AARE AFE BABALOLA, SAN, OFR, CON, FOUNDER, AFE BABALOLA UNIVERSITY, ADO-EKITI’S WELCOME ADDRESS PRESENTED TO THE RESOURCE ASSESSMENT VISIT TEAM OF THE NATIONAL UNIVERSITIES COMMISSION ON THE 13THSEPTEMBER, 2011
Let me with all profound humility welcome to Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, members of the Resource Assessment visit of the National Universities Commission for our proposed programmes in Medicine and Surgery, Nursing Science, Medical Laboratory Science and Geology.
It was with profound gratitude that we received your letter of 23rd August, 2011 informing us of the visit, and with utmost eagerness did we since then look up to today’s event. We thank God that the day has come at last, and that our distinguished visitors were granted journey mercies to this great citadel of learning.
I, Aare AfeBabalola, Founder of ABUAD, am not a green-horn in educational institution administration. As a former Chairman of the Governing Council of the Federal Polytechnic, Ado-Ekiti and the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Council of the University of Lagos for about seven years, I have had more than a fair knowledge, and gained more than passing acclaim in tertiary institution administration. The question now is: Why is ABUAD coming now?
Everywhere in the world, great institutions have always been shaped and propelled by the vision and foresight of their founders. For ABUAD, that propelling force is my personal experiences garnered over a period of over half a century during my own struggles for academic laurels by correspondence, leading to my acquisition of two university degrees in quick succession. Besides these, however, are the decay in the nation’s education system and the general degeneracy of standard; the realization that government alone cannot adequately fund education in a way that will create the kinds of institutions that elsewhere drive development; my experience during my seven-year tenure as Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of the University of Lagos and especially when the Federal Government decided to dissolve the Council without regard either for law or for the sacrifices which some of us had made by offering gratuitous service at the expense of our very lucrative jobs; and the inadequacy of spaces in the university for qualified candidates who though passed the qualifying examinations by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, but are yet denied admission chances.
THE 1999 LAW ON THE ESTABLISHMENT OF PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES
When it became obvious that the private sector intervention in the provision of tertiary education was inevitable to address the drift and inadequacies in that sector, relevant laws were passed for the establishment of private universities.
But like most things Nigerian, the laws were soon to be abused. Businessmen masquerading as stakeholders in education entered into the fray and established private universities. Of course the sole end was, and still is, profit-making. Therefore, all steps were taken by these unscrupulous entrepreneurs to ensure maximum returns from the most minimal investments. Offices and classrooms were sited in rented apartments most of which were an eye-sore and devoid of any physical attraction. Even most students could not relate to and were not proud of the environment under which they were required to learn. Till date, many of these institutions, several years after their establishment, still occupy and operate from their rented temporary sites without any indication that they would have or even move to their permanent sites in the foreseeable future.
THE ROLE OF THE NUC
Let me pay glowing tribute to the members of the executive of the National Universities Commission for the wonderful job that you are doing to sanitize our university education system.
The NUC has succeeded in spite of all manners of unholy pressures, in the arduous tasks of preventing the proliferation of universities and ensuring that they are not set up as mere business ventures. The NUC has come hard as often as the occasion demands on mush-room and illegal private universities which abound in almost all the geo-political zones of the country.
In 2009, while construction work was still going on in our university, the Chairman of the Screening Committee on Private Universities of the National Universities Commission, SCOPU, Prof JubrilAminu, had these to say at various times:
“I can only say that it is a miracle. This is one of the best things to have happened to university education in this part of the world.
“They have set a benchmark for other universities on the e-learning facility, which links the university’s classrooms with other universities across the globe for transfer of knowledge.
“The only challenge is that they have raised the bar for others seeking to establish private universities”.
He went further:
“The university, billed to take off in September this year, would be a model for anyone or group wishing to establish private university in terms of state-of-the-art facilities needed In such institutions”.
And he concluded:
“The Afe Babalola University has now become a reference point for us in SCOPU. They helped us to raise the quality bar for private universities. Those coming after Afe Babalola University will have a higher hurdle to scale. I am glad all those that visited the University so far have agreed with us”.
