It was a boisterous weekend recently at Ode-Omu, a usually sleepy town in Osun State.
Thousands of people, academics, students, parents, residents and government officials, as well as several professionals from all walks of life, thronged the community for the first convocation of Kings University, a private tertiary institution located in the town.
The graduating students were also there in their numbers, all resplendent in their convocation gowns.
The university was founded four years ago by the Senior Pastor of Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC), Worldwide, Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo.
Vice-chancellor of the institution, Professor Oladiran Famurewa, said it was heart-warming that the first batch of 64 pioneer students would be graduating from the university. He stated that 10 of the graduates would be leaving the institution with first class degrees, while 45 bagged second class (upper division) degrees.
The best graduating student, Emerson Amanda Sopuruchi of the Department of Chemical Science and Biochemistry, Faculty of Science, earned a 4.70 cumulative grade point average (CGPA).
The VC noted that the institution had pursued an uncompromising standard in character-moulding and learning.
Said he: “We have great efforts to strengthen our research to pursue product-oriented activities and also collaborate with industries. Our Entrepreneurship and Skills Development Centre is blazing the trail with two of our students, Ladi Lawal and Feyi Babatope, developing some products from local raw materials, which we are trying to take to the next level.”
He informed the audience that the university had made a breakthrough in the production of biofuel from industrial brewery waste. This, he noted, would reduce over-dependence on petroleum products. He noted also that the institution was researching into the medical uses of local green plants, recalling that extracts of the bitter leaf and turmeric plants were being studied for possible cancer cure, among others.
The VC stated that the institution had done a lot to develop its host community, Odeomu, including placing the town on Google Map in 2017. He announced the offer of immediate employment for a first class graduate of accounting, Tobi William Okegbemi, by the company of the chancellor, adding that all first class graduates would be given automatic employment.
In addition, Famurewa explained that students who participated in the exchange programme with Morgan State University, Maryland, USA, would have dual certification from Kings University.
Chancellor of the institution, Pastor Ashimolowo, urged the pioneer graduates never to be scared of challenges. He charged them to always “dare.”
His words: “Dare to create a future without waiting for others. If you don’t, they will define you. Make obstacles your ladder to greatness: No one reaches a high position without daring. Dare to step out of the box of ‘the regular.’
“In the words of H. Jackson Brown, ‘People take different roads seeking fulfilment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.’”
Pro-chancellor of the institution, Dr. Dipo Oluyomi, lauded the pioneer management and staff of the institution who, he said, ensured that all the 10 programmes run by the university were duly accredited. He expressed fulfilment that the university was taking its place among Nigeria’s great tertiary educational institutions.
A former VC of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Professor Michael Faborode, delivered the convocation lecture, titled, “Adding Values to the Environment through Enterprising Graduates.”
In his lecture, Faborode noted that though the times might be thorny across the country, the graduands must don their creative thinking hats, if they intend to demonstrate their uniqueness.
Faborode, a professor of agricultural and environmental engineering, said it was imperative for universities to lead their nations’ development, adding that countries stand to benefit from having a healthy and well-educated workforce.
He noted that everyone, irrespective of sex, age, race and ethnicity, including persons with disabilities, migrants, indigenous peoples, children and youth, as well as those in vulnerable situations, should have access to life-long learning opportunities that help them acquire knowledge and skills needed to exploit opportunities and to participate fully in society.
“Countries should be assisted to reap demographic dividends, including through safe schools and cohesive communities and families,” Faborode said.
He asserted that universities must imbue students with the appropriate technical, professional and life skills, even as he commended Kings University for moulding its graduates into potential global citizens.
“Nigerian universities must embrace those ideals that would enable them fit into the global expectation of SGD-compliance, transform Nigeria into an enviable intellectual and developmental force that will assume her destined position of the true giant of Africa, and champion the march to the ‘Africa we want,’ in line with the African Agenda 2063.
“The future lies in the hands of highly skilled, patriotic and educated youths,” Faborode said.