University now rests. With nothing else other than two buildings, Prof Salami facilitated the expansion of physical infrastructures and ensured that all organs of the University became functional and running by the end of his tenure. All these strides made it easy for me to step in as his successor. I have set for myself the goal of ensuring that while building on the foundations already laid, the University over the course of my tenure will grow to become an irresistible choice for admission seekers in all our academic programmes and a model for administrative and financial efficiency, prudence, transparency and accountability in all university transactions.
To achieve the foregoing, we have leveraged our ICT infrastructure to commission the development of applications that make academic, administrative, financial, as well as student services easier, faster, and more accessible online. Beginning from the next Semester starting in April, it will be possible for many of the management and other staff to discharge some of their functions remotely and in real-time thereby increasing efficiency and freeing our time to pursue and explore partnerships with the larger society. Until now, much of our functions are built around our physical presence on campus but through several interrogations and consultations, and with the benefit of experiences during the COVID-19 lockdown, we have been able to adopt an integrated model that will lead to a reduction in costs and increase in efficiency. This will also be applicable to academic activities- teaching and research
Another set of graduands
The management has sustained our avowed commitment to adopt global best practices. The Senate of the University has approved and continues to nurture a dual mode of instruction including up to 30% online instruction in its regular programmes. All University financial transactions are done electronically (the University does not even have a cash office) by students and service providers and financial transactions are done electronically for ease of monitoring. The University’s accounts up to December 2021 have been audited by external auditors and copies submitted to the Office of the State’s Auditor General. The absence of the Governing Council has delayed the commencement of the process of external audit of the year 2022 account.
Being Nigeria’s Premier Technical University, the distinguishing feature of our academic programmes is the emphasis on entrepreneurial practices, innovations, and sustainability. Tech-U management and staff constantly and consciously reflect on the fact that the University was established to train and produce graduates with a sound technical educational system anchored on innovations and technologies towards driving the development of Oyo State in particular and Nigeria at large. Until Tech-U came on board and even till now, there are still uncertainties on how best to infuse University education with technical know-how. I am happy to announce that Tech-U is leading in this path and these 165 graduating students are evidence of our approach that this is possible.
The University has adopted Ibadan and Oyo State as our primary research objects and all our endeavors are geared towards making the impact of our presence felt across the State. We have partnered with several Government agencies in the State to champion causes that project the administration in a positive light. Some of these endeavors are at preliminary stages in health, environment, and agriculture.
The motto of the University, Developing Brains, Training Hands has been and is still the guiding philosophy for all academic endeavors in this University. We are not particular only about what our students learn (knowledge) or acquire (skill) but equally about what they can do and accomplish with what they know (entrepreneurship) to make society better through the imprints of their endeavors. Every Tech-U student, therefore, runs three programmes concurrently – Bachelor’s degree programme, and two Diploma programmes respectively in Entrepreneurship and French Language. We have received inspiring and motivating stories about the performance of our students from several places where they have gone to do their industrial attachment. Among those that have graduated and those graduating today, several of them are already earning a living and increasingly becoming less financially dependent on their sponsors even while being students. Your Excellency as part of the entrepreneurial spirit we inculcate into students, they have been responsible for making the paints we use for our budlings and for actually painting the buildings.
Faculty members have guided our students to undertake projects that have direct and immediate relevance to society. We have developed product prototypes among which are electronic circuits, abuwe soap, otherwise known as ose dudu which has a higher medicinal value and is available on a commercial scale. All disinfectants and hand wash used in this University are produced by us. We have developed protocols to utilize local wastes to cultivate and produce mushrooms under ordinary ambient room conditions. Health drinks and weaning infant formula have also been produced from locally-available agricultural products. Many students have found a calling in other entrepreneurship areas such as music, film, and several other service areas. We have continued to support them in all directions, knowing that today’s world of work has no place for disciplinary restrictions and has rather become more flexible than ever before, with the future promising to be more dramatic or unpredictable in this respect.
