The vice chancellor of the Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State, Professor Ekundayo Alao, in this interview with LAOLU HAROLDS, says the university is poised to carve a niche for itself as a medical research institution of repute in Nigeria and Africa. Excerpts:
What did this university really set out to achieve?
Adeleke University was a product of an effort of one Dr Deji Adeleke who established a non-governmental organization called Springtime Development Foundation. One of the key roles of the Foundation is to seek and assist students who are brilliant and who should be in school but are never in school because of one handicap or the other.
It was this effort of assisting people that brought about the thinking of a university; to be able to give back to the society what he believes the society had done for him. He’s the son of the first senator here (in Ede) – Senator Adeleke – and believes that the type of opportunity he had, others should be able to have it. Springtime Development Foundation grew into setting up Adeleke University. In 2011, the university was chartered and opened its doors, and was given three faculties – Faculty of Science, Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Social Sciences. But few years after, the university grew into having the Faculty of Engineering, which is housing Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Agric Engineering and Electrical Engineering. Within the same year, we added Law. It’s the only (private) university around Osun here that is offering Law and Engineering.
The university has been growing, and you will not believe it that one-third of the students here are sponsored; they are on full scholarship. And we’re expanding it further, to give scholarship to children of fallen heroes like different police officers who died in one accident or the other while on duty. This is not a profit-making university; it’s a service-rendering university.
Up till now, the university is still getting subsidy from the proprietor, but this year, with my own administration, we’re trying to make sure we level up and be able to pay our own salaries, so that we can enable him (proprietor) to do more for the society. The university should be able to generate enough money through IGR – and we’ve set up different IGR (organs).
For instance, Mrs Sanni, who is a younger sister to the proprietor is very industrious, and we’ve appointed her as the group managing director for the Adeleke University Ventures. And this venture will include putting together table water and then the bread (we have a bread factory here, the Adeleke University Bread). We’re going to further expand it. We’ve cultivated farms. And if I may tell you, this place is occupying about 59 acres of land. What you see being built here is just the first phase; the second phase is coming up anytime from now that will include more hostels. We’ve built faculties – even faculties we’ve not started have been built; like the Faculty of Arts. The Postgraduate School is coming on fast; before the end of this year. We’re also going to put together a printing press and some other businesses that can really assist the institution to generate its own funds.
As a university, what area of knowledge would you want to be noted for?
Adeleke University would want to be recognized for its medical research; and that is why we are trying to put together a pre-med. We’ve asked them (NUC) for a degree of medicine; but right now, they say we cannot just start medicine; that we need to start with pre-med. I’m expecting the NUC anytime from now to come and inspect the Nursing, the Physiology and the Anatomy; and we have every assurance that they will give us approval. And if we get an approval, we’ve been promised by next year we’re going to be given a College of Medicine and College of Dentistry. Our College of Pharmacy is also coming up. By next year, we’re going to have these three faculties.
Our own medical study will be different from what they (other universities) do. The one that is a bit similar to it is that of Babcock, which always at year five or so sends their medical students to India for training. We are going to ask them (medical students) to spend their fifth year in Britain, their sixth year in America where they will write a final exam, and then they qualify in America and come back for one year practical at home to give them an inkling of tropical medicine. (Medical) Students here (other universities) will continue to end up getting MBBS, which is ordinary bachelor; but ours will be MD (Doctor in Medicine).
The other area we are emphasizing is in the area of agriculture, because of the demand around us and because of the trend in which the nation is going. That is why we have Mechanical Agriculture. We really want to assist this nation in getting the right type of crops and then contribute our own quota to feeding the nation.
The admission process has been hazy of late. Government says it has empowered each university to select those to be offered admission. Do you think you have been given the kind of autonomy to do what you would have loved to do in admitting your students?
What JAMB did, which it had to revert quickly, was that it made it mandatory that when students apply, they (JAMB) would be the one to select; and they imposed it on the university. The vice chancellors and pro-chancellors kicked against it. What they do now is to release the list to them (universities) and say ‘take what you want to take and return the rest to us’.
You know in the JAMB thing you have first and second choice; some people would have chosen a university for first choice and another for second choice. Those who choose the university as first choice could be considered on that first choice; but where it is not possible, they can now migrate to second choice. But what is the role of the private university in all of this? Because private universities are universities where payments are made, people are weary of going to private universities, forgetting the fact that in any private university, you have everything embedded in the bill. In public university, you could pay very little; but apart from paying little, you live on your own, transport and feed yourself. At the end of the day, you’ve attracted a lot of cost; and when there is any strike, your education is so interrupted to the extent that you may spend seven or eight years on a four-year programme.
People should look at the value of the cost and effect; because when people say education is so costly, all they need to do is to try ignorance. Ignorance is costlier. We always advise people to look towards private university where things are properly regulated; students are not allowed to be violent; they go to class at the appropriate time, and there is no disruption of programmes. Brilliant parents know that their hope is in private universities, not in government universities. In government universities, people are corrupted; lecturers go to students to ask for favours in return for grades. In private universities – especially faith-based universities – such things are not tolerated.
You’ve spoken of the vision of the proprietor of the university; you as a person, in this office, by the time you tenure is over and you look back, what would you want to have achieved?
By then, we will have a very unique medical school. People will come here from all over. And I can assure you that when I’m leaving this place, the ranking of Adeleke University will have been very high. We should be one of the 20 best universities in Nigeria, and at least work within the range of 30 in Africa. But more importantly, anyone coming through this place will really know that he has a relationship with Jesus Christ. They must know God; and when you know God, you know everything. The day God was removed from school was the day we started having problems in Nigeria. In those days, prayers would be offered in the morning and when children were closing; but the day some people who were so satanic thought there’s no need for prayers, then problems started.