Celebrating the ninth anniversary of the commencement of uninterrupted academic work in a university in Africa is no mean achievement
Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD) rolled out the drums last Friday, January 4, 2019, to celebrate the ninth anniversary of the commencement of uninterrupted academic work in the 21st Century university, which has earned a name in the league of world-class universities, its short history notwithstanding.
It has become part of the luxuriant history of the university that it commenced academic activities on Monday, January 4, 2010, with 240 students but today it has more than 7,000 students after it has graduated 2,121 students since its maiden convocation on October 21, 2013.
The brief but impressive early-morning celebration was a bolt from the blue for many, including the founder and chancellor, Aare Afe Babalola, who aptly described is as an ambush by the vice chancellor, Prof. Michael Ajisafe, and some management staff. All the same, it turned out to be a memorable event, which concentrated on gratitude to God for his enduring mercies and appreciation to the Babalola family for setting the tone of quality and functional education in this clime.
Celebrating the ninth anniversary of the commencement of uninterrupted academic work in a university in Africa is no mean achievement considering the persistent and deafening drumbeats of strikes and other forms of disturbances ravaging the average university in Africa, particularly since the military made an incursion into governance in most African countries in the 1960s.
After being received with the university anthem at the car park, an obviously surprised but elated Babalola, with his elegant wife, Yeye Aare Modupe Babalola, walked briskly through a guard of honour into the foyer of the College of Sciences, where his office is domiciled and which had been peopled by many of the university staff with an imposing celebration cake virtually assaulting the face of whoever entered the foyer.
Ajisafe set the ball rolling by recalling how the university commenced academic programmes with 240 students on Monday, January 4, 2010. He stressed that, apart from the fact that the university now has more than 7,000 students from all the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, the university has also overshot its expectations and overtaken many universities that are several decades older than ABUAD.
For all these and sundry other achievements and blessings, he called for celebration, gratitude to God and appreciation to the Babalola family for their unparalleled selflessness and sacrifices for the good of the majority.
After the brief introduction, Babalola did not forget to thank God for the ABUAD story and for all his staff who have watered his dream and vision into a flourishing reality and a toast of many, including many universities that are several decades older.
Babalola, who consistently garnished his speech with the fact that he was not a social or party-going person, but a true believer in action, expressed utmost surprise at the ambush and gratitude to those who made it possible even though he jokingly “threatened” a writ against Ajisafe and his accomplices in the ambush.
His words: “I am not a social person. Neither am I a party-going person. All I am interested in is action, action and action. But that notwithstanding, I am grateful for today because it reminds me of what we have been able to achieve in the last nine years by the grace of God and the cooperation of you all.
“I can beat my chest that our hope, our prayer and our wishes of establishing and running a world-class university has come true. And that goes to confirm one very important thing: that it is not too late for anybody to venture into anything and make a success out of it.
“I started this university when I was almost 80 years old. But look at where we are today. It is no longer news that we are a world-class university. It is no longer news that we are the clear leaders in law, medicine and engineering and several other disciplines. It is no longer news that we have surpassed those far older than us’’.
Not blown away by the waves of successes, the frontline legal colossus called on his staff to do everything morally and legally possible to ensure that the university maintains the stream of successes it has attained in the last nine years.
Waxing philosophical, he said: “We prayed to get to the top, we are now at the top. Now that we have got there, how do we maintain our position at the top? How do we maintain the high standards we have set for ourselves? That is the assignment for all of us in the New Year and beyond.”
Giving a clue into how maintaining its place at the top could be achieved, Babalola urged his staff to pay prime attention to time and timeliness, stressing that punctuality was the beginning of success. He equally encouraged them to take their assignment/business as theirs and not that of ABUAD or anyone for that matter.
A man who does not forget the contributions of others to the realisation of his ABUAD dream, Babalola eulogised both Prof. Smaranda E. Olarinde, the deputy vice chancellor, administration, who doubles as the provost of the College of Law, and Prof. Israel Orubuloye, OON, a robust academic of note and a mobile encyclopedia of university administration, who were part of the pioneer team that navigated the thick vegetation that eventually gave way ABUAD, a modern and model university of Afe Babalola’s dream.
• Olofintila wrote in from Ado-Ekiti