Zenith Bank Plc has named an imposing edifice housing its University of Lagos branch and the institution’s alumni after the late vice chancellor of the university, Prof Oyewusi Ibidapo-Obe.
Speaking last Friday during the commissioning of the four-storey building, the bank’s GMD/CEO and chairman of the Body of Banks’ CEOs in Nigeria, Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, lauded the founder and chairman of the bank, Mr. Jim Ovia, for attending the commissioning of the building “to honour the memory of his late friend, Prof. Oyewusi Ibidapo-Obe,” who had a passion for served on the board of Zenith Bank as a non-executive director and had a passion for youth education and digital learning.
He also announced that Zenith Bank had so far built no fewer than 15 ICT centres in various tertiary institutions and cities all over the country.
He added that “no single institution or individual has been able to accomplish what we have done in that respect.”
“This is in addition to several other support to the university, including the institution of Academic Excellence Awards in 2001, where the best graduating students from selected departments – banking, finance, business administration, economics and accounting, receive awards with financial rewards (currently N500,000) and employment opportunity, and the donation of 3,500 tablets to enable indigent students of the university to learn online effectively in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
He also noted Ovia’s remarkable and continued commitment to education and youth development in Nigeria, especially through the setting up of James Hope College, a co-educational institution which offers a combination of British and Nigerian curricula, and the James Hope University, which is billed to commence academic activities next year.
Onyeagwu also recalled the bank’s partnership with the University of Lagos in 2001 with the donation of the first ICT centre.
Onyeagwu noted that the building is a strong statement of Zenith Bank’s sustainability initiatives as a signatory to several global sustainability frameworks including the United Nations Principles for Responsible Banking, as it incorporates many of the elements that make a facility environmentally friendly and sustainable.
Also speaking at the event, the governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel noted the huge contributions of Zenith Bank and, in particular, its founder, to the development of Nigeria.
“When you see things being done consistently in the right way, there is always a man pointing in that direction.
“A lot of people ask me how come you are doing so much in public service; I say I come from a background where my mentor told me that you don’t give excuses, but you report results.
“So, no matter the situation, even in the midst of an economic recession, in the midst of Covid, you should not stop development and performance. As far as you are from the Zenith family, you are expected to have that creativity and ideas that can make you produce results.
“In Zenith, we say only the paranoid survive. So I really want to appreciate what I am seeing here today,” he said.
While thanking the alumni association and the UNILAG authority for their collaborative efforts towards achieving capacity development, Emmanuel expressed his delight and honour to commission a building named after the revered academic, whom he said touched and impacted so many people while he was alive.
In his address, the national president, UNILAG Alumni Association, Dr. John Momoh thanked Ovia as well as the management of the bank for the magnificent building.
He also thanked the deceased wife, Sola, for accepting the association’s request to name the building after her husband as a lasting legacy in his honour.
He encouraged everyone to take good care of and maintain the building to serve the university community for years to come.
In her remarks, the vice chancellor of the university, Prof. Folasade Ogunsola, acknowledged the invaluable contributions of Zenith Bank to the development of the school.
She promised to work with the old students’ association to ensure that the facility serves not only the alumni but also the entire students.
She thanked Ovia for donating 3,500 tablets to the university, which, according to her, ensured that students who could not afford laptops for e-learning during the covid-19 pandemic were not left behind.
In her remarks, Mrs. Sola Ibidapo-Obe thanked Ovia for immortalising her husband with such a great edifice.
Recalling how close he (Ovia) was to her late husband, Ibidapo-Obe said: “You are my husband’s friend. Dr. Jim Ovia has demonstrated the love that does not die in his friendship with my beloved husband.
“When he fell ill, Dr. Jim Ovia was there from day one till the last moment. I could feel the way he felt. From then, I knew that he was a genuine friend. He tried his best to ensure my husband survived, but he did not,” she added.