We have commenced the process of starting postgraduate programmes and will soon host the NUC for resource assessment. Our young age notwithstanding, Tech-U has sustained the strong show it started with development-oriented research ideas and has competed with much older Universities to win competitive grants as part of which we plan to create an ecosystem for applied research. In the 2022 National Research Fund under the auspices of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Tech-U has received two letters of award with a combined value of over Forty Million Naira namely:
1. Attaining Food Security in Nigeria: Optimized Mushroom Cultivation and Sustainable Postharvest Preservation Technologies, an N20 million grant to the team led by Prof Abiodun Olusola Salami (Duration: 20 months).
2. Development of Indigenous Superhydrophobic Oil Adsorbents for Crude Oil Spillage Management, an N22.9 million grant to the team led by Dr. Samson Alayande (14 months).
A third one on the Construction of an Anthropomorphic phantom for Radiotherapy Dosimetry has been approved in principle and under administrative clearance with TETFUND.
Several of our faculty members are involved in collaborations with colleagues within and outside Nigeria. An example is the collaboration with the University of Sierra Leone for the Creation of a Medical Multilingual database and the Development of native antenatal orientation datasets.
We have committed ourselves to human capital development through local and international training programmes for the staff of our Staff courtesy of the Academic Staff Training and Development Interventions from TETFund.
We have an engaging and growing relationship with industries in our immediate environment and beyond thus satisfying the purpose for which the University was sited in this industrial hub. We are currently exploring collaboration with the Atlanta Technical College to establish an Aviation Education and Entrepreneurship programme, using Ibadan Airport as a hub. The goal is to develop some programmes in aviation services and aircraft maintenance as well as programmes that will lead to the certification of our Engineering graduates. It will also see us train people in other related aviation services. So, the whole idea is to build Ibadan to an aviation hub. Let me thank Your Excellency for facilitating this partnership.
Today we are graduating a total of 165 students- 82 from the Faculty of Applied and Natural Sciences and 83 from the Faculty of Engineering and Technology. The breakdown of the 165 graduands by Faculty, Academic Programme, and by Class of degree:
NATURAL AND APPLIED SCIENCES (FNAS)
COMPUTER SCIENCE 6
INDUSTRIAL CHEMISTRY 13
PHYSICS WITH ELECTRONICS 11
SOFTWARE ENGINEERING 9
ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY (FET)
AGRICULTURAL ENGINEERING 7
BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING 22
ELECTRONICS ENGINEERING 13
FOOD SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY 14
MECHANICAL ENGINEERING 12
MECHATRONICS ENGINEERING 9
PETROLEUM ENGINEERING 6
CLASS OF DEGREE FNAS FET TOTAL
FIRST CLASS 11 13 24
SECOND CLASS (UPPER DIVISION) 44 32 76
SECOND CLASS (LOWER DIVISION) 22 30 52
THIRD CLASS 5 8 13
TOTAL 82 83 165
I wish to personally thank Your Excellency The Visitor and The Chancellor on behalf of both the graduands and their parents. One fact that may not be immediately apparent is that even though Your Excellencies are here by virtue of the respective offices, your distinguished presence today also affords Your Excellencies to see the joy and hope you have brought to the lives of these promising graduates and their loved ones by what might be considered as casual and normal decisions. The Visitor and the Chancellor, Sirs, only 9 of these graduates are self-sponsored. The others are the first beneficiary of the approval Your Excellency gave in 2019 for the continuation of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the 33 Local Government Areas in Oyo State and the Tech-U for the full sponsorship of 5 indigenes for admission to Tech-U. Others are equally the first beneficiaries of the Josephus Foundation scholarship instituted by the Chancellor which is a purely merit-based competitive one open to all Part I students.
To our outgoing students, we have no doubt that you are stepping out into a world of reality not that of ideality that characterizes your views and perceptions as students. With the education we have given you, making the success of your endeavors has been made easier. But your certificates are just licenses that will open the doors for you to be able to explore the abundant possibilities outside the four walls of the University. While success may not be far-fetched, you must know that success is not an accident. It requires a combination of several other skills, notably soft and relational skills which you will continue to learn and grow in. You should therefore soar like the iconic eagles that you are. I encourage you not to forget the sacrifices and investments that your sponsors have made in your life.
