“Succeeding against all odds”, the captivating title of the greatly inspiring biography of John Harold Johnson, the late publisher of Ebony magazine aptly describes the giant academic strides taken by the highly resourceful Prof. Jeremiah Oludele Ojediran-led Bells University of Technology, Ota over the past academic year. What is instructive about them all are that the feats were recorded by some lecturers and students even in the face of the debilitating socio-economic effects of the Corona virus pandemic, especially in Year 2020.
Essentially, these should serve as enduring motivation for individuals, communities and institutions on what it takes to defy the odds and scale the hurdles to excel at one’s given task or chosen assignments. With that, one would reach the finishing line in the track race of professionalism to clinch the elusive laurels.
Reeling them out at the recent pre-12th Convocation Press Conference held at the Senate Chamber of the nation’s number one private university of technology, Ota in the presence of the truly committed members of the Management Team one evident feature was keeping faith with the Vision of the citadel of academic knowledge. And what could that be? It is: “To be a world-class renowned university that is committed to the development and transformation of society through environmentally-friendly technology and other innovations.”
Perhaps, that would explain why even during the 2020 lockdown courtesy of the pandemic the university deployed several platforms that kept the students active and occupied with their academics. That was while they were at home to keep the academic calendar uninterrupted. With that the second semester examinations were successfully held online! Commendable, isn’t it? Of course, it is but there was more to come.
In Prof. Ojediran’s words, the period of lockdown ‘’brought out of us all, various abilities, which were seemingly hitherto latent and untapped. We all learnt that we could achieve practically anything we set our hearts to.’’
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”.
–John Quincy Adams(former US president).
It was remarkable therefore, that during the challenging period, the Department of Chemical and Food Sciences as well as the Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies made nose masks and hand sanitizers as part of the quick interventions. Rising to the occasion also was the invention/production of the prototype of automated hand-washing and sanitizer dispensing machines by the College (Faculty) of Engineering, through the Mechanical, Electrical and Mechatronics units.
Not done, the university went ahead with the provision of palliatives to the security and cleaning staff in partnership with the Almuni association, for keeping the campus clean and secure during the lockdown. That was also the period that the Centre for Agricultural, Technological and Entrepreneurial Studies hosted virtual seminars on germane issues in agriculture. It also prepared programmes for the proposed College of Food, Agricultural Science and Technology (COLFAST).
Worthy of note and celebration is the fact that it was during the trying pandemic period that Dr. D.O. Akinyele of the College of Engineering was ranked as no 50 out of top 500 researchers in Africa by SviVal. It is a reputable, web-based analytic data-base which provides comprehensive access to over 200,000 research institutions from 230 nations worldwide.
What a silver lining against the dark global economic horizon!
Interesting too, is the news item that one of the young lecturers at the College of Engineering was awarded a Fellowship of the Global Young Academy with its focus on developing, connecting and mobilizing young talents in science and technology from six continents.
Furthermore, some erudite members of staff went ahead during the pandemic to win grants and accolades for their professional attainments. Amongst the ten so honoured were Dr. Ayo Periola of the College of Engineering for his post-doctoral programme in South Africa, Dr. B.I. Adetunji ( COLNAS), for his post-doctoral programme in Italy and Dr. D. O. Akinyele (COLENG) who clinched a Fellowship Award of the Ernst Einstein Forum Fellowship award in Kighali, 2020. While Mrs. Benedicta Olatokunbo (COLNAS/Computer Science) got the Fellowship of the Computer Professional Registration Council of Nigeria,(CPN), Mr. A.A. Ajibola (COLMANS) was selected for the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS) and Mountain Research Initiative (MRI) amongst several prestigious awards he won from other science-related associations.
With the University currently globally recognized amongst the Times Higher Education (THE) ranking based on its impactful technological feats, it is a wise decision on the part of the Vice Chancellor to offer the Appreciation Awards. This is meant for the top researchers at the university ‘’as part of the drive towards excellence and to further strengthen the drive for research’’. They deserve it because it is bringing out the best in the students who have been making the university proud.
For instance, the team of BELLSTECH students and Alumni in the field of Architecture deservedly clinched the first prizes at three different national competitions! These include being the National Winner of the 2020 Enyo Open Ideas Competition for best petrol station design awarded by Enyo Petroleum company.
It was the same at the Lagos City of Water design awarded by ‘Voen Foundation. And of course, they also got the Founder’s Choice Award 2020 for the Lagos City Water Design. In addition, the Bells Architecture Students Association was the second best in Nigeria, as awarded by the Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA) for 2019, as awarded in 2020.
All these dovetail into the full accreditation of courses offered at the university as one commendable feature of the past and present administrations. As the Vice Chancellor rightly explained it: ‘’The university takes special pride in the fact that detailed attention is paid to the quality of our programmes. This is reflected in the good results of our various accreditation programmes, both by the National Universities Commission (NUC) and various relevant professional bodies”.
Added to the courses which have received such are civil engineering by NUC and COREN, Architecture by ARCON, Building Technology by CORBON, Urban and Regional Planning by TORPEC as well as Accounting by ICAN. There was also resource verification for new programmes to actualize the vision of the University.
To strengthen its service delivery there has been re-accreditation of matured programs in the Colleges of Natural and Applied Sciences (COLMAS), College of Engineering (COLENG) and that of Environmental Sciences.
These have become possible due to valuable input of the Directorate of Quality Assurance Unit (QAU) for deploying all resources and expertise for the success of online engagements. The Advancement Centre engaged in various linkages and collaborations to improve relationships and advancing the frontiers of researches and collaborations. They all deserve a pat on the back!
With all these laudable achievements added to the institution’s determined focus on collaborative efforts with globally acclaimed institutions such as the Seed Lab in United States of America, African Academy Management, Covenant University, Ota and Labingate the future looks bright and beautiful!
It is big kudos to Prof. Ojediran, the Deputy VC, Prof. Olubukola Kuforiji and the capable Management Team for showing the world that: “great leaders do not give excuses for failure but find the reasons to succeed”
Without doubt, the 925 students at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, who will be graduating at the convocation ceremony, scheduled for April 10 have been brought up as solution-providers. Indeed, buoyed by thoroughbred academics and the wise words from Chief, Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo in their Interactive Sessions with Baba, they are ready to fly, like the eagle above the cumulous clouds and reach for the glittering stars to become part of them.