Draft Proposal

Proposal for establishment of

University of Environmental Science and Tourism, Idanre (A Draft)

 

Why environmental science?

Environmental science has got prominence in academic circles as a field of specialization just a few decades ago. Because of its importance, many old universities have added courses leading to Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral degrees in their curricula. United Nations Organization (UNO) also established an agency for environmental concern, UNEP (United Nations Environmental Program.) and other UN agencies also have environmental issues in their programs, World Bank etc. Universities have been set up in some countries for the purpose of studying environmentally related disciplines; some label it University of Environmental Science and Forestry, some call it University of Environmental Science and Earth Sciences, while some call theirs University of Environmental Sciences and Agriculture.  Still some name theirs University of Environmental Sciences. Environmental science is getting more prominent by the day; its subject matter is human existence.  Environmental science is essentially multidisciplinary. It studies the physical, biological and cultural elements of the world. In a nutshell, the field of environmental science is the field of science that studies the interactions of the physical, chemical, and biological components of the environment; and the relationships and effects of the components with the organisms in the environment. The field links many subjects related to the issues including ecology, economics, geography, geology, meteorology, politics and sociology.

Why Idanre?

Idanre is one of the largest towns in Ondo State. The population of Idanre is, according to 2006 census, 129,024 inhabitants comprising 66,996 males and 62,028 females which is 3.74% of Ondo State. The area of Idanre district is 1584,6 sq. kilometers, which makes it one of the largest land mass areas of the State.

Idanre district has three main towns fused together within three kilometers to produce megacity. It has about 450 medium and small sized villages.  Idanre Local Government has the largest forest reserved areas in the country, according to the ministry of solid minerals; Idanre Local Government has a large proportion of Bitumen resources of Ondo State. The population of Idanre Local Government is predominantly agrarian, producing economic agricultural products such as cocoa, palm oil/kernel, and rubber. The local government is the largest cocoa producing area in the country.

Idanre history dates back to between 800 and 1000 years. It has a rich cultural background and a mysterious, “god suffused” environment encased in hills, like Mount Olympus in Greece. Wole Soyinka described Idanre poetically as “a god-suffused grazing of primal giants and mastodons, petrified through some strange history, suckled by mists and clouds.” (Idanre and other Poems, p.57)

In recognition of the natural wonders, and as a testimony to its scientific importance,  the first European to visit the Oke Idanre settlement, which was the main town in the district by then in 1894, observed among others that:

I have noticed many plants and ferns which I have not observed in Yoruba country,” he predicted that,

“the district would I am sure be a veritable paradise for the botanist, or naturalist, and I deeply regret the impossibility of spending weeks instead of days in this particularly interesting neighborhood; Governor Carter described Idanre Hills as, “luxuriant environment with mountains in their eminences…burrowing their heads like hippopotamus through the forest” (Sir Gilbert Thomas Carter, KCMG, Governor of Lagos on his visit to Idanre on September 1, 1894). Idanre Hills have since  2014 been declared a National Monument and the landscape at Oke Idanre has been on the tentative list of UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 2007.

Natural endowment

There had been several scientific studies carried out in the district; both recently and in the past by scholars from around the world; one of such research was the one carried out in 1963 by Professor Arne Schlotz, a scholar from Denmark sponsored by Carlsberg Foundation of Denmark. The Professor remarked in one of his reports that he discovered a variety of Bufo Petretti (a kind of amphibian) in Idanre which could not be found in any other part of the world. Other species of amphibians found in Idanre then were: Bufo regularis, Bufo perreti, Schoutedenella, sp., Ptychadena longirostris, Dicroglossus occipitalis, Phrynobatrachus calcaratus, Hyperolius picturatus, Leptopelis aubryi.

