On behalf of myself and the entire members staff of the Department of Chemistry, I wish to welcome you to this great citadel of Learning and Culture. Close to one million applicants wrote the 2009/2010 UME throughout Nigeria, out of whom less than a third was given admission to the tertiary institutions. You are all lucky to have scored at least 200 marks for this is the very minimum mark that guaranteed your admission to this University in addition to credits in five relevant subjects including English and Mathematics at the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE / GCE). Let me briefly review the History of this department in an effort to show that there is a tradition for you to follow and people to emulate.
Brief History of the Department
University education in Nigeria started with the establishment of the University of Ibadan in 1948 and remained the only university in the country for 12 years until the establishment of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1961 and the University of Ife at the temporary site in Ibadan in 1962. The University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) started with 214 students in five faculties including the Faculty of Science where the Department of Chemistry is a component part. Teaching in the university started with a total teaching, administrative and technical staff strength of about 80.
The Department of Chemistry also started academic work in earnest in 1962, with about fifteen expatriate members of staff, only Drs Oke and Ogunkoya were Nigerians. It is note worthy that these two pioneering lecturers in Chemistry later became Vice-Chancellors – Professor Oke became the pioneer Vice-Chancellor of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomosho (1988-1995) and Professor Ogunkoya was Acting Vice-Chancellor of Olabisi Onabanjo (Ogun State) University, Ago-Iwoye (1999-2001). The next set of indigenous members of staff recruited into the Department of Chemistry included Drs. Macaulay and Sanni who paved the way for the present Chemical Engineering Department. Also recruited during this period was Dr. Onajobi, who later became a foundation member of staff in the Department of Biochemistry.
The first set of graduates was produced in the 1965/66 academic session. A staff development programme initiated by Professor Oluwasanmi – the indefatigable Vice-Chancellor (1966-1975) – soon produced a new crop of lecturers for the department, some of them trained in the best universities in Britain and America. A substantial number of the present members of staff trained under this programme are now Professors in the department.
The first comprehensive undergraduate degree programme based on the course unit system – the first of its kind in the university started in 1976/77 session and graduate studies commenced in 1972/73 session. The department produced her first PhD graduate in 1980 and has since produced not less than 7 doctorate degree holders to the teaching staff of the department.
Although, a Nobel Prize might not have been won in the department, research activities were quite intense, leading to publications in highly recognized international journals. Even at present, though “things ain’t what they used to be”, a considerable number of research activities is still going on in the department. A computerized infrared and ultraviolet spectrophotometer recently procured by the department have brightened the horizon of research activities.