The weather was cold. It had rained the previous night and canopies that were already erected, fell. The ground was muddy and wet. It was going to be a long day. Also, to move freely, you needed to be cautious of the ground, so as not to soil your wears and more importantly, not to trip and fall.
The occasion was the combined convocation ceremony of the University of Jos (Unijos) which held over the weekend at the Jerry T. Useni mini stadium, Permanent site campus of the institution.
The convocation ceremony was a time to award certificates, diplomas, and degrees as well as PhD’s to deserving graduates of the university. With the cool air, and the not-so-cool floor, the event kick-started at about some minutes past 10:am in the morning.
Leading the university senate procession was the registrar, Barr Jilli Dandam. The school choral group were also handy in providing ear-enticing musical interludes, as the procession which included the school’s Vice Chancellor, Chancellor, Pro Chancellor,NUC Secretary, Prof Julius Okojie, and others.
After this, the national and school anthem ‘’Unijos, Our Unijos’’ were rendered, the Mic Comperes — Mrs Nancy King of the department of Theatre and Film Arts, Dr Sarah Lwahas, HOD, Mass Communication, and Prof Tor Iorapu , Dean, Faculty of Arts, took over and began to coordinate the proceedings of the day.
The ‘Ogas At The Top’
The occasion was also a roll call of many cream de la cream from different walks of life. From the political world, there were the Governors of Plateau, Bauchi and Taraba states; Deputy Governor Plateau State, Prof Sonni Tyoden; former Deputy Governor of Plateau State, Dame Pauline Tallen; former Governor of Plateau state, Rear Admiral S.B Atula; members from both states and national houses of Assembly; Head of Service of the federation, Mr Danladi Kefas; Hon Beni Lar, representing the Federal House of Assembly, Abia, Speaker, Plateau State House of Assembly Mr Peter Azi, TY Danjuma, among others.
There were also dignitaries from the academia, headed by the National Universities Commission (NUC) Secretary, Prof Julius Okojie and Prof Jerry Ghana, the Pro Chancellor of the University of Lagos.
Also, many clergy men graced the occasion as well those from the traditional empires of Kano, Zaria, Owo, and so many others.
Security personnel’s and protocol chiefs had a very busy day keeping favour and well-wishers from gaining access to these dignitaries, even as they had to keep very straight faces and at intervals, shoved both students and others who try to gain their favor.
Watch and Listen to the event Live
Members of the Nigeria Union of Journalist, Correspondent Chapel Plateau state, were on ground to give adequate coverage to the event. The Plateau Radio and Television was also on ground with their Outside Broadcast Van to give live coverage to both the radio and TV arms of the media house. The school radio station, Unijos ICE 96.1 FM, was also on ground to transmit the event live from the stadium.
Also, the Unijos ICT directorate was also live streaming the event.Other media stations like Silverbird, Rhythm FM, Channels, Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), and a host of others from Bauchi and Taraba, were duly represented.
We carter to your needs
The convocation ceremony was also a good time to make money from the well-wishers that gathered to celebrate the achievements of their friends. Outside the stadium, a serious beehive of business related activities were ongoing. From the women who sold sachet water (Pure water) to those who are interested in selling snacks and soft beverages, to those who had cooked some staple foods and had their plates and ‘’take away’’ ready, we also had those whose business were operated from a van — it was a mobile shop selling all sorts of snacks and drinks, down to the DVD and CD plates bosses who disturbed the already polluted air with more noise from the CD plates, blaring very loud music for all to listen to and buy the advertised songs and programmes.
There were also those who had taken out time to print various alumni products such as Unijos mufflers, badges, crests, TShirts, books and pens with ‘’Unijos @ 40’’ inscriptions, to the Mass Communication students who had become advertisers and markerters and were selling and advertising their copy of the Unijos Echo Newspaper.
Others who had a field day were the photographers who could not allow the celebrants go freely without asking them to bend in one style and stretch out necks like they were suffering from some new ailments whose only cure were the flashes of lights from the cameras. So many photographers were handy to give the crowd the ‘’wait and get’’ effect, as their personalised digital printers were on ground to give the pictures taken.
