It gives me great pleasure to be among distinguished members of the Alumni Association of our dear alma mater, the prestigious University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN). More so, I sincerely appreciate the decision of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the UNN Alumni Association to honour me today as a distinguished first lady in Nigeria.
This recognition is special to me for several reasons, one of which is due to the strong connection and love I have for UNN. As you all may be aware, I was the UNN Alumni Association Ibadan Branch President for eight years. During my tenure, the Ibadan Branch hosted a NEC meeting when Lam Adesina was Oyo State Governor.
Much as I appreciate the honour bestowed upon me today, I also consider it a golden opportunity to express my concern about the current state of affairs of the UNN. Just a few days ago, I came across a video making rounds on social media about the deplorable state of the Kwame Nkrumah Hall, which made me sad and deeply concerned. Anyone who listened to the voice of the parent who shared the video could easily sense her fear, sadness, disappointment and anxiety. How her daughter was going to survive in a hostel without water and toilet facilities, and with simple housing facilities like beddings, doors and windows in complete ruins, she murmured sorrowfully. Suffice to say that the poor state of the Nkrumah Hall today is a clear indication of the apparent neglect of UNN by the federal government of Nigeria and its alumni. Yes, I am a proud member of the UNN Alumni, and I make bold to say that our prestigious university has been abandoned by its alumni. I say this because I believe that the reputation of any educational institution relies on its students-both past and present.
It will be a waste of time for me to begin to expatiate on how government and university generated funds have become grossly insufficient to maintain a good quality of education among institutions in Nigeria-this is common news. Of course, this is not just a case of the UNN alone but applies to most universities and even primary and secondary schools in Nigeria. Hence, my focus is on a possible third force to salvage what is left of the reputation of our dear UNN. Alumni all over the world fix problems in their alma mater. The alumni are genuinely a strong support to any institution.
Many Ivy League universities in the world today, including Harvard and Yale, rely strongly on their alumni to sustain the reputation they enjoy. An active alumni association can contribute to both academic and non-academic matters, support students and mobilise financial and non-financial resources to build and maintain a strong reputation for its parent institution.
In our own case, the UNN is fortunate to be blessed with very great alumni many of which occupy top government positions in Nigeria, are reputable captains of industry both in Nigeria and in the diaspora. This group of people I am talking about, many of whom also belong to my generation, happen to have benefitted from when Nigeria was in a much better economic standpoint and thus enjoyed better quality of education. Unfortunately, this golden era generation has not been able to sustain the same quality of education they left behind because of high dependence on the government.
However, there is so much that this third force-the alumni of the UNN-can achieve if they indeed are determined to make a difference. Many of UNN’s alumni have the means to turn the place around, but they are disconnected.
While I do not intend to mention specific names, I am using this opportunity to call on all well-meaning alumni of UNN to come together and unite for the purpose of restoring the past glory of the institution. I am on a mission to bring her lost children to her bosom and make UNN great again. I beckon on you all. Let’s renovate Nkrumah Hall to begin with-the very Hall that exposed the decay of UNN.
Let’s do this.
Let’s #FixUNN! Kanyi #DozieUNN!
Chief (Mrs) Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu Wife of the Governor of Ondo State