Critical stakeholders in the University of Ibadan met on Thursday in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, and proffered lasting solutions to the dwindling funding of the university system in Nigeria by the Federal Governent in the past 10 years.
They met at the orientation programme for alumni relations representatives, organised by the Office of Alumni Relations, University of Ibadan, with the theme: ‘Building a 21st Century Alumni Community,’ held at Trenchard Hall of UI.
Speakers on the occasion included the Vice Chancellor of the university. Prof Kayode Adebowale; former President, Ibadan College of Medicine Alumni Association (ICOMAA) Worldwide, Dr. Abib Olamitoye, who is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Ibadan Central Hospital (ICH), and Academy Suites in Ibadan and Abeokuta; the Director, Office of Alumni Relations, UI, Prof Peter Olapegba; and the Deputy Provost, College of Medicine, UI, Prof Fatai Adeniyi, who had served previously as Secretary and later President of ICOMAA.
The Vice Chancellor of the university. Prof Adebowale, who chaired the orientation programme, said the time has come for universities to look inward and deepen their relationships with their alumni communities in order to complement funding from proprietors.
According to him, “There is no doubt that with the dwindling resources particularly in terms of funding, that is coming to the university system, we need to look inward so that we will be able to sustain the activities of teaching, research and community service. For federal universities, for instance, the funding that is coming is reducing every year in the last 10 years.
“Therefore, all over the world, universities could not depend solely on funding that is coming from their proprietors. In this case, our proprietor is the Federal Government. And one of the ways is to be able to engage the alumni in terms of what they can plough back to the system because they are part and parcel of the university.
“But if we don’t deepen the relationship with the alumni, you can’t say they should plough back. Somebody you don’t have relationship with, how will you say he or she should give you anything. So, it is now that we are starting to deepen our relationship with them so that together we would be able to move our university to greater heights.”
The lead speaker of the technical session of the event, Dr. Abib Olamitoye, recalled how his tenure as the President, Ibadan College of Medicine Alumni Association (ICOMAA) Worldwide, built a 21st Century alumni community for the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan . He said the ICOMAA is currently building a N2.5billion new hall for medical students in the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan.
Olamitoye, who graduated as a medical doctor from UI in 1985, said one of his coursemates then, Phillip Ozuah, based in the United States, donated US$1million to the College of Medicine of UI for the alumni hostel inside UCH, adding that ICOMAA has also raised over N700million in support of the project from all other old students of the college.
“The alumni can advance institutions because we have done it before. I was between 2016 and 2019, the President, Ibadan College of Medicine Alumni Association Worldwide. Then, we laid a foundation and set a vision that is now beginning to yield dividends for the college. So, if our methodology works in the College of Medicine, it can also work for the whole university.
“Today in the College of Medicine, UI, we have raised over a billion naira to build a new hall, which will be bigger than the existing hall of medical students in UCH. The cost of the project is N2.5billion and we have raised over 45 per cent of that. One of my classmates, who did not know about ICOMAA before I stepped in, among other alumni, who now know about ICOMAA, donated US$1million. Then, we have raised over N700million in support of the project from all the other alumni.”
Olamitoye, however, noted that “the University of Ibadan has raised so many graduates over the years. The university will be 75 years by November, this year 2023. A lot of these people the university has raised are governors, ministers, successful entrepreneurs, and many of them are in the diaspora; in America and United Kingdom. They should be reached and let them see reasons they should give back to the system that produced them. We are sowing seeds, which shall grow. We shall propagate it and create awareness. Then, people will see that they need to contribute to the development of their alma mater.”
The Director, Office of Alumni Relations, Prof Peter Olapegba, who explained that alumni relations is a concept of maintaining life-long relationship with graduates of the university, stated that one-third of revenue that universities in advanced countries generate annually is brought in by alumni of respective institutions. He added: “We should also leverage our alumni base if we will improve funding in our university. The alumni won’t want the university to collapse and they will also want standard to be maintained.”
The second speaker at the technical session, Prof Fatai Adeniyi, the Deputy Provost, College of Medicine, UI, who emphasised the importance of alumni community towards achieving improved funding for the university, however, warned that any funding request to the alumni community should focus on addressing challenges of students, and not staff welfare.