It was as if it was planned to commemorate the 2019 Matriculation Ceremony of the University of Ibadan held recently.
No sooner the ceremony ended than the workaholic Vice Chancellor, Prof. Abel Idowu Olayinka ‘commanded’ some selected University senior staff to accompany him to Lagos to visit one of our alumnae who matriculated in 1969. She is no other person than the Publisher of The Guardian Newspaper, Lady Maiden Alex-Ibru.
She was one of those honoured last November while UI was marking the 70th anniversary, but couldn’t attend the function as she was out of the country. However, in line with his characteristic humility and respect for the elders, the VC decided to take the award to Lagos, having informed the recipient how much UI values and appreciates her.
At exactly 1 pm, the delegates, including the Registrar, Mrs. Olubunmi Faluyi, the Dean, Faculty of Arts, Prof. Ademola Omobewaji Dasylva among others took off from Ibadan only to arrive Lagos at 4 pm.
On getting to Rutam House, the corporate headquarters of the newspaper, we were enthusiastically received by the eloquent Lady Maiden Alex-Ibru who had prepared sumptuous meals for us as well as gifts for every one of us including those who couldn’t make the trip but whose names were on the list.
When the VC told her we set out immediately after the matriculation ceremony, hear her, “Matriculation Ceremony in June? Why? But the academic session used to be from September to June? What has happened to the system?”
“Well, it is as a result of various industrial actions and disruptions in the University system “, Prof. Olayinka explained, adding, “that is why we are appealing to our students to embrace peace so as to protect the system and stop elongating the studentship period”.
“This was the picture of my own matriculation in 1969. It was published by the defunct Sketch newspaper” Lady Ibru brought out her old picture and displayed it to our amazement! What a culture of record-keeping!
However, It was a day of boundless reminiscences as the VC explained the reasons UI was conferring a Lifetime Achievement Award on her, saying this was in recognition of her stellar accomplishments in life.
Prof. Olayinka, described Lady Alex-Ibru as a role model and quintessential woman whose life achievements are inestimable and inspiring
According to the VC, “The award was a recognition and celebration of great icons and alumni of the institution as there is no way we will celebrate the greatness of the UI without celebrating the people that made our institution prestigious through their lifetime achievements.
“The award was instituted as part of activities marking the 70th anniversary of the institution. We looked at her profile, she came to UI in 1969. We looked at what she has achieved in the last 50 years both as a student during which she was very active and then when she left the university. She is someone we are very proud of. We think she is a role model, an icon for the current and future generations of students. So, we thought she’s someone we need to celebrate. That was why she was recommended for the lifetime achievement award by her alma mater”
“Lady Ibru, you are a role model and we will appreciate if you can visit us and inspire our young ones. They need to understand that your accomplishments did not come on a platter of gold.”
The highly elated publisher relived her days at UI as she thanked the VC for the recognition, saying the award meant a lot to her. “It came as a shock to me, you coming to honour me. I’m deeply honoured from the bottom of my heart,” she said .
The Chairman, Editorial Board of The Guardian, Prof. Wale Omole, in his response commended the vice chancellor of the University for the Honour conferred on the publisher, saying it was well deserved. He also lauded the VC for sustaining the vision of the founding fathers of UI.
The Chief Operating Officer and Editor-in-Chief of The Guardian, Mr. Debo Adesina, while congratulating Lady Alex-Ibru described her as a sunny soul and thanked UI for seeing the glory of the sun.
Also at the occasion were Gen Chris Alli and Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi.