ADDRESS BY THE FOUNDER, AARE AFE BABALOLA, OFR,CON,SAN,LL.D ON THE OCCASION OF THE 2ND FOUNDER’S DAY DISTINGUISHED PERSONALITY LECTURE HELD ON 21ST JANUARY, 2011 AT AFE BABALOLA UNIVERSITY
Ladies and gentlemen, I am profoundly grateful to all of you for participating in the celebration of 2nd year Founder’s Day of ABUAD.
GENERAL DR. YAKUBU GOWON, GCON, Ph.D
I pay special tribute to our distinguished lecturer General Dr. Yakubu Gowon, Ph.D, whose humility is overwhelming and intimidating. The lecturer is no doubt an uncommon man whose achievements will be difficult to match. Most of us would recollect that our first year Founder’s Day distinguished personality lecture was delivered by an international jurist in the person of Prof. Arthur M. Sussman, Dean of Faculty of Law, Chicago University and Vice President John D. & Catherine T., Mc Arthur Foundation.
The University is of the view that the 2nd year Founder’s Day distinguished lecture ought and should be delivered by another internationally celebrated person. The first person that came to my mind was His Excellency, General Dr. Yakubu Gowon, GCFR, Ph.D. I had not met him physically or spoken to him even on phone for nearly 10 years. In fact the last time I met him was when I was honoured with national honour OFR in 2002 at Abuja.
Honestly, I hesitated to call him. I do not want to be seen as a person who would call only when I need a favour. I summed up courage and phoned him but I did so with some trepidation. However, in his characteristic manner he was very friendly and warm in his response. I was expecting that my discussion would take a few minutes but we discussed for almost 30minutes. To my surprise, he agreed to deliver the lecture and wrote a beautiful letter describing ABUAD as “the 21st Century University with fine repute”. His participation in our celebration today is a blessing as well as a great honour to the University. He has by his presence demonstrated that he shares our vision to change the face of education in Nigeria. I know that he has always been a believer in quality education. Ladies and gentlemen, today, His Excellency has become a comrade in our crusade for transformatory education which has commenced in our University. I saluteComrade General Yakubu Gowon, GCON, Ph.D.
We also hope that our governments both federal and state, and all stakeholders in education would learn from the powerful speech and support our crusade for transformation of education.
SPECIAL TRIBUTE TO COURAGE
Our guest Lecturer is a humble and courageous person. The event of today has broaden my knowledge about who General Gowon is. Here is a former Head of State, an esteemed international figure who was bent on honouring his promise to come to Ado-Ekiti to deliver the distinguished personality lecture. He was faced with a horrific dilemma of how to make it to Ado-Ekiti. It was either by air or by road. All roads either from Lagos or Abuja are badly dilapidated and certainly not good for a former Head of State of his age and status. If he chose to fly, the closest airports are those at Lagos, Ibadan, Ilorin and Akure in that order. If he came by flight to Lagos, Ibadan or Ilorin, he would still have to travel by road on dilapidated roads, ranging from 5 to 3½, and 2½ respectively. In his usual humility, he was ready to suffer the roughness of the road and had accepted to fly to Akure only to discover that the only plane that used to come to Akure on Monday, Wednesday and Friday is in South Africa undergoing repairs.
Our university had no alternative but to look for a chartered flight. We salute your courage and thank you for your interest in this institution.
HON. JUSTICE YINKA AYOOLA, JSC rtd
I salute the Chairman of today, Hon. Justice Yinka Ayoola, the immediate past Chairman of ICPC. Justice Ayoola has been an admirer of this institution. He has come to this University several times and also donated fabulously to our Endowment Fund. He led a 14-man team of ICPC officials to our university on 20th July, 2010. The views of ICPC members and those of our Chairman of today corroborate the views of the NUC, President Goodluck Jonathan, former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Student Union Government, African Students Union, Academics and many others. We are proud of his statement which we have put on our website part of which reads;
This is an institution which can stand side by side with any educational institution. What we have seen here compares favourably with what we have seen in other part of the world. This is a pace setter. It raises the benchmark for quality education in Nigeria. It is a challenge to public institutions. It is a challenge to everybody. Aare Afe Babalola has not invested in himself but invested in the future of Nigeria. I think he is worth celebrating.
