The recent commendation by the Awujale of Ijebuland, His Royal Majesty, Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Kayode Adetona, CFR, on the spate of development being midwifed by Prof. Ganiyu Olatunji Olatunde led administration in the University was not an understatement as it corroborates public opinion on the unprecedented all-round infrastructural development going on in Olabisi Onabanjo University ,(OOU). Since his appointment about three years ago, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ganiyu Olatunji Olatunde, has not only proved his mettle in managing the affairs of the University, but also has been passionate about placing the institution on high pedestal in terms of development by leaving no stone unturned in all facets of the University administration.
OOU, has come a long way since its establishment in 1982. Of course, the founding fathers had great dreams and good vision for the Ogun State flagship institution, which still remain a work in progress. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of students have graduated from this tertiary institution and a vast majority of them are now spread across strategic sectors of the nation’s economy, making invaluable contributions to national development.
There is no gainsaying that the quest for seeking admission into higher institutions of learning are not only to acquire the required skills and knowledge, but also to be part of members of a unique community resident in well-designed physical structure with exotic environment.
These structures which are uniquely different from the usual setting in most towns and cities, include lecture theatres, halls of residence, staff quarters, laundry arena, refectories, recreational centres, parks and gardens, and of course, well paved walkways to mention just a few. Apart from beautifying the University environment, they also make teaching and learning more conducive for both staff and students in the University.
Thus, these accounted for why some of the first generation Universities are the toast of intending school leavers. The experiences of these Universities are now being re-lived in OOU by the on-going landscaping and construction of well paved walkways and pedestrian bridges to enhance free movement of staff and students within the campus without necessarily disrupting the layout and lawns. These initiatives are part of Prof. Ganiyu Olatunde led administration physical infrastructural development agenda for the University. Many of the buildings on the campus are now easily accessible through well-defined entry and exit routes.
OOU has a vision to be a centre of academic excellence where “knowledge, skills and value will be pursued relentlessly, by ensuring the flowering of human abilities, service to the Nigerian nation and the world at large in the wider context of traditional wisdom and culture.” Aligning with this vision, the University is being effectively piloted by the current management to compete favourably in a global knowledge economy.
Though the COVID-19 pandemic has brought some disruptions, efforts to make the academic environment conducive have not been halted in any way at the University. Construction of new buildings and provision of relevant facilities are relentlessly going on so that students and staff will savour these amenities on resumption of academic activities.
Of course, lecture halls, laboratories, studios and equipment are essential elements of learning environment in Universities. Several experts opined that having schools in good and serene environment are significant and would not only add to the health benefits of students but also trigger interest in academic activities. While there is no doubt that high quality infrastructure enhances better instruction and improves students’ outcomes, accessing such diverse infrastructure in an expansive serene environment with lush greenery also becomes important consideration for University administrators.
To overcome the challenge of access, good road networks and walkways have become imperative. And due to the zeal and proactiveness of Prof. Ganiyu Olatunde, these are being undertaken in OOU to the admiration of stakeholders in the community.
An ex-student of the University, Mr. Tola Adeyemi, who graduated about five years ago, could not believe his eyes when he visited the campus recently.
Adeyemi, who had come to process his transcript, expressed satisfaction with the level of transformation that has taken place in the University. The former student stated that if not that he had been here before, he would have said this was not the OOU he graduated from.
In his words: “Honestly, I could not believe my eyes when I drove into the campus. A lot has changed in the school and I am very happy because the changes are positive.”
Traversing the campus, several modest walkways recently constructed and aligned to satisfy pedestrian movement and directional desires are visible all over the University. Apart from seeking to seamlessly connect the campus and helping people to navigate the landscape without walking on the lawns, the walkways have in a most unique way beautify the academic environment. Some enthusiasts have also applauded the construction, which is characteristically safe to walk in all weather conditions and wide enough to accommodate occasional surge of high volume of pedestrian traffic.
Speaking on why the institution’s environment is wearing a new look, the VC disclosed that Management wanted to create a more conducive and serene atmosphere for staff and students to work and excel. In his words, “If you go on campus, you will see that virtually all our buildings are in good shape because we believe that one of the striking features when you visit a University is the appealing nature of its environment. Right from the gate, the ambience is captivating. The sight of the well cut lawns and the trees canopies are delightful to behold. Apart from their aesthetics, if well managed as we are doing, they offer tremendous benefits to people and the environment.”
