By Chinyere Nwachukwu
The Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, says the institution has attracted over N8bn research grants in the past three years.
Ogundipe disclosed this in an interview on the sidelines of a ceremony to hand over the vertical extension of the Faculty of Law of the institution, on Wednesday in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Alhaji Femi Okunnu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), and former Federal Commissioner for Works and Housing, donated N100m for the construction of the extension.
”In the past three years of this administration, I want to say that we have been able to attract research grants of over N8 bn.
“Already, this faculty of law has just been awarded an international grant of $45,000 USD and another one of $20,000 USD.
“That is the direction a university should go. And like I keep on saying, we are the light. The university is the light. We are supposed to lighten the society and that is the path we are taking in UNILAG, reaching out for grants,” he said.
He noted that about 20 of his colleagues from the institution were currently being interviewed by the TETFund for research grants, adding that the grants were worth N20 m each.
”I am sure they will all get the N20 m each and if I should put these amount together, it will translate to a total of N400 m other research grants and this is going to go a long way in moving the university to an envious height.
”You must realise that our research now is demand-driven to assist the country achieve its much desired accelerated growth and that is what UNILAG is aiming at, as the university of first choice that it truly is,” Ogundipe stated.
He added that the gesture from Okunnu was a life changing one, worth emulating, noting that there was the need for more of such, from friends of the institution and other stakeholders.
Ogundipe noted that there was also the need to support scholars who can compete locally and globally, just like the students.
According to him, the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, is keen about the progress of the institution, adding that he is conscious of the fact that it is the country’s flagship university.
The vice chancellor urged more members of the public to partner with the institution, by picking up projects, programmes or persons, to impact meaningfully on the nation.
”I am excited that this project donation by Alhaji Okunnu is happening at a time like this that he is 88, and still finding it worthy to invest such an amount in a bid to impact lives.
”We have another individual donor from Platform Capital, who has also invested a total of N200 m in the renovation of the HRDC building and donated to the university.
”Another individual has also indicated interest to build a Natural History Museum, which is going to be the first of its kind in Lagos,” he said.
Ogundipe said these gestures were all in line with one of his foremost visions for the institution, which is to “Pick a Project; Pick a Programme or Pick a person”.
”That is what we are saying; support us in terms of project, support us in terms of picking a programme and in terms of picking a person.
There are so many indigent students who cannot afford to pay their fees here.
”We learnt sometimes ago that some people sleep around the library and do you know that half of those who are staying there are students?.
”And 80 per cent of those students had more than 4.0 CGPA, but they could not afford to pay for accommodation. So we are calling on people to assist these indigent students,” he said.
Also, speaking at the handing over of the project, Prof. Ayo Atsenuwa, Dean, Faculty of Law, said the additional floor extension comprised the Moot Court and judges’ chambers.
Atsenuwa also listed other facilities to include, an administrative office, Lawyers’ changing room, two seminar rooms, 60 to 80 seater, eight lecturers’ offices and a board room that can seat 100 persons.
According to her, the extension will further enhance teaching and learning, but more importantly with the moot court, the students will be able to have the mooting clinical experience, where they simulate the court.
”We had one before with a capacity of less than 50. Now we have this one with a capacity of between 150 to 180 and with technology as we have deployed for this ceremony, we are able to project whatever is happening in the court, out there, so that we can actually have classes interrogated.
“So, if students simulate a court situation, their classmates or some other group of students can comment. So, we go beyond just teaching the students. They rather live it, practice it and that is the whole idea. I am extremely happy at this gesture. It is a day of joy,” she stated.
Prof. Adele Jinadu, who represented the donor, Alhaji Okunnu, said the donation was meant to impact humanity.
Jinadu, a Political Scientist and Senior Fellow, Centre for Democracy and Development, Abuja, said there was need to show the society the picture of what it ought to be and not what it is.
He described the donor as an intellectual, who was committed to giving back to humanity, irrespective of the cost.
”This investment in this faculty of law is his investment to scholarship and education.
”He asked me to represent him here today at this occasion because of the current health crisis in the country and the world at large. But I must say this is a gesture worth emulating and this makes me feel very excited to be part of it”, he said.