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VC’s Address at the UNN Orientation Programme for 2012/2013 Academic Session

Full Text of Professor Bartho Okolo’s Address at the UNN Orientation Programme for 2012/2013 Academic Session


It gives me great pleasure to welcome everyone of you to today’s orientation programme and to the University of your dreams, the University of Nigeria – the home of lions and lionesses.

First and foremost, I congratulate you all on your impressive performances at the University Matriculation Examination (UME) and Post UME, which have earned you a well – deserved place in Nigeria’s foremost university. You need to know that out of the over 30,000 candidates who applied for admission to this university, only 6,000 of you (about 20%) have earned a place at the university and you should all be truly proud of yourselves. Your admission is indeed a dream come true, but it is also the beginning of a bigger dream; the dream to earn a good degree, which will stand you out as truly knowledgeable and employable.

The orientation exercise is an important event in the calendar of the university, during which we aim to facilitate your integration into the university so you can start working towards realising your dream. Thus, it gives us an opportunity to familiarize you (the freshmen) with the facilities and enormous resources at your disposal at the university. It also affords us an opportunity to intimate you with the rules and regulations that should govern your conduct while at the university. In truth, you need both an awareness of these facilities and a good knowledge of the regulations to become successful students, who would stay out of trouble and who would earn good degrees of the university. This way, you can make your parents proud.

To excel, you would also need the knowledge of some time-tested rules of success, such as discipline, hard work, time management, etc. To this effect, the current administration has also invited some resource persons and lifestyle coaches to motivate and train you on some core values and important rules of success, which you will find invaluable not just during your stay here at the university, but also in your career.

For this reason, today should be considered a significant day for most of you. It is indeed a day to make choices: A choice between being a law-abiding student or the law-breaking student; a choice between being a student who would be punctual at lectures and participate in class assignments or the truant who stays away from classes; a choice between being a student that would rely on his abilities to write exams or one who would cheat in exams. It is equally a day to choose between being the student who pays fees and protects university property or one who will forge fee receipts and destroy university property. Between these pairs of options, one leads to success and joy, while the other leads to failure, sorrow and regret.

As I look in your direction I see joyful faces, but I also see the hope and expectations, which your parents have invested in you. Thus, you need to be conscious of the enormous sacrifice which your parents are making to see you through school at this time. I would want you to make a personal decision not to let them down.

As a student of the University of Nigeria, you have the privilege of being a bearer of a great legacy. As you walk round your classrooms, libraries, laboratories and even the pathways, know ye that many great minds have passed through these parts. Their excellence burnished the fame of the University, which made history as the first university in Nigeria to award its own degrees. I am sure that the facilitators would expose you to the rich history of your chosen institution and the core values that have sustained this quest for excellence.

You have come into the university at a very remarkable time in her history. Our university has just celebrated her golden jubilee and is looking forward to the next 50 years with great expectations. Providence has made you the pioneer set in our match towards the next 50 years. You must already have experienced the transformations going on around our campuses. They are part of a properly articulated programme of improving the environment in which we live, work and study. My administration has already invested so much in improving the living conditions in your hostels ranging from outright refurbishing of the buildings to improving the supply of water and light.

We have also installed street lights to keep you safe when you walk around at night. In addition to creating new green and paved lawns around the campuses, we have provided pedestrian walkways to keep you safe from traffic. There is also an on-going project to digitize the classrooms, and refit the laboratories with ultra modern teaching facilities. We also have one of the best libraries in the country, and our campus-wide internet network is second to none in Africa. Furthermore, we are one of the first universities in the country to launch the Tertiary Institution’s Social Health Insurance Programme (TISHIP). Under this programme, all those of you who have paid their fees are entitled to free medical treatment at the University Medical Centre. I encourage you all to register with the University Medical Centre and start benefitting from this wonderful programme.

In fact, the list is almost endless, but I have thought it necessary to mention a few here as a way of making you aware of the very high premium your university places on you, your health and your education. The current administration has been described as a student-focused administration, and that’s what we are. As the biblical injunction goes, “to whom much is given, much is expected “. So, in return, I will demand only one thing of you: that you make use of these facilities in a manner that preserves them for future generations. The resources to provide them are hard to come by, and we cannot afford to replace them if they are destroyed.

As a parent and teacher, my address to you today will be incomplete without words of advice and admonition. My advice to you is to always seek to be on the right side of the law. Spend your time as wisely as you can and always identify your studies as your utmost priority. You should also make out time to socialize so you can acquire a balanced form of education. When in doubt, please ask questions. Every one of you has been assigned an academic adviser, who should be consulted whenever you need guidance with your academics. The student affairs department also offers a student advisory service, which offers free advice to students on a range of issues. You must shun all forms of cheating, forgery and examination malpractice. Remember, it is far more honourable to fail than to cheat.

You must also shun cultism. The University has a zero tolerance policy on cultism and anyone caught involved in cultism will be expelled and, thereafter, prosecuted.

There are a number of legitimate associations which are registered with the student affairs department. Feel free to register and participate in the activities of these associations. A wide range of sporting and recreational facilities are also available on all the campuses for healthy extra-curricular activities. Finally, under no condition should you embark on the wilful destruction of university property. As civilised people, we must find legitimate and civil ways to express our feelings without undue recourse to violence and destruction of property.

Once again, I congratulate you on your admission. I urge you to make the most of the orientation programme. Ask questions and engage your facilitators. I look forward to getting to know each of you in due course. It is my hope that you will leave our campus, saying, as generations of students have said before you, “This place changed my life.”

I wish you success and, like a father and your father in this University, I am expectant that you will excel in all your productive endeavours.

Welcome to the University of Nigeria, Home of the Lions and Lionesses! Join us in our mission to restore the dignity of man. Good luck.


Prof. Bartho N. Okolo (Ph.D Stratchlyde)


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