LAST Sunday in Lagos, the Obafemi Awolowo University Muslim Graduates’ Association (UNIFEMGA) held its flagship programme – public lecture/luncheon – featuring Prof. Is-haq Oloyede as guest speaker. The former Vice Chancellor, University of Ilorin spoke on Cultural Pluralism as Challenge to the Effectiveness of University Education in Fostering the Culture of Dialogue and Understanding. The lecture attracted members of the association from far and near as well as Muslim personalities from all walks of life.
National President of UNIFEMGA, Prof. Abdulwahab Egbewole underscored the significance of the lecture as a platform to “identify the critical areas of our national needs. And this year, we have identified education as a major challenge to our national development. The guest speaker, Prof. Is-haq Oloyede is a well- known individual who is an educationist of repute who has played a fundamental role in the national development especially in the area of our education.”
Prof. Egbewole went down memory lane noting that the association was formally established 15 years ago. “Before then, we had been functioning at different state levels but decided to come together as a national body 15 years ago.”
As a way of contributing to the society, the body identified access to qualitative education as a major issue in Nigeria. “Access to education is not about interacting with lecturers; access is about making a concerted effort at liberalization of educational pursuit. And technology is a major entry point. I want to assume that if our curriculum is redesigned in a way that both lecturers and the students are giving a new way to synergize in a way that our educational endeavours will be better managed.
“We also need a situation where the infrastructures will be provided by the proprietors. What I mean by proprietors it doesn’t have to do with government institutions alone but state owned, private owned and above all, all of us should see ourselves as stakeholders in the educational sector. But now, we see it as government business. This should not be.”
But in addition to public lecture, the association also undertakes developmental projects such as building of students’ hostels at the alma mater and offering of humanitarian services to lift Nigeria. “We have a 240 million hostel project in Ife. And up till now, we have completed two of the hostels which is worth 130 million and it is available to students. A kind of private public partnership.
“We have given scholarship to about 253 students of the University. The scholarship cuts across as you don’t have to be a Muslim. The scholarship is in three categories: The brilliant ones, the disadvantaged, the indigents and the other category is the post-graduates scholarship. We have given close to N20 million worth of scholarship since inception,” Prof. Egbewole said.
He added that the association had also identified empowerment programme as an area of intervention and on a yearly basis, workshop is organised to let students realise what they need to do in school and their expectations after graduation. “We provide internship programme for Obafemi Awolowo students during holiday such that within the period of holiday they are exposed and empowered,” he said.
In his opening remarks, Chairman, Lagos chapter of UNIFEMGA, Alhaji Mohammed Buhari praised the peaceful conduct of presidential election on March 28, while the chairman of the occasion, Mr. Yusuf Olaolu Alli (SAN) sympathized with the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari and prayed for Allah’s guidance and strength to deliver on his promises.
In his closing remarks, Chairman, Board of Trustees of the association, Alhaji Rafiu Ebiti thanked Prof. Oloyede and alumni members for their immense contribution to the success of the programme.
Major highlight of the occasion was the award presentation to some members in recognition of their outstanding contribution to the growth of the association.
“We don’t need this kind of gathering without telling ourselves the truth-we must learn to co-exist peacefully. People go to war and still come back to the table to dialogue. We are unique among God’s creation because of knowledge. That is why I am happy that after five years, we still come together. We will keep the flag flying after today. The lecture is a masterpiece that everybody should read. We need to give back to the society most especially in the area of education,” Alhaji Ebiti said.