There are other discoveries of near extinct animal species and mammals in Idanre such as bats (order Chiropteran) colonies which would be found in Idanre caves. They had been subject of study by scholars interested in ecotourism. Nigerian Field Society had special interest in Flora and Fauna of Idanre land. The organization, like National Geographic had sponsored naturalists to study the natural endowment of the district. One of the many science oriented visitors observed that “there all kinds of unique species of plants that are not so common elsewhere, e.g. there is a herb that looks like water leaf specie, indigo plant that changes and takes on different colours from time to time, there is the red Aloe Vera plant, wild tomatoes not bigger than a groundnut seed, and there is Odan, alleged to be the tree of life, among others.”  (Evelyn Osagie in her, Idanre:”Treasured relics cry for rebirth”, published in Life Midweek Magazine, January 2010). Mr. Babatope Okeowo from Akure in April 2009 was even blunter and emphatic is his comment that: Idanre especially the surrounding hills” have a lot to offer in knowledge, health, physical fitness, recreation, history, fun and rejuvenation in body, soul and spirit. Get to Idanre Hills you will appreciate the unfathomable work of creation.”

The baseline data of the natural endowment of Idanre Hills had been collected by a team of scientists and naturalists from the Department of Ecotourism at the Federal University of Technology, Akure, at the request of Federal Government; (see their “biodiversity report on Oke Idanre” for the World Heritage document prepared in 2008.

Among the various species that populate Idanre forests are rock hyraxes (procavia cadences), black rhino (deceros biocornis,), African elephant (Loxodenta Africana), red ground squirrel, Wild dogs (Lycaon pietus), chimpanzees and monkeys in large numbers; there are chameleons,  several rodents etc. Apart from the fauna, there are various flora species many are useful for herbs and many are economic trees useful for logging and furniture making etc. (see the attached list of flora and fauna as evidence of the richness of Idanre district). Between the 14th and 17th of June and 19th and 22nd of November 2007, a joint team of all departments (Archaeology, Anthropology, Botany, Entomology Geology, Paleontology and zoology) in the Natural History Museum of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife Nigeria conducted an inventory in order to describe faunal, floral and cultural diversity within Idanre district. During the course of the project, they discovered strange rock-like outcrops jutting slightly out of the surface of an unpaved road which caught the attention of the researchers. Upon closer look it was a molar tooth of an elephant (Mammalia Proboscidea).  (B. A. Ogunfolakan and A Olayemi Preliminary Report of elephant remains in an archaeological site within Idanre Township, Ondo State Nigeria. In Nyame Akuma, No. 69 June 2008.) Because of its height, the district is also good for scientific observatory for geographers and astronomers. All these research activities confirm the observation and prediction of Sir Gilbert Thomas Carter KCMG of 1894.

With the catalogue of various available natural and economic resources in Idanre district, the establishment of University of Environmental Science and Tourism in Idanre makes sense. The district is a fertile ground for training of experts in various disciplines which relate to environmental study and tourism.

Economic Resources

In spite of the relatively small population, Idanre is one of the most resourceful areas in Ondo State that produce most of the economic resources in the State. Idanre district has more than 450 villages and hamlets spread over the land. It has a large forest reserve, where timber logs were produced; it is the largest producer of cocoa beans in the State. Apart from these, Idanre produces food items such as plantain, bananas, Gari etc. in large quantities throughout the year, and it is one of the oil producing areas of the state it’s a member of OSSOPADEC, an Organisation of oil producing regions in Ondo State. There are still untapped resources in large quantities such as Bitumen, quarrying etc.

Pioneers of Progress (Dramatis Personae)

As pioneer in Politics, Chief Gabriel Akin-Deko, an indigene of Idanre, was also the pioneer of sports in Nigeria, as one of the architects of National Sports Council. He was Nigeria’s Chef de Mission to the XVII Olympic Games held in Rome between August 13 and September 15, 1960. Again in 1964, High Chief Akin-Deko was Nigeria’s Chef de Mission to the 18th Olympiad held in Tokyo, Japan. In 1959, Chief Deko was the person who supervised the building of world renowned Liberty Stadium in Ibadan, Oyo State. High Chief Deko’s sporting exploits and achievements were catalogued in the souvenir brochure of the 20th year anniversary of his remembrance in 2007.

