It was a tremendous shout of joy at the J.F Ade Ajayi Auditorium as the 2017 grandaunts of the institution converged for the 49th Convocation Ceremonies in the 56 year history of the great institution.

Students who have waited like forever for this day to come after several postponements owing to the Non Academic Student Association (NASU) were indeed thankful to God and couldn’t contain their joy. Their parents and loved ones also came out in mass all looking fabulous in their ‘Iro and Buba’ matched with ‘Gele skenetele/skentolo’, beautiful ‘Agbada’ and the exquisite English attires to be a part of the once in a lifetime celebration.

The convocation which held for three days between the 8th-11th of May, 2018 saw three students being crowned as the best graduating students for year 2017 with a CGPA of 4.97 They are Matthew Jeffrey Jude (B.Sc, Biochemistry); Roy Layinde Bosun Abass (B.Sc Chemical Engineering) and Babawale Oludare Emmanuel (B.Sc Chemistry). Also, Okorafor Ginika Joan was the overall best graduating female student. In the School of Postgraduate Studies, IBRAHIM, Mutiat Bolanle (Ph.D Pharmacognosy) was the Best Researcher with the Thesis titled “Phytochemical Investigation and Antiprolifertaive Activity of the Leave of Markhamia tomentosa (Benth) K. Schum. Ex Engl. (Bignoniaceae)”

The high point of the event was the convocation lecture. This year’s convocation lecture was delivered by His Excellency Akinwunmi Ambode “Executive Governor of Lagos State who also graduated from the university 34 years ago and he is also the first Unilag graduate to be Lagos State governor. In his terrific lecture titled “Inclusion: the path to a New Nation” the governor emphasized the importance of oneness among the citizens irrespective of tribes and religions as he believes it is a path to Nation building. He defined inclusion as the principle by which there is a constructive use of the full industry and skills of people irrespective of their class, religion, sex and ethnic group. He said the people must break down old walls in order to erect a better home; have compassion for one another and don’t be quick to hurl accusations at fellow citizens of other ethnic and religious groups. He advised them not to yoke themselves to ancient and irrational biases and hatreds that have no place in the nation building.
His words “If our presence is surely born of God’s hand, then we have not been placed on earth to hate another person simply because they were born of a different ethnic or religious stock. We cannot allow ignorance to fuel hatred in us. If we do, then we shall hold fast to a damaging ignorance because we have grown comfortable in hating one another.”

The governor also rebuked those with the mind-set that if a person doesn’t t lose, another will not gain and vice versa. His words “…Such a mind-set is injurious to any household, be it a single family or a vast nation. It leads to constant bickering and battle. For it tells us that there are no solutions that benefit all but contestation about who shall win or lose. This mind-set constructs enmity and friction as it were a national monument”

He again said “Building a nation has little to do with where you were born, the origin of our surname or which Holy book but one who wants to innovate and make things better and help others regardless of their tribe and religion”

He further called on other States to embrace the principle of inclusion which they have employed in Lagos State and has served them so well. To the graduating students who he referred to as the latest inheritors of academic excellence, he enjoined them to do better than his generation has achieved and also build a new and better nation. He also charged them to be leaders in their own way (even if not State Governors), that correct the direction of the nation by improving their social attitudes and by relying more on conscience than on cunning in the conduct of its affairs.

Governor Ambode commended the University of Lagos for its positive role in walking leaders and innovators in all academic disciplines and also declared it as the best school. His words “To declare that UNILAG is the best school in the land, is not an empty boast nor is it a hopeful prediction to be left for future evaluation. It is a present fact. Thus, you the graduating class of 2017 are but the latest inheritors of a lineage of academic and civic excellence.”

The Vice Chancellor- Prof Oluwatoyin T. Ogundipe who is driven by excellence for passion and seeks to chart a new path for Unilag in his address charged the students to be great ambassadors of the institution and prayed that they excel in their endeavours. He apologised to students, parents and general public for the inconveniences caused by the postponement of the convocation ceremonies as a result of the strike.

According to him, they are on an irreversible course to place the University in the fore-front of cutting edge research and innovation that will positively impact the nation’s quest for technological advancement and national development. He expressed his desire to take the university to the next level with its Six- Dimensional-Unilag- Agenda 2017-2022. He went on to commended President Buhari for his tireless efforts to deliver on the change agenda; his predecessor Prof Rahamon A. Bello for his visionary style of leadership that made the University break new grounds and the Pro Chancellor- Dr. Bolanle O. Babalakin, SAN, for his passion for excellence which has driven the agenda of making the University a global player in innovative research, knowledge production as well as first among equals.

