Class 1980-83 of the University of Lagos Law students unfolds new agenda at reunion programme, AKEEM LASISI writes
The 1980-83 class, Faculty of Law of the University of Lagos has expanded its aims to cater for indigent members and students. In the past seven years it has been in existence, the alumni group comprising many prominent Nigerians had focused on developmental projects for their alma mater. But discussions at their annual dinner recently in Abuja indicates that the class now dedicates some fund to the indigent stakeholders.
According to the National President of the Reunion, Justice Adedotun Onibokun, the ex-students have decided to expand their focus to foster total development.
Onibokun noted in a statement, “Over the years, we have improved on the objectives of this reunion. We network among ourselves and that has improved, especially now with the publication of the directory of members. We have a permanent committee now that takes care of welfare programme of our members. This year, the board of trustees and the Exco took far-reaching decision concerning welfare.
“We have committed about N10m to taking care of our members who are in need. Apart from this, another reason for our existence is to pay back to our alma mater, Faculty of Law, University of Lagos. Over the years, the reunion has intervened by way of developing and improving on the facility there. This year we earmarked certain amount to rehabilitate some areas.”
He added that apart from improving the facilities and infrastructure, the class 1980-83 believes it should also develop a programme to assist brilliant but less-privileged students in the faculty so that they do not drop out. Again, to encourage good performance, the reunion is endowing a sum of money to inspire the students to aim higher.
“We are endowing a large some of money for awards to the best students, who have the overall best results in the faculty. This will encourage them to aim higher in life. This is our way of giving back to the faculty and re-invest what they invested in us academically,” Onibokun explained.
He recalled that between 2007 and 2012, the class donated a generator and 18-seater bus, as well as air-conditioners.
“In 2009, two members of the group, Senator Effiong Bob and Chief Godwin Obla, raised N5m for the renovation of toilets while Onibokun and Mr. Mike Igbokwe (SAN) have donated books at various times to the Faculty. Another alumnus, Funsho Fayomi, facilitated the deployment of 100 computers with Internet access in the faculty.
When they thus gathered again in Abuja for the annual reunion, it was a feast of nostalgia, fulfillment and further hopes. Among the dignitaries at the event were Justice Adolphus Karibi-Whyte, Prof. Isaac Agbede, Prof. Taiwo Osipitan and Prof. Momodu Momodu. The present Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, Prof. Imram Smith (SAN) also graced the occasion.
“The two-day event kicked off on Friday, March 14 with a dinner/dance. On Saturday, March 15, there was a business session where issues affecting their members and the alma mater were discussed. The reunion train later moved to Senator Effiong Bob’s home where they were treated to sumptuous meal while drinks flowed freely along with cheerful conversations,” the statement added.
While Agbede was quoted as describing the alumni as trail blazers, Smith said he was happy to be with them.
“I’m proud to associate with the faculty that has not failed accreditation. Our students have recorded great height in their endeavours. Out of 15 first class produced by the Nigerian Law School, five of them came from the University of Lagos.
“We are making progress. We thank you for being part of that progress in terms of moral, financial support from this 1983 set, which we refer to as a unique set. We have been able to record success from the support from you, which others have not done. We are happy with this set and your achievements,” he said.
Bob noted that the decision to assemble every year is not just to dine and wine and renew contact with one another, it is an opportunity to look back and reappraise where they are coming from so that they can forge ahead purposefully.
Karibi-Whyte, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, said he got to know about the reunion last year but was thrilled because it was fashioned after American universities.
He said, “There is nothing as good as remembering your alma mater, which brings about remembering your teachers and classmates. UNILAG Law Faculty is unique in the sense that students were free with their lecturers. Then we used to hold tutorials in my sitting room, which showed that UNILAG is a nurturing institution.
“The most important thing is that the confidence students had in their lecturers as at that time is still there.”