By Ogochukwu Isioma
It was a gathering of “who is who” in the society as hundreds of alumni of the prestigious University of Benin (UNIBEN) reunited recently in the United States of America (USA) for the University of Benin Alumni Association, North America (UBAANA) 16th Annual reunion.
The ceremony brought together different sets of former students of the great citadel of learning from far and wide and provided a platform to share old stories, achievements, connections and how they can work together for the benefit of their alma mater.
Some of the dignitaries who graced this year’s reunion were the University’s top echelon including the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, Olor’ogun Dr Sonny Kuku; Vice Chancellor, Professor Lilian Salami and Bursar, Mr Victor Imagbe.
The reunion also attracted top alumni from far away Nigeria including President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olumide Akpata – who was the keynote speaker; and the Chief Medical Director, University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), Professor Darlington Obaseki.
Speaking at the auspicious ceremony held in Chicago, United States, President of the UBAANA, Alex Imuetinyan Eronmwon, reeled out some of the achievements of his “dream team” led executive committee since their inauguration on 31st July, 2021.
He said, “We focused our energies on renewing our membership drive…we now have more active members. Additionally, members have been paying their dues within the stipulated timeframe. This is an added advantage for growth and development.”
President Eronmwon revealed that all standing committees have been reconstituted, adding, “new chapters are already in the pipeline. On June 26, 2022, we inaugurated the Northern California chapter. We plan on launching the Massachusetts chapter in a couple of months.”
He said UBAANA has continued to support the University Management, donating projects, including the construction of the UBAANA Recreation Centre at Ekehuan campus of the University, which has now been completed and awaiting commissioning. Eronmwon revealed that a similar but much larger project would be executed at the Ugbowo campus by UBAANA.
“Based on the great need and long-standing challenges with obtaining transcripts from the University, we were able to come up with a plan to revamp the transcript issuance process at the Exams and Records Division and consequently, UBAANA will be supporting them with desktop computers, printers and scanners to expedite retrieval of transcripts”, he added.
On the recent loss of two illustrious former Vice Chancellors of the University, President Eronmwon disclosed that UBAANA engaged in providing support during the passing of Professor Grace Alele-Williams, and will be doing same for Emeritus Professor Osayuki Godwin Oshodin.
Mr Eronmwon reiterated his committment in moving the Association forward, for the good of UNIBEN; while expressing profound gratitude to his team and members of UBAANA for their dedication, sponsors for their magnanimity, and dignitaries for taking time off their busy schedules to grace the reunion.
For the University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Lilian Salami, it was another golden opportunity to laud the Alumni body for its unwavering support towards her Administration since inception in 2019, and seek for a more cordial relationship and support for her Administration’s success, going forward.
Mounting the podium, in her goodwill message, Professor Salami said she was pleased to be part of the 16th Reunion, being the first physical reunion in three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and her first physical attendance since becoming Vice Chancellor.
She lauded UBAANA and her members for always having University of Benin in a good place in their heart and for showing “significant desire” and “committment” toward the growth and development of the University, both individually and collectively.
Professor Salami noted that the UBAANA Annual Reunion has become an international event which UNIBEN Alumni worldwide look forward to attending, adding, “This feat is not unconnected with your ability to live up to the University Moto, ‘Knowledge for Service’, in all areas of your public and private endeavours, which has made you winners. Everybody wants to identify with winners.”
The Vice Chancellor commended UBAANA for her contributions towards her alma mater, noting, “Indeed, your numerous breakthrough and achievements in your profession or vocation and your contributions to the growth and development of the University of Benin are worthy of commendation.”
She listed some of UBAANA and her members’ support towards her Administration to include the donation of 10,000 face masks at the heat of COVID-19, renovation and painting of the common rooms and reading rooms of the Halls of Residence, construction of the UBAANA Recreation Centre, to the donation of computers and audio-visual equipment worth N2.8 million in support of digital education and entrepreneurship laboratory.
Professor Salami said despite the challenges facing Nigerian Universities, management under her leadership has judiciously used the available human and financial resources to carry out various projects and activities in the University since she assumed office in 2019. She went ahead to list some of the projects that have been undertaken during her tenure which ran into 37.
While thanking UBAANA for her past and present contributions to the University of Benin, the Vice Chancellor craved an increased and continued contributions of the Alumni body both individually and collectively as “able and trustworthy partners in progress.”
Professor Salami called on all UNIBEN Alumni worldwide to participate, promote and sustain their individual and collective interests in the activities of the University of Benin in a “mutually beneficial manner”, even as the University continues to live up to her mission statement.
CAMPUS GIST reports that, the University of Benin Alumni Association, North America (UBAANA) 16th Annual Reunion held from Friday 29th to Sunday 31st July, 2022, at the Sheraton Suites, Chicago, United States of America (USA).
Members were treated to a nicely packaged activities lined up to spice up the reunion including Golf outing, Boat ride, Leadership forum, Picnic and Gala night. It is noteworthy to mention that so many UBAANA members from the United States and Nigeria honoured this year’s reunion.
Major highlights of the UBAANA’s 16th Annual Reunion was the presentation of a posthumous award to the first indigenous and late former Vice Chancellor, Emeritus Professor Osayuki Godwin Oshodin, who recently passed away after a brief illness at age 71; and presentation of awards to some alumni by UBAANA’s President, Alex Imuetinyan Eronmwon.