Too much reliance on petroleum resources as the nation’s main source of revenue has been blamed for the present economic downturn affecting the country. Making this observation was His Royal Eminence, Edidem Ekpo Okon, Abasi Otu V, the Obong of Calabar, Treaty King, Grand Patriarch of the Efik Kingdom and the new Chancellor of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), while formally receiving the University delegation that paid him a courtesy call in Calabar, Cross River State. The delegation was led by the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council, Senator/Sir (Dr.) Adeseye Ogunlewe, a former Minister of Works.
The Obong of Calabar stated that until Nigeria retraced its step by going back to agriculture, the over-dependence on oil remained a shame and would continue to fail Africa’s most populous country. According to him, “The President has realised that we should go to the lands. How do we that? We need to heal up ourselves educationally, technologically on the agricultural aspects of it”. He lauded the Federal Government for now appreciating the importance of agriculture, as he challenged Universities to match their research findings with societal demands.
His Royal Eminence, who was visibly elated about the visit, stated that the University was well-managed and recognized as a leading citadel of learning, adding that whatever had been lost was now restored to his kingdom through his appointment as the Chancellor of FUNAAB. He promised to support the institution in all ramifications and expressed his confidence that capable hands were running the affairs of the University.
Earlier, the Pro-Chancellor, Senator Ogunlewe had congratulated the Obong on his appointment as the Chancellor of the University. According to him, “The structure of the University is very simple. We have Mr. President as the Visitor and the owner of the University. The second owner is your humble self, Sir. Without the Chancellor, there is no University because there is no Convocation without the Chancellor. No graduate of the University could be presented outside without the consent and permission of the Chancellor”. The Pro-Chancellor stated further that the University was available to the members of Calabar community to offer their assistance in the areas of research, learning and the use of modern technology in agriculture.
Speaking at the occasion, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Olusola Oyewole, traced the establishment of the University over 26 years ago when it was de-merged from the University of Lagos, highlighting the major developments that had taken place from inception till date. The Vice-Chancellor, who is also the President, Association of African Universities (AAU), stated that FUNAAB was committed to capacity building in the areas of agriculture and beyond. “Today, agriculture is no longer a developmental activity but a business. That is why in the University, apart from having programmes in various areas of agriculture, we also have programmes in the sciences, because without sciences, there cannot be agriculture. But beyond that, we have programmes in engineering”, he added.
The Vice-Chancellor told the gathering that the University now has a College of Management Sciences (COLMAS) and that its graduates were no longer job-seekers but job-creators. Commenting on the University’s emergence as one of the World Bank Centres of Excellence in Africa, he appreciated the steadfastness of the Pro-Chancellor and Management in propelling the University to greater heights. Professor Oyewole, while presenting edible FUNAAB food products to the Chancellor, said that they were made in the institution, in line with the charge given by the Chancellor for Universities to gear their research outputs to meet the needs of the society.
Present at the special reception were prominent sons and daughter of the Efik Kingdom and High Chiefs, led by His Royal Highness, Etubom Bassey Okor Duke, who is the Chairman, Etubom Traditional Council as well as High Chief (Dr.) Emmanuel Effiong Nsan, a former Minister of Health and Minister of Works during the Second Republic while the Principal Officers on the FUNAAB delegation include the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Development, Professor Felix Salako; the Registrar, Mr. Mathew Ayoola; the Bursar, Mr. Moses Ilesanmi; and the University Librarian, Dr. Mulikat Salaam.
In a related development, the FUNAAB delegation paid a condolence visit to the immediate family of a former Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council of the University, late Elder Bassey Asuquo, a retired Brigadier-General, who served as Pro-Chancellor of the University from 2007 to 2009.
Receiving the team, the wife of the deceased, Mrs. Bassey Asuquo, thanked the University for the visit. She noted with delight the great success FUNAAB had attained over the years, saying “Our eyes are now opened that if no one goes to tilt the ground, nobody can succeed. Every parent would want his or her child to gain admission into FUNAAB because the University is an agriculture-oriented one”, declaring that the country cannot survive without agriculture. Shedding light on her husband’s tenure as Pro-Chancellor, she said “even though my husband was not born and bred in Yorubaland, he was able to integrate and succeed because everybody was working as a team”.
Earlier, leader of the delegation and the Pro-Chancellor, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, noted that the visit to Calabar served dual purposes as the team was able to visit both the Obong of Calabar and the Asuquos. He said the late Pro-Chancellor was instrumental to the various developmental projects in the University, praying God to continue to be with his family.
The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Olusola Oyewole, disclosed that the University really appreciated the great work of the former Pro-Chancellor. “We want to place on record that he is highly remembered, if he can do what he has done for this University and for our country Nigeria, he would forever be remembered,” he stated.