ADDRESS OF THE VICE CHANCELLOR, LAGOS STATE UNIVERSITY AT AN AFTERNOON WITH BARONESS CHALKER OF WALLASSEY ON WEDNESDAY 15, AUGUST, 2018
Let me begin this address by expressing my profound appreciation to Baroness Chalker for honouring us with her presence today, especially given the circumstances of this trip. The Baroness was recently bereaved of a relative and had to cancel her business appointments in Abuja last week but has pressed on with today’s lecture. This is quite touching for us and I cannot sufficiently express our gratitude to her. She has also travelled here at personal cost in quintessential philanthropic spirit. Thank you very much Baroness. Permit me to also congratulate you on your recent appointment as the President of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) in June of this year, we pray and trust you will succeed brilliantly in taking RGS to greater heights to consolidate on your several years of service to the British people and humanity. I welcome you to the Lagos State University, I believe for the first time, in the hope this commences a long relationship that will be mutually beneficial and treasured.
Distinguished guests, the Lagos State University as of August 2018 is a new brand; we are a project in the throes of history-making transformations. What we are doing today is a vigorous attempt to deliver on part of the vision I outlined on assumption of office a little over two years ago. In a nutshell, we are putting all hands on deck to reposition this University to being a competitive 21st century tertiary institution and a national and continental pride. We are fully appraised of the onerous tasks ahead but are undeterred; the critical mass in this University believe in this project, have bought into it and are committed to its success. However, we have quickly realised that to attain new heights, we will need to stand on the shoulders of you giants that have come today to grace this occasion from government, business, civil society, diplomatic corps and intelligentsia.
A few months ago, I was invited to deliver the Professor Shofoluwe memorial lecture at the University of Lagos, the topic I chose for my lecture was the Commodification of Education: What Imperatives for Tertiary Institutions? At the lecture I spoke passionately on the challenges of higher education, but my focus then was agenda-setting for the government, University administrators and our Unions. There is a crucial role for the private sector too, and that is part of the focus for today’s engagement.
There is no denying the fact that tertiary education in our country today leaves much to be desired. If we are to construct that functional linkage between higher education and industry; for us to produce the graduates that industry require; to build a knowledge-driven economy that has been long touted to integrate better to global political economy; if the University is to champion the innovations and technology that will make us increase our share of global manufacture and if in fact we are to embark on the path of sustainable development, investment in tertiary education is an urgent undertaking. I understand your apprehensions about investing in Nigerian Universities and why foreign Universities remain preferred destinations for our wards, however, I have compelling reasons to challenge you to reconsider.
Unlike in northern climes, where volunteerism and philanthropism are crucial building blocks of society, these values are glaringly lacking in our circumstances. Without the Fords, Rockefellers, Carnegies, Curries, MacArthurs, Fullbrights; and Foundations like Open Society, Bill and Melinda Gates, Volkswagen, SEED, Friedrich Ebert and many such initiatives, I argue tertiary education will be lightyears behind what it presently is in Europe and America. Here at the Lagos State University, we are increasingly becoming a crucible of innovation, of development and leadership training. Several of my colleagues are unsung heroes albeit internationally respected. We are an institution and an administration that should be taken seriously as choice partners of development. Today our Online Distant Learning and Research Institute is being structured to serve as the benchmark for distance-learning education in Nigeria. There is no gainsaying the fact that LASUCOM our medical school is one of the best and most sought after in the country and that the Lagos State Teaching Hospital, Ikeja is one of the best equipped.
In our different faculties we have won awards that have received international acclaim. Several of our Professors are also internationally sought-after consultants.
Lagos State University has become one of the first Institutions in Nigeria to own a Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine. Professor Kabir Olusegun Akinyemi of our Microbiology Department, Faculty of Science won the Alexandre von Humboldt (AvH)
Equipment Grant worth Twenty-Five Thousand Pounds (£25000, N15M) in 2017 to purchase a Real-Time PCR machine for the institution. The Bristow Scientific Company has since delivered and installed the equipment.
Dr. Ojuromi also of our Science Faculty, currently collaborates in projects and has published with scientists in the USA, South Africa and Portugal such as renowned Professors like Lihua Xiao of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta Georgia, Ashafa Omotayo of the University of the Free State, South Africa and Olga Matos of the Global Health and Tropical Medicine (GHTM), Institute of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, New University of Lisbon.
Dr. Nurudeen Adekunle Raji of our Engineering Faculty is currently involved in the colleague development of bioresources processor for waste management in conjunction with another from India. The success of the first stage of the research was presented at the 6th International Conference on Solid Waste Management held in India in 2016.
Dr. Charles Asenime from our School of Transport, has efficiently coordinated a global network of researchers on mobilities of vulnerable people, which includes universities of Oxford, Leeds UK, Cape Coast in a project titled Transport and Mobilities: Meeting the Needs of Vulnerable Populations in Developing Cities sponsored by the Economic and Social Research Council.
Prof. Abdulrazaq a professor of Tax Law is one of the most prolific in the subject, with about 60 publications; he is the first Professor of tax law in the country and Consultant to several corporate outfit on tax matters.
On and on I can go, but, for time which will not permit me to further adumbrate on our achievements in other faculties. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, be assured that our new sobriquet “We are LASU We are Proud” was borne out of the steady strides we are making in the right directions.
I want to take advantage of this August gathering to put strategic philanthropy on the plate. For us at the Lagos State University, we are poised for rapid growth and we are looking to you to supportively respond. The conditions we at times work in seriously inhibits the breakthroughs and progress that are possible. Believe in us to work with you. What happened in the Newly Industrialised Countries and Developmental States are possible and believe me this University can deliver. The Lagos State University can produce the Berkeley Mafia that achieved over 65% reduction of poverty levels in Indonesia in less than a decade and The Chicago Boys (the Professor Friedman protégés at the University of Chicago) that engineered the transformation of Chile. With your support and encouragement, LASU eggheads will surely have a fighting chance to make the difference.
The crucial link between education and industry is Research and Development; with the right endowments the University can provide research-evidenced solutions for industry, develop software, technology and innovations to enhance local content and competitiveness of our industrial sector. Funding for such researches are currently paltry where existent. Rather than fledgling technical departments, the private sector can invest in R&D in partnership with tertiary institutions, which are better equipped and are happy for industry to own patents resulting from researches they have sponsored. As previously, government should revert to recruiting the best brains on graduation to man the bureaucracies and enhance the capacity for policy formulation and implementation. Private investments are equally important, the examples of George Soros who donated a whopping $ 18billion, more than 50% of his net worth to educational philanthropy and the Chalker Foundation, which has been supporting health and community related projects in Africa are worth emulating. Our debt and pledge to our private investors is to immortalise them. We will transparently put the resources given to us to good use, and in ways that will make you very proud.
I reach out to you all today, I seek your warm embrace. We will make you proud of your decisions to invest in us. My office is coordinating this strategic partnership and together with my outstandingly dedicated team, we are at your beck and call to facilitate this engagement. My contact details will be circulated shortly. We are LASU, We are Proud. I welcome you all.
Professor Olanrewaju Fagbohun, Ph.D
Lagos State University
15th August, 2018