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By Wole Agunbiade

I was at the Obafemi Awolowo University in late July 2023 to donate the book I co-authored to the library, courtesy of an alumnus who was generous in his patronage.

The last time I visited the school was in the mid-1990s.

Before then, I was a regular while studying at The Polytechnic, Ibadan for my A-level and in the years of my sojourn as an undergraduate, and later, as a reporter in The Guardian.

We give significantly to churches and I have nothing against it. But are the institutions that made us for the churches’ benefits not deserving of our widow’s mite?

University of Ife, Ile Ife, as it was known then, was a beauty to behold.

My regret was that they did not offer Mass Communication, a course I thirsted after and studied at the University of Lagos.

For me, Great Ife was a majestic citadel …. until my visit there July 20 &21, 2023.

To say it was decrepit would be to glorify it with a veneer of honour. I was horrified by its state of physical decay – from the legacy structures to the recent additions.

I stayed in the Guest House – the royal suite where I laid my head was unfit for royal bards.

Now to the task in the school. The donor of our book was an alumnus of the Chemical Engineering Department. who is currently the chief executive of Chevron operations in China.

Naturally, we began our programme in his erstwhile department.

Our laboratory in Christ’s School, Ado Ekiti, way back in 1971, was a showpiece compared to the laboratory we saw in the Chemical Department of OAU. No exaggeration.

My only consolation was the students and their lecturers. We had an interactive session with them. The students were dazzling in their brilliance. The lecturers stood out as the physical embodiment of commitment and dedication.

Now my point. Where are the illustrious alumni of UNIFE/OAU?

What happened to the concept of giving back which is the cornerstone of the great universities in the West (and East) where we love to send our children as proud middle-class men and women?

How can UNIFE/OAU be left to decay by foremost critics of government that berate politicians for allowing Nigeria to decay?

What is the difference between their individual cocoons of opulence and the palaces of splendour where our politicians feast in utter disregard of the putrefaction around them?

What moral rights has UNIFE/OAU alumni to criticize the sense of propriety of those in government beyond claiming they earned their own opulence, as against “thieving” politicians which some of them are anyway?

Move over to University of Lagos (UNILAG) and see what the Alumni Association and individual alumnus are doing – modernizing the ancient by their sweat and not wringing their hands in despair at government inaction.

The attitude of UNILAG Alumni association edifies institutions.

The unconscionable nonchalance of UNIFE/OAU alumni association (is there any?) and individual alumnus is condemnable just like those of their kith and kin in government.

This piece is aimed at galvanizing action for remedy from absentee alumni who got the best from such an inimitable citadel of knowledge but bask in ignorance of the virtue called “giving back.” Is UNILAG Alumni Association fantastic?

No way. They are probably just below average, but tellingly making a difference.

A visit, to UNILAG, will convince you.

As I use this piece to prick the conscience of OAU alumni, I want it to also apply to other institutions that “made us”.

These include our individual secondary schools and our hometowns and villages.

Our laboratory in Christ’s School, Ado Ekiti, way back in 1971, was a showpiece compared to the laboratory we saw in the Chemical Department of OAU. No exaggeration.

We  give significantly to churches and I have nothing against it. But are the institutions that made us for the churches’ benefits not deserving of our widow’s mite?

The clarion call is booming!!!

Agunbde is co-author of No Good Deed Goes Unpunished; the contentious search for peace in the Niger Delta. Published by Jijowo Publishers, Lagos, Nigeria, 2022

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