Home Life & Times KNOWING ABOUT THE PAST: THE MAKING OF NIGERIA’S FIRST UNIVERSITY

KNOWING ABOUT THE PAST: THE MAKING OF NIGERIA’S FIRST UNIVERSITY

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‘’If we are to progress as a nation,  we must learn to pay due respect to the past and learn from it; and treasure the legacy bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers and their immediate worthy successors—the pioneer public officers in both mufti and khaki—who toiled to make Nigeria what it is today.’’ …Simeon Adebo. That was Chief Simeon Olaosebikan Adebo, Okanlomo of Egbaland; and one of the greatest Nigerians that ever lived; a respected voice as an astute administrator, lawyer and diplomat. He served as Nigeria’s Permanent Representative at the United Nations from 1962 to 1967; after which he joined the United Nations system Under Secretary General and Executive General of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research until 1972. who served as a United Nations Under-Secretary General. Adebo was head of the Civil Service and Chief Secretary to the Government of Western Nigeria up till 1961. It is partly in recognition of this view that TERRIFIC HEADLINES brings for your reading pleasure, the Story of the Making of the University College, Ibadan (now University of Ibadan) as recorded by an alumnus, late Chief S.T. Adelegan;  in his publication titled: ‘The Part to Play’ Since the latter half of the nineteenth century, Nigerians trooped in significant numbers abroad in pursuit of higher education.  The United-Kingdom was the major attraction while Fourah Bay University, Sierra-Leone also trained a substantial number of Nigerians. A few others headed for the United-States of America. In Nigeria, The Yaba Higher College (established in 1932 but formally opened in 1934) and the Yaba Medical School (established in 1930), which granted diplomas and certificates in selected subjects, hardly satisfied the aspirations of those who longed for university education. The Yaba Higher College’s phase of education in Nigeria further illustrated the desire of Nigerians for degrees, diplomas and certificates; that were not inferior to those awarded by universities in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.  So long as British officials did not envisage self-government for Nigerians and senior posts in the public service were reserved for expatriates, pleas for university education in Nigeria were not considered auspicious. A publication on the history of the University of Ibadan asserts that the ‘’British Government seriously considered the possibility of establishing universities or university colleges in the Commonwealth, and in West Africa particularly, during World War II.  ‘’The Asquith and Elliot Commissions, -both set up in 1943-reported on various…

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