Elder statesman and founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, Aare Afe Babalola, has reiterated his commitment to education.
Babalola said this while receiving Assistant Commandant General (Training and Manpower Development) of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), David Abi, and his entourage in his office in Ado-Ekiti.
He stated that though he did not have the advantage of secondary or university education due to paucity of funds, he would continue to deploy his God-given ability to work hard to achieve positive and admirable results in the country’s educational landscape.
He said: “Afe Babalola University was conceived on faith, nurtured in faith and faith never fails. Even though I did not have the opportunity of going beyond primary school because of a lack of funds, God has endowed me with something extra: the ability to work hard to achieve desired results.
“It is a notorious fact that our university is barely 13 years old. Its young age notwithstanding, we can boldly say we have overshot our expectations. Thanks to the cooperation of our committed teachers, our dear parents, our well-behaved students, and such stakeholders as the National Universities Commission, the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, the Council for Legal Education and the Nigerian Society of Engineers among others”
He added, “It was through the collective efforts of all these stakeholders that the university has done so well in those 13 years to the extent that it was able to navigate its way to the top as Number 1 university out of the 221 universities in Nigeria and Number 321 globally according to the 2022 ranking of the highly respected Times Higher Education Impact Rankings.
“For me, hard work and prayer are synonymous. That is why I often tell my students that ‘he prays most who works hardest’. I believe very fervently that if you pray all day without commensurate work, you will die of hunger.”
The elder statesman was full of encomiums for the NSCDC for its manifest discipline and urged the leadership of the corps to keep the flag of discipline flying, with a promise to cooperate with the security outfit in all areas, including making his 400-bed ABUAD Multi-System Hospital available for employment screening and residency training for interested NSCDC’s medical personnel.
According to him, the major problem afflicting the country is indiscipline, a development which has led to such problems as insecurity where lives are no longer safe on the road, on the farm, at home, in the classrooms, at airports and on moving trains, spiral unemployment, double-digit inflation, underfunded institutions, poor infrastructures, different shades and shapes of violence, banditry, kidnapping for ransom, grinding poverty and an excruciating debt burden among several others.
Expressing fears that Nigeria is in serious trouble, Babalola wondered how a government that finds it difficult to pay the interest on its loans would be able to comply with Section 14 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, which provides that: “The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”
Earlier, Abi described Babalola as a versatile Nigerian. After touring the expansive university, the Multi-System Hospital, the ABUAD Integrated Farms, the Industrial Park, and the Independent Power Plant, the NSCDC boss said: “If we have three more of your type in this country, the story will change for the better. If we all work the way you are working, even at your age, there will be no hunger in this country.
“I have come, I have seen and I am convinced. I am born again. I commend you for the projects on the farm. We will protect your farm through our Agro-Rangers.
“We have earlier discussed probable areas of collaboration with the university management. Such areas include staff training, manpower development, intelligence and strategic training, health and paramedical support system, and short certification courses for the officers and men of the corps. We will not be too far away from you. We wish you well sir.
“ABUAD is a standard institution of higher education and the corps would be glad to work with the citadel of learning. The university can stand as a provider of goods and services to the nation, after all, it generates its electricity and provides its potable water among several other goodies. Above all, it has an experimental farm big enough to ameliorate hunger in Nigeria.
In her remarks, ABUAD’s Vice-Chancellor, Smaranda Olarinde, said the 13-year-old university had opened its doors to the NSCDC to explore.
She challenged officers and men of the corps to be partakers of the quality and functional education on offer in ABUAD by coming for further studies in the university, which she said had designed a curriculum that fits the work schedule of the corps with affordable financial implications.