By Samuel Adegoke
The First Technical University (Tech U), Ibadan has offered automatic employment to 12 of its first set who made first-class grade in their degree programmes.
The Vice-Chancellor of the university Prof. Ayobami Salami made the announcement at the maiden convocation ceremony at the weekend.
A total of 63 students graduated at the ceremony as members of the first set admitted into the institution in 2017.
The university also conferred honourary degrees on some outstanding Nigerians including the Managing Director of GTBank PLC Mr Segun Agbaje. Others are Chief Tunde Afolabi, the institution’s Chancellor; notable entreprenuer, Chief Adebayo Akande; former Head of Service of the Federation, Chief Mrs. Amal Pepple and renowned historian Prof. Toyin Falola.
Addressing the gathering, Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde, pointed out that the graduands had acquired necessary skills in different vocations and entrepreneurship skills in addition to a university degree, pointing out that the combination of knowledge and skills should make them self-reliant and job creators.
Represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs Olubamiwo Adeosun, the governor explained that globally, emphasis has shifted from white collar jobs to self-employment, adding that attention has shifted towards institutions that prepare graduate job providers and not mere job seekers.
He commended the management of the institution for the priority attention given to staff and students’ welfare, which he said has manifested in the stable academic calendar and peaceful conduct of students.
He charged the graduands to support the government in creating jobs through the vocational and entrepreneurship skills which they have acquired in the institution.
The occasion was an emotional moment for the university’s pioneer Vice-Chancellor (VC), Prof. Salami, whose tenure will end on May 8, 2022.
Reeling out the achievements which the institution has recorded under his leadership, Salami recalled how it grew from a two-building university to one with several impressive edifices.
He said: “Within three months of my appointment in May 2017, the NUC resource verification was carried out and 15 programmes were approved for take-off. We have since doubled this number (as we now host 30 programmes) and increased the number of Faculties from 2 to 4. We have so far attracted over N4 Billion Naira into the undergraduate scholarship basket from both public and private sectors. The asset base of this university, which was N5.8 Billion Naira when I was appointed in 2017, increased to N11 .1 Billion as of December 31, 2021.
“In terms of facilities, the University is steadily growing. Here is a university that started with just two buildings donated by the Central Bank. The fact is that the founding Ggovernment wanted us to start at a temporary site in Ajoda. But I personally and resolutely suggested we start on the permanent site, based on my experience in the sector. I have observed that when universities start on temporary sites, it takes too long for them to move to the permanent site because the owners, especially governments, are hardly able to give the project compelling priority attention because of other projects, or expenses, to contend with. When we moved to this campus, there was no electricity. My first assignment was to connect this site to national grid not only for our benefit but for the benefits of the companies that have been operating in this vicinity for ages but never deemed if to invest in that. We also provided potable water for the campus and the host community as part of our corporate social responsibility. We set up a town-gown committee for regular dialogue with the locals.
“Today, our two buildings have given birth to 16 additional ones through IGR, private sector partnership and interventions by TETFund. While we built, among others, two Lecture Theatres (of 250-sitter capacity each), the Engineering Workshop and two 100-bed hostels via IGR, TETFund’s noble intervention has yielded the Natural and Applied Sciences Building, Biological Sciences Building and Academic Building. There are also private hostels that have been serving our students. Of course, we have also since secured and renovated the sprawling government’s edifice in Ajoda town, which now hosts the Faculty of Basic Medical and Health Sciences, where courses that include Nursing, Medical Science Laboratory and Public Health will be taught,“ he said.
In his message to the graduates, Salami urged them to be good ambassadors of Tech-U.
His words: “You are the first set, the first fruits of our labour and we are unveiling you today as our trail blazers. While I have no doubt that, by the grace of God you will excel in any sector and part of the world you may find yourself, I enjoin you to realise that you carry the burden of history on your shoulders as Tech-U’s pioneer graduates. This places an enormous responsibility on you as our poster boys and girls. You have been academically, morally, socially and spiritually equipped to be the university’s great ambassadors.
“You should, therefore, let excellence and good character be your watchword. With honesty, resourcefulness, hard work and creativity, you will win the world. Please note that academic education or a university degree must be backed with a high moral standing. Nowadays, the employer or a business partner, as well as clients, place premium on the right attitude. A certificate without the right attitude is, indeed, not worthier than an empty paper. As you thus boldly walk into the proverbial world, you should not just raise your heads high, but you should also ensure your shoulders are kept within the realm of a great moral culture.”
The Chancellor of the university, Chief Tunde J. Afolabi, also advised the graduands to assert themselves educationally and morally.
Afolabi, who is the Chairman of AMNI Petroleum, said: “Dear graduands, while I congratulate you for this great achievement of yours, I want to reiterate that the import of the story of the beginning of your citadel where you are graduating from today is that things happen first through idea and are concretised when you focus and implement. The reality of the new world into which you are graduating is that it is extremely competitive and somewhat brutal. You win laurels and defeat the monster with ideas – good ideas about what you really want out of life! If I hazard a guess, it will include but not be limited to comfort, recognition, adding value, making a difference, developing spiritually and aspiring to make heaven, etc.
“Graduating today is a good step towards achieving your aspirations but this is just the beginning. Going forward, you have to be equipped with the spirit of appreciation. Appreciating your parents/guardians or sponsors who denied themselves to pay your bills through school, your teachers and the good people you have come across on your journey through school, your environment and ultimately God, goes a long way to defining your path. Through appreciation you find space in your heart to find role models in any or some of these contacts. You need to find your role models and your dreams. You have to find your passion and whatever you do, you do with passion and with fear of God.
You must be able to plan. You must have daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, short term, medium-term, long-term plans. When you plan, you mitigate failure, when you fail to plan, as they say, you plan to fail. It is important that you plan your life. The fuel of achieving your plans is discipline, hard work, dedication and consistency of purpose.
“As you journey in your new life, you must be prepared to take chances, take risks and not be afraid to fail. If you recall the popular but old IQ test with nine dots, and you are tasked to draw five lines with a pencil within these nine dots without lifting the pencil, you know that the only way out is to draw outside the box. A lot of issues that will confront you will require that you are not afraid to go outside the box. You have to, a lot of the times, think outside the box. You have to have initiative, creativity, boldness, courage and resilience to take risks and to overcome fear. Fear is an albatross. You must learn to defeat fear this early part of this journey.
“My prayer is for all of you to do well and become very successful in life. Our dear pioneer students, all eyes are actually on you. Wherever you go, ensure you justify the learnedness invested in you and the confidence reposed in you. Make your parents, school and country proud by being excellent academically, socially and morally in your sayings and deeds. when you get a job, do it with zeal and resourcefulness. Pay attention to your attitude because that is what will give your brilliance life. And for those of you who will be establishing your own businesses, I encourage you to do so. It is never too early.”