THE Vice Chancellor of Osun State University, Osogbo, Nigeria, Professor Olabode Popoola has called on all well meaning Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora to complement government efforts with financial and/or material support to improve the standard, growth and development of tertiary education in the country.
He made the remark as a special guest at Timsed Broadcasting Service ‘Alejo Pataki’ weekly radio interview programme, conducted at Ijebu-jesa in Osun State with the regular moderator, Mr. Adekunle Adeyemo.
Professor Popoola observed that funding University Education is capital intensive and with the present economic situation in the country, government alone cannot do it.
Presently he says, government at state and federal levels are trying their utmost best with respect to funding and policy formulation to make sure that all eligible Nigerians receive tertiary education to develop skills in their different chosen fields and to enable them afterwards contribute meaningfully to the growth and development of the country.
Professor Popoola commended Osun State government for establishing the University and for the huge amount of money spent and resources put in for the growth and development of the institution since inception thirteen years ago.
The young and growing University Professor Popoola says is still in its prime age and needs a huge amount of human, structural and infrastructural development to upgrade the standard of the institution to meet the present day need.
The University he says, has its main campus in Osogbo, the state capital and has five off campuses in Okuku,Ejigbo,Ipetu-ijesa, Ifetedo and Ikire respectively.
Approved courses presently offered by the University he says include: Law,Medicine,Agriculture, Education, etc and has post graduate programs in selected fields.
He says admission for any course in the University is strictly by merit and that intending candidates must abide by the rules and regulations of the University for admission.
Professor Popoola says though the institution is owned by the state, tertiary education is universal, foreign and non-indigene students have equal opportunity of been admitted into the institution.
He urged parents particularly with poor income, who have children in tertiary institutions in the country not to see money spent on their wards as wasted, but must see money spent on them as investment for the future, as they will return to pay them back when they eventually make it in life.
The VC says except for 2019/2020 incoming students, course fees at the University has not been increased as many falsely indicate to people.
He further stressed that University education needs money to create the right environment for qualitative learning to improve the standard of graduates turned out every year to meet international standard and need for employment.
The University the VC says offers scholarships to brilliant students and also come up with a work and study program to help needy students from poor families and homes earn a little salary monthly to take care of themselves without disturbing their studies.
On the relationship of Osun State University with other institutions within and outside Nigeria, Professor Popoola says, the University is the highest citadel of learning in all nations around the world and it is universal in its approach to avoid graduating half-baked graduates with poor skill for the enormous task of solving problems in the outside world.
He says within the university itself, there is inter or intra department or faculty course relationship, where lecturers, workers and students have classroom and field practical interaction to share and impact knowledge.
He stressed that students borrow courses outside their faculties or departments to make them more competent and skilled professionally in their field of study.
Universities within and outside the country he says relate together and share knowledge through activities of associations like: Association of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities(AVCNU), The Associations of West Africa, Africa and Commonwealth Universities. All come together in seminars, sports and conferences to share knowledge and skill to improve the standard of University education at locally, regionally and internationally.
Professor Popoola says fund to sustain the development going on in the six campuses of the University is the biggest problem facing the institution right now.
“University education involves a lot of research work aimed at solving human problems and these need money,” he said.
“Since the government is stretching itself to make sure the University functions well, we are always wise and prudent with spending money that comes into the purse of the University,” he said.
Another important problem the University is having he says is the management of the students. They are from different homes, families, religion and have varying characters, habits, attitudes and behaviour that need taming.
“My experience as a University administrator shows that students are very difficult to manage, but we are trying our best at the University to check and curb their bad behaviour,” he said.
‘Matriculation Tree Planting’ the VC says, is a concept the University management came up with to strengthen the commitment of students to their studies and the institution once they become a student of the University.
Normally he says, in any University system, students are officially welcome and given an orientation of the University set up to enhance the success of their stay on the campus.
In Osun state University, the concept of ‘Matriculating Tree Planting’ the VC stressed, make students plant trees and nurture them all through their stay at the University. This has two connotations, in the first place, he says it makes them work for the growth of the college. Secondly, the trees they plant replace fallen trees removed through deforestation for the construction of buildings at the different sites we have building structures erected on the University ground today and most importantly, it will remind and encourage each student to always come back to see what they have planted fully grown and will motivate them to help the University even more.
“Generally, afforestation motive of the Matriculation Tree Planting concept will reduce or minimize destruction made to building structures at the University during rain storm that has blown off many building roof tops at the University,” he said.
When I came in as the VC of the University, Professor Popoola says, he met alot of staff problems.
“To solve persistent staff problems at the University, I established the staff ‘Welfare Package.’ Staff salary is now paid promptly, consideration is given for payment of school fees for staff with more than one child in the institution, staff now have opportunity to attend seminars, conferences and trainings. In the last two to three years about 300 staff have enjoyed different training programs,” he said.
The VC says the University came up with ‘The Student Skill Acquition Programme,’ to solve the problem of unemployment facing young graduates in the country.
In the program, Professor Popoola says, the University makes it mandatory for students before graduation at the University to learn a skill in their field of interest and after graduation, they are given a loan of two hundred thousand(200,000)naira (without collateral and to be paid back) to start a business of their own.
“The University puts aside a sum of ten million (10,000,000) naira for the success of the student empowerment program and it has been yielding good fruits,” he said.
