The age long adage that a prophet is not without honour, except in his own house, seemed to have been put in abeyance over the weekend, when Samuel Adegboyega University rolled out drums and cymbals, with who- is- who in the academia, business and the traditional institutions to honour, Emeritus Professor Julius Amioba Okojie. The honour was monumental as the first lecture series of the University was instituted in his honour. The lecture is now known as Emeritus Professor Julius Okojie Annual lecture Series
The lecturer was instituted to honour Emeritus Professor Okojie who is an illustrious son of Esan land and the current Chairman/ Chief Promoter of the Centre for Research and Development of Esan land (CERDEL). The Lecture is scheduled to hold every July to celebrate professor Okojie’s birthday and his achievement in the academia and human society. The theme of this year’s lecture is ‘’University Autonomy and the Challenge of National Development’’.
In his opening address at the lecture delivered by a renowned economist, Professor Mike Obadan, the Vice-Chancellor, Samuel Adegboyega University, Professor A, Babatunde Idowu, said the lecture was a dream come true for the Institution for two reasons. He said the University since inception had continued to celebrate excellent academic tradition and secondly, “thorough academic and shrewd administrators who drive human progress should be celebrated by the University”.
The Vice-Chancellor opined that Universities by their mandate are creators and vanguard of universal knowledge and truth, established to drive human progress and champion sustainable legacies in every society. Undoubtedly therefore, “those who have made unwavering sacrifices and committed everything to champion human development and scholarship must be identified for celebration”. He said for these reasons and many more the institution isolated Emeritus Professor Okojie, a man with an impeccable character and enviable contributions, who has given the ivory tower everything good, for celebration. He emphasized that the best way to tell the inspirational story of this academic colossus to the yet unborn generations, is to institute the first ever Annual Lecture Series of Samuel Adegboyega University in his honour.
Professor Idowu informed dignitaries that though the lecture was slated to have begun in 2020, but for the Covid -19 pandemic that put all human activities in abeyance, the event could not hold till this year. He added that the month of July was chosen to coincide with Professor Okojie’s birth month of July.
The Chairman of the occasion, Chattered Electrical Engineer, Founder and Managing Partner, Elkon Consulting Ltd and Fellow of Nigerian Society of Engineer, Elens Samuel Eigbokhan, welcomed everyone to the epoch making lecture Series and said he was elated not just to witness the 1st Emeritus Julius Okojie Annual Lecture Series, but also to chair the occasion.
Delivering the maiden lecture, titled UNIVERSITY AUTONOMY AND THE CHALLENGE OF NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT, Professor Mike I. Obadan, Professor of Economics and Non-Executive Director, Central bank of Nigeria reiterated that universities across the globe seek to provide higher education which is directed to human development and the progress of society. Professor Obadan added that universities have the primary mandate of teaching, research and generation of new knowledge or ideas, and community service. Professor Obadan referring to Metei and Iwinska, opined that ‘’autonomy is a crucial factor conditioning the capacity universities to exercise their roles in the society, which include knowledge production, transmission, dissemination and use.
Reacting, the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, Professor Abubaka Adamu Rasheed, represented by Professor Edet Udoh affirmed that the Commission was aware of the enormous challenges facing the Nigerian Universities and said that the private universities they were convinced, have the potentials to resolving these challenges.
In his text of remark, the honouree, Emeritus Professor Julius Amioba Okojie, went memory lane and gave a historical evolution of the university. He reiterated that the world University which originated from medieval Europe, means a community, a community of Students, Teachers and Scholars, in the business of higher education, for knowledge generation and distribution. He said before now, the universities were isolated communities and their operations were originally separated and kept out of the views of the Town, in the Town and Gown relationships. However he said, the University has evolved over the centuries to bridge the gap between the Town and Gown relationships. Emeritus Professor Okojie informed that the University honours its own and guards such awards jealously. He said such honours and awards include inaugural lectures, special faculty/College lectures, distinguished lectures series etc., but what Samuel Adegboyega University has done, he said was a different category of its own in the University system, that the special lecture in his honour, a retired academic colleague, who had met all the obligatory commitments in respect of the university lecture series was special to him and unique in many ways. Emeritus Professor Okojie reckoned that two major factors may have accounted for his choice of honour which include, as a former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission and by implication facilitated the establishment and development of SAU and secondly and more importantly as an Esan-man involved in the university’s efforts to conduct research on Esan-land and its people. He said the benignant honour done him has proven that a ‘’Prophet” is not despised in his country and home.
In conclusion, Emeritus Professor Julius Okojie thanked the SAU Management and Professor Obadan for the timely lecture, delivered in his honour. He said universities have not really gotten what it needs to be truly autonomous. He argued that universities can only be truly autonomous if they have academic, administrative and financial autonomy. He informed that the autonomous act only partially achieved academic and administrative autonomy.
Present at that the maiden annual lecture series were the Onogie of Ogwa, HRH Zaiki, Victor A. Ehizogie II. (JP), HRH, Zaiki Ehizogie Eluojierior I. (JP) Onogie of igueben and HRH,Zaiki Equalonna Izebhokha I,(JP) onogie of Okalo, in company of their chiefs. Representative of the family of Emeritus Professor Julius Okoji, the wife of the Vice –Chancellor, Professor (Mrs.) Olufemilayo Idowu etc.
In her vote of thanks, the Director of CERDEL, Professor Bridget Inegbeboh, thanked all that attended the maiden lecture series and said history has been made in SAU as the first University to initiate the Emeritus Professor Julius Okojie annual Lecture series. She thanked the Vice-Chancellor whom she described as a first class scholar, an administrator per-excellence and a strong believer of human progress and dignity. Professor, Inegbeboh also appreciated the contributions of the Deputy Director of CERDEL, Dr. Marvellous Igbelokoto Oaikhena.