Wednesday, 7th June 2023

Day Ganduje gave back to UI

By Sunday Saanu
26 February 2023   |   3:10 am
An American actor and orator, Albert Pike made profound assertion years back, saying “what we have done for ourselves alone dies with us, but what we have done for others, and for the world remains and is immortal.”

An American actor and orator, Albert Pike made profound assertion years back, saying “what we have done for ourselves alone dies with us, but what we have done for others, and for the world remains and is immortal.” Expanding this assertion, another American writer who was a statesman and a scientist, Benjamin Franklin averred that “if you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, you either write things worth reading or do things worth writing about.”

These two opinions vividly capture the trails that Kano State Governor, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje recently blazed in Nigeria’s premier university – the University of Ibadan (UI), when he gathered his friends and associates to contribute over N300 million to build and donate an ultra-modern auditorium of 500 seating capacity, comprising a Large Lecture Theatre (LLT), classrooms, offices, cafeteria and toilets. Arguably, the auditorium as at today is the best auditorium in UI where Dr. Ganduje bagged his PhD in Public Administration in 1993.

With this feat, Dr. Ganduje has achieved what a Dutch footballer, Dean James calls “the only greatness for any man to achieve in life: immortality.” What is immortality? Immortality, according to Brandon Lee, “is to live your life doing good and leaving your mark behind.”

The key to immortality is living a life worth remembering. For many years to come, how can the UI forget an alumnus who looked back and gave back to the institution that made him? I have said it over and over that one of the ways to achieve immortality is for one to come and build a lecture theatre in the university and have such a building named after the donor. This is what the Kano State Governor has just done.

Indeed, 16 February, 2023 will forever remain a red letter day in the history of the University. This was the day this gigantic auditorium was commissioned with fanfare as elated UI students, led by their President, Mr. Adewole Adeyinka were chanting and singing various hilarious songs of affirmation and praises in honour of the donor. Clearly, UI glowed with gratitude. The buzz of excitement was so deafening. The ambience of the event created a convivial mood. The jubilation reached a crescendo with the arrival of Dr. Ganduje into the tumultuous welcome of the jubilant students as they continually shouted,  “Ganduje, Ganduje, Ganduje”.

But how did it all start? The University of Ibadan Alumni Association (UIAA) under the leadership of the immediate past President, Prof. Elsie. O. Adewole had approached the governor for assistance to lift UI from some infrastructural decay and inadequacy. Governor Ganduje who was so preoccupied with state matters in Kano where he was lifting his people from semi-feudal rurality to modernity never demurred. He promised to talk to his friends who would join him to build and donate an auditorium to the Faculty of Basic Science.

Forget about whatever may be perceived as human tendency to which he is not immune, Ganduje whose giving hands have been noticed in several areas of the socio-economic life of the nation, completed the auditorium within a record time. This quintessential gentleman whose passion for education and health is unparalleled touched UI with a love unfeigned. He has contributed to UI in excess of people’s expectations.

While commissioning the project, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who was represented by a one-time UI Vice-chancellor, Prof. Isaac Folorunso Adewole noted that Ganduje did not build and donated an auditorium, rather this phenomenal philanthropist has built a complex which is one of the best infrastructure in UI. Tinubu who praised Ganduje for enriching UI, observed that UI would forever be grateful for what this Kano State government has done. In his own remarks, the Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado Bayero described Ganduje as a promise keeper, saying, “Ganduje is made for a mission of transformation. He is very affectionate and generous, friendly and fearless.”

Speaking at the occasion, UI VC, Prof. Kayode Adebowale remarked that Governor Ganduje was one of the distinguished alumni whose impact on the institution is so glaring. Represented by his Deputy on Administration, Prof. Ezekiel Olusola Ayoola, the VC hinted that his administration saw alumni as partners in progress, hence the recent creation of  Alumni Office which is saddled with the responsibility of taking care of alumni’s interests.

In their separate remarks, UIAA President, Prof. Saawua Gabriel Nyitayo and one-time UIAA, Dr Kemi Emina praised Governor Ganduje for his courage, determination and generosity, pointing out that the governor has been a bastion of solid support for UI.

Responding, Dr. Ganduje who was visibly elated with the volume of appreciation trailing the commissioning disclosed that one of the reasons he loved UI was that he never suffered discrimination on account of his ethnic background during his studies. The governor hinted that the programme was concluded on time, adding that the quality of training he received was wonderful.

Clearly, Governor Ganduje is blessed with an uncommon ability to coordinate factors and means to pursue his aspiration without taking anyone for granted. His sublime humility and ability to reach out to his friends and associates, as well as his foot soldiers, is part of his success secrets. Kudos should be given to Kano State Information Commissioner, Mallam Mohammed Garba who acted as Governor’s eyes and ears throughout the construction period.

In a previous piece, I had argued that the relationship between a school and its former students is analogous to that of a father and his children. A responsible father, within an African context, laboured to raise his children properly with an expectation that the children would make him proud in future and ultimately take care of him in his old age. In the same breath, a good school which has succeeded in producing quality students expects to enjoy the goodwill of its old students for the products are its wealth. Although no law makes it mandamus that every alumnus must come back to assist their alma mater, it is a moral conversation, really, that a river should always remember its source. Alumni should look back with a view to giving back.

While one appreciates Dr. Ganduje’s gestures and many others that had given back to UI, it is apposite to call on the rest of the old students to remember their school as government alone can’t fund education.
• Saanu (08034073427; is with the University of Ibadan.

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