YES! IT WAS
‘Ti omo eni ba daa kawi’ –Yoruba Proverb
The above saying loosely translates to ‘a good child deserves commendation’. It is not exactly breaking news to state that the University of Ibadan was recently placed in its right position at the apical level among Nigerian universities, courtesy of a thorough evaluation conducted by Journals Consortium. This has since given some due credence to the nearly official name which the university is often referred to as: the First and the Best. Predictably, this has drawn the support and ire of the public in equal measure. Despite this, it is only ignorance of facts that would make anyone disagree with the perfectly defensible list.
To start with, no evidence could be more empirical than the ones presented by Journals Consortium. Failure to carefully examine the basis upon which this list was drawn up would result in mere speculation and blind judgment. A lot of factors including research success rate, web popularity and academic output serve as the fulcrum for crowning this prestigious university. This is not an opinionated stance but a scientifically calculated and objectively justified conclusion. My lords, one may be tempted to state that this information is just abstract paperwork and that, in practice, we are far from being the best. But I disagree. Data analysis does not exist in a vacuum, but mirrors reality. A university which has conscientiously striven to achieve relevance on the internet and in the physical world is indeed deserving of whatever accolade may come knocking on its door.
The University of Ibadan has always been the quintessential Nigerian university, with its superb structure that other universities are modeled after. It has spearheaded a lot of novel ventures that other universities are yet to get into. Even those steps which other universities had taken and failed at, the great UI, with its ever-effective Midas touch, found a way to improve upon it. When it seemed as though the standard of UI had dropped, the institution stealthily underwent a crescendo that ensured its status is carved in gold as the creme de la creme of Nigerian schools. For instance, the Post-graduate program in the University of Ibadan is one of a kind. With a promise of possible scholarship to graduates, it has increasingly inspired interests in post-graduate studies in Nigeria.
Also, the university is known globally for churning out graduates with admirable chutzpah, erudition and intellect who take the world by storm. The academic air on campus is, admittedly, quite challenging but that is the beauty of it. Students are kept on their toes and consistently motivated to make their studies the utmost priority. The back-breaking pressure which we are subjected to only makes us stronger and prepares us for the much more difficult world out there. It serves as the boat of experience to keep us afloat on the tempestuous waters of life. After all, a university education is supposed to arm one with the weapons of victory for the never-ending battles of the future.
Last year, the fertile womb of this university gave birth to an impressive total of 222 and 6,032 graduates, with first-class and second-class birthmarks respectively. This is in spite of the fact that UI is seen as one of the toughest schools in terms of bagging first-class honours. What this shows is that as the school authority raises the bar higher, it triggers the determination of the students to surpass that new standard. Consequently, academic performance both within and outside campus is now at its peak. If that does not qualify as a sign of excellence, I don’t know what does.
DEFINITELY NOT JUSTIFIED!
‘The person who has not travelled widely thinks his mother is the best cook’ – Ganda proverb
MeLords, may I swiftly refresh your minds (or bring you up to date as the case may be) respecting the background to this court session. Just last month, news nay fantasy, went viral on the internet stating that our dear university is Nigeria’s best and the eight best in Africa. This is according to ‘the Journals Consortium’ which appears to be new at the job of academic king-making. The ranking was based on performance between 2010 and 2014 even though the said platform was only launched in 2012. Hopefully this is not a case of won ti je dodo gbagbe ododo (meaning they have consumed so much plantain that they forget the truth). However, that is not my destination. Neither is my target the unravelling of the accident caused by the head-on collision of the ranking with the close abdication of the university’s Vice Chancellor. Rather, my aim is simply to refute the headlines, and by implication the dubious ranking too.
MeLords, let me first establish that if the U.I. of 1960 were so placed, it would be no moot point. But the U.I. of 2015? Where the toilets are as bad as the excrements they channel? And when their pictures are shown to the world, the school prefers to fund propaganda than fund the repair? A U.I. where rooms meant to accommodate one or two students when the hostels were built are now housing four or five students with a large contingent of squatters (J.D. Ojo: 1995)? A U.I. where students receive lectures in their hundreds stuffed up like sardine, yet there is neither ventilation nor any vocal amplification system to ease the situation? Oh no! Not this one.
Journals Consortium claims that its ranking is based on research publications as well as visibility on the internet. But while trying to confirm how we have fared in this, my disappointment skyrocketed even more. The U.I. online Journal System houses only a meagre 12 journals. Even more disappointing is the fact that these 12 are just cabins in the Potemkin village. Open each one and you get welcomed with the message: (Sorry) this journal has not published any issues. On the other hand, one visit to the website of Nigeria’s U.I. 2.0 (located in the North) is enough to overwhelm you with an avalanche of academic resources.
Of recent, I was handed a questionnaire to fill which intends to gather data about the university’s use of ICT. I kept ticking ‘Strongly Disagree’ knowing how much we underuse our website. It was honestly a no-brainer. As it stands, students only visit the oft-forsaken webpage for three things and three things only – to get admission updates, register for courses and apply for accommodation. Except of course you use the hotspot often and you inevitably get referred to it. All these make me wonder if there is another website whence Journals Consortium gets its information.
There are persons who are so fanatical about this university you would think they were birthed in Jaja clinic. You see them all the time lurking around the Union page looking for OAU students to lock horns with. They prefer to totally shut eyes and play deaf to the facts and then assert that U.I. is the best simply because it is the first university and because it is their place of study. This, my philosophy-friends may quickly discover, is nothing but a quintessential example of the fallacy of antiquity. I mean, the mere fact that Uncle Jonah was the “Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces” does not mean he actually did or could command the armed forces. His darling first lady also was not necessarily a lady first, let alone the first of all ladies. And again, many an eldest son is quickly disillusioned on discovering that he is left to savour the three-sitter at home and attend JAMB tutorial lessons while his siblings are all sauntering the Ivory Tower.
MeLords, the Ashanti people have a saying that ‘rain may beat a leopard’s skin, but it does not wash out the spots’. Hundreds of organisations may come and place U.I. in cloud nine, they can come and gbe wa gun eesin ayan (i.e. make us ride on roaches thinking them horses), but they can never alter the incontrovertible truth of the time. U.I’s recent ranking as first in Nigeria and eight in the continent amounts to a summersault of justice; any conflicting contention is an outright lie and a perjury to boot – I so submit!
CONCLUSION: This column is about you, it presents the two sides of a case courtesy of two writers from different schools of thought. “Audi alteram partem” means hear the other side before passing your judgment. Take the gavel, make your decision and slam because you are the judge in this courtroom.
UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN’S RECENT RANKING AS BEST IN NIGERIA: JUSTIFIED?
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