“We just built a new park for the commercial vehicles coming into the campus. We are doing a five-year maintenance culture for all our buildings. Once a building goes through five years, we have to go back and fix it so that students will be happy, the workers too would feel at home. We want to create a situation where you feel more convenient staying at work than going back home because the environment is friendly and serene,” the Vice- Chancellor stressed.
On his part, the Director, Physical Planning, Mr. Francis Oyekunle who commended the administration of Prof. Olatunde for living up to expectation in his dream of making the University environment more conducive for teaching and learning by creating an Environmental Management Unit in the Vice-Chancellor’s Office with the aim of having a beautiful environment, landscaped with lush green grass and plants with defined walkways in between manicured lawns. He noted that the synergy between the Environmental Management Unit and the Directorate of Physical Planning has been most rewarding, especially in terms of value addition to the aesthetics of the University.
According to him, “when you talk about beauty, you’d realise that it’s not good to see all these red patches of earth on lawns. The beauty of a lawn is in its lushness, and greenery. When you see meanderings on surfaces that are supposed to be green, in a good environment, you won’t like it. It’s better to define a pedestrian path.”
“The walkways are already adding to the beauty on the campus. Seriously, when the students resume, they will behold the beauty. Before the commencement of the beautification project, students were crossing the lawns anyhow. But now you won’t see that again.” Mr. Oyekunle noted.
In his candid opinion, the Deputy Registrar, Senate Affairs Division, Mr. Wale Adeoye described the establishment of the Environmental Management Unit handling the beautification project as a step in the right direction. In his words, “we are moving forward with that type of aesthetic development. The introduction of this Environmental Unit has added glamour to the serenity and aesthetic value of the University. You can see that the University is looking clean and fine. Generally the University environment is very appealing. You can’t compare it to what it was some three, five years ago. There is still room for improvement but I think we must give kudos to the management for initiating this bold step to beautify the University.”
He stated that “the surroundings of buildings should be landscaped. By landscaping the environment, you are giving it aesthetic value. When you enter the campus, you actually know that you are in a University environment. The layout, the setting, the lawns, the flowers, the parks and gardens define the beauty of a University. All these are the attributes of a modern, developed University, and we are just getting to that stage now”, observed Mr. Adeoye.
Similarly, the Deputy Registrar in the Academic Affairs Division, Mrs Yetunde Ogunsanwo who confirmed that the innovations in the University were part of Prof. Olatunde’s Development Agenda for the University disclosed that OOU is now wearing a new look starting from the main entrance gate to the administrative building. “I think we are good, the University environment is actually very nice and we hope management will keep this up. It’s a very friendly and a nice development.”
“I remember that the first meeting the Deputy Registrars had with the incumbent Vice Chancellor, he actually mentioned that the landscaping of the University is a task that is very important to his administration and I think he’s doing a wonderful job. When you look at the lawns, it just reminds me of those Ivy Universities. You won’t be told not to cross the lawns and you won’t even try it. And that is been replicated here because the lawns are green and beautiful. I think the Vice Chancellor and his management team have done well in this regard.”
In a related development, a NASU member and one of the pioneer staff of the University, Mr. Banjo Adesina could not hide his feelings when he gave the current management a pat on the back for the all-round excellence recorded so far.
“The University is progressing well. The present management is trying its possible best and we enjoy what they are doing. If you look at the new Senate Building, this is a kind of structure that is very rare in some Universities in Nigeria. For Olabisi Onabanjo University to possess such a structure, it means we are progressing. And for being able to pay staff salaries regularly, the man is really trying. We can only pray that God continue to guide him. I’m pleased with what is happening,” Mr Banjo noted.
Also in his optimistic posture, the Acting Provost, Postgraduate School, Prof. Olusegun Lawal assured members of the University community that very soon the level of development in the University would not only support teaching and learning in the daytime but would also encourage staying back on the campus throughout the night for academic activities.
“We are living up to standard now, it’s a phase that is required and we are getting there. We give thanks and credence to the present management. There is no one that would come in here that would not see the development. It’s a thing that should please everyone. For those of us that are here, we are happy with it.”
“I know that there are more amenities that are coming on board that we are seriously eager to see. By the time the landscaping project is completed, it’s going to be a wonderful environment. I know very soon, some of us will be sleeping on campus and we would be able to go to our offices and laboratories and do research overnight. It’s a wonderful and welcome development” Prof. Lawal submitted.