High Chief Akin-Deko was the first Minister of Agriculture in the old Western Nigeria. During his tenure, as Minister, he established Farm Settlement at Oniserere Idanre, and other places. He was the African Representative at UN FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization).  There are other Idanre sons and daughters who have excelled in their professions at National level. The Late Chief Owoseni was the Chief Executive of Nigerian Railway Corporation until retirement and death. The land has also produced a SAN, (Senior Advocate of Nigeria) Judges and a Justice of Supreme Court; several Professors in different fields and Engineers, Medical Doctors and Nurses, Police and Military Officers Etc.

Entertainment and Sports

Idanre is the home of tourism in Ondo State. The State government has established the annual sports and music jamborees in Idanre called MARE (Acronym for “Marathon race; Arts and culture; Rock climbing; Exhibition and entertainment”) which is celebrated in December every year since 2009. Before then, many popular films such as “OLOFIN” and others had been shot on the hills that surround Idanre. Indeed, the longest poem written by the only Nobel Laureate in Nigeria Professor Wole Soyinka was written on Idanre titled, Idanre and Other Poems (Methuen Publishers, London 1967).

The MARE Concept and its effect.

The Mare concept developed by Governor Mimiko’s administration is another source of encouragement for this proposed university, since in addition to tourism and infect as a part of it, sports in all its ramifications would be a major part of the departments or colleges of the university. The effect of this would be the promotion of Mare concept to include other sports. The creation of School of sports would relief our youth from taking to drugs out of frustration and they would direct their efforts and energy to more productive activities such as sports, agriculture among others.

Setting up of this University in Idanre which would include sports training or education will definitely result in giving an opportunity for youth of this country in general and of Ondo State in particular for pursuing courses such as (Bachelor of Physical Education) B.PEd, (Master of Physical Education) M.PEd, Diploma/Certificate courses in coaching, physiotherapy, fitness, sports management, sports journalism,  and several allied disciplines such as nutrition and other aspects of physical education. Sports is one of the fulcrums of tremendous economic activity which could boost employment prospects for the youth of this State.

 

At one time in 1987, because of the favorable terrain for Sporting activities in Idanre, the State Government established the Ondo State Sports Institute at Odode Idanre. Idanre community provided a land mass of 50 hectares for the institution. The State government provided funds for running the institute to build facilities such as sports halls, transportation etc. about 250 Potential athletes were trained there and  the Nitty-gritty of sporting activities were taught there. The institute lasted from 1988 until 1993. The Institute was affiliated to The University of Ibadan with Professor Adedeji of the faculty of Physical Education as the head (Ondo State Government gazette of 1988). However, the Institute was removed from Idanre without any reason given; it has not been re-established anywhere else in the State since then. In 2008, The State Government established the first 16 hole Golf Course at Atoshin Idanre and proposed a land for a modern stadium at Alade Town Idanre. These are the three congruent towns about 3 kilometers apart.

Education

In spite of the popularity of Idanre as a tourist resort, and with all these stated resources, there is no single higher institution where the teeming youth from secondary schools could attend. In the letter written to the Governor by members of Idanre day 2015 requesting for higher institution, they stated that Idanre kingdom has more than 71 functioning public primary schools, ten functioning secondary schools and more than six private secondary schools.  Idanre Technical School is the only school in the State that has Tourism in its curriculum. Up till now, there is no teacher to teach the subject.

There are over 50 private Nursery/Primary schools in Idanre and the number is still rising. Although it would not be only Idanre students that would attend the proposed University, but surely the number of those that circumstances forced to become social miscreants and drug pushers would reduce considerably.  This applies especially to those whose parents are not rich enough to send their children to tertiary educational institutions out of Idanre, therefore the majority of the secondary school graduates are at the dead end of education at the secondary school level. This unfavorable circumstance forced many of the youth to become Okada riders, and Idanre district as a breeding ground for political and religious bigotry.

To quote from the address of Hon. Chief of Staff, Dr. Kola Ademujimi on the occasion of Idanre Day 2015 celebration. He observed that the secondary schools in Idanre recorded abysmally poor results in the past WAEC results that “our natural endowment (cocoa and Timber) and commercial motorcycle operation (okada) seem to be responsible for the poor performances of our students,” …he appealed to the Kabiyesis, parents, guardians, teachers and all other stakeholders in the community to “encourage our children not to jettison education, which still remains the bedrock of any society worldwide.”  

