■ Nigerian university where graduands go with their original certificates after convocation
■ Gowon, Kolade recommend the standard
By Chika Abanobi
In a society where students of institutions of higher learning are used to receiving their original degree/diploma certificates many years after graduation, McPherson University, owned by Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria and located at Seriki Sotayo, Ogun State, set the pace recently when it gave its graduating students their duly signed certificates to go home with, immediately after its convocation.
The maiden convocation organised for students numbering 42 was witnessed by many dignitaries including Gen. Yakubu Gowon (retd), Nigeria’s former Military Head of State, and chairman of the occasion, Chief Christopher Kolade, Nigeria’s former Ambassador to the United Kingdom (he was installed the second Chancellor of the university and conferred with an honorary doctorate degree), Prof. Israel Adu, Pro. Chancellor/Chairman of Board of Governing Council (who just ended his tenure), Prof. Peter Okebukola, former Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Rev. Felix Meduoye, General Overseer, Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria, and the Visitor of the university, Dr. Mayowa Afe, Chairman, Board of Trustees and Mr. Tunde Lemo, former Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria.
Given the reason, in a chat with The Sun Education, the university authorities issued its pioneer students with their certificates on the day of their graduation, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Adeniyi Agunbiade, said that it was intended to challenge the status quo. “We wanted to say that if you are a student at McPherson University, you will go home with your certificate on the day of your convocation like it is being done in universities overseas,” he explained. “And, it is a tradition we intend to continue to keep, for as long as the university exists.”
The certificate ‘miracle’ was not the only thing that made the McU maiden convocation unique. It includes the fact that its best graduating student, Miss Sholola Temiloluwa Adunola, an Accounting student who with Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.81 won several awards and prizes including The Visitor’s Leadership Prize, the Vice Chancellor’s Prize, the Dean, College of Social & Management Sciences Scholar’s Prize for the Best Graduating Student and the Rev. & Rev. Mrs. Felix and Olubisi Meduoye’s Prize did not emerge as the valedictorian of the occasion as is the common practice in universities, home and abroad.
That honour rather went to Miss Ehima Victoria Obiajuru, Best Graduating Female Student in Biochemistry for writing a valedictory speech adjudged the best among other equally good ones, by a carefully selected pre-convocation committee entrusted with that duty.
This innovation too, Prof. Agunbiade said, was intended to challenge and upstage the status quo in our universities. “I learnt it from my daughter’s school, Olabisi Onabanjo University, (Ago Iwoye, Ogun State). She read Law there,” he said. “Although she emerged third in academic ranking, she was selected to read the valedictory address because they felt she could do it better than others. And she really made the university proud on the day of her graduation.”
So did Obiajuru who made her presentation interesting, funny and inspiring with personal reminiscences of her days at McU. “Amidst the excitement of today, the fear we felt as 100 level students would once again linger in our minds: the fear of the unknown, the fear of failure, and the fear of the future,” she said. “To quote Marianne Williamson, a social activist and founder of peace alliance and meals-on-wheels: ‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?’ To my graduating colleagues, I have this to say: we all have the capacity of achieving something great. Don’t underestimate your ability to be successful and do not take opportunities for granted.”
Her alma mater intend, Prof. Agunbiade insists, to achieve something great, not only with real-time issuance of certificates and selection as university valedictorian, the best talented and confident student, but to shame Nigerian universities, both private and public, by flooding Nigerian food market, in the near future, with their agricultural products. The university-processed and produced garri and cows are already on sale around its environs.
“Potentials in agriculture are huge,” Chief Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development said in the university’s first convocation lecture titled: “Food Security and Terrorism: Way Out for Nigeria,” and delivered on his behalf by Engineer Ola Akeju, Director of Agriculture and Rural Development, in the ministry. “My expectation is that this university will begin to take pro-active steps to be a key player in the profitable value chains of agriculture not only to meet food requirements of its members but also to generate additional revenue to meet its present and future needs.”
“From the little I have seen on entering this campus, I have no doubt that the products of this institution will be good,” Gowon said in his speech. “The essence of any convocation is to formally and publicly certify excellence in character and learning/academic. I am confident that in the nearest future, McPherson University will move from its position as the 49th private and 121st registered university in Nigeria to being first among equals.” Prof. Adu, Kolade and Meduoye expressed similar sentiments in their remarks.