Academic and administrative activities at the Lagos State University (LASU) were literally grounded recently as staff and students trooped out to catch a glimpse of and welcome former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
He was being hosted by LASU first time, either as serving or former president, in its 35-years-old history. This was also alluded to the first time visit by the Vice Chancellor, Prof Olanrewaju Fagbohun. Chief Obasanjo who chaired the 22nd convocation lecture equally stated that it was his first time of entering the campus.
The well decorated auditorium complex was filled to it capacity as available spaces were taken over by staff, students and guests including traditional rules.
As soon as Chief Obasanjo entered the auditorium along side the university management, governing council members, Nigeria’s ambassador to UK, Justice Adesola Oguntade, Special Adviser on Education, Obafela Bank-Olemo and the convocation lecturer, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC) everybody turned to the entrance door and with resounding ovation welcomed the former president who also acknowledged the cheers by waving and taking a bow.
“Today is my first time visit to your campus. Even when I served as president, I never stepped into LASU. I like what I have seen, the infrastructural development. I have heard so much of what Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has done for LASU. I have heard and I have now seen,” he stated.
Obasanjo described the topic of the lecture as germane at this particular time in the history of the country noting that high education was not only for the purpose of education but for social, economic and political purpose.
“What have we done to make the institutions serve as tools for promoting social cohesion and peace. There can not be peace without justice.’’
Justice Oguntade remarked that the importance of tertiary institutions cannot be over emphasised stating, “they are crucial to the development of the country with the production of quality manpower.’’
Justice Oguntade, who is also the chancellor of LASU, maintained that the quality of manpower produced is based on what the institutions churn out to the labour market.
Prof Rasheed, commended Governor Ambode for his peerless commitment to enhancing human capital development in the state, as demonstrated in his support to LASU which enjoys one of its best moments since its establishment in 1983.
“The fact that the institution is celebrating its 22nd convocation ceremony is an eloquent testimony to the success of its efforts in the production of the required high level manpower not only for Lagos state, but for Nigeria and the World at large,’’ Rasheed noted.
He said with over two million students, tertiary education institutions are uniquely placed to be at the vanguard of finding lasting solutions to the problems that plague peaceful co-existence in Nigeria.
According to him, the pursuit of unity, social cohesion and by implication, peaceful co-existence was at the heart of the establishment of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) with the aim to distribalise the products of Nigeria’s tertiary institutions and create nascent national elite.
Said he: “It is sad to say that tertiary education institutions in Nigeria are, tragically, yet to be the incubators of national unity and social cohesion. Academics do not tolerate people who are not from their region to become VC.’’
Rasheed observed that social instability in Nigeria resulted from a history of bad governance and the insensitivity of government to the living conditions of the masses.
The NUC boss said there was need for tertiary education institutions to undertake self assessment to reposition themselves as corporate entities capable of meeting the needs of the country now and in the future in all spheres, especially in social cohesion and peace.