While neither your parents nor the Local Government Area nor the Josephus Foundation that paid the way through school for all of you will ask for any direct re-payment of the funds expended on you, they nonetheless expect you to utilize this opportunity to grow to become responsible members of the society to a point where you also can go and do likewise to others in your immediate environment as has been done to you. Be humble with whatever achievements will come your way and do not forget to give back to your parents, your community, and of course your alma mater. All the Excellencies, Royal Majesties, and Distinguished personalities gathered here this morning have come to witness your graduation ceremony and to let you know that there are huge expectations for each and every one of you. Always remember that all of us here were once like you and if you can remain focused, preserving, responsible and determined, you can surpass our collective achievements and become a pride to your parents, to Oyo State, and to this University. Unlike the prevalent mindset of your generation, none of us got here overnight or in a year, not even in a decade.
On behalf of all your teachers and other staff of the University whose seed of labor your life has received, I commend and commit you unto the mercies and loving kindness of the highest God who is able to keep you from failing and falling, may He watch over your path and make you distinguished in all your ways.
The presence of both the Visitor and the Chancellor, not to mention political figures and functionaries of the owner State affords the University a golden opportunity not only to celebrate the achievements of these young men and women, or show appreciation for the goodwill we have been enjoying and evoke public adulation but also to highlight challenges which if addressed will accelerate the pace of our growth and development.
Your Excellency, Sir, it is over a year now that the University has not had a Governing Council. The absence of the Governing Council has taken a toll on the functionalities of the University. The place and roles of the Governing Council are indispensable and irreplaceable. They are critical at this nascent stage of our development. I therefore plead for your kind consideration to reconstitute the Governing Council given that the term of the last Council lapsed on 8th March 2022.
The mandate that has been given to this University is to be self-sustaining and to seek partnerships that allow it to be able to attain the objectives of its establishment. To date, the Management has endeavored to keep to this mandate. However, the inability to access statutory capital grants for the past years has had a negative toll on our growth and is making it increasingly difficult to keep up with our responsibilities. Just like a baby born will be nurtured to a level before he/she can be independent and self-catering, Tech-U requires a lot of support from the Government at this early stage. Compared with the average for the years 2018-2021, our enrolment grew by 15% in 2022. Nonetheless, the inadequacy of infrastructure has limited the number of students we can admit and this has also limited our Internally generated Revenue from which we have met all our recurrent and capital expenses to date. The Visitor, Sir, in line with your positive disposition to the University’s requests at the last budget defense and the demonstration of this through your approval of a capital grant of N1 billion in the 2023 Appropriate bill, we plead for your intervention to access this grant. Among issues that need urgent attention and for which we intend to utilize the grant request that we have submitted to Your Office for Approval are:
1. Construction of a befitting Health Centre
2. NUC Accreditation of Academic Programmes and Resource Assessment for Medical Programmes
3. Laboratory and Workshop Equipment
4. Purchase of Vehicles
We also wish to request the completion of the entrance gate, the perimeter fencing of the institution, and the internal roads. Access to the campus is usually problematic during the rainy season and the bye-pass under construction has made it worse. The construction of the bye-pass though in public good has damaged our perimeter fencing and exposed our electrical transformers and infrastructure beyond what our meager resources can fix. We are crying to Your Excellency to please come to our aid, Sir.
We also need the facilitation of Your Excellency to enable us to gain access to and get support from several other agencies of government for partnership. Our efforts to make our impact felt through collaboration with more stakeholders have not yielded positive outcomes. For example, we have not received any response to requests to work with all State-owned health institutions towards increasing training and service delivery with a view to increasing medical services coverage in and around Ibadan.
One of the unresolved issues that continue to challenge our infrastructural expansion is the abated relocation of Ajala Village to the designated new site. The Ajala/Lanlokun family graciously released a substantial part of the 200 ha land expanse on which the University sits. The community in turn was to be relocated and resettled across the road. But this has stalled and as Your Excellency can see while coming into the campus, the University and the Community occasionally clashes.
Your Excellencies, Royal Majesty, Distinguished personalities, ladies and gentlemen, I thank you all for your presence and for listening.
Professor Adesola Ajayi
Vice Chancellor, First Technical University, Ibadan