According to the VC, the school strives to produce top class graduates that are solution-providers, entrepreneurial driven and future leaders that will always do their utmost to advance the good cause of humanity wherever they find themselves. He also said the school is in touch with the Finnish, German, French, and Chinese embassies to establish new relationships with institutions in these countries that would benefit the school. He further said the school’s external linkages and partnership are waxing stronger and yielding positive results.

This year’s convocation saw a total of 12,368 students graduate from the institution. These comprise 6,816 (539%) First degrees and 5,822 (46.190%) postgraduate and not forgetting the first set of students with BA Chinese who completed their four ears program in the University. Amongst these graduants, only 111 of them came out with a first class led by trio Matthew Jeffrey Jude (B.Sc, Biochemistry); Roy Layinde Bosun Abass (B.Sc Chemical Engineering) and Babawale Oludare Emmanuel (B.Sc Chemistry). The trio carted away a lot of mouth-watering prizes worth millions. They include Vice Chancellor’s prize (100k), Provost’s prize (50k), Dean’s prize (50k), H.O.D’s prize (25k); all prize instituted by the University. Also, there were awards in the following categories instituted by individuals and private organisations- Dr. Ogbonnaa Onu Leadership prize (50k), Unilag parent forum prize (50k), Unilag Alumni association prize (100k), Unilag women society endowment prize for best overall female graduating student (50k), Late Prof Adetokunbo Babatunde Sofoluwe prize (50k), Late Prof Eni Njoku prize (75k), Prof Tolu Odugbemi prize (25k), Most Supreme Apostle Matthew Omodayo Owotuga foundation (50k), Late Prof. Eni Njoku prize for best graduating student of “Igbo Students Union”, Unilag Alumni Association (Lagos Stae Branh) (150k) to 20 indigent student and many more.

The other enthralling activities that made this year’s convocation ceremony memorable was the chancellor’s reception, Alumni reception/Party- which brought together alumnus of various sets, the convocation play, LUNCHEON with the DOYEN, exhibition by various departments and the investiture of Prof. Oluwatoyin T Ogundipe FAS as the 12th Vice Chancellor of the University.

There was also a paradigm shift in this year’s convocation. The planning committee had made sure that there was little or no traffic during the occasion. None of the campus vehicles were allowed to operate as big buses were provided to convey people from the first gate to their choice destination and vice versa.

Also in order to manage the crowd, the 3-day convocation was done in two sessions- the morning (9-11 am) and afternoon (1-3 pm). On the 9th of May, was the congregation of the Faculties of Education and Social Sciences (Morning session) and Faculties of Arts, Environmental Sciences and sciences (Afternoon session). On the 10th of May was the congregation of the Faculties of Engineering, Management Science , Law (Morning session) and Faculties of Basic Medical Sciences, Clinical Sciences, Dental Sciences, Pharmacy and Distance learning institute (Afternoon session). On the 11th of May which was the Last day of the convocation, was the congregation for the award of higher Degrees of the school of Postgraduate Studies and the conferment of the title of distinguished Professors and Emeritus. Not forgetting the Pro Chancellor and Chancellor who shook hands with all the thousands of graduates an idea which was said to be conceived by the physically challenged students.

It is worthy to note that University of Lagos, the Pace Setter University has a lot of achievements to its name, some of which are;
• Six of its students were the overall best students in Aug 2017 at the Bar Final Examination of the Nigerian Law School from all the Universities represented in the exams. Miss Gureje Grace Olanrewaju (22 years old) was the overall best student. The other five are Onimiya Faith Eomime, Eepue Vivian Chinenye, Grajumo Oyetade Zuliath, Idowu Deborah Omotayo and Okesola Aishat Ololade
• A group won the Coca- Cola sponsored Global Management Challenge in Nigeria and represented the country in Dubai
• Unilag came 4th out of 160 in NUC’s assessment on Open Educational Research (OER)
• Oge Nwabueze a graduate of Mass Communication department was among the 6 finalists in the Malta Guinness Lagos Maltavator Challenge competition out of the thousands that went for the competition.
• The first at the 10th edition of National Mathematics competition for University students
• Students from the Department of Geosciences participated and won the 2018 Africa/Imperial Barrel Award (IBA)
• Its centers won the bid to host African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) Centre of Excellence and the University is to be funded by ARUA with a total sum of $1million for the next five years while he University provides a counterpart funding of $50 Thousand.
• The university is currently working on the new high-rise library complex, the refinery and mining sites, Unilag wants to set up a modular refinery which will serve as laboratories for the students in the faculties of Engineering, Science and other related faculties. Lastly, it would soon kick off the entrepreneurship training to its curriculum to develop students and hone their skills after which they would be given an entrepreneurship certificate aside the degree certificate.

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