Afe Babalola x-rays success factors in establishing universities
By: Tunde Olofintila
The world over and across all cultures, the establishment of universities has been an expensive and non-rewarding enterprise where their Founders/Proprietors would continually be spending on salaries, infrastructure and equipment among several other shades and shapes of overheads. No wonder, private universities abroad rely on Gifts, Research Grants and Donations as well as Endowments to survive and thrive above their publicly owned counterparts. Stanford University, United States of America, which in 2015 had an Endowment and Donation of $368,147,895,000, much more than the total budget of Federal Government of Nigeria for all its higher institutions, is a typical example in that genre.
But the joy of it all is that those who make a foray into this rather altruistic venture globally are often happy to be raising a new generation of leaders thereby leaving the society better than they had met it and etching their names in letters of gold. Enthused
Deriving from the non-rewarding nature of establishing universities and to make their universities sure-footed, the legal colossus and Founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), Aare Afe Babalola, SAN, has therefore cautioned prospective promoters of universities in Nigeria to be ready to face and fight the challenges of incessant strike actions by different unions on the campus which wittingly or unwittingly paralyze Academic activities and ultimately lead to disruption of Academic calendars which has forced students in public universities to spend as many as seven/eight years for four/five-year programmes.
Speaking at the 2nd Founder’s Day Lecture of the University of Medical Sciences, UNIMED, Ondo, over the weekend, the former Pro Chancellor and Chairman of Council of the University of Lagos, opined that no Nigerian university would be accorded the accolade of a world class university for as long as most of them lack modern curricula, excellence in Research and quality teaching and when their teachers continue to use the old notes they scribbled when they were students eons ago to teach their students in contemporary times.
Speaking on the topic “The Secrets of Founding”, Babalola said: “All over the world and across all cultures, the quest by human beings to make lives more fulfilling and productive has been the concern of such disciplines like Psychology, Biology, Religion and Philosophy as well as mysticism with various degrees of successes and failures”.
He added: “This desire to fulfill a purpose in our lives has to do with the workings of human mind and mental processes which are still comprehended poorly in these fields of human endeavor. Yet it is this mental quest to make lives more fulfilling and productive that distinguishes humankind from all animal species on planet Earth. This mental drive to fulfill a purpose and make life worthwhile is a product of basic human instincts such as curiosity, imagination and creativity which propel individuals, and in effect the human race, from the use of primitive tools and primitive existence to an advanced civilization with modern technologies”.
The frontline legalicon underscored the place and import of such psychological variables of motivation, curiosity, love, inspiration, bravery, fearlessness and humility as well as prudence (in money, energy and time) in the art of founding institutions and ensuring enduring legacies.
According to him, “Highly motivated people go the extra mile without looking back, thus the saying: ‘when the going gets tough the tough gets going’. The commitment of highly motivated individuals to their profession or job goes beyond immediate gratification. Their motivation is not measured by their present rewards but by their desire for a level of success that is best for their professional calling, their establishment and humanity. They enjoy selfless service. They do not work within routine hours but work hard at all times, day and night. They shun the pleasures of the moment in the process of creating time to fulfill their own expectations.
On curiosity, he said: “No one spurred Pythagoras to discover the laws of Geometry. Neither did anybody compel Albert Einstein to discover the laws of Quantum Physics and Relativity Theory. It was their personal curiosity of mind that propelled them to ask questions that their contented or docile contemporaries dared not ask”.
Delving into fearlessness and bravery, he said: “Outstanding individuals are not often supported by the establishment and/ or friends around them. Until they achieve their excellent or outstanding results many people scorn or abuse them for being too hardworking or aloof or unfriendly in the process of confronting their most pressing interest which is to break records or new grounds. Confronted with this censorship, they have to exhibit determination, fearlessness and boldness to get the support they need”.
Emphasizing the place of humility in the art of founding, Babalola added: “Outstanding people are humble possibly because the larger picture of reality they see and which others do not see overwhelms their passion. Since they can only bring a fraction of this larger than life reality to manifestation in one lifetime, the reality humbles them.
“For great Founders, time is never enough to accomplish their dreams. Hence the use of every second, minute and hour of the day must be judicious as man cannot retrieve any of the past minute of his life”.
Good enough, the human race had been blessed and continues to be blessed with a plethora of great Founders or Achievers who are the true drivers of human civilization. Trailblazers or great Achievers such as Nicholas Copernicus, Albert Einstein, Buckminster Fuller, Henry Ford, Bill Gates and Mark Zukerberg the inventor of Facebook, Aliko Dangote of Nigeria and Aare Afe Babalola among others cover all fields of human endeavor. After achieving fame, most of the Founders of these great ideas and projects even set of Foundations to promote their dreams as legacies for humanity.
The world certainly needs more of such Trailblazers to tackle the numerous challenges facing humanity such as poor governance in many countries of the world, poverty, inequality is the distribution of wealth among nations, widespread ignorance and lack of access to good education, lack of food, lack of good housing, poor health care and short life expectancy in poor countries of the world, the challenges posed by climate change and the challenges posed by emerging technologies to humanity’s future survival among others.
If the more advanced countries are providing the necessary enabling environment for Trailblazers to realize their dreams, developing countries even need to do more to identify, support and provide the enabling environment for great Achievers and Founders who are the Trailblazers that drive the progress of nations and human civilizations.
Babalola therefore urged University Administrators in Nigeria to combat the menace of paucity of leadership and move with the trend of modern technology to be able to raise Trailblazers that will change the Nigerian environment for the better.
He commended the former Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, whom he described as “a dynamic, intelligent, able, fearless, thoughtful and progressive governor” for establishing the University in December 2014 and charged his successor, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, whom he described as a “forthright and gifted successor” to continue to support UNIMED with the hope that the university will sooner than later become a shining star among world class universities.
Olofintila wrote from Lagos