Heart of Arts

OUR UNILAG: An Acceptance Speech Upon My Conferment with the D.Litt. of the University of Lagos

Toyin Falola


Distinguished members of the faculty, esteemed guests, and the vibrant student body of the University of Lagos, it is with immense humility and profound gratitude that I stand before you today. As I accept this honorary doctorate, a powerful emblem of scholarly eminence, I am reminded of the incredible journey this prestigious institution has undertaken in the realm of higher education. In 1973, I was admitted to study Law at the University of Lagos, just as I was admitted to Ahmadu Bello University, the University of Nigeria, the University of Ibadan, and the University of Ife. I did not study Law in Lagos for reasons that would be told at the appropriate time. I am now an alumnus by another route. Your University of Lagos is henceforth Our University of Lagos!

The University of Lagos has consistently served as a symbol of hope and a catalyst for optimism among countless individuals throughout Nigeria since its establishment. It symbolizes more than just a place of learning but a transformative environment where the mental abilities of persons who will take on leadership positions are developed and improved upon. The institution has consistently pursued a future-oriented perspective, seeking to challenge the existing conventions of its era and set new standards in higher education. This vision is not solely focused on transmitting knowledge; it is centred on shaping the personalities and futures of those who enter its premises, not only in obtaining one of the best credentials in the academic world but also true to its motto, equipping them to serve humanity “indeed and in truth.”

The institution’s steadfast commitment to safeguarding our diverse cultural legacy and unwavering efforts to achieve social fairness exemplify its core ideals. The University of Lagos is not merely a physical infrastructure with classrooms but rather a vibrant hub where varied ideas intersect and flourish, fostering the development of some of Nigeria’s most exceptional minds. This achievement has been facilitated by a dedication to offering a thorough and balanced education to every student.

Within this enclosed space, students encounter an atmosphere that not only supports studying but also encourages the development of intellectual abilities and the pursuit of new knowledge. Education is regarded here not merely as the accumulation of knowledge but rather as a profound and changing experience. Students see a significant transformation in their intellectual abilities, emerging as individuals who can think critically and take on leadership roles, capable of successfully navigating the intricacies of our constantly evolving world.

The University of Lagos has created an environment that promotes intellectual engagement, where students are actively encouraged to address the urgent issues of their time. They are not only passive recipients of knowledge but rather active participants in a dynamic and interactive learning environment. This educational method guarantees that students have abundant opportunities to communicate their thoughts and ideas, not just in the classroom but also through participation in debates, dramatic performances, and other kinds of expressive arts.

At this esteemed establishment, education transcends the conventional confines of lecture halls. It functions as a channel for students to develop new skills and build long-lasting social connections. The University of Lagos acknowledges the significance of comprehensive development, which encompasses several programmes and disciplines such as athletics, social welfare, and cultural pursuits. This comprehensive strategy enhances the pool of knowledge and expertise, not just within the country but also globally, promoting the development of individuals with a global perspective. The university’s impact reaches beyond its campus and into the wider society, mainly through its substantial research productivity and its graduates, who are known to take key roles in academia and corporate establishments around the world. The impact of the work conducted within these premises extends beyond these boundaries, exerting influence on society discussions and the formation of policies. The university’s commitment to attaining research excellence is apparent in its strategic collaborations with diverse academic institutions, government agencies, and worldwide organizations. These relationships have not only increased the influence of the university’s research but have also offered vital opportunities for students and staff to actively participate in addressing global concerns.

The University of Lagos holds the belief that education is a catalyst for significant transformation, which is central to its character. This university equips its students not only with knowledge but also with the skills and values required to implement positive societal progress. Within this dynamic educational setting, students are actively encouraged to inquire, to create new ideas, and to take charge. As earlier noted, the institution fosters in its students the conviction that they possess the ability to effect change on a global scale, a conviction that is seen in the exceptional accomplishments of the university’s graduates.

Standing here now, I am greatly inspired by the University of Lagos’ steadfast dedication to achieving greatness in every aspect. This dedication extends beyond achieving academic distinction and encompasses the holistic development of individuals in terms of their intellect, emotions, and ethics. The comprehensive education offered at this institution aims to provide students not only with the necessary skills for their future professions but also with the knowledge and abilities required for their personal development and overall life experiences.

The University of Lagos stands out as a distinctive and esteemed institution due to its comprehensive approach to education. At this institution, students are not merely acquiring knowledge from textbooks; instead, they actively participate in addressing real-world problems and devising solutions to both local and global crises. The institution has continuously exhibited its capacity to adjust to the changing educational environment, incorporating pioneering pedagogical approaches and state-of-the-art research while upholding traditional principles of honesty and determination.

The University of Lagos has had a noticeable effect on the achievements of its former students, who have emerged as influential figures in several industries both in Nigeria and internationally. These individuals exemplify the university’s aim by effectively utilizing the knowledge and skills they have gained here to make substantial progress in their respective fields. Not only are they pursuing their personal goals, but they are also making valuable contributions to society, exemplifying the principles of service and leadership promoted by this great university.

Furthermore, the university’s dedication to tolerance and diversity is praiseworthy. It has established a setting in which students from many backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs converge, promoting a sense of harmony amidst their differences. The active embrace of other cultures in this environment not only enhances the student’s encounter but also equips them for the international arena, where comprehension and appreciation of varieties are crucial for achieving success. This University will continue to provide a haven for the mosaic of cultures needed to promote and sustain the progress of humanity in the twenty-first century and beyond.

The University of Lagos combines rigorous academic standards with a lively campus environment to shape students into versatile individuals. In addition to academic pursuits, the institution provides a wide array of extracurricular activities and organizations, encompassing several fields such as law, arts, literature, science, and technology. Extracurricular activities offer young minds the chance to investigate their interests, acquire new abilities, and interact with their peers in significant ways.

Building upon our previous discussion, the University of Lagos has always prioritized the significance of community involvement and societal obligation. The institution not only imparts knowledge to its students but also motivates them to contribute to their communities. The institution cultivates a strong commitment to service, which permeates all aspects of campus life and motivates students to utilize their knowledge in ways that have a good influence on society. This method guarantees that the advantages of higher education go beyond the individual, penetrating deep into communities and promoting a culture of social responsibility.

The university’s research activities are closely interconnected with practical applications in the actual world. The emphasis on pragmatic and influential research conducted here not only contributes to scholarly dialogue but also tackles the urgent demands of society. The research being out at the University of Lagos is advancing groundbreaking answers to complex problems in several fields such as law, medicine, engineering, the arts, and the social sciences.

The University of Lagos has gained prominence in the educational sphere of Nigeria and Africa due to its exceptional academic standards, strong social awareness, and dedication to innovation. The university has emerged as an emblem of optimism and advancement, not just for its students but for the entire nation. As we contemplate the future, the significance of institutions such as the University of Lagos in influencing that future becomes increasingly vital.

Upon receiving this honorary degree, I am well cognizant of the weighty responsibilities it entails. It serves as both an acknowledgement of personal accomplishments and a reminder to actively contribute to the important goals of education and society’s progress. The University of Lagos has set an excellent standard in this area, one that I am determined to sustain in my future undertakings.

To conclude, I would like to convey my utmost gratitude to the University of Lagos for bestowing this prestigious recognition upon me. The university’s steadfast commitment to greatness, dynamic culture of innovation, and profound passion for creating a better world inspire me. May this valued institution persist as a source of knowledge, a connection to the future, and a driving force for beneficial transformation in Nigeria and beyond.

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