Several prominent Nigerians gathered at the First Technical University, Ibadan, Oyo State on Monday to bid a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Prof. Oye Ibidapo-Obe, farewell.
He was the pro-chancellor of the First Technical University, whose Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ayobami Salami, was the chief host at the ceremony.
While the family of the deceased was led by his widow, Olusola Ibidapo-Obe, to the programme, others who were present and paid tributes to the late scholar included Oyo State Commissioner of Education, Olasunkanmi Aremu Olaleye, who represented Governor Seyi Makinde; Tech-U’s Pro-Chancellor, Chief Tunde Afolabi; and a former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Prof. Peter Okebukola.
Members of the Nigerian Academy of Science, including Prof. Olufemi Bamiro, Olayinka and Prof. Abel Idowu Olayinka, were also present.
Describing Ibidapo-Obe as an enigma, Salami said he was a blessing to the First Technical University.
He noted that the deceased’s contributions were strategic to the solid foundation it now commands.
Salami said: “For us at the First Technical University, we know we have lost a gem.
“With his death we have lost a motivator, inspirer and a depository of valuable professional and natural wisdom.
“Since the time we have been directing the Tech-U train together, I never had cause to regret working with him.
“As a widely experienced administrator, he understood and cherished the concept of the kind of practical, rich and novel technical education that Tech-U offers.
“He appreciated Nigeria’s dire need for all-involving tertiary education, connecting the intellectual with the entrepreneurial and vocational.
“Prof. Ibidapo-Obe was so passionate about the Technical University that he deployed energy, vast experience and his networks, within and outside the country, to the growth of the university.
“Today, he may no more be physically with us, he is alive in the successes that Tech-U has continued to record.
“As the Vice Chancellor, I testify that Prof. Ibidapo-Obe represented the best of global principles and practices.
“He stood for due process.
“He believed in exhaustive treatment of issues.
“He was emphatic but not dictatorial; he loved to operate in a climate of mutual respect despite his towering height.”
The Chancellor also recalled the great dreams he and Ibidapo-Obe shared.
He said he was one of the professionals who gave philanthropists confidence to continue to invest in education.
Afolabi, who is the Chairman of AMNI Petroleum, said: “As much as we feel the pain of the loss, we are consoled that Prof. Oye Ibidapo-Obe left glowing legacies behind, the volume and type of which will make his being on earth eternal.
“As a dedicated scholar and administrator, he did all he could and achieved excellently in moving the sector forward. He was synonymous with the spirit, vigour, rigour, commitment and passion that have kept university education going in this country – against labiall odds.”
Olaleye said the late administrator’s impacts were impressive, adding: “The Prof. Ibidapo-Obe family should be proud of the life he led.”
Speaking on behalf of the Nigerian Academy of Science, Olayinka noted that beyond the feats Ibidapo-Obe achieved in scholarship, he was also a humanist.
He said: “He was a jinx breaker.
“He was the first alumnus of the University of Lagos to become its vice chancellor.”
Responding on behalf of the family, a son of the departed, Bambo Ibidapo-Obe, thanked everyone.
He said his father was passionate about education in general, but was particularly passionate about the First Technical University.
Bambo recalled a time in 2020, when his father had to attend a meeting in the University in Ibadan, when the #EndSARS protest had led to a major crisis in Lagos where they lived.
According to him, he resisted all counselling that he should stay back because he said the meeting was crucial.
Bambo added: “That was how passionate he was with Tech-U.
“He spoke all the time about its novel objectives and partnering the Texas Technical University.”
The farewell programme hit the climax with the presentation of the video of ace poet Akeem Lasisi’s poetic dirge, titled: “Harvest is the Memory of the Rain.”
Extolling the virtues of Ibidapo-Obe, the presentation, powered by Tech-U features Edaoto, with a surprise appearance by VC Salami and the Registrar, Olayinka Balogun, both of whom opened it with “Rara” traditional recitation.