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The First Technical University, initially known as Technical University, Ibadan is graduating its first set of students this week.
Tech-U, as it is popularly called, was established almost five years ago by the administration of late former governor Abiola Ajimobi.
Professor Ayobami Salami, who spoke with journalists at the pre-convocation press briefing, said the institution is producing graduates who the markets are ready for.
Revealing that some of their graduates have already secured jobs before graduations, Salami said 12 of the 63 graduating students had first class while 24 had second class upper.
Telling the story of growth, Salami disclosed that the people mocked them when they started with two buildings — academic and administration buildings, donated by the Central Bank of Nigeria, adding that the institution now has 16 additional ones, through internally generated revenues.
He explained how he convinced Ajimobi to start from the permanent site on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway and not at Ajoda, on the Ife-Ibadan expressway.
“When we came here, this place was like Siberia. No electricity, we weren’t connected to the national grid. At the temporary site, things were in place. But not here. My first assignment was to connect to the national grid. The building was donated by CBN but not readily adaptable to what we needed it for.
We have to reconstruct.The next was how to convince staff to come here. We started with a special welfare package for the staff. The next thing was to get a competent management team of likeminded individuals. I want to say I am one of the luckiest VCs. We now started hunting. If we had thrown it open, all kinds of people would have come. We looked for those who are willing to add values and not those looking for meal tickets.
“We also provided an enabling environment. We have made this place ICT-driven. You don’t see chalkboard here. We have smart-board culture here. We have provided facilities in our laboratories.
“Anybody starting university must have dedicated budget. It mustn’t be on any sentiment. Let the pioneer management have free hands. The past and incumbent administration haven’t interfered with our activities. Only tech-U governing board wasn’t dissolved when Governor Seyi Makinde came on board. That gave us the motivation to stay focus.
“We are not yet graduating students in engineering because they have 5 years to graduate. Only those in sciences are those graduating,” he added.
He said the institution has above 900 students because admission was still ongoing, adding that the major sources of funding for students are three— local government financed; Josephus Foundation which finances 70 percent and those are fully sponsored from home.
“We have plans to establish a graduate school. We have fulfilled the first condition in terms of intellectual process.
“We are graduating 63 in all. These comprise 10 students in Computer Science, 20 in Industrial Chemistry, 22 in Microbiology, 08 in Software Engineering and 03 in Physics with Electronics. Of the 63, 12 have First Class, while 24 have Second Class Upper.
“The convocation is also devoted to recognising some national and international icons for their immense contributions to humanity. Apart from our Chancellor, Chief (Dr.) Tunde Afolabi, MFR, that will be conferred with the Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) of Petroleum Engineering Honoris causa, we have singled out High Chief Adebayo Akande, Chief Amal Pepple, CFR, Prof. Toyin Falola and Mr. Segun Agbaje for the award of honorary doctoral degrees.
“Our Convocation Lecture is titled A Skilled and Knowledgeable Workforce: Key to Sustainable Development in Nigeria and will be delivered by foremost scholar and administrator, Emeritus Professor Julius Okojie, OON, a former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission.
“The Convocation play will be staged on the evening of March 4. The play titled ‘Love’s Unlike Laden’ is written by renowned dramatist, Professor Femi Osofisan, while it is being directed by a seasoned drama scholar and practitioner, Professor Tunji Azeez. It has been a delight for me and other members of the University community occasionally peeping at them at rehearsals, with the hope that Azeez and his cast and crew, which include some of our students, will give us a superlative performance.
The fact is that, although we are a Technical University, we respect the fact that any education devoid of the arts and culture of the people harbours a hole in its essence. Of course, tourism and entertainment, being a major industry, are accommodated and encouraged in the entrepreneurial drive of Tech-U students,” he explained.
”In terms of facilities,” Salami noted, “the First Technical University is steadily growing. Here is a University that started with two buildings, to the extent that some people used to mockingly describe us so.
The two buildings – the Academic and Admin Buildings – were even donated by the Central Bank of Nigeria. The fact is that the founding Government, led by late Senator Abiola Ajimobi, wanted us to start at the temporary site in Ajoda. But I had personally resolutely suggested we start on the permanent site, based on my experience in the sector. I have observed that when universities start on temporary sites, it takes too long for them to move to the permanent site because the owners, especially governments, are hardly able to give the project compelling priority attention because there are other projects or expenses to contend with.
Today, our two buildings have given birth to 16 additional ones through internally generated revenue (IGR) and interventions by some other bodies, especially the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund). While we built, among others, two Lecture Theatres, the Engineering Workshop and two 100-bed hostels via IGR, TETFund’s noble interventions have yielded the Science Building, Biological Sciences Building and Academic Building. There are also private hostels that have been serving our students since about three years ago.
Of course, we have also since secured and renovated the sprawling government’s edifice in Ajoda town, which now hosts the Faculty of Health and Basic Medical Sciences, where courses that include Nursing will be taught. Our secondary school arm, Tech-U Advanced Academy, is also domiciled there.
“In terms of academic development, we have beautiful stories to tell. Our Faculties and Departments have continued to expand. We started with two Faculties: Engineering and Technology as well as Natural and Applied Sciences. But we have since added two new ones: Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Management as well as Faculty of Health and Basic Medical Sciences. Apart from the many other courses on offer, Tech-U boasts of newer courses such as Mechatronics, Cyber Security and Forensic Science. I can proudly say that, apart for the Police Academy, no other institution offers Forensic Science as a course for now – except Tech-U.
“We have an array of top notch academic and non-academic staff. Permit me to say that, although we are a young University, we are able to attract the best into our workforce. Some of the reasons for this are that our remuneration structure is highly competitive just as we provide an inspiring environment for people to thrive.
For one, Tech-U has a most advanced, friendly and helpful digitised system that makes teaching and other communication engagements flow easily. It is the combination of these and other factors, which include a culture of dedication, that has made Tech-U a leading Institution, one of the forces to reckon with in Nigeria. In the latest varsity ranking by the National Universities Commission, Tech-U is the 7th State University and the 27th among all universities ranked – in spite of the fact that we are just about five years old.
“Of course, within the short time of its existence, the First Technical University, Ibadan, has continued to count its blessings. These include Provision of scholarships (full and partial scholarships) to many students, through the intervention of the Oyo State Government and all the Local Governments in the state, as well as the Josephus Foundation. Prompt production of two prototype ventilators for COVID-19 treatment. Prompt production of usable face masks. Running an unbroken and an uninterrupted academic session in a year that COVID-19 and strike disrupted programmes in many other universities.
Steady expansion of Faculties, with the recent addition of the Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Management as well as Faculty of Health and Basic Medical Sciences. Building state-of-the-arts Engineering Workshop and Laboratory as well as hostels and lecture theatres through IGR. Rapid enlistment by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), which has contributed significantly to the infrastructural development of the University. Registration of the University’s first patent within two years of operation. Signing of collaborative agreements with several national and international institutions. Hosting of the Hult Prize Pitch in Nigeria. Producing a finalist in the International Breweries Kickstart Business Plan Competition, for which 17,000 people applied. All Tech-U students are proficient in one technical skill/vocation or the other.
Some Tech-U students have their registered startups already. Producing the 2019 winner of the Miss Intellect Universe
Establishment of the First Technical University Advanced Academy, the university’s primary and secondary schools, with the goal of building innovators from the elementary level. Last year, Tech-U Advanced Academy emerged Champions of the Oyo State Spelling Bee Competition. Thereafter, it represented the State at the national grand finale in Abuja and emerged a runner-up!,” he added.