TEXT OF THE ADDRESS BY THE FOUNDER AND CHANCELLOR OF AFE BABALOLA UNIVERSITY, ADO-EKITI, AARE AFE BABALOLA, SAN, AT THE CONFERMENT OF THE CONGRESSIONAL COMMENDATION OF THE US GEORGIA LEGISLATIVE BLACK CAUCUS AND INDUCTION INTO THE AFRICAN LEADERSHIP HALL OF FAME ON March 25, 2016
I thank the US Georgia Legislative Black Caucus and the African Leadership Magazine for my induction into the African Leadership Hall of Fame for Pioneering Excellence and Innovation in Tertiary Education in Africa. This indeed is another memorable achievement in what has been an eventful life and journey bearing in mind my humble beginnings.
I grew up in a very modest subsistence farming family and community where the height of ambition was to inherit and work on my parents’ farm. In those days, our fathers believed that it was more beneficial to train their children on the farms rather than send them to school. However my parents decided to break with tradition and send me to school to the derision of many. That decision had turned out to be one of many ‘unlikely’ events that had significantly changed the course of my life in a positive way. When I assembled some of these unlikely events and documented my journey from these modest beginnings to where I am today in my auto-biography – “Impossibility made Possible”, it was described as –
“an extensive and tremendous opus… stories comparable only to the Greek myths, even Homer would be proud.”
Through the limited primary school education, I was able to study privately and passed the Cambridge School Certificate, GCE Ordinary and Advanced Level of London University, B.Sc Degree of London University and LL.B Degree of London University. Today makes it one year and fourteen days that I was honoured by the famous University of London with the LL.D Degree of that University making me the third African to be so honoured, others were Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu and Dr. Nelson Mandella. Because I know better than most that education is the most effective weapon against ignorance, disease and poverty, I founded Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, a non-profit university designed purposely to provide quality education in Africa for those who cannot afford the high cost of university education overseas.
So much has happened since Afe Babalola University Ado Ekiti (ABUAD) took off 6 years ago. Not only have we erected several structures, we have also been able to record full accreditation in all our 36 programmes in our quest to lead education reform in Nigeria by example.
For those of you who have not had the opportunity of visiting ABUAD, I believe you have heard or read about our achievements. I therefore encourage you to visit our University to experience first-hand the work we are doing here.
I am proud to say that all stakeholders who have visited our university are unanimous in their verdict that our university is “a pace-setter university, fastest growing university in Africa, benchmark, model, reference point, template for Engineering education, best Law College in West Africa and a world class university”.
Permit me to end this short acceptance address by referring to the comments of two people who have visited ABUAD in the past one year;
Prof. Serges Kamga, Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute, University of South Africa (UNISA):
“ABUAD is a great initiative not only for Nigeria, but for Africa. In my view, a great job is done at your institution and it is time to take it to another level. This is to recognize the great mind of the founder who instead of investing abroad (in Europe) did it on the continent. Instead of going to study abroad, African kids can study at home in Africa, which is a good thing.
ABUAD should be commended for creating employment for all including those working on the very impressive farm. Considering what has been achieved after only 5 years, one cannot but say, well done to the founder and his very capable team”.
Mr. Scott Royster, an American based in Kenya who came to our university in March 2015 said after a tour of our university:
You have clearly lived a life for the ages and the world is obviously a better place because of what you have accomplished and built. Your university is truly world-class and I am honored to have met you and to have had the chance to see greatness first hand.
Over the last three years, I have met many university founders and leaders and toured many institutions of higher learning across ten countries in Africa. I almost always have a vision and a plan for those that I have visited within a very short period of time after my initial engagement. As I toured your university yesterday I knew this time would be different. Every person I met, every building I saw, every hectare we covered, made me feel smaller and smaller. What you have built is that important, that big, that good. I commend you.
The testimonies above are enough to arouse sufficient curiosity about our university so much so that you would be eager to see with your eyes what the National Universities Commission (NUC) described as miracle and magic combined.
I want to specially thank the US Georgia Legislative Black Caucus and leadership of African Leadership Magazine for acknowledging what we have been doing in our University to entrench quality and functional education with the utmost aim of ensuring that Nigeria regains its lost glory in Education. It is a catalyst that will propel, ginger, inspire and encourage me to want to do more. I thank you for challenging me the more.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you for being part of this my moment of honour which I dedicate to humanity. I thank you all for listening.
AFE BABALOLA, OFR, CON, SAN, LL.D, D.Litt