Business was at its very peak, over the weekend and so many people smiled home, with their bank accounts smiling.
Award of Degrees
As the occasion continued, the MC invited various deans from each faculty to lead the students from such faculties towards the award of their degrees. As each Dean came forward, he/she recited the lines with which the award must be awarded.
”May all the graduates from the faculty of Arts for the award of Certificates, Diploma’s and Degrees please stand up”.
As they stand, he goes on o say:
”I present to you candidates from the Faculty of Arts, including those those that are unavoidably absent for whom I stand Proxy, for the award of Certificates, Diplomas, and Degrees in the following class…”’
With that,the dean goes ahead to list the various class of degrees for award to the students. And The Chancllor goes ahead to confer the degree on them.
Investiture of Chancellor and Award of Honourary Degrees
Another highlight of the occasion, was the investiture of the Olowo of Owo from Ondo State as the new Chancellor of the university, while Lt General Theophilus Danjuma (Rtd) was awarded with honourary degrees of Doctor of Science, Honris Causa, for his outstanding contributions to and advocacy of peaceful coexistence, philanthropy, poverty alleviation education and health of the teeming masses across the country.
Prof Toyin Falola was also conferred with the degree of Doctor of Letters, Honoris Causa, fr his outstanding academic achievements, mentoring of young academics and building of research networks internationally, amongst other achievements.
The Chancellor, Oba Victor Olateru-Olagbegi III, was conferred with the Degree of Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa, for his remarkable contribution to peace and stability and legal education in Nigeria.
Executive Handshakes for Senior Graduates and First Class Students
Another special group of convocating graduates were the 164 PhD graduates who were beautifully dressed in yellow and maroon-coloured convocation gowns. The PhD students, unlike the rest of the graduates, all filled in a single line to receive handshakes from the VC, the Chancellor and Pro-Chancellor. It was a moment of fulfillment and joy for them, as they all shook the top shots of the university, each delaying the other person behind, while smiling ceaselessly at photographers who took time to capture the moment. Business, was moving to ‘’its permanent side’’.
After them came the 29 first class students who also happily came up the podium to receive the handshakes. Those pictures that clicked away, will serve as permanent reminders to the event. Be sure to check their sitting rooms hours later, and you will be boldly welcomed with the enlarged picture frames of the history-making handshakes from the University heads.
Also, the department of Mathematics was exceptionally proud of itself for producing 10 first class graduates. The first class graduands all beamed with smiles and sense of accomplishment.
Praise Singers and Favour Seekers
For an occasion of this magnitude, there were enough praise singers who comprised middle and old men who formed various groups of singers with the talking drums clutched underneath their arms, going close to dignitaries, chanting praise songs and slogans, just to elicit good responses in form of money from the dignitaries they could access.
More still, several student unions formed alliances and sought to organise various ‘’welcome to Unijos’’ banners for their state governors who graced the occasion. They had very hard times trying the access the dignitaries, especially the governors present, and Gen TY Danjuma, as the security orderlies had to push and shove them roughly in a bid to stop them from gaining access to the dignitaries.
From the representative of the president, Prof Julius Okojie, to the state governors present, The TETFund boss, Prof Jerry Ghana, amongst others. All wished the university well.
This brought the convocation ceremony to an end, even as the school and national anthems were sung by the choral group, and the university senate made its procession out in reverse order.
It was now time for the part two: eating and merry making!
Eat. Drink. Be Merry!
Many party and fun seekers graced the occasion, after getting invites from the celebrating graduands. There were lots to eat and drink. Cakes. Rice. Jollof Rice. Fried Rice.Salad. Drinks. Snacks. All were handy and as the occasion rounded off at about 3:00 pm, more guests were still trooping the venue for the unofficial ‘’reception’’ to eat and be merry. Accompanying the food, were souvenirs of all sizes and shapes.
The dignitaries on the other hand, retired to the council guest house located at the permanent site campus, for lunch.