Best Ph.D Thesis Winner Says Award Call To More Service

Dr. Ribadu

Dr Muhammad Ribadu, winner of the 2023 Prof. Rahamon Bello Best Ph.D thesis in African studies says the award is a call to more work for the development of humanity and the country at large.

Ribadu stated this at the award ceremony organised by the Institute of African and Diaspora Studies (IADS), University of Lagos, on Wednesday in Lagos.

 Ribadu,  who did his Ph.D at the University of Ibadan, was rewarded with a total of 1000 dollars, a plaque and a certificate, for clinching the first position.

A total of 18 entries came in for this year’s edition of the competition, the fourth in the series, from various universities in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.

Ribadu is currently a lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria in Kaduna,

His award-winning thesis is titled: The Social Context of Gentrification in Lagos State; Ph.D (Jan. 2023) Department of Sociology, University of Ibadan.

Speaking further, Ribadu noted that it felt good to be so recognised locally.

He said that the award was just a form of motivation to give his best in the area of teaching especially, and conducting more research.

“I feel excited and I give all glory to God. I want to thank the organisers of this award, my family and my late dad, who put in his best in terms of resources, energy and encouragement, in order to see me through my Ph.D journey.

“Unfortunately, he passed on on the day this award was first announced.

“However, I take solace in the fact that I have been recognised here today locally. It is something I take pride in. It is something I will live to remember and one that will spur me into doing better and doing good academically.

“This is because to be celebrated and recognised for something you have done, particularly in research, to me, is a call to more action, a call to service because basically as lecturers, we have three mandates of teaching, research and community service.

“For me, this thesis is being celebrated because of the quality of research that went into it. It is something that will make me better and encourage the younger ones, especially my students, to emulate and even do better,” he said.

On his part, Prof. Rahamon Bello, a former Vice Chancellor of the University in whose honour the award is instituted, described the IADS as one of the best things to have happened to the institution, in terms of research activities and funding and reaching out to the world, in terms of advocacy.

“I want to thank God for giving us the wisdom to establish this institute at the time it did. It turned out to be a huge blessing to this university.

“I did not expect we would get this far when we started it, but they have proven to us that one can always scratch gold from where there is nothing.

“I am proud of the director of the institute and his team, they have done well. When you hear all they have accomplished in just this outgoing year, you will agree with me that this is just the beginning.

“This is because they still have a lot of potential, getting resources, and now, being sought after both locally and internationally.

“So, as a one-time administrator of this university, I must say it feels good to be associated with this institute going by the kind of recognition it is getting,” he noted.

Bello said that though the amount attached to the prize might not be too big, the essence was in the prestige that went with it.

According to him, that the competition is named in his honour is not the key thing, but rather, what the institute is engaging in, and its sustainability.

“As we know, the prize money is small but it is not about the money, rather, the prestige that is associated with the award is important.

“I know that the current winner will go places. In Nigeria, we don’t seem to trust in ourselves. For someone to come from the North to do his research down here in the South sends a lot of signals about who we are as a people.

“It shows how good he is as an individual. It also shows he is a personal researcher, and for him to win the award competing with some others across Africa shows he is thorough and he is going to go places,” he said.

On his part, the Director of the institute, Prof. Muyiwa Falaiye decried the dearth of staff, describing it as a major setback to the cause of the institute.

“Currently, we have only eight full-time researchers here, all of whom are fully engaged in research activities.

“For us here, the harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few. We have too many projects we are doing but don’t have enough staff. The university is not recruiting and lecturers are leaving in droves.

“This is a dangerous trend that must be checked. These days, we have those between the assistant lecturer cadre and lectures. All of them have left.

“Those of us that are still here are the older ones and we are here not because we are okay, but rather, because we have other things to do. It is either you have a research grant or opportunities to travel,” he said.

Listing the various activities the institute had engaged in during the outgoing year, the director said it had been one full of the tripartite mandate of research, teaching and advocacy.

“It has been a successful year for us here in IADS. We have been engaging in research as we have always done and we have also succeeded in winning fresh and new research grants.

“Here at the IADS, one of our expertise is now getting research grants and in a place where people think only those in sciences are capable of getting those grants, we have proved this wrong.

“It is a myth to think those of us in the Arts and Humanities cannot get research grants. In the past three or four years, we have consistently been getting grants.

“In this 2023, we have also received grants for one of the major projects we engaged in, which is the Orunmila project.

“Here, we are trying to find out the epistemology of Orunmila, as a corpus for creating a new knowledge system for Africa.

“We have also, for the first time, created animation from folktales that could be found on YouTube, among several other achievements, the professor of Philosophy said.

On her part, the vice-chancellor of the university, Prof. Folasade Ogunsola said there was indeed the need for urgent steps to be taken in the university sector to curb the ‘japa syndrome’.

She said that the lecturers were leaving the system in their numbers was not unexpected.

She said that the pay package for lecturers was poor, just as the recognition.

Ogunsola said many were taking their talents and moving elsewhere, with the situation becoming a crisis.

“The government knows, and I am sure it is also doing all within its power to assist us in getting more lecturers.

But you know, you will not keep them if you don’t change the condition of service,” she stated.

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