The Oasis Reporters
November 17, 2018
To round up the grand finale of a five day long Convocation ceremony at the University of Ibadan International Conference Center on the 70th anniversary of the founding of Nigeria’s premier university, Saturday, November 17, 2018, Honorary degrees shall be conferred on some distinguished Nigerians, amongst whom would be iconic Professor of Oral History, Bolanle Awe who joined the academic staff of the University of Ibadan in 1960.
85 year old emeritus professor Bolanle Awe has a name that rings far, beyond her native Ilesha home, for at the University, she met Nigeria’s very first Professor of Physics, Muyiya Awe and they got married. She has long since retired from the University and must have been quite surprised that the University she gave her all, called her up for a deserving honour. She has inspired the women folk and served her home state, Oyo/Osun as Commissioner For Education, Commissioner for Trade and Industry, etc. She gets the Doctor of Letters (D.Litt)
Getting the Doctor of Letters with Professor(Mrs) Awe is a captain of Industry who has positively impacted on Nigeria’s economy: Sir Bode Akindele, CFR. A Chief and a worthy citizen.
President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR is another distinguished Nigerian getting the Doctor of Letters(D.Litt). He’s Nigeria’s President who will be facing a reelection battle in about three months.
He also got an honorary doctorate award three years ago, a few months after winning the general election in 2015 from the Kaduna State University, a state that went the way of his party, the All Progressive Congress, APC.
Another iconic lady, a Professor of Mathematics, Itsekiri (Delta State) born Grace Alele Williams gets the Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) award.
In 1963, she became the first Nigerian woman to earn a Ph.D . Her first degree in mathematics was earned at the University of Ibadan.
Grace Alele Williams was born in 1932.
At a time when universities had no autonomy in Nigeria and any head of state in Nigeria could post any Vice Chancellor to any University or appoint anyone at any whim to go head a University, Professor Grace Alele Williams was surprised to be called up from her mathematics teaching chair at the University of Lagos to proceed to the headstrong University of Benin as Vice Chancellor.
It was a novel appointment for hitherto, no woman had ever headed a University in Nigeria. That was a surprising masterstroke by military ruler, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.
On getting to the University of Benin in her home state of then Bendel State (now Edo and Delta States respectively), she met stiff resistance from the academic staff there who resented the imposition of a professor from outside. More so, a woman.
The first time It happened there was during the regime of Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo who transferred the four year old as Professor, then newly appointed Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria to head the University of Benin.
Spearheading the stiff opposition to Grace Alele Williams was surprisingly her Itsekiri kinsman and Professor of Constitutional law. She eventually saw her brother out of the University of Benin, for her own peace.
That wasn’t the only problem she faced. Professor Williams met a University with serious disciplinary issues, amongst which was a debilitating cultism amongst the students populace.
She had a rule.
Anyone caught in the crime of cultism was instantly rusticated from the University of Benin.
Besides if any student failed any course, he or she would carry no course over. The academic session must be repeated.
She made students very angry, but then, they sat up. Such that her students are in the vanguard of inventions in Nigeria today. Brigadier General (Dr.) Ovedje invented the blood transfusion set that cleans a patient’s blood and re-injects into the patient to eliminate the need for blood donors and blood rejection since it would be the patient’s own blood. The patent is still in view.
Another of her students who is now a haematology Professor cures sickle cell anemia, a disease that affects mainly Africans and Africans in the Diaspora.
Professor Grace Alele Williams’ disciplinary actions turned the University of Benin around for good.
Now a retired Professor in her 80s, Alele Williams deserves all the accolades for her visionary work.
Another notable honoree of the Doctor of Science(D.Sc.) award is the easily well known Professor Akinlawon Ladipo Mabogunje. There’s hardly any school boy or girl who studied Geography in secondary school that did not know Mabogunje’s books. Honoring the Professor emeritus is a worthy move.
So is the award winning Professor Olufunmilayo Olopade, OON. This is one more honour to the star studded honours for the eminent Professor Olopade.
Wikipedia describes Olufunmilayo I. Olopade as an hematology oncologist, Associate Dean for Global Health and Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor in Medicine and Human Genetics at the University of Chicago. She also serves as director of the University of Chicago Hospital’s Cancer Risk Clinic.
Born in 1957, Professor Olopade had her education at the University of Ibadan and has brought great honor to her Alma mater.
The immediate past Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Professor Omoniyi Adewoye who is currently the Minister of health in the Buhari regime becomes a Fellow of the University. Adewoye is a professor of medicine, good at his job and efficient as Vice Chancellor. He’s worthy of the Fellowship Of The University.
But at a time, the Saudi Arabian Royal family used to come to the University College Hospital, Ibadan for their medicals in the 60s. Now they have thousands of Nigerian doctors working in the oil rich kingdom, and even former president Umaru Musa Yar’adua used to go there for his medicals before he died.
One of the awardees, President Muhammadu Buhari has probably never treated common cold at the UCH. Here’s hoping that the Fellow whose tenure as Health Minister would bring the good old days back to UCH and other teaching hospitals in Nigeria. The Fellow and the Doctor of Letters can certainly do impressive things, above what they are currently doing which is still appreciated before this current tenure winds up on May 29, 2019. Nigeria’s good wishes are with the duo, as far as medical facilities are concerned for ordinary Nigerians who cannot afford overseas medical treatment.