UNILAG record breaker: Why Vice Chancellors should publicise varsities’ successes

Prof Michael Faborode

Prof Michael Faborode

By Michael Faborode

March 31, 2016

As Vice Chancellors get ready to join the rest of the global academic community for Going Global 2016 in Cape Town, SA from May 2-5, they have been reminded of the need to engage in vigorous publicity of the successes of their universities, so that people and the nation can help them to celebrate exceptional academics and students.

The news media had been awash with the news of the exceptional performance of AYODELE, Dada of the Department of Sociology, University of Lagos at this year’s convocation, starting from the day after the convocation ceremony for undergraduates in the humanities. From the PUNCH of March 22, 2016 (page 3), it was indicated that the House of Reps would honour Mr. Ayodele. “He would be ushered into the house and a motion will be moved to set aside the House rules and allow him to be celebrated by the Law makers.”

The leader of the House, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila had written to inform the lawmakers of the need to applaud Dada’s dedication at a time of national despondency”. The letter read in part “In the last two weeks, Nigeria and Nigerians have been inundated with the news of the incredible performance of Mr. Ayodele Dada, a student of the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Lagos, who set a new academic record by graduating with a 5.0. Cumulative Grade Point Average. The first time ever in the university and perhaps Nigeria. ….His story is compelling and inspirational to the youth and he represents and mirrors the hope of our tomorrow”

In the same PUNCH (page 27), there was yet another editorial viewpoint titled “The injustice Buhari did to the genius of UNILAG”, which lamented that President Buhari did not immediately ‘roll out the carpets for Dada’s academic attainment as he recently did for sportsmen and women. That is also well said: “when (academic) excellence is rewarded and celebrated by the government, people are encouraged to seek excellence”. The writer, Mr. Azuka Onwuka, added for good measure the following: “Even though it was not said that Dada was the first graduate from any Nigerian university to make such a result, I have never heard that a graduate made such a result in any Nigerian university”.

Indeed, the House did honour Mr. Ayodele at its sitting on Wednesday, March 23, when Rt. Hon Dogara, the Speaker, admonished him to “be wary of women, money and alcohol to succeed in life”. The celebration was moving. A former university teacher, Prof Mojeed Alabi, while contributing said in his 25 years of teaching experience, he had not seen a graduate with 5.0 CGPA, “but with Dada, I am seeing something unique for the first time. “We have to celebrate the school and the teachers who produced him”

It is gratifying that academic success is being hailed and applauded as we have seen. We have complained severally about the societal warped reward system and sense of heroism which had relegated academic excellence to the background and makes nonsense of teachers and teaching. To this extent, this development is commendable, and the Committee of Vice Chancellors (CVC) notes it with immense satisfaction.

However, we also see in the story the contrast in selling ourselves or otherwise. We see the power of the “Lagos Press” in blowing or over-blowing a story that can be sensational, and we see through the hollowness as well as patent lack of depth and rigour in our society and our inquiry/inquisitiveness.

We see sensational journalism. Dada’s feat came to light on February 25 at the UNILAG Vice Chancellor’s pre-convocation press conference. But at the convocation of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria less than a month earlier on 30th January, 2016, two candidates in the Department of Chemistry (B.Sc Chemistry and Industrial Chemistry respectively), Faculty of Science, equally achieved the incredible CGPA of 5.00. The two candidates are GALADIMA, Aliyu Audu with Registration No U11CH1047 and IKWU, Fabian Adakole with Registration No U11CH1159.

For some reason, ABU did not publicize this feat as did UNILAG and the ‘Lagos Press’ was not on hand to accentuate the reach of the encomium. In a way, the two ABU achievers would appear to have been somewhat short changed. It is not impossible that there are others who have attained such feat in recent history. It is the duty of Vice Chancellors and their university’s Public Relations Officers to sell their success stories for public consumption, inundate their websites with news and stories bearing the photos of the achievers. Actually, in more ancient history, I am aware of a 5.00 CGPA in the history of OAU (then University of Ife), during the era of ‘almighty June’, when (now) Professor Anthony Adegbulugbe made the grade in his Electronics and Electrical Engineering finals in 1974/75 session, before going on to excel at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA. A more diligent journalistic excursion into records would have saved us the embarrassment of “claiming first” in what is not, even though still highly commendable feat. Accuracy and precision should not be sacrificed under any circumstances.

Now back to Azuka’s article in the PUNCH of March 22. He had noted, quite rightly, that Dada (replace with all three achievers) made an A grade in all his courses right from his first year to his final. That is indeed the only way anybody can end up with final Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 5.00 out of 5.00. It is a rare feat, and most commentators will rush to the conclusion that only very few can attain such a feat. Azuka’s last word: “The tempo may have died down on the issue of Dada, but it is not too late for the government to celebrate him”. Our reading of this suggestion and its logical extension are as follows:

  • the House of Representatives should be notified of the gross omission of the two ABU achievers, so that they can also be properly honoured by the House.
  • The honourable Minister of Education should present and lead the three achievers to Mr. President for proper national acknowledgement. They are indeed worthy role models for our youths in these times that many of them consider hopeless. They should see hope in the abilities of their colleagues to perform exceedingly well in spite of all odds.

Professor Michael O. Faborode, former Vice Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), is the Secretary General of the Committee of Vice Chancellors (CVC).

 

 

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