As part of activities marking the 40th Foundation Anniversary of Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye, the University has organised a Town and Gown Day to strengthen existing relationship with its host communities. The foremost tertiary institution also pledged to celebrate the event annually as a form of commitment to sustain the bond simpliciter among the indigenes, students and other members of the University Community.
In his remarks at the flag-off of the four-day celebration on Monday June 5, 2023, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ayodeji Agboola, noted that there was urgent need to establish strong and effective collaboration between Nigerian universities and their host communities to enhance academic research development in the country. He called on universities to bridge the gap between the ‘town and gown’ by making their research works relevant and impactful on the society.
Prof. Agboola underscored the significance of synergy between tertiary institutions and host communities, saying both have many things to learn from each other. According to him, the mandate of universities, including teaching, research and community service, is driven by the need to improve the lot of the people.
The Vice-Chancellor described any research work that is devoid of benefits to the society as useless, stressing that the overall objective of academic research should be the betterment of the society.
Prof. Agboola, who enthused that the university town of Ago-Iwoye had positively impacted on him, enjoined students to see people of the host communities as their parents and guardians in order to derive maximum benefits.
He said, “This University was actually established 40 years ago. We flagged off series of activities to commemorate the anniversary in January and we actually believe in history. When the University started, it was from the town. That time we didn’t even have the gown to take there. They accepted us and gave us everything that they had. “During that period, they prayed for us that all students that were going to be produced in the institution will be successful. I am happy to inform you that I am one of them. I was there, I graduated there, I worked there and today I am where I am. There is nothing we are doing, even research, that does not have the component of town.
“So, whatever you are doing to improve society, you must put the town in mind. If that is not done, then such effort is useless. So it is always important to have both town and gown coming together all the time and seeing that we are one.”
The Vice-Chancellor, who disclosed that the Town and Gown Day would henceforth be organised annually, expressed confidence that it would strengthen the bond of harmony among the indigenes, students and other members of the university community.
“We’ll be doing it yearly now so that people in town will know that we are not their enemies, and people in the University will also know that people in town are their friends and we can come together all the time to celebrate,” he said.
The occasion, which was graced by the Ebumawe of Ago-Iwoye, Oba Abdulrazaq Adenugba, Alaye of Ayetoro, Oba Abdul-Azeez Adelakun, and the Olu of Ibogun Sowunmi, Oba Timothy Oyebola Sowunmi as well as residents of various host communities, featured drama presentation, cultural performances and exhibitions, among others.
In their separate remarks, the traditional rulers commended the University Management for maintaining cordial relationship between the host communities and students of the institution.
On his part, Oba Adenugba described OOU as the mainstay of Ago-Iwoye economy. The Ebumawe specifically enjoined other tertiary institutions to emulate the University by holding town and gown events. He emphasised that such relationship-building events would be mutually beneficial to educational institutions and the host communities.
“As far as University education is concerned, Olabisi Onabanjo University is a pacesetter, it’s an institution and a household name in the academia and I’m sure the pace has been set by the University and it will go round other universities,” the monarch said.
Speaking in the same vein, the Olu of Ibogun Sowunmi expressed hope that the event would continue to promote peace and shared values among the parties. Meanwhile, the Town and Gown Day which formally came to a close on Thursday June 8, 2023 and drew massive attendance from the University’s Campuses in Ago-Iwoye, Sagamu, Ayetoro and Ibogun featured exhibition and sale of traditional delicacies such as Ebiripo, Ikokore, Adalu, Ojojo, Ewa peu, Aadun, Robo, Ponmo, Akara and Moinmoin, among others.
Other series of activities included traditional dances and performance by masquerades and local hunters as well as exhibition of artifacts, crafts, indigenous crowns, local pots, beads and farm produce. Batik materials (Adire) and other fashion products made from the host communities were also on display.