By Emmanuel Edukugho
Covenant University, Ota, Vice Chancellor, Professor Aize Obayan, has emphasized the importance of knowledge in the developmental agenda of our country and that without knowledge, a nation perishes.
Speaking at a special press conference in Covenant University on Post International Biotechnology Symposium (IBS) Conference and Entrepreneurial Development Studies (EDS) Workshop Reports, she drew attention to capacity building for relevance which the institution is driving, therefore can not ignore inventions and research.
“Politics apart, we need Visionary leaders to drive change. People of great acumen, great skill that can move Nigeria forward. Covenant University is a mission berthed university to raise a new generation of leaders, provide qualitative education programme and drive solutions that will come from research.”
She explained that the meeting was an opportunity to showcase what is happening in the institution, adding “the media is important for transmitting to the external environment activities going on here.”
Obayan recounted that a University is often referred to as Ivory tower which denotes a closed environment, exclusive to scholars, pointing out that this has changed.
“With the IBS and EDS, there is hope for a new Nigeria. Inventions and re-inventions at several levels of which the goal is to drive capacity building, drive perspective for life long learning.
We will keep driving capacity and relevance. It’s for all time sustainability – today and for relevance in the next 100, 200 years, on and on.”
According to her, Covenant University is trying to showcase two of the most important international conferences, hosted here. The centre for Entrepreneurial Development Studies in partnership with the National Universities Commission (NUC) which has recognised Covenant as the “leading University driving entrepreneurship.”
Tribute was paid to the Chancellor, Dr (Bishop) David Oyedepo, whom she called a visionary leader, who also referred to Professor Dayo Ade-Turton, Chairman, EDS Taught courses as a social entrepreneur.
The Vice Chancellor hailed the pro-activeness of Dr. Oyedepo who is always forging ahead and very much concerned about what Africa can bring to the table.
“The Chancellor (Oyedepo) had always insisted that the brain of an African is not different from others in USA, UK. The Obama message is that we can. A blackman now in the White House – a message of can do it (can-do-ness), propagating change, the possibility mentality. Not waiting for others to develop our nation. Leadership is crucial, it’s the core, taking action from the stable of Covenant University and make a difference.”
Pointing to EDS, she said it brought 71 platforms to deliberate and discuss on entrepreneurship development.
“Today, EDS has raised a lot of graduates who have established several businesses, raising giants in industry. Our counterparts in Asia have not done much than what we are doing in driving human capacity.”
According to Dr. Abimbola Oluremi, Director, Centre for Entrepreneurial Development Studies (CEDS), it started from the inception of the university whose purpose is to produce graduates that will create employment for others rather than be job seekers.
“We engage our students in the arts and science of entrepreneurship, the external context of role of this university in the community.
EDS comprised theory and practical aspects, having 14 units for practicals.”
While Prof. Ade-Turton is in charge of the theoretical aspect, Dr. Abimbola Oluremi oversees the practicals at the centre, like soap making, fashion designing, fish farming, leather works, shoes, films and documentary production, and bags.
Students in all the academic disciplines at 300 level take up entrepreneurial studies till the final year when they graduate.
In respect of the 3rd International Biotechnology Symposium 2011, with the theme – Agro-biotechnology and Attainment of Food Security in Africa, Professor Louis Egwari, Head Department of Biological Sciences said the event was highly successful as it explored ways to make Nigeria a food basket not only for this country, but also for Africa.
The focus is on the employment of biotechnology and bioinformatics tools to ensure food security.
According to the communique issued after the symposium, the subject of food security was considered as seriously timely, and deservedly “a desideratum considering the fact that 800 million people go to bed hungry every day, while about 30,000 people, half of them children, die everyday to hunger and malnutrition.”
That Agro-biotechnology is the answer to ensuring food security in view of the fact that there is progressive depletion of soil fertility, geometric increase in population, catastrophic display of natural disasters and the ever worsening spectral proclivity of agro-demographic quotients.
Egwari said there is need for legislation on biotechnology, look at the legal, ethical and safety framework to get industry best practices and attract private investment. There should be linkage between Agro-biotechnology and the development of indigenous products to promote exports from Nigeria.
Vice Chancellor Prof. Obayan noted that the lowest basic needs of man are food, water, shelter, before any other thing, including self-realisation- to satisfy hunger and poverty, thirsts.
She said the current electoral process has brought new hope, people rising up to say a new Nigeria is emerging.
“Covenant University responsibility is to bring change and raising men to be a bridge between the University and community. From the laboratory of Covenant University, we are making great contributions in food security. We are proud of our products bringing others to drive solution of food security.” She added: “Landmark University (recently established in Kwara State by the same owners of Covenant University) will provide a platform for agricultural revolution in the next few years. Entrepreneurship is the basis.”