By Ezra Odogu
With a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.97 over a scale of 5.0, Benjamin Damilare Olowu became the overall Best Graduating Student at the 25th convocation of the Lagos State University (LASU) in Ojo.
The valedictorian, who hails from Epe Local Government Area of the State, finished from the Department of Mechanical Engineering with the highest grade point in the faculty’s record.
Also, 111 others graduated with a First Class across the 10 faculties in the school. The graduands were awarded the degrees at the convocation held at the campus, on Thursday.
The Visitor to the school, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, applauded the feat attained by the university, stressing that the school had sustained the established culture of excellence and quality tertiary education.
The Ojo campus of the school was agog with activities, as dignitaries from various parts of the country trooped to the campus for the ceremony.
All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, delivered the convocation lecture titled: “Global Trends: Nigeria’s Rightful Place in the World”. Katsina State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari chaired the lecture.
Sanwo-Olu, in his address, said LASU had evolved from its humble beginnings to attain a world-class status, noting that the quality of graduates churned out by the school testified to LASU’s tenacity of purpose, teamwork, drive for innovation in teaching, learning and research.
With Lagos ranked the fifth largest economy in Africa, the Governor said the State offered possibilities that could support the graduands’ creativity and entrepreneurial dreams.
He said: “Lagos State University has come a long way from its humble beginnings in 1984 to its current world-class status. Our administration is proud of the great heights the institution has attained. I congratulate the management team, staff, students and other members of the university community for continually striving for excellence. Feats achieved by today’s graduands are testimonies of LASU’s tenacity of purpose, teamwork, and drive for innovation in teaching, learning and research, which are in line with the vision of the founding fathers of the university.
“As a Government, we will continue to provide the enabling environment for our youths to engage in meaningful educational and economic activities to add value to themselves, while also contributing meaningfully to the rising profile of Lagos as the economic and industrial hub of Nigeria and Africa. We have the market, as well as the population, that offer possibilities to support creativity of young people and their entrepreneurial ideas. Lagos, which is the 5th largest economy in our continent, is the place to be, to dream big and to implement even bigger ideas.”
Sanwo-Olu reminded the graduands that the contemporary world of work had changed, stressing that the graduates’ future would be defined by their ability to constantly adapt to ever-changing realities.
The Governor reiterated his administration’s commitment to provide requisite support for all State-owned institutions to allow for growth, academic excellence, and to enable them compete well with their peers in any part of the world.
Sanwo-Olu disclosed that the State Government had awarded the contract for the construction of the first-ever LASU Technology hub as a measure to achieve the vision for sustainable education and technology in line with his administration’s development agenda.
He said: “We have commenced the installation of LED Double Combo Renewable Energy Street Lighting of about 6.6km perimeter spots across the LASU main campus to ensure safety and security of lives of our students and workers during the day and at night. Also, the construction of six blocks of Hall of Residence, which will give 8,272 bed spaces, is on-going. This Public Private Partnership (PPP) project will soon be completed and commissioned for our students’ use.
“New buildings are being constructed for the Faculties of Arts, Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Management Sciences, as well as the LASU International School. The Central University Library and the LASU Homes are also nearing completion. The LASU Homes project, which is currently at painting stage when completed, will help to reduce accommodation problems faced by the teaching and non-teaching staff of the university.”
Earlier, the Governor commissioned a Primary Health Centre donated to LASU by the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The 60-bed fully equipped hospital has an Intensive Care Unit (ICU), operating theatre, laboratory, blood bank and consulting rooms, among other facilities.
Sanwo-Olu said the facility would be further equipped with an ambulance and requisite items to make it function properly.
Delivering the 25th convocation lecture, Tinubu dissected the contemporary challenges bedevilling the nation and offered what could be done to place the country on the path of irreversible growth and greatness.
The APC National Leader, represented by Lagos Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, described Nigeria as a nation “endowed with features of greatness”, but has remained locked in a place. Tinubu said the country remained an economy unjustly designed to export raw materials and import increasingly expensive finished products.
The frontline politician said the political class must truthfully acknowledge the lapses and must be bold to make corrections, rather than vilifying one another for the present challenges bedevilling the country.
He said: “Nigeria’s GDP per capita ranked as 17th in Africa and 131st in the world. According to the World Bank, we are the 7th most populous nation as at 2020. But, our economic ranking was not commensurate. One does not have to be a genius in mathematics to know the difference between 7 and 131.
“Our lack of sustained dynamic economic growth does not lend itself to social stability. Economic slowness and destitution place great pressure on people to migrate in search of opportunities. But too much migration too fast and too unimagined results in people competing and contending against one another on dwindling arable land, which undermines social harmony.
“We need a new, more convivial way. A way that will give us the right start at a fair chance for durable prosperity. A large urban population needs a strong manufacturing and industrial base. If not, we invite unemployment, crime, hunger and poverty to become chronic and severe. We must better link formal education with the skills and expertise our business community seeks in modern times.”
Tinubu told the LASU graduands that the occasion of their convocation presented an opportunity for them to play vital roles in changing their immediate communities, their States and the nation for the better.
The former Lagos Governor asked them not to underestimate the importance attached to their respective roles, stressing that the conferment of degrees in various disciplines had placed them on the forefront of an enlightened march that demanded for their passion, knowledge, talent and energy.
To deepen the culture of civic engagement among young people, Tinubu donated N1 billion endowment fund to establish the Centre for Leadership Development in the university. The Centre is to groom aspiring leaders and train human capital for leadership positions.
Also, Sanwo-Olu announced the decision of the State Executive Council to immediately set up a Professorial Chair on Leadership and Good Governance in the school on behalf of Tinubu.
The Vice-Chancellor (VC), Prof. Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello, said the school could not think of a better personality qualified to deliver the convocation lecture other than Tinubu, given the frontline politician’s vast contribution to the development of the university.
Prof. Olatunji-Bello, who was presiding over the first convocation in her tenure as VC, said the school management had mapped out a strategy to build on the achievements of the university and take the school to greater level of development.
She hailed Sanwo-Olu’s support for the school, while pledging the management’s assurance to sustain heights attained by LASU.
The school graduated a total of 7,237 graduands in disciplines across its 10 faculties, with 4,994 bagging first degrees and 1,716 post-graduate degrees.
Seventy-six candidates were awarded doctorate degrees, while 451 got Diploma certificates. Stephen Ogunkoya became the Best Graduating Student in the Masters category.
Two Governors were awarded honorary doctorate degrees. They are Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (Doctor of Letters in Educational, Healthcare and Community Development; and Borno State Governor Babagana Umara Zulum (Doctor of Letters in Community Integration, Youth, Urban and Rural Development.
A foremost scholar and former National Universities Commission (NUC) Executive Secretary, Prof. Peter Okebukola, was awarded Professor Emeritus, while Mr. Goodie Ibru was awarded honorary doctorate business degrees in Commerce, Hospitality and Tourism.
Other honorary degree awardees are Chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa (Doctor of Arts in Broadcasting, Community Integration and Rights Advocate) and Mrs. Ibukun Awosika (Doctor of Entrepreneurship and Human Capacity Development).