As part of the activities for the ongoing University of Ibadan 2019 Convocation ceremonies, the university on Thursday held its summit for small and medium scale enterprises. The event christened "First University of Ibadan Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Summit held at the International Conference Centre, Ibadan. Speaking in his capacity as the Chairman of the ceremony, a former Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Prof Olufemi Adebisi Bamiro FNSE said the premier university has started a revolution that will provide platforms for the Small and Medium Enterprises to compete for value and sustenance saying "whenever university interacts with the SMEs, there will be competition, for to make the SMEs competitive in their various sectors is the role of the university”. For the university to achieve this goal, the retired university administrator called on the government to fund universities to carry out industrial scanning examination that will spur the level of competitiveness in the SMEs sector. He challenged the Bank of Industry (BOI) and others operating in the banking sector to rise to the assistance of SMEs, in order to achieve competitiveness and greatness. Bamiro also encouraged Nigerians to rise to their challenges and invest in themselves, rather than shying away from their challenges with complaints. The Don who described the role of the university in fostering the town-gown relationship, to be to solve the identified problems in industries through multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary research, however, encouraged the academia to work together to provide solutions for industries. He said, “there is no problem of development we can solve without having it multidisciplinary and we have to develop that culture. We have a lot to gain from working together. "Unibadan must take this giant step and let others follow. Unibadan, if its claims first, then other people should follow. Ibadan cannot do it alone but will always show the way for more and more institutions to come”. Earlier in his welcome address, the Vice-Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Prof Idowu Olayinka said the mission of the university is the centre for academic excellence but must be geared towards meeting the societal needs. He pleaded with the private sector that seeks to make a profit to come to the aid of UI graduates to secure employment. He added that the triple elites; academic, government and the private sector need to collaborate to meet the needs of Nigeria because of an increasing number of youth which has its average age as 18.5 years. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research, Innovation and Strategic Partnerships), Prof Olanike Adeyemo, speaking on “Rationales for UI-SME Collaboration” said SMEs face a lot of challenge and need university input to be resourceful, and UI is re-positioning itself to provide these solutions. She noted that the solutions to the problems of the industry will not only come from the lecturers but also from students who are giving themselves to research and innovations. According to her, for the university to continue to be a centre of excellence, there is a need to collaborate with the industry, saying "you might have ideas but if it is not synergized, it may not see the light of the day. A good education is not free”. In their various presentations, Mr Nnamdi Okonkwo, the Managing Director, Fidelity Bank Plc represented by Mr Osaigbovo Omorogbe, Divisional Head, SME Division spoke on “Fidelity Bank, SMEs and Higher Education Engagement” said SMEs is not about fund but to be in the right business line and to have the knowledge of how much better to manage. The Fidelity bank boss said the bank is highly interested in ensuring that an average SME thrives well. He counselled the SMEs to partner with higher institutions to achieve their goals and be sustained in the labour market. Mr Pacqueens E. Irabor, The State Manager, Bank of Industry Limited (BOI) who spoke on “The Role of the Bank of Industry in SME and Academia Partnership” said education should be built around vacation to close the skill gap that exists between the university and the industry. He stressed that the solution to the problem of the whole world will only come by going spiritual, which is the world of imagination to bring about innovation. Looking into the future, he said the present education will no longer be relevant, therefore there is a need for innovation. He advocated for best practices and best standards for SMEs “standard and global best practices should be resonating in your head”. He further stressed that the focus of BOI is to look for projects that can create jobs and wealth for society. He advocated for alignment (SME School) as a solution to partnering SME and academia. He noted that although education does not allow imitation, in the real world, one needs imitation, adding that "our university must be a platform where students can identify their passion and work at it." Mr Irabor challenged the University of Ibadan to send their students to write projects on real-life situations, urging it to also create a database that can monitor projects already submitted to curb plagiarism. Prof T.A. Ewemoje, the Convener, UI-SME Committee spoke on “Introduction of UI-SME Collaboration model and the website”. He remarked that the University of Ibadan has gone beyond theory to go practical, noting that the institution has a lot of SMEs that link up with the society, for town-gown collaboration. He gave the website of UI-SME as https://sme.ui.edu.ng. Mrs Mercy Oguntimehin, Industrial Training Fund represented by Mr Olabode Soyimade, Area Office Hub spoke on “Comments on Impact of SIWES on Academia-Industry Relationship. He said Student Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) provides an avenue for students in higher institutions to acquire skills and prepare students for employment. Mr David Tolu Afolayan, MD/CEO, GIS Konsult Ltd. Ibadan commented that there is a need for interactions between the town and gown to promote societal value. In a bid to collaborate with the University of Ibadan, in 2017, he recalled that he partners to solve problems that will help UI take whatever they have to the industry. He said there is a need for SMEs and their partners to have a WIN-WIN value exchange or solutions while calling for partnership with the SMEs in UI. "There are lots of SMEs in UI, so let us take practical steps that can make them visible, registered and standardized", he added.
Directorate of Public Communication