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HomeEducationHOW THE UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN DECLINED THE REQUEST OF GENERAL GOWON TO...

HOW THE UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN DECLINED THE REQUEST OF GENERAL GOWON TO CONFER AN HONORARY DOCTORATE ON EMPEROR SELASSIE OF ETHIOPIA

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A test of University’s commitment to merit and personal integrity of its members came during the tenure of Prof. Adeoye Lambo as Vice – Chancellor. Sir Smauel Manuwa was the Chairman of Council. A request came to the University through the Chairman of Council, from the Visitor of the University, General Gowon, Head of State and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria which was brought before the Senate of the University. Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia was coming on a State visit to Nigeria as guest of the Federal Military Government. The University was requested by the Visitor to confer on the Emperor at a special convocation an Honorary Dr. of Letters degree during the visit. The Senate of the University declined to grant the request on the grounds that it could not justify such a decision through an honest citation. The Emperor had done nothing to improve the lives of his subjects who were suffering under one of the worst conditions of poverty in Africa. Their views were communicated to the Chairman of Council. He was embarrassed. He requested for a joint meeting of Council and Senate. At that joint meeting, all the pleading from the Chairman and members of Council failed to move Senate to shift from its stand. Senate members argued that a citation on the August candidate would not be free of false statements and would be damaging to the image of the University. This was reported back by the Chairman of Council to the Visitor.

The Federal Government passed the request to Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria which granted it. A Convocation was held and the Honorary Doctor of Letters was conferred on the Emperor as requested. The stand of the University of Ibadan was however vindicated because on the day following the special Convocation at which the Emperor obtained the Honorary Dr. of Letters of Amadu Bello University, he was toppled by a popular coup at home. He did not regain his crown. On arrival back at home he was placed on house arrest living under disgraceful conditions until he died.

SOURCE: PATH OF DESTINY: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY BY JIMOH MOSOBALAJE OYAWOYE. OYAWOYE IS AFRICA’S FIRST PROFESSOR OF GEOLOGY. HE BECAME A PROFESSOR IN 1966 AT THE UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN.

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