Two exciting historical milestones unfurled recently at the nation’s premier university -University of Ibadan (UI), which deserve and require the attention of all stakeholders in higher education in this country and beyond so as to support the momentum of development.
First, UI which is the first as well as the flagship of post-graduate studies in the county was ranked as the 600th best university in the world by a global higher education ranking organization called The Times Higher Education (THE). Given the fact that UI is the first and only Nigerian university in the first 1,000 best universities globally, the good news is not only cheerily received, but heartily propitious.
The ranking organization had considered Ibadan’s level of teaching, research, citation of scholarly publications, industry income and international outlook among other parameters.
This 2016/2017 Times Higher Education ranking has finally put to rest the erroneous notion in certain quarters that “no Nigerian university is good enough to be among the best 1,000 universities in the world”. Ibadan has finally broken the jinx. UI has breasted the tape by joining the elite club of global players in tertiary education. UI is certainly astir. The first and the best university in the most populous black nation in the world is clearly cresting the storm, having been producing world -class graduates, who are making waves all over the world in the last 65 years. UI will be 68 years old this month – November. Indeed, this latest global recognition calls for celebration for it takes standard to stand out.
It is indisputable that UI which parades the highest number of professors in this country has all it takes to be among the best 100 universities in the world, but for some national albatrosses including poor infrastructures and what some people call “Nigerian factors”. But with continuous self-reinvention, hard work, dedication and the desire not only to remain a local champion, but a global player with application of best practices, there will be light at the end of the tunnel.
However, still gloating over this positive rating, I think the current Vice Chancellor, Professor Abel Idowu Olayinka deserves commendation for dexterously consolidating on the achievements of his predecessors. Being a scientific scholar with a solid background in Geology, Prof. Olayinka has cleverly deployed resources towards the information and communication technologies, thus, favourably projecting UI for global glare. This is certainly one of his major achievements so far. He must therefore maintain it. Efforts should be geared towards networking with thousands of passionate alumni such as a former Lagos State chapter chairman of UI Alumni Association, Sola Oyetayo who is ready to go extra mile for the betterment of UI.
The second interesting historical milepost unfolding in the university is as trailblazing as it is revolutionary: UI is becoming the first university in private electricity production in Nigeria. The university recently performed the ground-breaking ceremony, which attracted dignitaries from far and near, preparatory to 10 megawatts solar plant. In other words, UI can now be classified as an Independent Power Producer, (IPP) thereby, singularly generating 50-60 percent of her daily electricity power requirement when the project becomes fully functional. According to the chairman, UI Power Improvement Programme, Prof. Adeboye Olatunbosun, the project will become operational before the end of this year.
This plant, when completed has numerous and multiplier effect of electricity availability, not only for UI but also for neighbouring communities and Ibadan as a whole. It will be business for UI as it will be selling electricity to Ibadan Electricity Board. The cost of running generators will reduce. The project will enrich the quality of research, development and capacity-building programmes in renewable energy and energy efficiency. More importantly, students’ unrest over power outage and unavailability will be a thing of the past; consequently, there will be peace on campus.
But before UI begins to reap the juicy fruits of this plant, there is still some distance to destination. Prof. Olatunbosun explained that though, the German-supported Project “promises bounteous dividends, UI still has to obtain license from Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) as a private power producer. Besides, federal government still needs to make money available for the final stage of the solar plant”. However, with the recent launching of Energizing Education Programme Initiative (EEPI) of the federal government, which is a collaborative effort of Education and Power, Works and Housing Ministries to ensure self- sufficiency in power supply to all 40 federal universities in the county, it is almost certain that this UI pioneering effort will succeed.
Electricity is a vital component in the production of world-class graduates. Indeed, without electric power, teaching, learning and research will simply amount to a charade, resulting in the output of poor-quality certificate holders.
In view of the prospects of this project and its anticipated succour, intending beneficiaries must be grateful to the German government for the support it is providing. The original idea of this 10 MW solar plant was conceived at an interactive session between the immediate UI past VC, Prof. Isaac Folorunso Adewole who is now health minister and the then German Ambassador to Nigeria, Frau Janetzke Dorothy Wenzel. Prof. Adewole in his characteristic candour had told the former ambassador that electricity was a major problem confronting the university.
The then VC consequently solicited the technical support of German government.
Close to three years, negotiations involving UI, federal government of Nigeria and the German government were sustained before eventually culminating into the recent take off of the project. Prof. Adewole deserves credit for his superlative human relations skills with which he was able to convince the former German Ambassador, while similar commendations should be accorded Prof. Olayinka for sustaining the dream.
The German government has been so benevolent to UI over the years. According to Prof. Olayinka, “we thank the German government for supporting our Bachelor of Arts in German programme in our Department of European Studies. A lecturer of German is always on our staff fully funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (GAES). German government also supported the establishment of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CEPACS) in UI. You gave generous funding support to many postgraduate students from Nigeria and other countries to come to Ibadan to pursue their Master degree in Humanitarian and Refugee Studies. At the last count, no fewer than 48 members of our academic staff, including my humble self, have benefitted from the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Research fellowship. We look forward to your continued support and assistance”, the VC told the gathering including the current German Ambassador, Bernard Schlaheck.
Power supply to the university community is from both the national grid (through the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company IBEDC 132/33kV feeders) and from the University owned generators. The university has 49 backup generators which range from 27KVA-2000 KVA. A substantial proportion of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) is committed to settling electricity bills and the purchase of diesel for generators. But with the coming of this planned 10MW solar plant, the narrative will certainly be altered.
Source: The Nation