By Oyeyinka Fabowale
Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, (ABUAD) yesterday celeberated 10 years of existence, with dignitaries who attended the historic event acclaiming that it has been a decade of first class delivery in educational services and the University’s fast growth arguably the most unmatchable record of achievement in education.
The founder and Chancellor of the wave-making private institution and the guests including world renowned academics, top government officials, eminent traditional rulers, political and business leaders also stressed the need for stakeholders to subscribe to educational philanthropy, as a means of not only raising but sustaining the standard of university education in the country.
Executive Secretary of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof Ishaq Oloyede, in a goodwill message at the University’s 7th convocation ceremony commemorating the 10th anniversary, lauded ABUAD, which he noted had been playing a leading role in improving quality and access to university education in the country with its innovations and massive investment in facilities and manpower in the past 10 years.
In this role and with the numerous academic achiements also of it’s students, Oloyede said ABUAD had redefined the nation’s university system landscape.
He praised the school’s founder, Aare Babalola, for his contributions to the development of human capital and humanity, with this singular, albeit phenomenal investment in education.
All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, who was honoured with doctorate degree of the university alongside the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Mohammed Sa’ad Abubakar, the Obi of Onitsha, Sir Alfred Achebe, and Prof Anthony Adebulugbe, noted that education was the greatest investment and legacy one could bequeath to humanity, saying it was a remarkable testament to Babalola’s humanity to have, at a fulfilled age of 80 years, started a university.
Noting that “there can be no nation-building if people are not built,” the former governor of Lagos State, proudly described Aare Babalola as a “builder”!
The Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof Rasheed Abubakar, represented by Dr. Meyaki, declared with glee that the commission, the highest regulatory body for the university system, was satisfied with the operation and achievements of ABUAD.
He noted that the institution which, he described as a “trail-blazer” had gradually become a brand, household name and role model with the impressive achiements it had recorded within the brief span of existence.
The NUC boss extolled the Founder/Chancellor for his audacity and courage in embarking on building a university and his steadfast commitment to its continued development.
Prof Abubakar cited Babalola’s huge investment in infrastructure including the university’s multi- billion naira and Hi-Tech teaching hospital, the Multi system Hospital, in his old age, as proof that the legal luminary and educationist saw the project more as “service” than a business venture.
Aare Babalola, who beamed with smiles and joy during the celebration held at the expansive ABUAD Multi-purpose auditorium, urged well-endowed Nigerians, governments and corporate bodies to support educational development through donations, grants and endowments.
He said everyone must contribute their quota to enable universities not only to survive, but also providing quality service.
The man, who himself exemplifies educational philanthropy, said: “All over the world, universities succeed through donations, grants and other forms of assistance by people, authorities and institutions.
He described the fast growth of ABUAD as “the most unmatchable achievement”, noting, however, that this had been at tremendous financial cost.
He said government could assist his efforts at proving greater access to quality university education by improving the public power supply and degraded road network leading to the university, which has on its enrolment, students from all the 36 states of the federation. Enrolment rose from barely 200 students at the inception of the university to over 8000 in the current year.
This, he reckoned, would not only facilitate access by the students and their parents, but also the dream to transform it into the best in the world!
The ABUAD Founder charged the 99 first class out of over 1000 graduating students to be good ambassadors of the university and uphold its tenet of life of industry and integrity as they go into the world.
Senator Tinubu announced a donation of N25 million on behalf of the honorees, while Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, said he and his Lagos, Ogun and Osun state counterparts present on the occasion would support seven published books on ABUAD and its founder with N10 million each.
Also, Wema Bank Plc promised to donate a structure to the university.
Besides the governors, other eminent Nigerians who graced occasion were Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Aregbesola; former APC National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande; former governor of Ekiti State, Engr. Segun Oni; Deputy Governor of the state, Chief Egbeyemi, who represented Governor Kayode Fayemi;immediate past Chief Medical Director of the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Prof Temitope Alonge and former NUC Secretary, Prof Peter Okebukola.