Law and Morality have been described as Siamese twins that can aid the growth of tertiary institutions and by extension national development. The prescription was made by the legal luminary and former Pro-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) while delivering the 7th Registry Annual Lecture of the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) held on Thursday, 16th July, 2015.

He spoke on the topic “Law and Morality in Tertiary Institution in Nigeria: Catalysts for National Development”.

Olanipekun said “the role of law and morality cannot be overemphasized in charting a positive direction for Nigeria’s tertiary institutions. In fact, any tertiary institution that is devoid of the foundational principles of law and the basic tenets of morality, even if it purports to carry out activities or make progress, is nothing but a sounding brass, a twinkling cymbal. Such institutions can be assured of being bereft of any developmental worth to the nation and its people.”

Speaking further and quoting Martin Luther King (Jnr) who said “Intelligence plus character; that is the goal of true education”, Olanipekun said “moral education and a conscious inculcation of a value system which captures the concepts of respect, humility, integrity, diligence and charity is non-negotiable.” He said acquired knowledge or invention not guided by sound moral considerations and ethical principles can only make the world a worst place to live.

Lamenting the state of the university system in Nigeria, the notable legal practitioner said, “The dearth of discoveries and inventions in our universities can be linked to the dual-core of this discourse, law and morality. While many may fault lack of adequate funding and competent hands as causes of this sorry state, I opine that the causal factors go beyond this. I blame the dearth of critical reasoning in our institutions, I blame the absence of diligence that births innovations, I blame the predominance of plagiarism, I blame the demise of originality.”

He, however, gave a wake-up call by saying research, critical thinking, novel proposition, discoveries and inventions should find a natural habitat in Nigerian universities as they do in several universities in the world.

Speaking on national development, Olanipekun said “For any nation to develop, great attention and painstaking care must be placed on how the youths in our tertiary institutions evolve, particularly considering the fact that each of these institutions is established and set up for learning and character. Both learning and good character must blend before an ideal product can emerge from any institution, for the absence of one extinguishes the other. There cannot be any national development or growth if our tertiary institutions do not consciously and cautiously mould the character of their intakes and students in line with the extant laws of the land and the laws of God.”

Admonishing university administrators, Olanipekun called for a redefinition of tertiary institution from being mere repositories of obsolete and uneventful knowledge to becoming organic and dynamic centres of discoveries and innovations. This begins with conscious pollination of students minds with the seed of intellectual adventurism at their matriculation.

His words: “Without a doubt, our citadels of learning are faced with the onerous task of character building and instilling tenacity and a sense of purpose that cuts across academic, economic and spiritual self development. You are tasked with nurturing our students to provide them with the virtues, values and intellectual resources to enable them make informed and responsible decisions about difficult matters of moral importance with the ultimate aim of contributing to national development. Much has been done, but much more is required of you. I commend the efforts of our assiduous educators and I urge you to remain steadfast in contributing your quota to this noble cause.”

Olanipekun did not end his lecture without a word for the government at all levels. He said “I must pause to mention that a large chunk of the responsibility for the moral issues bedeviling our higher institutions of learning must be placed at the door steps of the government because some of these problems are the direct offshoot and consequences of government’s neglect of the educational sector. A scenario where a negligible amount is budgeted to the educational sector can only lead to a geometric decline in the standard of education.”

Earlier in his address, Chairman at the occasion and Vice Chancellor, Professor Adebiyi Daramola commended the effort of the Registrar, Dr. Mrs. Modupe Ajayi for her sterling qualitative leadership of the registry and for keying into the vision of the university. He gave special kudos for effort made in catching a big fish like Chief Olanipekun to deliver the lecture.

Alluding to the lecture title, Daramola said “The topic under discussion is apt, relevant and timely because if there is going to be any fundamental shift in the end products (students), the means of producing them might have to change or be re-evaluated. Our professionalism and productivity will determine the quality of our students and the impact of our research endeavors on the larger society. These are the precursor to national development, as no nation can develop beyond the capacity of its educational institutions.”

Addressing the gathering, the Chief Host and Registrar of the institution, Dr. (Mrs.) Modupe Ajayi thanked Chief Wole Olanipekun for accepting to deliver the lecture. She also praised the management of the institution, particularly for the support the Registry always receive from the Vice Chancellor, Professor Daramola. She said “The level of success of the last three editions of this annual lecture would not have been achieved but for the unflinching support of the Vice Chancellor.”

She further assured Professor Daramola of the continuous support of the Registry. “Let me assure you that the Registry has already keyed into your noble vision for the university to make giants strides globally.”

At the event, notable Nigerians who have made and who keep making positive contributions to national development were honoured. They are; the Orangun of Oke Ila Orangun, Osun state, HRM Oba Adedokun Omoniyi Abolarin, the Chief of Staff to the Ondo State governor, Dr. Kola Ademujimi and a former Registrar of FUTA, Mr. Babatunde Adebayo. They were all honoured with the Distinguish Award of Excellence of the FUTA Registry.

Responding on behalf of the awardees, HRM, Oba Abolarin said “we are all stakeholders in the development of the education sector for national development, including the traditional institution. Time has passed when traditional rulers took the back seat. We are partners in progress. On behalf of the awardees, we are grateful to FUTA, a great citadel of learning for bestowing this honour on us. We pray that the enviable leadership position you have attained will be sustained and also pray that your institution will continue to soar high and remain relevant in the global comity of universities.”

In his remark, The Chief of Staff to Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo state, Dr. Kola Ademujimi said “As at today, the Federal University of Technology, Akure has taken a quantum leap to evolve and develop into a reputable citadel of learning with proven track records of enviable and excellent performance. FUTA graduates and undergraduates have continued towering performance in the public domain. Let me appreciate the authority of this school for providing the ambience for effective teaching and learning to thrive. I implore you not to rest of your oars to constantly seek new avenues in the areas of science and technology through which you can further impact the society positively.”

The occasion attracted FUTA management, former and serving Vice Chancellors and Registrars of sister institutions, traditional rulers and other stakeholders in the higher education sector.

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