The Vice-Chancellor, Olabisi Onabanjo (OOU), Ago-Iwoye, Prof. Ayodeji Agboola, has said there was an urgent need to establish strong and effective collaboration between Nigerian universities and their host communities to enhance academic research development in the country.
Prof. Agboola, who said this during the Town and Gown Day held in Ago-Iwoye as part of activities marking the 40th Foundation Anniversary of OOU, urged universities to bridge the gap between the ‘town and gown’ by making their research works relevant and impactful to the society.
The event, which was graced by the Ebumawe of Ago-Iwoye, Oba Abdulrazaq Adenugba, Alaye of Ayetoro, Oba Abdul-Azeez Adelakun, and the Olu of Ibogun Sowunmi, Oba Timothy Oyebola Sowunmi as well as residents of various host communities, featured drama presentation, cultural performances and exhibitions, among others.
In his remarks, the Vice-Chancellor underscored the significance of synergy between tertiary institutions and host communities, saying both have many things to learn from each other.
According to him, the mandate of universities, including teaching, research and community service, is driven by the need to improve the lot of the people.
Prof. Agboola described any research work that is devoid of benefits to the society as useless, stressing that the overall objective of academic research should be the betterment of the society.
The Vice-Chancellor, who enthused that the university town had positively impacted on him, enjoined students to see people of the host communities as their parents and guardians in order to derive maximum benefits.
He said, “This university was actually established 40 years ago. We flagged off series of activities to commemorate the anniversary in January and we actually believe in history. When the University started, it was from the town. That time we didn’t even have the gown to take there. They accepted us and gave us everything that they had.
“During that period, they prayed for us that all students that were going to be produced in the institution will be successful. I am happy to inform you that I am one of them. I was there, I graduated there, I worked there and today I am where I am. There is nothing we are doing, even research, that does not have the component of town.
“So, whatever you are doing to improve society, you must put the town in mind. If that is not done, then such effort is useless. So it is always important to have both town and gown coming together all the time and seeing that we are one.”
Prof. Agboola, who stated that the Town and Gown Day would henceforth be celebrated annually, expressed confidence that it would strengthen the bond of harmony among the indigenes, students and other members of the university community.
“We’ll be doing it yearly now so that people in town will know that we’re not their enemies, and people in the University will also know that people in town are their friends and we can come together all the time to celebrate,” he said.
In their separate remarks, the traditional rulers at the event commended the university management for maintaining cordial relationship between the host communities and students of the institution.
Oba Adenugba, who described OOU as the mainstay of Ago-Iwoye economy, specifically enjoined other tertiary institutions to emulate the university by holding town and gown events, saying such would be mutually beneficial to educational institutions and the host communities.
“As far as university education is concerned, Olabisi Onabanjo University is a pacesetter, it’s an institution and a household name in the academia and I’m sure the pace has been set by the university and it will go round other universities,” the monarch said.
On his part, the Olu of Ibogun Sowunmi expressed hope that the event would continue to promote peace and shared values among the parties.