Without fear of contradiction, it is patently obvious that Wednesday, 2nd March, 2022 remains indelible in the annals of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN). The NOUN’s headquarters at Jabi, Abuja, was agog as people from all walks of life and members of staff of the university thronged to the Convocation Arena to honour a seasoned academician, an icon and apostle of Open and Distance Learning(ODL), the Ogurefa of Ogori in Ogori Mangongo Local Government Area of Kogi State, Emeritus Professor Olugbemiro Jegede, who clocked 70. The event attracted men and women from all over the country. The ace TV presenter, Eugenia Abuh, mastered the ceremony. The event, by all standard, was a huge success!
Jegede succeeded Professor Afolabi Ojo, the pioneer Vice-Chancellor (VC) of NOUN. He was appointed in October, 2003 by the then President, Chief (Dr) Olusegun Obasanjo, to man the resuscitated NOUN. Out of concern for one’s country, Jegede, without hesitation, left his lucrative office as Foundation Director and Chair Professor, Centre for Research in Distance and Adult Learning (CRIDAL), The Open University of Hong Kong, in October, 2003. He left NOUN in 2010 following the official expiration of his tenure amidst tears of joy from nooks and crannies of the university.
Jegede’s achievements as the second VC of NOUN cannot be forgotten in a hurry. He brought NOUN to the limelight. He ensured the university was built on a solid rock so that it would not be blown away by the wind of circumstances. No wonder at his exit from NOUN in 2010, members of staff found it difficult to hide their feelings of joy, tears, encomiums and prayers for the man who has impacted many lives educationally, physically and emotionally.
After over a decade of his exit, Jegede returned to NOUN to celebrate his 70th birthday. Yes, no any other place but NOUN! He did not celebrate at Sheraton Hotel or in NICON Luxury Hotel. He neither celebrated it in his beloved Ogori community where he was born and honoured with a chieftaincy title nor in Dubai, as some Nigerians normally do, but in NOUN. His choice of NOUN as a befitting venue for his birthday celebration raises some critical issues.
The question is: why did he decide to celebrate in NOUN and what are the implications? The answer to this question is not far-fetched.
It is glaring that, his birthday celebration in NOUN was a clear demonstration of one of the essential ingredients of parenthood: parental attention, love and care. This implies that even though Jegede is not physically present in NOUN, he is with NOUN in spirit. To crown it all, he used his 70th birthday to identify with his family members – the NOUN family. As a former VC, he is a father of NOUN.
Jegede’s action is highly commendable and worthy of emulation. It behoves on every Nigerian to key into this act by remembering their former places of work. Like Jegede did, always remember your former place of work, alma mater, former organisation, community, family etc. Keep contributing your unalloyed quota towards the growth and development of your former place and make the society a better place for all.
More importantly, Jegede’s birthday celebration in NOUN has also projected the institution positively to the public. This is because those who may have not heard about or been to NOUN, the Jegede’s birthday in NOUN has widened their horizon about it.
Above all, Jegede’s birthday celebration is didactic. It means wherever you are, always do good.The encomiums, praises and prayers for Jegede on his 70th birthday are still fresh in our minds! The calibre of people from within and outside the country that graced the occasion lent credence to his goodness. Jegede’s numerous awards in a book form is also instructive and an eye-opener to all. Once again, always do good. Prof. Jegede should be your case study. Affect lives positively. On this basis, Sunday Adelaja’s immortal words in his book, The Mountain of Ignorance should be pondered upon: “If you have committed all things to impacting a life at a time, or impacting a community or society, then welcome to a life of significance.”
On this note, let’s welcome the Ogurefa of Ogori, the ODL exponent and an academic icon, Emeritus Professor Olugbemiro Jegede, to a life of significance at 70!
Sunday Adama is a staff of the Directorate of Media and Publicity,National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN). E-mail: adamaSonism@gmail.com