Monday, 14 September 2009
By Tope Templer Olaiya
After six grueling months of competition, the University of Ibadan, has emerged overall winner of this year’s edition of Africa’s top show, the Zain Africa Challenge. The programme is a fast paced televised quiz show involving universities from across East, West and Southern Africa, where the company has operation.
It may be regarded as the surprise of the century – considering that the best Nigerian university is ranked 1,723rd in the world (www.4icu.org) and is not even among the top 50 in Africa. However, the team that represented the University of Ibadan (UI) in Uganda has proven that a lot of good can still come out of Nigerian universities.
The UI team made up of Nnaemeka Nwachukwu, Olatunji Ayoola Olalere, Tolulope Oloruntoba and Olanrewaju Ismail Shittu beat a more experienced team from Kenyatta University, Kenya, which won last year’s edition of the competition.
As it was in Ghana, so it is in Nigeria
By Dayo Adesina Peters
When ASUU began its strike in July, critics expressed fear that the strike might last two years just like Ghana spent two years to work things out; and set its educational system on a sound footing.
Sometime ago, Professor Wole Soyinka suggested that to find lasting solution to the perennial problem of the educational system, the uinversities should be closed down for two years, during which all the problems plaguing it, which manifest in its deterioration as well as often leading to incesant strikes could be thoroughly addressed.
Now, was this not what Ghana did?
As impracticable as the suggestion might seem, I believe the solution to Nigeria’s problems lies in the Nobel laureate’s suggestion.
The untold story of Nigeria and Ghana is that the order of things has really changed. In fact, what is left of Ghana’s problems is only a frayed fragment while Nigeria still reeks in corruption and other vices. This also is pointer to the fact that change is constant.
Ghana has always been like a younger brother to Nigeria. The relationship between the two countries was really cordial, since the days it was called Gold Coast. Then, Nigeria could boast of having an upper hand in terms of currency and the likes. I remember a time when 79 cedi was the equivalent of one naira. But that was those days!
Ghana, to most politicians and indeed everybody, is now a home away from home. The services Ghana provides for its citizens and foreigners alike is qualitative. Apart from the fact that it is a peaceful nation whose economy and educational system are favourable and stable, the country is very close to Nigeria. No wonder the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, houses his family in the country.
Much to the discredit of other African countries, especially the so called giant of Africa, Ghana is fast changing the bad look of things and setting an example for others to emulate.
Participating in the competition for the first time, UI scaled every hurdle to win the international inter university competition involving 32 Universities in Africa. Tens of millions of viewers across Africa and beyond were glued to their screens as the continent’s top students battled for the top prize and their share of over US$ 1,000,000 of cash prizes and grants made possible by Zain.
For the feat, University of Ibadan received the star prize of a $50,000 grant from Zain, with each of the team members receiving the sum of $5,000. Second placed Kenyatta University carted homethe sum of $35,000, while its team members went home with $3,000 each. All the other schools that participated in the tournament received varying grants ranging from $5,000 to $30,000.
The prizes were handed out at a colourful prize presentation ceremony in Abuja. To kick off the event, guests watched a pre-recorded broadcast of the Zain Africa Challenge final between University of Ibadan and Kenyatta University, projected from a large format screen. The dexterity displayed by the team drew thunderous applause and admiration from everyone that was present at the event.
In his welcome remark, the Chairman of Zain Nigeria, Mr. Gamaliel Onosode, OFR, an alumnus of the University of Ibadan, said the enviable feat by University of Ibadan and the University of Lagos (a semi-finalist) clearly demonstrates that Nigeria still has an oasis of healthy, strongly growing minds. He commended the champions and urged them to ensure that they retain the title next season.
Specifically, he showered encomiums on the students that represented University of Ibadan for their display of outstanding brainpower and intellectual acumen, while also praising them for bringing honour and glory to their country. A visibly elated Minister of Education, Dr. Sam Egwu, commended Zain for the initiative and the interest in human development. While congratulating the winners, he revealed that six Nigerian universities have already been earmarked as centres of educational excellence, to compete among the best in the world.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Vice-Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Professor Olufemi Bamiro commended Zain for organizing the pan-African academic quiz show, describing the initiative as a fantastic and unique Corporate Social Responsibility programme.
“This competition has shown clearly that Africa has the talent to develop Africa. Like Zain, we all need to put our hand on the deck and keep creating an enabling environment for the development of our great nation,” Bamiro said.