Having a university in Idanre would create an enabling environment for the development of most of our youths, it would help to avert the imminent danger of condemning a whole generation to become a “wasted generation” if positive steps are not taken. One cannot but agree with Dr. Kola Ademujimi who solicited that “our royal and spiritual leaders should do aggressive enlightenment campaigns in our palaces quarters, mosques and churches throughout Idanre towns and villages on the way forward”. It is noticed that having a University in this district would go a long way in encouraging positive attitude towards education by Idanre youth living in the community. Like I put it in April 2012 during the inauguration of youths sports club in Idanre Local Government: “We have noticed that many of our youths are taken to drugs such as Indian hemp smoking and doping of all kinds for lack of productive activities; so much so that some of them take to terrorizing their families and neighbors. They become terrors to their neighborhood and the community, as they are prone to other anti-social activities and criminal acts. Providing these up-coming youths with hope for their future, there will be change in their attitude to life”.  After making a passionate plea to the youth to stare clear from the menace of drugs, we must follow it up with the creation of enabling environment and opportunity.

 

Put together, Idanre district is due for a higher institution of no less status than University. The University must as a rule take cognizance of the available social, and natural resources, some of which are enumerated above, which will help to make it grow and attract scholars worldwide.

In 1956, Farm Settlement was established at Oniserere Idanre by the old Western Nigerian Government, and CRIN (Cocoa Research Institute) a Federal Government Institution was established at Owena Idanre, in 1959, it is still functioning until now. In fact these two institutions, Farm Settlement concept and Cocoa research Institute could be used as a springboard for agronomic research and development.

Time Frame

In the interim, it is proposed to start the University at the Temporary sites such as The Technical Institute in Idanre or any other suitable place within Idanre, from the academic year 2017-2018. Initially the university could be affiliated to the existing National or State Institutions pending the completion of the formalities from the National Universities Commission. After the necessary management infrastructure is created along with the engagement of Faculty, the University of Environmental Science and Tourism would be fully functional.

Physical Infrastructure

The university being a community institution, the community has released a land mass of between 100 and 200 hectares each in each of the three main quarters in Idanre for this purpose. These are located at Odowa, in Usunren quarters, Oniyewu, Oniserere- the home of farm settlement in Idanre, and also at Idale quarter. These locations are potential sites suitable for the campuses in the future, since the university is conceived to be a multi-campus.

Funding

The first step towards the fundraising for the proposed university was taken by the committee on Idanre Day 2014 and 2015. In the letters of invitation, signed by the Owa of Idanreland, it was specifically stated that, “the proceeds of the ceremony will be used to establish a university for our town”. The community had done similar thing in 1956 when there was a drive to establish a secondary school in Idanre, the result was the establishment of the premier college in Idanre (Olofin Grammar School) in 1957. We are sure that our people would respond positively when called upon to fund the proposed university.

Apart from the proceeds of Idanre Day celebrations, we are sure that philanthropists, (native or none native) would come forward at the appropriate time to give either in kind or in cash for the establishment and support of the university. However, being a community Institution, the bulk of the expenses would be borne by the community from the money raised therein. The community has donated parcels of land not less than 100 hectares for the permanent site and several buildings are available in the town to use to begin with. What is more, there is a well-stocked library containing no less than 50,000 books journals and research papers donated to the university by Dr. Charles Oladipo Akinde, High Chief Osore of Idanre Kingdom.  Above all there is popular will amongst the public in support of the institution as many indigenes and non-indigenes have pledged support for the establishment of the university. By its very nature, the institution would I am convinced, pull support from national and international funders, organizations or wealthy individuals. I dare say that we have done it before; we can do it again!

