The pioneer Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council of the University is Ambassador (Prof.) Iyorwuese Hagher, PhD, OON, FIMC, FSONTA, MOIF. IYORWUESE HAGHER is a Nigerian writer, poet and playwright. He received his primary school education at Zaki-Biam, and attended WM Bristow Secondary School Gboko, Benue State, Nigeria, a missionary secondary school, run by the Christian Reformed Church in Canada and America. He also attended Kuru Government Secondary School, for his Higher School Certificate (HSC), and the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, where he received the Bachelor of Arts honours degree in English Language in 1974, Masters Degree in Drama and Doctor of Philosophy Degree (1977 and 1981, respectively). He taught Drama and conducted research in African indigenous theatres, at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and the University of Jos. He became Professor of Theatre and Drama for Development in 1990.
Hagher has played an active role as an artist and change activist in Nigeria, being one of the architects of the use of Theatre for development, and in harnessing theatre to challenge corruption and bad governance. He also combined his work as playwright and director to found the Benue State Arts Council, and worked with the Tiv peasants in Central Nigeria in the Kwagh-hir Puppetry Theatre, using the theatre as a change agent. He was elected to the Nigerian Senate in 1983, where he served as Deputy Chief Whip. He was again elected as member of the constitutional conference of 1994-95, and appointed a Minister of State, for Power and Steel and for Health 1995 – 1998.
He established the Leadership Institute Nigeria in 2000, and negotiated peace in the ethnic clashes that took place between the Tiv tribe and their neighbours in Central Nigeria, in which hundreds of lives were lost, and half a million people displaced as internal refugees in 2000. In 2003, he was awarded the National Honour for his contributions in the Arts and Philanthropy, as Officer of the Order of the Niger, OON. He was appointed Nigeria’s ambassador in 2004 – 2007 to Mexico with concurrent accreditation to Panama, Costa Rica and Guatemala. In 2008, Hagher was reappointed Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Canada. In both places, Hagher actively promoted Nigeria’s soft power and cultural diplomacy using the theatre, drama and poetry to enhance bilateral relations between Nigeria and host countries.
According to him ABUAD is Nigeria's stimulus package to spring back to greatness and recover from the long depression, to which our nation has sunk in the esteem of the world, where we have become a symbol of; corruption, leadership deficit, ethnic and religious crises, and low capacity in almost all our institutions. Education the greatest source of empowerment has remained in decay. A good university education is self evident. It produces good human beings, who have a heart for their communities and help to create a just and humane society and the improvement of the quality of life.
This citadel, described by many as a benchmark and miracle, is the setting into motion, one man's dream, to be the change we all preach. Aare Afe Babalola SAN, LLD, CON etc, having climbed to the top ladder of social and economic success, through sheer will and hard work, did not seek to enjoy his wealth in an individualistic and selfish manner. Neither did he seek to hide and multiply his wealth in far-away corners of the world. He gave back to Nigeria and Ekiti State, an enduring legacy; to this and future generations, so that his roots are much better off than he found them. He has launched an educational revolution in the country to re-establish the foundation of the university as an institution for producing highly skilled and socially relevant graduates, capable of applying scientific knowledge for resolution of social problems. He has proved that the private sector and philanthropic individuals can complement the government in raising the bar of academic excellence, since the government alone cannot solve the monumental challenge of educating over 70 million youth of Nigeria today.