“… The infrastructure, teaching materials provided and philosophy of education practiced in ABUAD show the way to qualitative and transformatory education that Nigeria needs. There is no doubt that the shaping of the direction of education in Nigeria has started. ABUAD is and will remain the leader in this direction,
Let me take this opportunity to thank all the members of the planning committee of the 2nd Founder’s Day Celebration in particular the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Sidi Osho, the DVC, Prof. Ajisafe and all the Professors and the administrative staff of Emmanuel Chambers headed by Isiaka Iyadunni whose work has made this day possible. I salute the pioneer teachers as well as pioneer students of this University for their understanding, perseverance and endurance under trying and difficult conditions. Today you can take comfort in the fact that it was through your sacrifices that we have been able to settle down so much so that most visitors to this university are of the view that this institution has been in existence for about 3 or more years.
MESSAGE TO STUDENTS AND PARENTS
I have a message for students and their parents. ABUAD is a unique institution. Subject to correction, ABUAD is the only University registered as a non-profit university in this country. I am not a shareholder nor is there any shareholder in ABUAD which was registered as a guaranteed university. It is a charitable institution in the likes of Stamford, Harvard, Virginia, etc in America or Cambridge, Oxford and London University and others in England.
It is established solely to reform education and provide transformatory education which Nigeria needs at this time. It is intended to provide highly qualitative education at an affordable cost to average Nigerians. We all know that school fees in quality secondary school in Nigeria range from N1million to N2million whilst school fees in quality University overseas cost between N17million and N30million in England and USA.
What the founder and the university authority expect from parents is unqualified support for our vision to enable us nurse and train students in such a way that they will imbibe the qualities that make the founder what he is today which are conterminous with the name of the university. The founder as you all know is known over the world for industry, determination and discipline. In line with our philosophy, we charge about half a million naira annually in order to bring quality education similar to what we have in Europe and America to the door steps of average parents who cannot afford the luxury of sending their children to Europe.
EFFECT OF SOCIETY ON OUR STUDENTS
Our students are human beings. They live among friends and relations who are attending the Federal and State universities most of which are riddled with cultism, strike and indiscipline. Therefore some of them do not understand why there is so much discipline in this university. They do not see why they should be in class at 8am on the dot; why they must not use mobile phones between 8am-5pm; why teachers give them many assignments; why they must dress corporate to the class; why they must be clean shaved; why they must be openly and demonstrably respectful; why they must keep record of attendance or why their freedom to associate with unknown people or leave the campus without exeat is limited, and why they should not drink or smoke.
They see their colleagues in other universities who rarely go to classes, who seldom have spaces to sit in their classrooms, who only attend classes when they wish, who only read handouts, who are not given assignments to read, who are not made to research and yet they obtain university degrees.
Unfortunately, some parents have made our task difficult. For instance, we went on Christmas and New Year holiday on 15th December, 2010. We instructed our students to resume on the 4th of January, 2011. Fourteen days after resumption, over 126 students had not resumed. We started lectures on 4th January, 2011. When the students eventually returned their excuse was that they thought lectures would not commence until about two weeks as it is done in other universities.
A parent brought his child 14 days after we had started lectures. Unfortunately, I was at the spot where the child was being dropped. When I asked the parent why the child came late to the institution, I was astonished when he said that they went on holiday in England. In my characteristic way, I could not hide my anger and I warned him that a repeat of it would lead to the expulsion of the child from the university. I told him that our own degree is going to be qualitative and based on cumulative assessment. Minimum attendance is 90% as against 60% or less in other Universities. We are not going to give paper certificates.
