AFE BABALOLA UNIVERSITY, ADO -EKITI
2ND FOUNDER’S DAY DISTINGUISHED PERSONALITY LECTURE
CHAIRMAN’S OPENING REMARKS DELIVERED BY HON. JUSTICE EMMANUEL OLAYINKA AYOOLA, CON, DCL, JSC (rtd), FORMER CHAIRMAN OF ICPC ON FRIDAY, 21sT JANUARY, 2011
It is indeed a great pleasure and honour for me to have this opportunity of participating in this very important event as Chairman of the 2nd Founder’s Day Distinguished Personality Lecture of this great, pacesetting, character – moulding University to be delivered by His Excellency, General (Dr.) Yakubu Gowon, GCFR, Ph.D, Former Head of State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
I am aware that this is the second Distinguished Personality Lecture in a University that is only 12 months 17 days old. The great strides that this University has made within a short period has led many who have seen or heard about this University to find it difficult to believe that the University IS anything less than five years old.
Testimonies by discerning individuals and institutions, world-wide, abound of the sound, visionary and value -driven foundation upon which the ABUAD has been established and its great and sure promise for sustained quality and excellence. I mention but a very few of such testimonies. The National University Commission, the body charged with the responsibility of overseeing all Universities in Nigeria, describes ABUAD as a combination of miracle and magic. No less a personality than His Excellency, General (Dr.) Yakubu Gowon, GCFR, our distinguished highly revered lecturer of today, very recently described the University as a “world-class citadel of academic excellence.” President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, had occasion, sometime ago, to describe ABUAD as a model.
This is the 2nd Distinguished Personality Lecture of this University. The first distinguished lecture titled; “THE PRIVATE UNIVERSITY AND THE AMERICAN HIGHER EDUCATION” was delivered by Professor Arthur M. Sussman, a Professor of Law at the University of Chicago and Vice-President of Mac-Arthur Foundation, USA, on 19th March, 2010. The worthy tradition which this University has set out to establish is that personalities invited to deliver the Founder’s Day Distinguished Personality Lecture must be truly distinguished.
They must be ‘distinguished’ not merely as a title, but must truly and undeniably be distinguished in substance, intellect, intrinsic worth and virtue.
It is in line with this tradition that the Second Distinguished Personality Lecture is being delivered today by one of the greatest leaders which this country has ever produced. General Gowon is a man of many parts, who has spent, and is still devoting, a greater part of his life to the task of keeping this country together. Many would love to recount the many heroic deeds of General (Dr,) Gowon over the years. I would, for my part, wish to identify and recount his unique act of courage and humility when, after relinquishing office as Head of State of our great nation, he went back to school as an undergraduate, ran the full course of study to reach the pinnacle and become a Doctor of Philosophy.
General (Dr.) Gowon is thus not only a hero, but also a role model for all times. There are many who seek education merely and solely for the purpose of earning a living, yet but only a few in Nigeria, today, seek education for the joy of acquiring knowledge. General Gowon had no need to, and did not, seek education and knowledge as a meal ticket. Another great Nigerian of the same mould is the Founder of this University, Aare Afe Babalola. Aare Afe Babalola’s passion for education and knowledge is legendary and unquenchable. This University is an indelible testimony of that passion.
While many in Nigeria today seek education as a means of wealth acquisition, Aare Afe Babalola by his industry and academic and professional excellence has made money to promote and develop education. He has selflessly committed his wealth to the promotion of education and knowledge. This is a great lesson that Nigerians young and old must learn if Nigeria is to be transformed.
The title of the lecture of today is “FALLING STANDARD OF EDUCATION IN NIGERIA: THE WAY FORWARD”. There is no other person who is more qualified to handle this topical issue than the person who has seen it all, not only as a Head of State but as a Patriotic Nigerian, General (Dr) Yakubu Gowon.
Great institutions of learning the world over have been shaped largely by the vision and foresight of their Founders. The decision of the Founder of ABUAD to establish this University was the product of a conglomeration of factors including the personal experiences of the Founder, garnered in the acquisition of his own academic qualification; the decay in the nation’s educational system; the decision of the Founder in realization of the fact that no government can single handedly fund education and to answer the call by the Federal Government of Nigeria for private participation in the educational sector.
Driven by passion, industry and excellence, Aare Afe Babalola believes strongly that nothing is impossible. In him is combined all the great virtues of integrity, reliability, industry, discipline and passion for knowledge and efficiency. These virtues, by impartation, promise to make this University truly a good character institution, and not a mere certificate factory. At a time when, sadly, in our nation organizations and individuals that have internalized virtues are becoming increasingly difficult to find, the students who graduate from ABUAD are trained to and have an obligation to become agents of positive change in our nation. ABUAD has set out to reverse the increasing and disturbing trend in Nigeria where young persons go into educational institutions ‘clean’ in character only to emerge ‘dirty’. The success of the mission embarked on in ABUAD is bound to lead to a much needed durable transformation of Nigeria.
Industry, service and integrity are the hallmarks of the Founder. These are already being inculcated into the staff and students of this University. By the time the students graduate from this University, they will be the agents of positive change. Transformation of education in Nigeria has already begun at Afe Babalola University.
Let me, in closing, proffer the suggestion that ABUAD should not embrace the culture of learning through ‘handouts'; a culture that tends to diminish true scholarship and kills the ability and drive of our young people to be innovative and develop an enquiring mind when they go into the outside world. Government should urgently address the factors that encourage the culture of ‘handouts’. ABUAD must be congratulated for its well equipped libraries and the modern research facilities provided in its libraries.
Our Universities must be well-funded and equipped with up-to-date libraries, to enable them to be true centres of scholarship, academic excellence and of ideas development to save them from becoming mere ‘certificate factories’.
Let me congratulate the Founder, Council, Vice -Chancellor, the Registrar and principal officers of ABUAD for taking the institution to greater heights, to the glory of mankind and our nation.
ABUAD is a University with a laudable mission and a great promise. It is our collective responsibility to make our positive contribution towards the realization of that mission and promise.
On behalf of all of us I thank His Excellency General (Dr) Gowon for accepting the invitation to deliver this lecture. We all look forward to a stimulating lecture
HON. JUSTICE EMMANUEL OLAYINKA AYOOLA, CON