A fifty-year milestone celebration is not one that which should be taken lightly, especially when faced with the massive note-worthy achievements and accomplishments as attained by one of Africa’s most sought-after tertiary institutions, the University of Benin. The 23rd of November is a significant date for everyone in the university community because it is the date the University of Benin started its academic journey in 1970, exactly fifty years ago as an Institute of Technology, which morphed into a full-fledge University three years later.
The University boasts of over 300,000 graduates, most of whom have gone ahead to attain influential positions in the society as leaders, entrepreneurs, trailblazers, and opinion moulders cutting across most areas of human activities globally. In addition to this, the University has recorded significant progress in other areas. These include; management and administration, infrastructure, student population, academic prowess, social and entrepreneurial development, etc. over the years.
Obviously, they could have been so much more to this auspicious occasion, if not for the rather restrictive state of the society engineered by the devastating COVID-19 global pandemic. This has placed strict restrictions on public gatherings, community or sacred activities, travelling, and academics. Also, the prolonged ASUU strike has given rise to a lot of closed tertiary institutions across the country.
On Monday 23rd November, while speaking at the varsity’s Golden Jubilee Thanksgiving Service held at the school’s main auditorium (Akin Deko Hall), Rev. Dr Felix Omobude urged governments and unions to help return students to classes, citing threatening statistics and dangers for out-of-school students. He hailed the founding fathers of the prestigious varsity as it has affected thousands of lives and still counting and laid emphasis on the importance of education. He encouraged everyone to play their part well and keep the fire burning. The current President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) also called on government at all levels to embark on free education for pupils to at least junior secondary level. You can watch the speech by Felix Omobude at the 50th Anniversary of The University of Benin here as covered by Independent Television.
In her Speech, Prof. Lillian Salami who is the current and also second Female Vice-Chancellor of the institution only behind the unprecedented Prof. Grace Alele-Williams praised the University’s notable achievement in her fifty years of existence. She expressed thanks to notable Nigerians including the Lt. Col. Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudi, Esama of Benin Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, for their noteworthy contributions to the university’s growth and development over the years. She expressed hope that better days are coming for the institution. She reassured the audience that the University of Benin will always have its place as one of the best in the country. The event also featured the cutting of the golden jubilee cake which was led by the Vice-Chancellor.
Prof. John Okhuoya one of the 160 pioneer students of the institution and a retired Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the institution also expressed joy as he recounted the experience fifty years ago and the journey till now. He thanked God for the achievements covered by the university.
The Student Union Government of the institution was not left out in the celebrations as the SUG excos, led by the president, Comrade Arthur Benjamin Lotana of the Faculty of Education, was very much present at the thanksgiving ceremony. Later on, UNIBEN students flooded the social media in a campaign led by the SUG Public Relations Officer to trend the school’s golden jubilee anniversary with the hashtag #unibenat50.
The school also published a gallery of photographs to commemorate the event. See pictures here.
By Abasi-Ibiangake Udoka and Precious Echipue
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