By Emmanuel Edukugho
By faith in God, teamwork and divine intervention, we are now celebrating what God made possible. His pure divine intervention. Many organisations contributed to our projects.
The committee system worked and we had highly supportive team, council, senate and an appreciative university system,â€ says outgone Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos, Professor Tolu Olukayode Odugbemi after 30 months tenure on the job. Then the Green Book also which meticulously itemised what to be accomplished at the end of his term.
Known for his humility, simplicity, fear of God, open-mindedness, magnanimity, objectivity, honesty and sincerity, he was a delight to all and sundry, high and low.
â€œWhenever I called the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Management Services), Prof. Babatunde Sofoluwe and say â€˜Aburo,â€ it means yes, everything is okay. But when I call him by his official designation (DVC), then something is wrong.â€
Odugbemi paid tribute to the press people who â€œgave us unbelievable support and are always available,â€ adding, â€œthe students also supported us, while prayer and general support made us to achieve all these things.â€
According to him, â€œfor whatever it is today, we had 95 per cent peace in campus, and responsible unionism.â€
Still full of strength and vitality at 65 years, he expressed his feelings about age in this way: â€œAge is not physical appearance. It is what you feel. I want to go on okada (motorcycle) expedition again: My father-in-law, 90 years old Kabiyesi, invited a top herbalist when I wanted to enquire about Iginla tree. People donâ€™t ever go near it. I was told it is very dangerous, that I must not go near the tree.
But when I insisted, my father-in-law advised me that I should listen to those who had gone and returned. By that, I wonâ€™t have problem.â€
A native of Oke-Igbo in Ondo State, Tolu was born in Ado-Ekiti, in Ekiti State on January 30, 1945. He had his early education at the Emmanuel Primary School, Ado-Ekiti and St. Stephenâ€™s Primary School, Ikare-Akoko, while going to Christâ€™s School, Ado-Ekiti for secondary education.
Admitted to the College of Medicine, University of Lagos in 1966 and in 1970, obtained Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology as a pioneer student. In 1972, he qualified as a Medical Doctor with Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MB, BS) at the same university.
In 1978, he obtained Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) degree from University of Sheffield Medical School, Sheffield, UK and a Diploma in Bacteriology from the School of Hygiene, University of Toronto, Canada, in 1976. He bagged Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree in 1982.
His words: â€œI am from Oke-Igbo, but had Ekiti connection, and acclimatized. A beautiful lady came across and I snatched her (Titi) from Ekiti. Our parents being teachers, taught us a lesson â€“ to have inquisitive minds. Without an inquisitive mind, nothing can be achieved.â€
Hear him on ethnicity, as he frowned agaisnt tribal sentiments: â€œI belong to homo sapiens. I belong to humanity. But I discriminate between good and bad. I donâ€™t look for Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, whether yellow, green Christian, Babalawo. I look at the papers before me and do the right thing. The celebration is not about Tolu, but what is well, do it well. Nigeria is great. We need God-fearing leaders to make the country great.â€
Odugbemi listed his achievements to include the following:
*Information and Communication Technology at its peak with computers, desktops and laptops with internet connectivity made available all over the campuses. ICT village created and patronised by students. Visually impaired/blind students can also access internet using Braille technology donated by Soroptimist International of Eko.
*The office of Alumni and Endowment was upgraded to office of Advancement to encourage greater alumni activities and endowment. Among donors was Redeemed Christian Church of God that endowed N50 million for professorial chair in Mathematics in honour of Pastor Enoch Adeboye, General Overseer of RCCG who was since an academic staff in University of Lagos.
*Establishment of the office of International relations, Partnerships and prospects to open up more international windows.
*Central Research laboratory donated by MFM to cost N150 million in which construction work has commenced. It is located between Alvan Ikoku Road and Faculty of Science complex. The project is in fulfilment of the pledge made by the General Overseer of MFM (Mountain of fire and Miracles) Ministries, Dr. Daniel Kolawole Olukoya during the 2006 Distinguished Alumni Award of UNILAG Alumni Association.
*UNILAG/UBA ultra-modern Green Park.
The Ultra-Modern Green Park and Gallery being constructed by the United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) for the university will be ready soon. It would have facilities such as Arts Gallery for staff and students to showcase their art works, sculptor garden, and Amphitheater and a car park.
*Laptop for staff and students laptop for each staff and student project through a partnership for Technology Access (PTA) with Microsoft Incorporation Limited was started for all interested staff and students.
*University Medical Centre – A brand new ambulance was commissioned in November 2008. A N1.8 million equipment â€“ Prostrate Specific Antigens (PSA), Elisa Microplate Washer and TC Elisa Microplate Reader â€“ for hormonal profile liver thyroid functioning, infertility and other hormonal tests. Facilities in the theatre upgraded and minor operations such as breast tumours are being carried out in the Medical Centre.
*Building for Department of Creative Arts, commissioned in 2009, constructed under the auspices of Education Trust Fund.
*Upgrading of Staff School Hall to International standard. It has central air-conditioning system, acoustic/sound proof walls and sitting capacity of over 1,000 people.
*Construction of Human Resources Development Centre (HRDC). It will cost N191 million funded through internally generated revenue and to be completed in 40 weeks.
*Establishment of a complete Fishery Unit at the Botanical and Zoological Garden.
*New look UNILAG Lagoon Front Facilities now constructed at the Lagoon Front for research and relaxation and dedicated access roads. Education, Information and entertainment are being provided in a serene of beautiful atmosphere.
*International Exchange programme
*Zain Africa Challenge contest in which UNILAG students won Bronze medal and it earned 25,000 US Dollars as institutional grant while the players and officials earned 2,500 US Dollars each.
*Sporting activities in which UNILAG students came first in the Lagos Tertiary Institution Sports Championships in 2009.
*Beautification of the campus and rehabilitation of many roads and buildings.