 

References

    1. S. Agboola Akintan: “An address of welcome to delegates of 2.day awareness creation and sensitization conference on Tourism, for policy makers, implementers and Idanre community.” (unpublished, 2008)

 

  • National Commission for Museums and Monuments, (2008) Oke Idanre Cultural Landscape Ondo State, Conservation Management Plan (2008 – 2013).
  • Idanre community:  Memorandum on the proposed Ofosu-Idanre-Ondo Federal Trunk Road. (May 2006)
  • Idanre Day 2014 and 2015 brochures.
  • Wole Soyinka, Idanre and other poems, Methuen publishers London, 1967.
  • Journal of Ecology, from 1957.

 

    1. Various publications of Nigeria Field Society, University of Ibadan.  
    2. Arne Schlotz, the Amphibians of Nigeria,  Copenhagen, 1963
    3. Idanre Day Brochure, 2014.
    4. Ondo State Government gazette 1988.
    5. Ogunfolaka and Olayemi: “Preliminary Report of elephant remains in an archaeological site within Idanre Township, Ondo State, Nigeria” Nyame Akuma No. 69 June 2008.

 

  • “How Akin-Deko turned Nigeria world champions in sports” Late High Chief Gabriel Akin-Deko 20th remembrance anniversary 1987 – 2007. Souvenir, pp. 29 -31.

 

 

Written by:

High Chief Charles Oladipo Akinde. LL.B, MA, MBA, Ph.D .MBIM MInstM, AMNIM FR.Econ.S. ICAHM-Expert.

Member, International Institute of Critical Heritage Studies; Member, ICOMOS Committee on Intangible Cultural Heritage;

National Vice-President, Nigeria ICOMOS Committee. CEO, Cultural and Natural Heritage Foundation, Idanre.

Osore of Idanre. (2016.)

 

APENDIX I

Suggested Management Council of the University.

 

UNIVERSITY OF ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND TOURISM IDANRE

228 Broad Street, P.O. Box 109, Odode Idanre, Ondo State, Nigeria.

Proposed University Government or administrative structure

The Provision of Land for the university will be about 100 hectares and 200 hectares to meet modern standards.

Government of the University.

  1. Board of Governors (Trustees), in whom the ultimate authority of resides. The body ordinarily meets once each year to approve the reports of the “University Council” and the Accounts of the University.
  2. The Council of the University with a majority of lay members elected by the Board of Governors meets regularly month by month, and is entrusted with the immediate responsibilities of the University government. Its chairman is the Pro-Chancellor, who as his title implies is the lay officer next in dignity to the Chancellor?

Through the lay members of the Council, the University will be able to avail itself of the skill and experience of prominent men and women, who give freely of their time to help with the conduct of its business.

The immediate concern of the Council is with such matters as finance, the control of investments, the management of land and buildings and the supervision of new constructions.

  1. The Senate of the University, deals with purely academic matters, the Vice Chancellor presides over the Senate, which includes the whole body of the Professors and representatives of the non-professional staff.
  2. The Senate has authority over all the University’s academic work, (through the devolution of responsibilities, it can delegate authorities of certain matters to committees of boards of faculties as the case may be). All such committees thus set up are answerable to the full Senate.
  3. Academic administration is conducted through the Registry. The Registrar is the principal officer in the Registry Department.
  4. The Secretary deals with finance and related matters;
  5. The Bursar is responsible for all work concerned with the construction and maintenance of buildings and grounds.
  6. The Body of the Student body with be handled by the Student Union Government. This will enable the student representatives to sit on a number of university committees.

Main Buildings and Structures required.

  1. Great Hall where inaugural lectures, degree ceremonies and examinations are held
  2. The University Library. With separate room for rare books.
  3. The sports centre and about 60 acres of playing fields. This will provide excellent facilities for most sports.
  4. Parks and recreation facilities
  5. Halls of residence for students on about 40 acres of land and staff quarters.
  6. The Chaplaincy or Church and Mosque as the case may be
  7. Preparatory schools and Primary to secondary schools with facilities for remedial courses.

THE UNIVERSITY TO AWARD DIPLOMA OR ASSOCIATE COURSES, DEGREE COURSES AND POST GRADUATE AND RESEARCH DEGREES, in line with the provisions of the National Universities Commission (NUC).