By Emmanuel Edukugho
PRO-CHANCELLOR and Chairman, Governing Council, University of Lagos, Deacon Gamaliel Onosode, has called on the academic staff to give the university institutional loyalty in the quest for excellence and to consolidate achievements made so far.
Addressing a Special Senate Session at the Senate Chamber convened to enable him share his aspirations and feelings with eminent members of the Senate, he said that the slogan of the institution â€” â€œUniversity of first choice and pride of the nation,â€ imposes a very serious responsibility as the staff and management have important roles to play.
â€œBy this slogan, it shows the degree of self-confidence and concrete achievements behind you for which you can all be proud.â€
Onosode said the primary responsibility and core business of a university are teaching and research.
â€œEvery single legitimate member of this university is there to relate properly to this core responsibility, and to make each one contribute to the output and a product that they can all be proud of.â€
According to him, there is need to consolidate the gains Unilag had made since its inception in 1962 and also to recover lost grounds.
â€œWe can look back to the Golden Age, a healthy thought that yesterday was better than today which will put us on our toes, scale the next level and banish complacency.
We can do better tomorrow, starting from today, no matter what you have done yesterday.â€
He urged a productive intellectual and social engagement with staff and students.
â€œAll of us, must be committed to taking Unilag to the next level, and to greater heightsâ€.
He cautioned the university seeing itself as local champion but embrace Globalization which will make our intention international.
â€œReality of the world becoming a global village ought to reflect what we do and think to do. I want this to play out routinely in this university, not to succumb to anything sub-standard. The most important single factor that drives quality is quality academic staff and basic infrastructure,â€™â€˜ Onosode stated.
He added: â€œWe should encourage ourselves to give institutional loyalty. So long as you are here, you should see University of Lagos as your life, instead of being a party to things that will distract.â€
He thanked all those who had made contributions to the growth and development of the university since its establishment in 1962, paying tribute to all who served in this senate and those who had served before.
â€œThere is necessary interface between senate and the council. Technically and legally, council is not represented in the senate. No Chinese war between the two bodies. The University of Lagos Act recognises the governing council.
The business that the two bodies does is one business. So there should be healthy inferface between the twoâ€™â€˜.
He explained that the best brains are in the university which should stand for pursuit of excellence, that encompassed moral and intellectual views.
â€œI believe that a university can be seen to commit to human excellence in any pursuit.â€™â€˜
On the name Ivory Tower, by which a university is often referred to, the Unilag Pro-Chancellor said: â€˜â€™It is derogatory.
Ivory Tower is a place where people live in their own world untouched by the reality of life. But in Nigeria, Ivory Tower is a place clad with mirrors which reflect the foibles of larger society. It ought to beam light to other places…â€
On Town and Gown, he said these terms are not appropriate, pointing to a meaning that people from the town and academics come to meet at a point, and interact to mutual advantage, between ordinary folks and the academia.
He noted that available tools and equipment are not utilised to the maximum and even funds, considering the level of corruption in the Nigerian society.
â€œOne can only weep at the resources that passed through our hands. Input should be related to output. Before now, our universities were internationally acclaimed in academia. Therefore the need for staff audit. Who? The best staff training must be taken serious. Sabbaticals are meant to be for training.
â€œWe need serious external relationship and co-operation to enhance staff training. Cultivation of external relations should be encouraged.â€
On funding, he said that there should be improved funding for the university.
â€œThere is need for improved, intense and routine communication with Federal Government. The Vice Chancellor must see this as very important aspect of his work, not only when he is summoned, but always be there (Abuja) to make government understands. It will improve the amount of funding we get.
While the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) is pleasing, but the percentage revenue has dropped. We should be less dependent on government funding.â€™â€˜
He suggested effective mobilisation of the Alumni to make financial contributions to the university.
Onosode recalled that he has been pro-chancellor in three universities. In the first two, University of Uyo and University of Ibadan, he was not allowed to run the full term, â€˜â€™truncated by some internal intervention,â€™â€˜ adding, â€˜â€™so be in hurry, no time to think of what to doâ€™â€˜.
He went on: â€˜â€™Because Iâ€™m in the Departure Lounge, I am impatient with delay, want to get things done. Basically this is the reason why I sought opportunity to share my feelings with you. Nothing is new in this presentation, but I can infect you with my feelings,â€™â€˜ the 77-year-old seasoned corporate chieftain and technocrat pointed out.
Prof Adetokunbo Babatunde Sofoluwe, the Vice-Chancellor, had noted earlier that under the Pro-Chancellorâ€™s leadership, the University of Lagos has not only enjoyed tremendous goodwill, but also has moved from progress to progress. He thanked him for a wonderful speech.
â€˜â€™The lesson is that we can always get better. His passion for University of Lagos, for Nigeria as a nation to get better.â€™â€˜
About seven deans of faculties who are members of the senate responded on behalf of their colleagues, commending Onosode for his presentation, promising to rise to the challenges with more determination to drive excellence and take all his words of wisdom.