It was a day of honour for some distinguished Nigerians on Friday, March 22. At the 13th Founder’s Day ceremony of Crescent University, Abeokuta, entrepreneur and founder of the Ibeji Foundation, Alhaji Rafiu Ebiti, was honoured with the prestigious Bola Ajibola 2019 Community Award, in recognition of his immense contribution and support for quality education and commitment to the Islamic religion in Nigeria.
Alhaji Ebiti is the managing director of Istabaraqim Nigeria Limited. His Ibeji Foundation, a non-governmental organisation founded in memory of his father in 2010, has been directly involved in the education of several indigent students at Crescent University. The foundation has provided opportunities for empowerment and entrepreneurial development for Muslim youths, provided access to quality education, research and vocation, as well as enormous contributions to the promotion of Islam and socio-economic welfare of several individuals.
The occasion coincided with the 85th birthday of the school’s founder, the eminent jurist, Prince Bola Ajibola (SAN). It was a parade of eminent Nigerians, including the deputy governor of Ogun State, Mrs. Yewande Onanuga, who represented Governor Ibikunle Amosun; former deputy governor of Lagos State, Alhaja Sinatu Ojikutu; registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Ishaq Oloyede; Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo III, Prof. Dawud Noibi, Olowu of Owu, and Oba Adegboyega Dosunmu, among others.
A special lecture was delivered by Prof. Mashood Baderin, professor of Law, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.
While welcoming the guests, the institution’s vice chancellor, Prof. Ibraheem Gbajabiamila, said the 13th Founder’s Day was an important occasion for the school.
“At the start of 2018, we had about 12 programmes that were deemed for accreditation. We are proud to announce that all our programmes scored 100 per cent, and we got accreditation for all. This is an important recognition of the quality of our university at the very best.”
In his lecture, “Integrity in Leadership: A Moral Compass for Societal Development,” Prof. Baderin said integrity was needed to build a functional society.
“Government must be about integrity if they want to bring about development. Because development is about people, and that is the only criterion for measuring its ultimate success or failure. It is what it does to enhance the lives of individual human beings. In my opinion, for Nigeria, and indeed Africa, effective societal development must reflect an actual human development, which facilitates freedom and opportunities for ordinary people, leading to actual improvement in their general wellbeing. Human development is about empowering ordinary people to decide who to be, what to be, and how to enjoy an adequate standard of living as enhanced by the concept of individual and collective capabilities.
“In advancing human development, I propose that some areas must be prioritised to enhance effective societal development in most African countries, including Nigeria. These are promoting and ensuring respect for human dignity, pushing human rights and enablement, advancing good and functional public education and capacity building for all, and promoting and ensuring human security.”
Public relations officer of the institution, Mr. Idris Katib, described Ebiti as “a man of sterling character who sees life as an opportunity to seek the pleasure of Allah and prepare well for the life hereafter, protect the weak and advance the cause of Islam and humanity to the best of his ability.
“He is man naturally endowed with the spirit of altruism, fellowship, co-operation, empathy and regard for others. He is a philanthropist who is appreciated in the Muslim communities where he seeks to spread the knowledge and practice of Islam and foster the spirit of the Islamic brotherhood.”
In his remarks, Ebiti urged everyone to strive to make a difference every day.
“One act of kindness a day is possible,” he said. “You have nothing until you can affect your immediate environment with the little Allah has given you. I derive joy in giving back in any way I can, and that is what has kept me going. I’ll implore everyone to render a hand of help to all the needy out there, only then can the world be a better place. And I am grateful to this university for counting me thus worthy of this prestigious award.”
His wife, Alhaja Rafiat Ebiti, said she was proud of her husband’s philanthropic activities: “I thank Almighty Allah for his mercies over my husband. I thank the university for the honour. May Allah continue to give him strength, good health and prosperity to be able to continue to help the needy. I am very proud of him because he is a very compassionate person. He is kind-hearted. He is someone that skips food to take care of the needy.
“He is not just a good man, but a nice husband and a good father to all his children and those around him.”
Dr. Abdulrasaq Moyo Ebiti, a son of the award recipient, said his father was deserving of the award, “He is hardworking, tireless, and an enthusiastic supporter of Islam and education. We pray for more grace and blessings.”
Alhaji Ebiti’s friends, Y.K.O. Abdulkareem and Mobolaji Abdulfatai, as well as two of the several students being sponsored by Ebiti’s Ibeji Foundation, Kamorudeen Kehinde and Abdulsalam Ibrahim, also lauded the recognition by the university.
Ebiti studied at the then University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), after which he bagged the fellowship of the prestigious Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) in 1992. He is a seasoned accountant, administrator and entrepreneur of note.
He started his professional career with the renowned firm of chartered accountants, KPMG, where he handled large and medium-sized audit of companies in different sectors of the economy and acquired vast skills in the areas of accounting, taxation, secretarial practices, auditing, investigation, business management, receivership and liquidation. He left KPMG after about five years to join the management team of COMERINT Nigeria Ltd. He is presently the CEO of Istabaraqim Nigeria Limited, a senior partner at Adisa Ebiti and Co. and chairman of EM Technical Services Ltd, an engineering firm.
A recipient of several awards, Ebiti is a founding member and chairman of the finance and business committee of the Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN), chairman of the board of trustees of the Obafemi Awolowo University of Ife Muslim Graduates’ Association, Ansar-ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, Ebuta-Meta branch, vice chairman, Forum for Islamic Education and Welfare, and many others.