Zenith Bank Unveils UNILAG Alumni Building Named After Late VC Ibidapo-Obe

Caption: Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State to commission the Iconic Oyewusi Ibidapo-Obe House at the University of Lagos, housing the Unilag branch of Zenith Bank and the institution’s alumni association, on Friday, November 25, 2022. With him are Group Managing Director/CEO, Zenith Bank Plc, Ebenezer Onyeagwu (left); President, Unilag Alumni Association, Dr. John Momoh (second left); Founder and Chairman, Zenith Bank Plc, Jim Ovia, (third right); Deputy Managing Director of the bank,  Dame (Dr.) Adaora Umeoji, (second right – 2nd Row); Mrs. Sola Ibidapo-Obe; and Vice Chancellor, Unilag, Prof. Folasade Ogunsola, at the occasion.

Zenith Bank Plc, on Friday, November 25, 2022, unveiled a new iconic building housing its branch at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), in memory of Professor Oyewusi Ibidapo-Obe, a former Vice Chancellor of the institution, who later became a non-executive director of the bank.

Commissioning the building which also accommodates the UNILAG Alumni, Zenith bank’s Group Managing Director/Chief Executive, and Chairman of the Body of Banks’ CEOs in Nigeria, Ebenezer Onyeagwu, lauded the Founder and Chairman of the bank, Jim Ovia, for being physically present at the event to honour the memory of his late friend, Prof. Ibidapo-Obe, and for his passion for youth education and digital learning.

He noted Ovia’s remarkable and continued commitment to education and youth development in Nigeria, especially through the setting up of James Hope College, a co-educational institution which offers a combination of British and Nigerian curricula, and the James Hope University, which is billed to commence academic activities next year.

He also extolled his philanthropy through the setting up of the Jim Ovia Foundation and Mankind United in Total Support for Education Initiative, which has awarded scholarships and produced over 1500 graduates from among indigent people who would not have had the benefit of having a university education.

Onyeagwu also recalled how the bank’s partnership with the University of Lagos began in 2001 with the donation of the first ICT centre, when the Founder and Chairman was the Group Managing Director/ CEO of the bank.

According to him, “today, Zenith Bank has built not less than 15 ICT centres in various tertiary institutions and cities all over the country. And I just want to say that no single institution or individual has been able to accomplish what we have done in that respect. And this is a demonstration of the passion our Founder and Chairman has, not just for education, but also for digital learning and computer literacy.

“This is in addition to several other support to the university, including the institution of Academic Excellence Awards in 2001, where the best graduating students from selected departments – Banking & Finance, Business Administration, Economics and Accounting, receive awards with financial rewards (currently NGN500,000) and employment opportunity, and the donation of 3,500 tablets to enable indigent students of the university to learn online effectively in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic,” Onyeagwu noted.

The building, he stressed, is a strong statement of Zenith Bank’s sustainability initiatives as a signatory to several global sustainability frameworks including the United Nations Principles for Responsible Banking, as it incorporates many of the elements that make a facility environmentally friendly and sustainable.

Also speaking at the commissioning, Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, noted the huge contributions of Zenith Bank and, in particular, Jim Ovia, a man he described as a father, to the development of Nigeria.

According to him, “when you see things being done consistently in the right way, there is always a man pointing in that direction. A lot of people ask me how come you are doing so much in public service; I say I come from a background where my mentor told me that you don’t report efforts, you don’t give excuses, but you report results. So no matter the situation, even in the midst of an economic recession, in the midst of Covid, you should not stop development and performance. As far as you are from the Zenith family, you are expected to have that creativity and ideas that can make you produce results.

“In Zenith, we say only the paranoid survive. So I really want to appreciate what I am seeing here today,” he stressed further, thanking the alumni association and the school authority for collaborating towards achieving capacity development, which he described as the bane of Nigerian society, he expressed his delight and honour to commission a building named after the revered Late Prof. Oyewusi Ibidapo-Obe, who touched and impacted so many people while he was alive.

In his address, the National President of Unilag Alumni Association, Dr. John Momoh, thanked the Chairman of Zenith Bank as well as the management of the bank for the magnificent building, and Mrs. Sola Ibidapo-Obe for accepting the association’s request to name the building after her husband as a lasting legacy in his honour, urging everyone to take good care of and maintain the building to serve the university community for years to come.

In her remarks, Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Prof. Folasade Ogunsola, acknowledged the invaluable contributions of Zenith Bank to the development of the school, promising to work with the Alumni association to ensure that the facility serves not only the alumni, but also the entire students populace.

She appreciated Ovia for donating 3,500 tablets to the university, which ensured that students who could not afford laptops for e-learning during the covid-19 pandemic were not left behind.

Also speaking, Mrs. Ibidapo-Obe, thanked Ovia for immortalising her late husband with such a great edifice named after him, recalling how close he was to her late husband.

Ovia, she stressed “has demonstrated the love that does not die in his friendship with my beloved husband. When he fell ill, Dr. Jim Ovia was there from day one till the last moment. I could feel the way he felt. From then, I knew that he was a genuine friend. He tried his best to ensure my husband survived, but he did not”.

The iconic building, which sits on a total site area of 950m2, is a smart structure that incorporates many of the elements that make a facility environmentally friendly and sustainable, including a grid-tie solar system that sustains power load on solar and not on a generator or national grid, an inverter-driven VRF air conditioning system and motion sensor lighting to enhance energy efficiency, perforated aluminium composite panels for natural lighting and ventilation, free Wi-Fi system to provide internet access for students, fire management systems, including fire hydrant, smoke detector, and fire alarm system, and a LED screen installed on the building for the dissemination of information.

Of the total 1,665m2 of floor area designated for office use in the four-storey building, 585m2 will be used by Unilag Alumni.