Pro-Chancellor, Deacon Gamaliel Onosode presenting a certificate to one of the beneficiaries.

By Emmanuel Edukugho

No other university in the country has deepened its scholarship scheme as University of Lagos (UNILAG) with massive awards to students, capturing the physically challenged, indigent, outstanding sportsmen and women, students with leadership qualities and scholars (academically brilliant) drawn from all the faculties at various levels with nothing less than 4.50 Cumulative Grade Points Aggregate (CGPA).

At a ceremony of the 2007/2008 Endowment Scholarship Awards/Partners Forum held on Tuesday, August, 17, 2010 inside the Multipurpose hall, UNILAG, a total of 623 students received the awards.
A breakdown showed 25 physically challenged, 79 indigent, 35 outstanding sportsmen and women, 96 with leadership qualities, and 588 scholars.

Regarded as the first of its kind in Nigeria, the origin of the Endowment Scholarship Award was traced to 2003, when the University of Lagos, under the leadership of the former Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, Chief Afe Babalola launched a five-year USD 500 million Endowment Fund Campaign. As at 2006, over four billion naira had been realised from the campaign.

The amount was made up of donations from alumni, staff, contractors, friends of the university as well as corporate organisations in cash, materials, equipment, and strategic projects. Thereafter, the money was invested and kept in reserve for future institutional development. Investment of funds in various instruments have yielded appreciable interests.

In 2006, the University of Lagos, became the first and only Nigerian university that utilised the interests on endowment fund to award scholarships to students in five categories – Academically Brilliant with CGPA 4.50 and above with N50,000.00 as the Value of Scholarship, Indigent (Needy) 1.00 CGPA and above getting N25,000.00, physically challenged 1.50 CGPA and above having N25,000.00, Outstanding Leadership Qualities 3.00 CGPA and above receiving N25,000.00 and Outstanding Sportsmen and Women 1.50 CGPA and above getting N25,000.00 as value of scholarship. In 2005/2006 session, N2.5 million was disbursed to students as scholarship.

Under the leadership of Deacon Gamaliel Oforitsenere Onosode, Pro-Chancellor, the new Governing Council approved the award of the scholarships to the qualified students as at the 2007/2008 academic session.

He said at the ceremony: “It’s my first time interacting with students outside convocation, a privilege and landmark in my personal experience as the kindness being shown to these students strikes a personal note. I got scholarship on merit after ………. One can be an indigent, but must be brilliant and promote intellect.

Being indigent does not mean that you cannot compete with others, so too the physically challenged.
Onosode paid tribute to Chief Afe Babalola, the legal luminary for introducing the endowment and scholarship award, apart from what the University of Lagos had to offer.

“I am grateful to those before us whose initiative brought us to today. Thanks to the Endowment partners, the hardwork of the Alumni Association…. If there is any single group that owns this university, it is the Alumni.” He reminded the gathering that the core responsibility of a university is teaching/research. Quality teaching and research go together.

The students were charged thus: “Don’t hesitate to challenge your teachers which will trigger up research. The university is an academic institution for excellence. Quality research produces quality students. I congratulate the teachers who made contributions to the emergence of the awardees. If you’re a dunce, you can’t get admission. The endowment is because the university is not properly funded.

“As students, you will one day be in the Alumni. So, you will contribute as the university be less dependent on government funding.

The eloquent Pro-Chancellor added: “Someday, you will look back, and be grateful to God and appreciate what the University of Lagos has done.

Professor Adetokunboh Babatunde Sofoluwe, Vice-Chancellor, in his address, recalled that the Endowment Scholarship Awards/Partners’ Forum was instituted in 2006 to encourage scholarship as well as cultivate the spirit of healthy competition and sportsmanship among the students by motivating the academically brilliant student, the needy student, physically challenged student, outstanding sportsmen and women, and students with leadership qualities.

“With the benevolent posture of the University of Lagos Governing Council under the leadership of our esteemed and amiable Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Deacon (Dr.) Gamaliel Onosode, who is ever concerned about the welfare of our students, I want to assure you that we shall continue to sustain the Endowment Scholarship Schemes to ensure the learning support expected of a first class university.”

He congratulated all the beneficiaries and expressed hope that the awards would further propel them to seek greater academic and professional excellence.

Sofoluwe urged them to put in their best and ensure that they don’t rest on their oars.
The Director, Office of Advancement, said that the Endowment Scholarship Awards pioneered by the University of Lagos is yet to be rivalled by any other university in Nigeria. The university has produced over 100,000 graduates made up of accomplished professionals, industrialists, politicians, etc, who have provided much needed human capital for Nigeria and the world.

The current student population is about 45,000 per session. At inception, the Federal Government provided all the funds required to run the university. But due to increase in the number of federal universities and other constraints, subvention and funds from the Federal Government dwindled over the years.

Advancement projects and gifts from donors include: Professorial chairs – Pastor E.A. Adeboye Professorial chair in Mathematics donated by the Redeemed Christian Church of God (with initial donation of N50 million).

Chief Mike Adenuga Professorial chair in Entrepreneurship studies with initial donation of N50 million. Professor A.F. Ogunye Professorial chair in Chemical Engineering. Samuel Asabai Professorial chair in Business Ethics.

There were also strategic projects constructed by corporate organisations and wealthy individuals.
Mrs. B.A. Awere, who is the Director, Office of Advancement, while listing all the projects, both on-going and proposed ones, research endowment, scholarship and prizes, general endowment, congratulated the endowment scholarship beneficiaries and hoped that the awards will propel them to achieve greater things in life.

“Always remember that you have a university that cares for you to the extent of supporting your welfare financially and otherwise. Everyone of you can assist to expand the scope of this novel scholarship scheme by using your links and social networks to support the university’s general endowment fund.

She added that this can be through your parents, friends or by yourself whenever you have the wherewithal to give back to the institution that is currently contributing to whatever you become in future. They were urged not to forget their alma mater.

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