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A University’s Obligation to Humanity and the Ecosystem” By Michael O. FABORODE, PhD, FAEng, FNSE



“A University’s Obligation to Humanity and the Ecosystem”



Secretary-General, Association of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (AVCNU) and Former Vice Chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife

“A University’s Obligation to Humanity and the Ecosystem”

M.O. Faborode, FAEng

1.1 Preamble

I would like to acknowledge the great honour of being chosen to deliver the year 2017 convocation lecture of this University, Samuel Adegboyega University, Ogwa, Edo State. The noble tradition of special lectures during convocations has been adopted in earnest in this University from inception in 2011 as the 45th Private University and 117th University in Nigeria, and this is the third in the series. When I was contacted for the Lecture by the Pro-Chancellor, Elder Bisi Ogunjobi, my first reaction was to decline on account of some overload and also that I would not be on ground, but far away at the Middle East and North Africa Higher Education Leadership Forum (MENA-HELF) in Dubai, to which I had been specially invited. I did not want to be an absentee lecturer. On further reflection however, considering my great respect for him and the appreciation I have for the effort of the Apostolic Church in this University, I elected to secure the consent of a highly distinguished Former Vice Chancellor, who will be able to excel better than me to deliver the lecture. Professor Thomas Ofuya is a former VC at the Wellspring University, Evbuobanosa, here in Edo State. We have known ourselves from our Postgraduate studentship days at OAU, Ife in the early 80s. He is an accomplished entomologist, for whom I have a deep respect. So kindly regard this lecture as our joint presentation.

I must acknowledge the effort of the Vice Chancellor in providing needed leadership to drive the vision of the founders and proprietors of the University. Quite unknown to me before now, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Overseer (Dr) Ebenezer Okebukola, JP would probably not remember one little Class 2 boy in Victory College, Ikare in 1969 to whom he served as “College Father” and always protected then. The last time we met, he was due to retire as Permanent Secretary in the Oyo State Civil Service.

For me, a Convocation Lecture, unlike a shorter Commencement Address in some universities, affords the speaker the opportunity to espouse the intrinsic academic characteristics of erudition and boldness in the perception, dissemination and preservation of the truth, academics being “custodians of the unfettered search for truth”. I have elected to speak on “A University’s Obligation to Humanity and the Ecosystem”. My goal is “to address higher education generally or specifically, private universities to their purpose and hence mandate”, i.e. “relevance to human and environmental development”.


The Nigerian higher education system, especially the university system and indeed the nation itself are at cross-roads. The problem of relevance of higher education to national development aspirations, the delivery of good governance, and equitable distribution of the benefits of an ‘expanded economy’ (We claim to be the largest African economy before recession struck), persists. Our dilemma was compounded by falling crude oil prices (which almost nose-dived to $25 per barrel until recently), on which Nigeria’s earnings largely depend, and the reticence/sluggishness in the diversification of the economy to embrace more productive sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture etc, which in any case is the inevitable way forward. This is not mentioning revelations of the inexplicable mindless plundering of the national wealth by a few elites who had access to power in the last few years, and the wars against insurgents, terrorists and rascals of all shades. Now the bubble is all bust, and the centre can no longer hold. At times like this in other climes, universities, as centers of knowledge generation, propagation and appropriation, have risen to the rescue of their nations (goggle examples in the university cities of Manchester, Liverpool, Coventry and Newcastle upon Tyne, to mention just a few). Even though the Nigerian university system suffered considerable structural, near irreversible damage in the period 1980-2000, the nation is learning to look up to her universities for succour in the management of its economy in what is now termed “post-oil era”. In the course of the lecture, we shall elaborate on these keywords/key points. We shall start with understanding the challenges of Nigeria’s underdevelopment tragedy.

Africa/Nigeria’s Development Challenge

The subsisting global development agenda is encapsulated in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which the world adopted, effective January 2016, to replace and complete the unfinished agenda of the 21st century Millennium Development Goals MDGs.


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