The Esama of Benin Kingdom, Pro Chancellor of Igbinedion University Okada, IUO Gabriel Igbinedion has narrated the success story of Nigeria’s premier private university how it started in 1999 with just 111 students but today has over 5000 undergraduates fully accommodated.
Speaking at the varsity’s 24th Founder’s Day in Okada, the Pro Chancellor who was represented by the Deputy Pro Chancellor, former Governor of Edo State, Chief Lucky Igbinedion disclosed this with nostalgia.
He said: ” The university started with just 111 students in 1999 today it has over 5,000 students, all comfortably accommodated on campus.
He pointed out that IUO has lived true to the vision of a cosmopolitan entity offering world class education in a conducive environment.
According to him the Board of Regents will continue to deliver on its mandate of ensuring that excellence is maintained in the university and that it remains world-class at any point in time.
Also, South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Thamsanqa Dennis Mseleku, who was the guest speaker, said IUO got it right for adopting a model of university education that is relevant to African nations at their current level of national development.
He said that the multi-programme model of university education provides opportunities for all-round growth, quite unlike the single programme/discipline model that some foreign universities were trying to plant in some African nations.
The envoy said that university education in Africa must overcome the challenges of alienating the educated from the rest of the society. Instead, he said, university education should be a tool for integration and bridge-building.
According to him, African universities should also establish a legacy of being solution providers for the many problems that plague African societies.
He also enjoined the institutions and scholars alike to be Afrocentric in their research by focusing on areas that address the challenges of Africa. In this regard, he said research by African scholars and African universities must address issues African diseases, poverty alleviation, deepening democracy and engagement with society.
For African scholars having collaboration with universities outside of Africa, he cautioned that the purpose should not be just to have an opportunity to run away, but through interactions see how they can improve the system at home.
He pointed out that the 24th Founders Day event was not just a celebration of Igbinedion University, but actually a celebration of the dawn of private university education in Nigeria.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Lawrence Ikechukwu Ezemonye, pointed out that the university is focused on producing what he referred to as “future-ready graduates”. According to the professor of eco-toxicology and environmental forensics, “ our blue-sky graduates are already making waves globally”.
He used the occasion to highlight some of the recent achievements of the university which include the commencement of production of drugs by the pharmacy department of the university. According to him, the pharmacy programme has also been upgraded from bachelor of pharmacy degree (BPharm) to doctor of pharmacy degree (DPharm).
In the area of infrastructure development, while all the students are fully accommodated on campus, construction has also begun for ultra-modern hostels.
According to professor Ezemonye, the university will also soon start the construction of a five-star hotel on campus, in addition to an18,000 seater auditorium, which will cement IUO not just as the first but foremost private university in Nigeria.
Academically, according to the VC, the immediate focus is to “digitize every aspect of learning on campus. The university will also soon start its Open Programmes to make education accessible to more interested members of the public.”
We recall that Igbinedion University, Okada (IUO) Edo State, is the first private university in Nigeria, with license No 001, issued May 10, 1999. From just 111 students when it began learning in October 1999, it has produced over 16,000 graduates, and currently boasts of having the highest number of academic programmes and departments of any private university in Nigeria, and maintains a partnership with the Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, among others