To safeguard the country’s tertiary education from imminent collapse, the founder, Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), Chief Afe Babalola(SAN), has advised the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the National Universities Commission(NUC) to start prosecuting and confiscating property belonging to operators of illegal universities in the country.
The legal icon, also warned the governors of the 36 states of the federation against establishing universities in their states for political reasons, saying many of them are found to be unsustainable after relinquishing power.
Speaking at the 9th convocation ceremony of ABUAD on Sunday, where a total of 1,415 got various degrees, Babalola urged the NUC to be strict and thorough in its regulations for the establishment of Ivory towers in Nigeria, to stop the recurrent cases of creation of mushroom institutions that are destroying the system.
At the occasion, ABUAD bestowed honorary doctorate degrees on the Governor of Borno State, Prof. Babagana Zulum; the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi; the Ewi of Ado Ekiti, Oba Rufus Adeyemo Adejuyigbe; and the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Sulu Gambari.
Addressing the graduands, Babalola said: “Most disappointedly, the National Assembly for some time now approved the establishment of a one-subject university in their constituency. One remembers the fate of state universities established by some governors in their localities, which were not sustainable after they left power. I call these universities political universities. I call on NUC who in law is authorized to approve the establishment of universities to ensure that the conditions laid down in law are strictly followed.
“The NUC on its website had been publishing names of illegal universities annually. This means no action had been taken against those which were discovered the previous years.
“The damage done to education by these illegal universities is irreparable. I call on the federal government, Ministry of education, NUC, EFCC to identify these universities, their operators and teachers and take appropriate sanctions which include forfeiture of the property and imprisonment of collaborators”.
Babalola said the university has expended a sum of N620 million in the last 10 years on reward mechanisms for students, academic and non-academic staff, who demonstrated exemplary qualities in character, scholarship, entrepreneurship, and leadership.
Speaking on behalf of the honourees, Governor Zulum, posited that lack of education has been chiefly responsible for the cases of insecurity in the facets of kidnapping, banditry and killings being witnessed in Nigeria.
Zulum charged all Nigerians to as a matter of necessity continue to work together to sustain the unity of the Nigerian nation.
“We shall work together to ensure the unity of our nation. The reason why we are facing insurgency, banditry, and killing in Nigeria was as a result of lack of education, and the high unemployment rate among our youth. This university and others should strive to address all these problems by providing quality education that will guarantee jobs for our teeming youth.
“This is the first time I get honourary doctorate degree in any university since I became governor. This is not because universities were not willing, but I decided to get this because of the credibility of this university and its founder. This is not for political reasons, this university is just 12 years, looking at the academic quality and infrastructure, one would think it is up to 100 years.
“Two problems are facing our education: the mismatch between education sector and industry, and the mismatch between graduates and labour markets. But I know that this university has been offering quality education that can provide jobs for our youth”.
At the occasion, the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said Ekiti is proud that ABUAD is domiciled in the state, saying “this university is tourism for us, not only in education but in medical, because we have one of the best hospitals in Nigeria here in this university.
Addressing the graduands, Fayemi urged them to design their lives in the most profitable ways by imbibing the spirit of “delayed gratification”, adding that they should also perceive candour, integrity, honesty, competence as qualities that would serve you in good stead in life.
“But this university must stay here till eternity, we want Baba to stay with us forever, but this is not possible. But with this university allowed to stand forever, we will continue to feel Baba’s impacts and his love for humanity”.