We wish to express our most profound appreciation for these very inspiring comments, commendations and encomiums which the NUC has always showered on our university. We are happy at these comments and are encouraged by the fact that our efforts are acknowledged and appreciated by relevant authorities in Nigeria. This has only spurred us to continue to lead by example and to aspire to greater achievements. It is with all humility that we observe, and say that many proprietors and prospective proprietors of private universities besiege our university campus regularly in compliance with the advice/directive of the NUC to them to visit our university to enable them have an understanding of how a university should be structured and run if it must attract serious positive attention to itself. We are indeed very grateful for the very sincere and candid comments, assessments and encouragements. We promise that we will not rest on our oars until we have taken ABUAD to and maintained it as a world-class educational institution.
LEADERSHIP AND CELEBRATION OF EXCELLENCE
So much has been said about some of the things that ail this country and have denied it its right of place in the community of nations. We all however seem to over-look the discouraging effect which our failure to acknowledge excellence has on national development. Our people lack in good measure the ability to identify and reward excellence. They reserve praise only for the dead.
The Summit of Leaders in Oxford honoured me in 2008 with the Queen Victoria Commemorative Award. Among the things that fascinated me about these distinguished men and women was the motto of their organization. “We Acknowledge Achievement and Celebrate it”
The contrary is the reality in Nigeria. While in developed countries they acknowledge and celebrate achievements, our own newspapers and the mass media generally give publicity to crimes, accidents, disasters, betrayals and the like.
If we must encourage our achievers to strive harder to achieve more, we must learn to celebrate them and publicize their feats while they are alive.
THE FOUNDER, AARE AFE BABALOLA
Several times people, especially clients, have come to my office for one legal solution to their problems or the other. Some of them have been truly bewildered seeing me. In fact, in really embarrassing moments, some have actually been moved to touch and feel my flesh to satisfy their curiosity. I often think that some of these people are shocked to realize
that I am human like them after all.
Yet I am an ordinary Nigerian and I see myself as such. What I possibly have, in greater measure than most, is my determination and industry. These were the attributes that made me embark on this university project in the first place. I have a perfect can-do attitude and when I set my mind to something, I make sure that I achieve it. I have come to realize that for the willing, there is nothing that the mind can conceive that is not achievable.
Before the commencement of this project, and especially before the clearing of this site about October 2008, I used to go on vacation to the United Kingdom at least twice a year. Because of my commitment to the project, however, I have resisted all inducements to leave the shores of this country since September 2008, even when on occasions I was given awards in Europe and America. Such is the level of my sacrifice for my fatherland. I am committed to making this university a true model in every respect and I shall not be satisfied with half measures. Only the best did I envision for myself and country, and only the best will I achieve and deliver.
We are proud to say that we have some of the most imposing structures on any university campus, yet we continue to add more by the day. You are humbly invited to go round and see for yourselves our building structures, equipment and facilities. Some of them compare with none in Nigeria.
Because of our infrastructure, equipment and environment, after the visit of FESTO Automation of Germany to our campus, the NUC had so much confidence in us that it could not but recommend our university as a suitable, take-off campus for Mechatronics Engineering. Today, we are the only university in Nigeria teaching the course with a view to, in a couple of years from now, awarding a degree in that discipline.
We have also been acknowledged by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, ICAN, for quality education. We believe that when eventually licensed to commence the programmes the accreditation for which this visit is being undertaken, they shall be some of the best in the country. We have already on ground more than 50 of the equipment which we require for courses in Medicine, Anatomy, etcetera.
Beside this, the Federal Government has considered us worthy of the honour of partnering with us. We have already entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with them on the clinical aspect of the training of our Medical students which in any event will not commence until after our third year. We have agreed to build hostels, classrooms, library and other facilities at Federal Medical Centre, Ido-Ekiti for a take-off of our medical programme.
We believe that this collaboration will enable us commence Medicine and related courses efficiently pending when our university will be able to build its own teaching hospital. In fact, my conviction is that before long, we may even build our own teaching hospital, therefore rendering the arrangement with the Federal Government either a very brief one or even absolutely unnecessary.
My honest belief however is that a good hospital very well equipped can serve about 2-3 Colleges of Medicine. This saves more cost than when each university builds its own hospital. This is what obtains in other institutions abroad.
Let me as Founder assure the members of this team that we shall place top-most priority on the efficient training of our students. We shall get all necessary facilities at whatever cost. If therefore there is any equipment which we require but have not got during this accreditation, such will be procured and made available once we get approval and before the resumption of our students.
I thank you all for your patience.
AARE AFE BABALOLA, OFR, CON, SAN