Posted by News Express | 17 November 2016 | 5,567 times
The ancient town of Oyo, besides being the ancestral stool of the Yoruba, hosts the famous St Andrews College of Education (now Emmanuel Alayande College of Education) located along Oyo-Ogbomosho Expressway. St. Andrews is reputed as the premier college of education in Nigeria.
Like a mustard seed, the college has metamorphosed into a full-fledged university, attracting students from different parts of the country. Ajayi Crowther University (ACU) is named after late Bishop Ajayi Crowther, a missionary who evangelised many parts of Nigeria and interpreted the Holy Bible into many Nigerian languages. ACU is one of the foremost faith-based universities in Nigeria, with the mandate of raising godly intellectuals who will emerge as beacons of hope, not only in Africa but around the globe.
It would be recalled that the quintessential legal icon and one-time president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and current pro-chancellor of the University, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, FCIArb, OFR, had in 2015 announced the decision of the Governing Council to appoint Rt. Rev (Prof) Dapo Asaju as the third vice chancellor of the university, for a five-year term. Now that the first of those five years is down, it is necessary to take stock of how the university has fared under Asaju’s leadership. On the 5th of October, 2015, Asaju began his record-breaking tenure with a symbolic triumphant entry into St Andrews Chapel, where a Holy Communion Service was organised to usher in his administration. The tenure began in an atmosphere that is conducive for setting the ball rolling, with a pledge of unwavering support from the governing council, senate, management and staff of the university. Regrettably, shortly after assumption of office, economic recession set in, making some sceptics to doubt the workability of Asaju’s audacious manifestoes. But rather than accept defeat, Asaju went about ‘selling’ his incurable optimism to all and sundry. The management team saw this as a golden opportunity to go back to the drawing board: to craft creative and innovative ways to sustain the university.
Asaju’s first task was to convene all the staff at a leadership retreat where he shared his five-year agenda, together with the short-and-medium-term strategies to actualise same. It was a moment to further stress the place of accountability, fiscal discipline, quality control, high productivity, and zero tolerance for wastage, among the staff, as benchmarks. The university don who doubles as the Bishop Theologian of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, rose to the position of the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) of the Lagos State University (LASU), where he had with visible and excellent track records, meritoriously and selflessly advanced the frontiers of knowledge for a period spanning over three decades.
One would recall with nostalgia also, the wonders of God to the people of LASU during his tenure as the Chaplain of the University, which again, was to prepare him for the unique task ahead. Today, Prof Asaju equally provides the right spiritual leadership required of a faith-based university, thus reminding one of Prophet Samuel, who combined the spiritual and political headships over Israel.
To all and sundry, Asaju has not only transformed the university better than he met it in terms of quality institutionalisation of servant-leadership model, probity, hard work, punctuality, transparency and accountability, but also actually gone a step further to set up an unprecedented record of value addition in the memories of stakeholders.
Not minding the increasing monthly wage bill within the last one year, the university can boast of newly-tarred road network and facility facelift. It is on record that the school has also within the year under review built a new 3,000-seater multi-purpose hall, new blocks of classrooms, staff quarters, shopping mall, 30 blocks of shops, volley ball, badminton and long tennis courts and a gymnasium. To facilitate easy movement within and outside the university, one big coaster bus and a campus shuttle cab were also procured, while all faculties have been provided with alternative sources of energy and public address system to aid teaching and research.
ACU venture became fully strengthened to be able to generate income through production and sale of water and bread. The newly-established ultra-modern ACU laundry unit, whose competitive pricing and satisfactory services now attract customers both within and outside the campus, also makes the list. It is worthy of note that although the primary aim of these projects is to generate funds for the university, but to ensure self-sustenance, while also developing students’ entrepreneurship skills; since interested students now have the opportunity to opt for student-work scheme in any of these investment outlets.
In line with the university management’s frantic efforts to scale-up access to qualitative education in different fields of human endeavour, using approved conventional and flexible instruction modes, ACU successfully hosted the Nigerian Council of Legal Education, thereby leading to the grant of approval for the commencement of its LLB programme. Postgraduate, part-time, and HND conversion degree programmes have also been added to the catalogue of courses earlier approved with their first set of entrants, currently on campus.
As a flagship centre for the conduct of teaching and research, the inaugural lecture series of the university commenced with Prof Ayodabo of the Department of English. Efforts are now at top gear to introduce the Central University Journal, which would be a multi-disciplinary journal. Further still, the management, in its bid to support staff development, has a pool of funds to support further education and participation at academic and professional development meetings within and outside Nigeria. Recently, three staff of the university enjoyed support to participate at a conference in Columbus, Ohio, USA.
Despite the unfavourable economic climate in the country and the exclusion of privately-owned institutions in accessing endowments and other forms of interventions that government-owned institutions enjoy, it is worthy of note that the university with the support of some distinguished individuals have kept making giant strides in attracting first-class facilities. The Modupe and Folurunsho Alakija Faculty of Law Building, the newly-renovated St Andrew’s Chapel, and the recently commissioned Wole and Lara Olanipun Vice-Chancellor’s Lodge – which are cynosures - were all commissioned within the first year of Asaju’s tenure.
Security of life and property remains paramount to the current leadership. To this end, the university now has a combination of security outfits with requisite intelligence gathering as well as modern technology, and specially-trained pets to combat crime in any shade or colour.
In addition to this fast-paced development in the university, it is worthy of note that the ACU is still one of the most affordable tertiary institutions in Nigeria. Despite the low tuition, the university still awards scholarships to deserving students. One can only imagine what the present administration would achieve if it has access to TETFUND, ITF and other special grants, which public institutions enjoy. After all, staff of ACU, like those of other institutions, contributes to the vault of the government through regularly payment of tax.
There is no doubt better days await ACU, as the university management under the distinguished leadership of Prof Asaju is poised to continue with its good work. Therefore, I make bold to say that most assuredly, with God’s continuous guidance, unflinching support of the governing council, and university’s unwavering commitment to innovation, fiscal prudence and discipline, ACU is, indeed, an institution to look out for in another four years.
•Mr Bamgbose, who wrote from Oyo, can be reached through:firstname.lastname@example.org. Photo shows Ajayi Crowther University VC, Rt. Rev (Prof) Dapo Asaju.
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