In the heart of Nigeria’s educational landscape, this remarkable institution stands as both a testament to the past and a beacon for the future. Obafemi Awolowo University, once known as the University of Ife, embodies the rich tapestry of Nigerian history, a name echoing with prestige. Established in 1962, this venerable institution was christened in honor of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, a legendary founding father and a cornerstone of Nigerian history. It’s more than a university; it’s a powerhouse, a realm of knowledge teeming with 13 faculties, each a gateway to a world of diverse undergraduate courses. With a dedicated postgraduate college and a College of Health Sciences, it’s a place where the pursuit of excellence knows no bounds.
Great Ife doesn’t stop there. The university houses prestigious institutes like the Institute of Cultural Studies, Institute of Agricultural Research and Training, and Institute of Public Health. Research is at the heart of Great Ife, with cutting-edge centers like the Atmospheric Research and Information Analysis Lab and the Drug Research and Production Unit. Moreover, its teaching hospitals are not just for practice but serve as hubs for medical research by both students and staff.
This is an institution where history and innovation converge, forging a path for future generations of scholars, scientists, and leaders. Established nearly six decades ago in 1961, as one of Nigeria’s pioneer universities, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) stands as the preeminent institution of learning on the African continent. It has consistently served as the cradle of African knowledge in the realms of the arts, sciences, and technology. OAU is unequivocally the reservoir of Africa’s academic intellectualism and intelligentsia.
For instance, luminaries like world-renowned authors and playwrights, including Africa’s first Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, and Prof. Ola Rotimi, the celebrated author of “The gods are not to blame,” have made indelible marks on the global literary stage, all while honing their craft at the Great Ife.
The legal sphere has also been significantly influenced by OAU’s tutelage. Distinguished legal minds such as former Gambian Justice Minister and current Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, alongside luminaries like Femi Falana (SAN), Yusuf Ali (SAN), and the Supreme Court’s Sylvester Ngwuta, to name a few, received their foundational education at OAU.
The media landscape has been graced by Great Ife’s alumni, with notable figures such as Ovation’s Dele Momodu, ex-NTA presenter and the Presidential Aide on Foreign affairs and Diaspora, Abike Dabiri, ex-TheNews’ and former Presidential Political Adviser, Babafemi Ojudu, former presidential spokesmen, Olusegun Adeniyi and Femi Adesina, respectively, all bearing the esteemed OAU legacy.
In the political arena, the Great Ife has produced notable leaders, including the present and immediate past Governors of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu and Olusegun Mimiko, both proud products of the institution. The list extends to former governors of Lagos and Osun states, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, and even former governors of Ekiti State, Olusegun Oni and Kayode Fayemi, all of whom received their education at OAU.
OAU’s contributions to the Nigerian business sector have been substantial, with billionaires like Femi Otedola of Forte Oil, Jimoh Ibrahim, CEO of Global Fleet, Oil and Gas magnate Wole Arisekola, and former CEO of the NCC, Ernest Ndukwe, all counted among the university’s alumni.
In the realm of religion, OAU has nurtured influential figures, including the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God Worldwide, RCCG, Enoch Adeboye, who earned his B.Sc. in Mathematics from Ife in 1967. Additionally, luminaries like ex-Agriculture Minister and current President of the African Development Bank, Akinwunmi Adesina, and government officials such as Information Minister Lai Mohammed and Communications Minister Adebayo Shittu are all distinguished products of this institution.
Good Old Days
Reflecting on my undergraduate days, one cannot help but feel a deep sense of nostalgia for the remarkable Ife experience. While I’ve pursued undergraduate qualifications from the department of English , the Ife experience remains an inseparable part of my identity, intertwined with my very essence, akin to a set of inseparable siamese twins. Ife showed me hell, trust me as much as the school is top notch , be prepared for the frustration that comes with it, an advice I will give you for free.
Whenever OAU students are mentioned, the respect that comes with it is what to crave for, especially when you see students speaking about the university with enthusiasm and anger too; you would think it was a little piece of heaven that had been converted to a university. They will speak about beauty, excellence, intellect and great scholarship. So much stories mixed with tales of absolute excitement attracted other students to the university. Curiosity and the stories I heard was one reason why I picked GREAT IFE, it took the better part of me also, and I went on a visit to see the marvelous depiction of a campus in physical reality. As a freshmen I was just glad my school was one of the best,Great Ife is indeed great.Infact I felt lucky to be receiving education in the most beautiful campus in Africa, how I wish things were not so hard right now with the new education policy. Most people probably don’t like the arrogance of the typical Ife student or graduate, Let’s not forget to add culture, for truly culture matters, and in educational matters, culture is perhaps everything, and there were scholars in Ife who had grown to become cultural icons in their respective fields.
The Great Ife Now and Beyond
Everything has started changing the moment government went mad, and till date that madness has not been cured. Let’s talk about the school fees hike from 22,000 or less to over 100,000, with increased hostel fee from 3,000 to 25,000. Atleast when I was admitted to ife , I paid within the range of 18,19/21 k per session, i enjoyed those little benefits, even though I never had the chance to stay in the school hostel which was way cheaper. So President Tinubu said he wants to fix the education system, is it not support to be affordable for all masses, why did he take the drastic step of increasing federal university fees amidst all the fuel subsidy removal burden , i personally feel this is not the time to impose such mandate on varsities. This madness started in 1984 with the removal of education subsidy. My point is,the present administration must see the need to properly define the role of government in the education sector, and further work out the details about sustainable development. The rot of past decades is so deep, the crisis so bad, as has been described, and the marks are still evident, only sustained intervention can make the difference.
Why was it founded?
Did you know ?
In 1975,a new military government introduced decrees making the University of Ife a Federal University .The University at Ife was founded as a rebuttal to the perceived politicization of higher education opportunities in Nigeria and the Western Region and was designed to fill the gaps in manpower needs.
As you know the motto of Great Ife is “ For Learning and Culture, Sports and Struggle“, some students of this school has also made it a tradition to sing the Great Ife anthem at weddings ,we earned that recognition. The struggle is real, even when artists are invited to perform, they pay their respects to the students, sometimes they prostrate (dobale ) as a sign of respect for their students fans, I can see why they say they are proud. Let’s not even forget the Awo boys trolling, I guess that should have been curbed to some extent. Great Ife is a rollercoaster of emotions and tragedy too, you have your happy moments and sad moments. The streets of OAU are saying Great Ife is not doing Great anymore, but remember only OAUITE have the right to say that , no outsider slanders are allowed to speak of Ill of Great Ife, an unwritten rule book everyone knows.
I know we can’t delve into all the juicy things OAU and its students has achieved so far , from award events like Building Beyond Ife, Oauevents, OAUFashionweek,InsideOauInnovations,the GreatIfestudent platform and all the studentpreneur achievements that have impacted great value . But I hope this long read convince you to give OAU a trial for better opportunities, the Great Ife is an household name that is duly recognized.
Till we meet again , from yours truly AKA Dapsey