During my formative years as a scholar, I struggled to come to terms with the works of American poet, Joachin Miller, apparently because some of them combine a sense of majesty and grandeur with alienation and physical degradation of the human condition. For my young mind, it was difficult to reconcile the two contrasting positions. However, his famous expression “in men who men condemn as ill, I find so much of goodness still” resonated in my puerile literary consciousness. What does the above expression mean, what message does it convey? In this essay, while we may simply ignore all the remote literary meanings of the expression, let us concentrate on its immediate literal meaning. No one is totally bad, no phenomenon is totally condemnable. There is always a silver lining on every sky no matter how overcast the sky maybe. It is in the foregoing that a visit to Mountain Top University redefines the perception of university education in Nigeria variously criticized by locals and foreigners alike.
Over the years, Nigeria’s education sector has been bashed left, right, and center by Nigerians who have had the privilege to travel overseas. Although Nigerian graduates always excel when they travel out of the country, different anomalies confront Nigerian universities which stifle students’ potential. These anomalous conditions range from a poor academic environment, incessant strike by lecturers, unavailability of study materials, poor government policies on education, poor accommodation for the students and lecturers, and many other impediments.
With the advent of private universities in Nigeria, some of the problems were reduced. However, the exorbitant fees charged by many of the private universities have made it difficult for the ordinary Nigerian to afford the education offered by these private universities. Therefore, the criticism of university education has continued leaving Nigerians with a sad commentary that no university in the country deserves a 100% pass mark on all fronts. However, amid all the criticism of Nigerian universities, amid all the squeamishness and vitriol, there stands out one university in the country that blazes the trail of total excellence in all areas, a university that combines academic excellence with observable moral integrity, that university is Mountain Top University.
Located along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Mountain Top University is a faith-based institution founded in 2015 by Dr. Daniel Kolawole Olukoya, the General Overseer of Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries, one of the largest Pentecostal churches in Nigeria. Indeed, it is surprising that given the world-class image of the university, it has not received the kind of publicity it deserves.
Mountain Top University is a first-class institution comparable to most of its kind in the world. This is partly because the founder, Dr D. O Olukoya is himself an excellent First Class graduate from the equally excellent University of Lagos. I do not know the name given to a combination of two excellent things but I know that when excellence meets excellence, the result is double excellence. It could be because the founder has a First Class mindset that explains why the university has a First Class identity in terms of vision, mission, and conception.
Located across a vast expanse of land, Mountain Top University is an architectural wonder, with a mini lake running across the campus and a footbridge like the famous London Bridge. The landscaping with beautiful lawns and green grass remind me of the University of Johannesburg in South Africa. Walking through the campus, one has a feeling of being in a top university in the Caribbean, US, Canada or Europe. A further approach into the main campus vindicates the Nigerian university system as a victim of decay and waste. A sight of students in the school restores hope that the Nigeria youth can be responsible, properly dressed, decent, courteous and respectful. Indeed, it is very difficult to reconcile the image of the Nigeria youth consistently defined by poor dress sense, rebellious, and poor attitude to work with the image of the students at Mountain Top University. A look at the students and a close observation of their mannerism restores confidence that there is hope for the Nigerian youth. Never did I imagine that a set of Nigeria youths can walk about without the obscene addiction to cell phones, given to immorality, and an inclination to indecent dressing. Yet again, a closer look at the youths reveals a set of young people who are happy in their environment, who want to embrace success based on hard work and diligence. In its very short existence, Mountain Top University has achieved what many public and private institutions can only dream about. With world-class facilities and modern education materials, the students are exposed to one of the best academic environments in the world which is in line with the vision and mission of the university as outlined by the founder.
A look at the staff quarters and students’ hostels reminds one of a typical five-star hotel in Nigeria. How on earth is it possible that a university will accommodate staff and students in such high-class, modern architectural wonder with an uninterrupted power supply? Without a doubt, any government policy on the quintessential university system in Nigeria should take a visit to Mountain Top University for that is how a university should look like. The classrooms are spacious and fully air-conditioned, the e-library is fully digitalized and connected to over twenty thousand other research libraries across the world. At the touch of a button, research is easily facilitated. At the touch of a button, things get done as well and information is at fingertips. Amazingly, the lecturers’ offices are all double-bay, things that are lacking or are the exclusive preserve of professors in many universities across the country.
With two major colleges, the College of Basic and Applied Sciences and College of Humanities, Management & Social Sciences, the university offers over twenty courses, blazing the trail of excellent education in Nigeria. However, plans to establish the College of Law, College of Medical Sciences, and College of Engineering are underway and it is believed that in line with the first-class approach of the founder, these colleges will also blaze the trail in a first-class manner.
Ably led by the pioneer Vice-Chancellor Professor Elijah Ayolabi, the University will be holding its first convocation on the 20th of December 2019. As expected, it shall be a ground-breaking ceremony where many students shall receive honours in different disciplines. For now, only undergraduate courses are offered while plans to commence post-graduate studies are underway. For a university that has existed for only four years to achieve so much and blaze the trail in the Nigerian university system, kudos should be given to the Founder, the VC and all those behind the excellent idea that the university has become. While we confront different levels of absurdities in our country which gravitate towards anarchy every day, we must also celebrate those aspects of our society which restores hope in a rather misgiving situation. Mountain Top University, the dawn of a new day.
Dr. Adiele writes from Lagos via [email protected]