At the Oduduwa University on Wednesday last week, Yusuf Ali, proffered workable solutions to the myriad of challenges facing the country’s education system.
It was another opportunity to dissect the factors that wreak unending crises upon the university system in the country. And some eggheads were on hand to proffer a few solutions to the challenges bedevilling the nation’s education sector.
The event was the sixth convocation and conferment of honorary and postgraduate degrees of the Oduduwa University, Ipetumodu, Osun State. Oduduwa University was licensed in 2009 by the Federal Government to run as a private institution.
Among those honoured with honorary degrees at the event was a legal luminary and philanthropist, Malam Yusuf Ali (SAN). He was conferred with a honorary doctorate degree in Public Administration.
Honoured alongside Ali was another senior lawyer, Olusola Oyeyemi. Oyeyemi is the son of a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Oyeyemi.
Indeed, the challenges afflicting Nigeria’s university system are varied and miscellaneous. Issues of inadequate funding, corruption, inadequacies in the facilities for teaching, learning and research, cultism and many others have beset the nation’s public universities for many years. Yet, no solution seems in sight. Even the state and federal governments admit that there are challenges with the quality and quantity of academic staff, including professors. Many Nigerians insist that the various governments have also failed in their duties. At the moment, teaching and research in the nation’s public universities have been suspended, as the strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has paralysed academic activities on the various campuses.
At the Oduduwa University on Wednesday last week, Yusuf Ali, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) proffered some workable solutions to the myriad of challenges facing the country’s education system.
He recalled that formal education actually began as a private endeavour, noting that
it was much later that different forms of governments were instituted. That was when states decided to take interest in the education of their citizens, he noted.
He spoke further: “As time went on, it became evident that governments alone could not provide education for all citizens, and private persons and other groups started to set up educational institutions. The acknowledged best universities in the world today, the likes of Cambridge, Harvard, Oxford and so on, were products of such efforts.”
Ali called on the Federal Government to encourage the establishment of more private universities in the country. In his words, it had become evident that private universities might actually be the entities that would produce forefront intellectuals in science and technology, as well as in other disciplines.
The senior lawyer and philanthropist contended that private universities should be encouraged to maintain the educational standard for which they have been known Ali’s philanthropic activities across Nigeria have been well documented. His Yusuf Ali Foundation, a charity organisation that he founded, recently gave scholarships worth N2.088 million to 50 students of Ibadan Boys High School, his alma mater.
His other humanitarian gestures include the donation of a twin dormitory to the University of Ilorin; donation of an 80-bed hostel to the Osun State University; donation of a 30- unit ICT Centre to the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife; donation of a ten-bed Advanced Trauma Centre to the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital; donation of a 30-unit ICT Centre to the College of Law, Crescent University, Abeokuta, Ogun State; endowment of the Crescent University College of Law building; donation of a 40- unit E-Resource Centre to the Kwara State Polytechnic, Ilorin; donation of a 20-room luxurious hostel to Fountain University, Osogbo, and the donation of a brand new Kia Rio 2014 to the Department of Arabic and Islamic studies, University of Ibadan, among others.
“It is my prayer that, as Cambridge and others in that league, have become centres of educational excellence and reference points, so shall Oduduwa University become in the nearest future,” he said.
He spoke further: “Today, the distinguishing factor between our public universities and other universities all over the world is the stability of academic calendar. Whereas, stability of academic calendar
is assured in other universities all over the world, that is not the situation with our public-owned tertiary institutions, except the University of Ilorin, where there has been a consistent stability of academic calendar since 2001.
“The instability in the academic calendar of our public tertiary institutions has so much eroded the credibility of certificates from these institutions, to the shame of all of us. It is clear that private universities have taken on the challenge to liberate our educational system from the clutches of stagnation and lack of competitiveness.
“I, therefore, call on all stakeholders in our educational sector, especially the federal and state governments that have tertiary institutions, and the various academic and non-academic unions in the institutions to please, in the interest of our nation and our children, find common grounds on issues affecting the institutions in order to ensure that we institute a stable, progressive and workable academic calendar in our tertiary institutions. It existed in the past and we can recreate it now.”
Ali called on other well-meaning, well-to-do Nigerians with the wherewithal, to join in the move by extending their philanthropic gestures to the private universities in order to secure the future of generations yet unborn.
The senior lawyer, who spoke on behalf of other awardees, thanked the Chancellor, Board of Trustees, members of the Governing Council, management, staff and students of Oduduwa University for the honour.
“We shall endeavour to live with and improve upon the qualities the institution found in us that made the award possible,” he pledged.
Chancellor and Founder of the institution, Dr. Rahman Adedoyin, in his remarks, had earlier described Ali and Oyeyemi as great men of noble birth who have been using their profession and hard-earned wealth to touch lives and reshape the society for good.
Dr. Adedoyin said since the university was founded about 10 years ago, only six Nigerians have been honoured with doctoral degrees. “They include a former finance minister, Dr. Mrs Okonjo Iweala; former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (who is now the Emir of Kano); former Accountant General of the Federation, Mr. Jonah Otunla; Executive Secretary of Muslim Ummah, South West Nigeria, Prof. D.O.S. Noibi and Alhaji S.O. Babalola, Deputy President, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and Proprietor of AlHikmah University),” he said.
The event was graced by several eminent personalities. They include Mr. Kehinde Eleja (SAN); Oba Justice Ademola Ajakaye; Oba Adebayo Adelodun (SAN); JAMB Registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede; Vice Chancellor, Osun State University, Prof Labode Popoola; Vice Chancellor, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Prof. Saburi Adesanya and Chief Titus Supo Ashaolu (SAN).
Also in attendance were other members of Yusuf Ali’s entourage, including a former Secretary to the State Government in Oyo State, Alhaji Akin Olajide, Prof. Abdulwahab Egbewole, SAN; Dr. Idowu Waheed Olanrewaju and Justice AbdulRaheem Akangbe.