In response to the P3P agenda of the Ogundipe-led administration of the University of Lagos, the Directors at Sahara Group, who are great alumni and friends of the University, chose to give back to the University by institutionalising the Sahara Scholar Awards and turning the sod of “the Sahara Group School of Innovation and Extrapreneurship” on Friday, October 28, 2022.
Speaking during the event, the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor Oluwatoyin T. Ogundipe, FAS, gave an insight into the Pick a Project, Pick a Person and Pick a Programme (P3P) Agenda of the University. He mentioned some of the projects that have come to light as a result of the agenda as well as programmes and endowments gifted by alumni and friends of the University. Some of which include: the vertical extension to the Faculty of Law building by Alhaji Femi Okunnu, renovation/rehabilitation of the HRDC Building by Platform Capital, donation of 3500 tablets to indigents and physically challenged students in the University by Jim Ovia of Zenith Bank plc; construction of New Elkanemi Male and Female Hostels, Siemens Digital Engineering Laboratory, Fred Adegboyega Engineering Laboratory, to mention a few.
In her remarks at the formal event to mark the Turning of Sod of the School and Launch of the Sahara Scholar Awards, the Director (Governance and Sustainability) of Sahara Group, Ejiro Gray, stated that the Award is about talent discovery and development. She noted that the awards will begin at the University of Lagos, and later spread across the African continent. She revealed that the Scholar Award is starting with UNILAG because it is a renowned institution and most of its founding Directors are alumni of the University who would like to give back to the University which shaped them into who they are now.
Gray, under whose purview the projects fall, explained that the Sahara Awards comprise prizes for students and research sponsorship for lecturers while the Sahara School of Innovation and Extrapreneurship facility is all about designing the future today. The building will be one in which brilliant minds from within and outside the African continent will converge to design the future, as well as Make A Difference (MAD).
Starting from year 2023, the following prizes will be awarded:
- One-off prizes for 26 outstanding students to mark Sahara Group’s 26th anniversary,
- Temitope Shonubi prize for Best Improved Student in Architecture,
- Moroti Adedoyin-Adeyinka Prize for Best Graduating Student in Economics,
- Wale Ajibade Prize for Best Improved Student in Economics,
- Ade Odunsi Prize for Best Student in Finance,
- Kola Adesina Prize for Best Graduating Student in Business Management,
- Dr. Folashodun Shonubi Prize for Best Graduating Student in Mechanical Engineering,
- Zacchaeus Odunsi Prize for Best Entry Level Student in Civil Engineering,
- Mr. Adegoke Adeniji Prize for Best Graduating Student in Library and Information Science,
- Dr. John Falegan Prize for Best Graduating Student in Insurance and Actuarial Science,
- Asharami Prize for Best AI/Fintech invention and
- Sahara Group Prize for Best Entrepreneurial Dissertation in Architecture, Engineering, and Economics.
Other Directors of the organisation: Temitope Shonubi, Moroti Adedoyin-Adeyinka, Wale Ajibade, Ade Odunsi and Kola Adesina, took turns reminiscing on their experiences as undergraduates of the University. They offered gratitude to staff of the University as well as words of advice and motivation to current students.
Afterwards, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ogundipe, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Development Services, Prof. Ayodele Atsenuwa and Directors of Sahara Group took turns turning the sod of the Sahara School of Innovation and Extrapreneurship opposite the Department of Creative Arts, close to the Entrepreneurship and Skills Development Centre, the Innovation hub of the University.