No institution anywhere in the world can provide quality graduates with good character without the support of the parents. I therefore plead with our parents to allow us teach our students the best way and along the vision we have for them. Our certificates will not be given to students just for the simple reason that they attended ABUAD. Our certificates will only be given to students who are drilled in academics by seasoned teachers and only to those who have imbibed the virtue of discipline, honesty, integrity and industry, reading and research, all of which are co-terminus with the name of the institution and the founder.
EFCC AND ICPC
I am happy that the Chairman of this occasion was a former ICPC Chairman. The EFCC and ICPC are set up to fight dishonesty and corruption and make the citizen to imbibe the virtue of honesty and integrity. The founder believes that jailing some people on account of corruption will not make our youths to imbibe the virtues of honesty and integrity. We believe that there is the need for the various institutions of learning to make students imbibe the virtue of discipline, honesty, integrity and industry so that when they come out of university, they will naturally be aversed to these vices.
THE ART OF GIVING AND SUPPORT FOR UNIVERSITY
One of the problems of the country is that people do not appreciate the importance of giving, donations and endowment to education, especially university education. All the leading universities in the world are established by individuals and organizations and not the state. The government alone, here or anywhere else, cannot sufficiently fund education or provide everything that our schools need. Most great universities of the world draw appreciable resources from their Endowment Fund. Harvard, reputed to be world’s best and greatest university, has over $52 Billion from endowment alone.
Late last year, one individual by name Edward Ned Evans a member of Yale College class of 1964 donated $50million dollars to Yale University to construct a new state of the art campus for school of management.
When we embarked on the planning for the launching of ABUAD Endowment Fund, we had targeted N50billion. We reduced it to N20billion shortly before the actual launching. We invited heads of governments, company executives, rich individuals clients and admirers in the belief that they shared our vision. They all promised or pledged donations ranging from one million naira to one million dollars. Ladies and gentlemen you would be surprised to hear that regrettably about 90% have not redeemed their pledges. Those who promised $1million have not pay a cent. Out of over N3billion pledged, we have not got up to N400million. When the typed version of their pledges were given to them, these promisors still refused to honour their pledges. Some of the people and organizations have even denied that they made such pledges! But they were confronted with the taped voice. I appeal to Nigerians to support education through endowment and donations and honour their pledges.
TO OUR TEACHERS
It is our honour to participate in the transformatory education taking place in ABUAD. Once more I thank you for your support. I believe that it is an opportunity to work in ABUAD which, when utilized properly can also transform your life for the better. I urge you to seize the opportunity and contribute fully to the change.
Congratulations to all awardees but you must not rest on your oars as there are more and more honours and awards awaiting you.
When I was honoured by the European Business Assembly (EBA) in Oxford, I read its motto which reads “we acknowledge achievement and we celebrate it”. Here we shall continue to acknowledge excellence in character and academics and we shall celebrate it annually. Those who have not made it this time should not lose hope. The problem with us in Nigeria was aptly described by our Chairman of today Hon. Justice Yinka Ayoola, JSC (Rtd) who said;
“All the news you hear about what people are doing in Nigeria is negative. Here, we can see with our eyes that positive things are happening to education.”
We urge the Government and particularly the media to acknowledge achievement and celebrate it. This is why many Nigerians like Dr. Ojo of Tae Solarin University of Education who delivered a lecture on Teaching Methods in this university last week said that ABUAD was not sufficiently publicized. We urge you to preach ABUAD’s gospel of transformatory education.
Our mission as you know is, to reform education by example. There is no way we can effect the change without people knowing that changes are taking place.
Ladies and gentlemen, all things considered, I thank you profoundly for being part of this celebration. ABUAD is the making of God through the Founder’s faith. Faith breeds determination, determination breeds success, faith never fails.
All glory goes to God who has mercifully blessed our faith and directed the establishment of ABUAD. To Him, we say thank you. I now ask the choir to join in singing;
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you … …
AARE AFE BABALOLA, OFR, CON, SAN, LL.D