By Mojeed Alabi
An octogenarian and veteran Nigerian journalist, Dayo Duyile, is one of more than 2,251 postgraduate students to graduate from the University of Lagos (UNILAG) during the institution’s forthcoming 53rd convocation ceremonies.
The ceremonies, which have been scheduled to commence on Friday, will, for the first time in many years, feature no single undergraduate among the graduands. The development is not unconnected to the prolonged industrial actions by the university workers that paralysed both academic and non-academic activities across major Nigerian public universities in 2022.
Meanwhile, apart from Mr Duyile, another 82-year-old grandmother, Obiageli Okonji, will also be receiving her Master’s certificate.
While Mr Duyile will receive his PhD certificate in Mass Communications, Mrs Okonji will graduate from the Guidance and Counselling Department in the university’s Faculty of Education.
The university’s Vice-Chancellor, Folasade Ogunsola, revealed this on Tuesday during a media briefing as part of the activities marking the ceremonies. She said the convocation is special “because it coincides with the 60th anniversary of the university.”
Mrs Ogunsola, a Professor of Medical Microbiology, who was appointed the institution’s pioneer female vice-chancellor in November 2022, would be conducting the first convocation ceremonies in her capacity as the helmswoman.
The vice-chancellor described as nostalgic Mr Duyile’s feat, saying the media practitioner and scholar witnessed the foundation-laying ceremony of the university in 1962 as a reporter.
Convocation despite prolonged strike
The vice-chancellor, who said the prolonged industrial action by the workers in 2022 made it impossible for the university to graduate undergraduate students, thanked the workers for their dedication and commitment to the university project despite the industrial action.
She said despite the nationwide strike and without being paid, UNILAG workers still dedicated their time and energy towards ensuring the postgraduate students were attended to.
Mrs Ogunsola said: “The eight months industrial strike action by employees of Nigeria’s public University system was a great setback to scholarship and if not for the doggedness of the Senate of the University we would not have been here today. To members of Senate here present, I salute your commitment and fidelity to the University which has ensured that we have graduating students to celebrate at this year’s Special Convocation Ceremony.
“As a result of these challenges, the University will be conferring only Postgraduate diplomas, Masters and Doctorate degrees as well as the University of Lagos Gold Medal honourary awards at this convocation. A total of 2,251 graduating students will receive their degrees, diplomas and certificates; out of this number, 67 will receive Postgraduate diplomas; 2,119 will receive Masters degrees while 65 will receive Doctorate degrees.”
She said the ceremonies will begin on Friday with the inauguration of a telemedicine project at the university’s College of Medicine, Idi Araba. This will be followed by Mrs Ogunsola’s investiture as the 13th vice-chancellor on Tuesday, and to be followed by the convocation lecture to be delivered by the Managing Partner of Grand Central Africa, Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu.
The vice-chancellor said the telemedicine project was facilitated by the university’s Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, Lanre Tejuoso, who is also an alumnus of the university, and the medical college in particular.
“Mr Fola Adeola, an industry expert, Co-founder of Guaranty Trust Bank and Chairman of FATE Foundation will be Chairman of the Lecture. Later in the evening at 5:00 p.m., the Convocation Play – Femi Osofisan’s Esu and the Vagabond Minstrels – will be presented by the Creative Arts Department,” she added.
Meanwhile, the vice-chancellor said the award of the overall PhD thesis will be presented to Ahmed Yinusa from the Mechanical Engineering Department, and that Mr Yinusa also won for the Faculty of Sciences.
“The best Ph.D. Thesis in Humanities award goes to KIENKA, Rita Okorite who obtained her Ph.D. in Guidance and Counselling,” Mr Ogunsola said.
She added that the university will also use the opportunity to reward hard work, dedication and commitment to professionalism and scholarship among members of the academia, saying; “There will also be the conferment of Gold Medal Awards on two eminent personalities within the University community: Professor Johnson Olaleru, a celebrated Professor of Mathematics, and Professor Duro Oni, a Theatre Guru.”
The celebration, she said, is in accordance with the provisions of the University of Lagos Act, “which empowers the University to identify and honour deserving members of the society with proven integrity, who have distinguished themselves in their chosen careers and demonstrated significant contributions in raising the standard of the university through teaching, research, administration and service to the community.”