Dr. Okonjo-Iweala made the remarks last Thursday (May 15, 2014) during the flag-off of the University of Ilorin Oil Palm Plantation and distribution of PC Tablets to students of the University.
The Minister said, “You have lifted my spirit and you have given me hope. I am impressed with the school. You have earned a reputation for peace, calm, beauty and serious learning. I salute you for your serious mindedness and I say that you are an example for other universities to emulate”.
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala assured the University of the government’s support, saying, “The Federal Government will honour you because we appreciate your stand during turbulent times in the country and how you became an island of learning. I pledge to support you because you are a great University, full of innovation.”
The Minister described the PC Tablet initiative as ground breaking, noting that the University has secured the “now generation and their future”. She urged the students to make the best use of the PC Tablets, stressing that it should be used to enhance their learning.
Earlier in his address, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. AbdulGaniyu Ambali, maintained that the University of Ilorin has made a firm commitment to produce graduates who can hold up their heads anywhere in the world. “This”, he said, “the University is doing not only by giving them quality curricular instructions but also by making available to them quality learning aids in line with the best practices all over the world.”
Prof. Ambali said, “The PC Tablets, which are intended to enhance learning and bring our students to international standards, would have all the necessary accessories, including information about the University and students’ course wares and curriculum already pre-uploaded. It will also boost the University’s ICT drive and enhance e-communication between the students and their lecturers.”
The Students’ Union President, Ahmed Lawal Abiodun, opined that the University is setting another pace of landmark novelty. “While it is true that we are Better by Far, it is equally an empirical fact that we are Best by Standard, a standard that lightens up an academia with dignifying quality that makes us not only a University but also a universe known for innovative concepts and model championing,” he stated.
Later at the Oil Palm Plantation site, the Minister advised other universities in the country to emulate the University of Ilorin by seeking alternative ways to generate income to fund innovations in their various universities.
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, who was full of encomiums for the University, explained that the ground breaking event would boost the University’s income and affect greatly the immediate economy of the state.
Pointing out that the University of Ilorin has taken a right step in the right direction, the Minister said, “I love what you are doing and I pledge my support. I hope other universities would follow suit. You have guaranteed the future of our youths and you have the support of Mr. President”, the Minister submitted. She later planted a palm tree to flag-off the plantation and prayed the University continue to have ideas and resources to execute them.
The representative of the Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Isiaka Gold, also commended the University for the initiative, stressing that agriculture is the future of Nigeria and assured the University of the full backing of the state government.
The Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the University of Ilorin Governing Council, Obi (Prof.) Chukwuka Aninshi Okonjo, congratulated the University for moving on a new path and for reaching a new milestone, adding that with ideas like this, the country would take its proper position in Africa.
Obi Okonjo urged Unilorin to strive to be among the best 200 universities in the world and to be ready to face the new responsibility. He noted further that agriculture would ensure peace and stability in the African region.
In his introductory remarks, the Chairman, University of Ilorin Oil Palm Plantation Management Committee, Prof. J. O. Atteh, explained that by cultivating 1000 hectares of oil palm, the University wants to take advantage of its large expanse of land.
Prof. Atteh noted that the oil palm plantation would add value to the economy of the state, as it would provide employment and improve the livelihood of people.
The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ambali, said that the idea of the oil palm plantation was a product of careful planning, in line with the legendary excellence which this University is well known for. He added that it would enhance research and learning in the university.
Prof. Ambali said, “The oil palm plantation would provide training and laboratory facilities for students in the Departments of Forestry, Agriculture, Plant Biology and other related disciplines. In addition, it would also be a good source of internally generated revenue for the University in the nearest future and serve as entrepreneurship training outfit for our students.”
Other dignitaries at the well-attended event included members of the Governing Council of the University, Principal Officers of the University, Deans and Directors, the Managing Director of JKK Computers, and the Managing Director of Vegefresh Company Limited.