The University he says also create opportunities for students and staff to carry out ‘In-house jobs’ that would have rather been given to outsiders.
“We however do not award contracts to staff or students,” he said.
Professor Popoola says he has his own personal reservation for ‘Contract jobs.’
“Contractors are terrible people, they are the bane of our poorly constructed roads and buildings resulting in accidents that have claimed innocent lives in different cities and towns across the nation. The University gives jobs only to contractors that are diligent, hard working and who are faithful, transparent and ready to deliver good quality jobs,” he said.
On his take on government fight against corruption in Nigeria, Professor Popoola says, corruption is not unique to Nigeria alone. He stressed that corruption is a global issue and in advanced countries, people caught or found guilty of corruption by the court of law are severely punished to serve as deterrent to others in the society.
“As a leader, be a good example to the people, I hate corruption in any form, I cannot stand it,” he said.
Professsor Popoola stressed that he does not believe in people giving gratifications before they are been favored as we see in the society today.
“Contractors, who give bribes for winning contracts, do so at the expense of long lasting good quality job expected of them to deliver. Many of them use poor and cheap material inputs to deliver very low quality jobs. They often give gratifications from the huge profits they make in contracts. They bribe site Engineers and their officials to certify their jobs were completed and delivered satisfactorily for full payment,” he said.
To curb corruption in Nigeria he says, government must put in place strict laws to punish anybody found guilty of corruption in the country.
Like in the circular world, Professor Popoola says, the University too has to contend with indiscipline and many other social vices that plague the society.
“There is a reduction in all these now, because the University has laws against indiscipline and other social ills associated with students on the campus,” he said.
Professor Popoola sees cultism as a difficult practice to eradicate because it is a global phenomenon that shape the society, particularly the Civil Service, Churches, Mosques, the Judiciary and Tertiary institutions not only in Nigeria alone, but all around nations of the world.
To reduce the activities of cultism globally, he says parents, teachers and governments need a collective role to play and government must put in place appropriate sanctions to punish offenders to curb the practice of cultism for an ideal society.
On his achievements since assumption of office, Professor Popoola says, work for the growth and development of the University has been limited by fund.
“All achievements made by the University have proper record and are well documented,” he said.
Professor Popoola says amongst his many achievements are: The establishment of the University Teaching Hospital, the take off of the College of Medicine, the construction and rehabilitation of the University poor roads.
He promise to put in more effort and resources for the development of the University before the end of his tenure in office.
He commends government effort for the development of the University. He also thanked eminent indigenes like: Prince Ponle, Mrs. Alakija and Chief Olaoluwa Alli and many others for their support and contributions to the growth and development of the University. He however solicits for more financial and material support from well meaning people within and outside Nigeria for the growth of the University.
On the prevailing stories on ‘Sex For Marks’ in tertiary institutions of learning in Nigeria, the VC says to respect human dignity and to maintain high standard and profile of our graduates, sexual harassment in our tertiary institutions is bad and must be condemned.
“Osun state University has a very strict policy put in place to check sexual harassment between workers or between lecturers and students,” he said.
On the reflection on his happiest day in life, Professor Popoola says his happiest day in life was when he bagged his Doctorage degree (Ph.D).
He commends the autonomy given by Osun State government to the University for its administration.
He thanked all the people of Osun State for their support and co-operation for the growth of the University since establishment. He thanked all the University staff and its collaborators for their support.
Lastly he expressed his gratitude to the founder, chief Executive and staff of Timsed Broadcasting Service Radio station for granting him the interview.
Professor Olabode Popoola was born in Inisa, Osun state Nigeria on 28th September, 1960. He obtained his B.Sc, M.Sc in Forest Economics and Management and Ph.D in Forest Economics degrees from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria in 1984,1987 and 1990 respectively.
Professor Popoola started his academic career as a University lecturer in 1987, he rose to the rank of a senior lecture, became the head of Department of Forestry Resource Management, was Dean Post Graduate School and served as Director, Centre for Sustainable Development of the University of Ibadan before his appointment as VC for Osun State University by former Executive Governor of Osun State, Engineer Rauf Aregbesola in 2016.
Professor Popoola is an active member of many National and International Associations and professional bodies, a fellow of the Forestry Association of Nigeria, an Examiner of enviable repute, an Author and a recipient of numerous distinguished awards and honours.
UNIOSUN based on the recommendation of the National University Commission(NUC) and to improve government literacy policy and program implementation on tertiary education for growing sons and daughters of Osun state origin, was established during the civilian administration of Prince Olagunloye Oyinlola as Governor of Osun state. Its
Motto is ‘Living Springs of Knowledge and Culture,’ and is tasked with the vision of producing entrepreneurial graduates who will be globally competitive and capable of impacting positively on their environment.
It is one of the eight Universities n the state of Osun either owned by the government, Church Mission or private individual. It is ranked 30th amongst Universities owned by states in the country and this makes it eighty, the total number of Universities in the country. It had its first and eight convocation ceremonies in 2011 and 2019 respectively.
The pioneer VC of the University who served between 2007 and 2011 was Professor Bashir Adekunle Okesina and was succeded by Professor Oguntola Jelili Alamu who served between 2011 and 2016.
Disclaimer: “The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Babatunde Joseph Oduntan and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.”
SOURCE :The Nigerian Voice (opinions)