TEXT OF THE WELCOME ADDRESS BY THE VICE-CHANCELLOR OF AFE BABALOLA UNIVERSITY ADO-EKITI, PROF. E. SMARANDA OLARINDE FCI. ARB, FCAI, AT THE 13TH ANNIVERSARY OF COMMENCEMENT OF ACADEMIC ACTIVITIES IN THE UNIVERSITY HOLDEN ON WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 4, 2023 AT ALFA BELGORE HALL, AFE BABALOLA UNIVERSITY, ADO-EKITI, ABUAD.
On behalf of our Beloved Founder & Chancellor Aare Afe Emmanuel Babalola, OFR, CON, SAN, his genial wife, Yeye Aare Modupe Babalola, FSM, FNIMN, FFPA, the Board of Trustees, the Governing Council, the Senate, Staff and Students of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, ABUAD, it is with great delight that I welcome all of us to this twin celebration: the brand-new year, 2023, and the 13th Anniversary of the commencement of Academic activities in our pace-setting and frontline university, ABUAD.
For me, this year’s edition of the commencement of academic activities is symbolic and remarkable, because it is the first to be celebrated since I became the third substantive Vice Chancellor to steer the activities of our prestigious university on June 20, last year.
- HOW TIME FLIES: JANUARY 4, 2010 TO JANUARY 4, 2023
When in August 2008, the phenomenal legal luminary, Aare Afe Emmanuel Babalola actualised his mega-dream and vision to reform education in this clime, by providing and leading others in quality and functional education, service, industry and character building, as well as discipline, some sceptics would probably have looked at the now flourishing dream with some subdued optimism, “let’s wait and see attitude”.
Today, a first-time visitor to ABUAD, our citadel of learning that regally sits in the serene atmosphere and lush ambience of Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti state capital, would look up in awe, marvelling at the majestic architectural masterpieces that adorn the landscape of the university which commenced Academic work on its permanent campus on Monday, January 4, 2010.
- CELEBRATING ABUAD’S 13TH ANNIVERSARY.
As anyone, and indeed everyone, begins to navigate their way through the striking gatehouse to the university, which someone, on account of its sheer architectural splendour, has described as “Europe in Africa”, it becomes crystal clear that this is a university leading in architectural landscape. Such a first-time visitor would savour the glamour and beauty of the manicured lawns and aesthetic flowers as well as the modern road networks with solar-powered lighting system.
In the Beginning
Right from the on-set, our visionary Founder conceptualized his university to be different from those before it and he worked towards his vision. Soon after take-off, it was clear that he meant business as the University became acknowledged by NUC as “a model, benchmark and reference point” as well as “the pride of University system in Nigeria” and endorsed by the Association of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (AVCNU) as “the most successful private university in Nigeria”. On its part, UNESCO has also recognized us as “a world class institution of Higher Education”. This culminated last year when the University was rated by the Times Higher Education Impact Ranking as the “Number 1 out of the 220 universities in Nigeria and Number 321 in the world”.
These and many more are the end results of the determination, uncommon zeal and formidable focus of Aare Afe Emmanuel Babalola, his genial wife, Yeye Aare Modupe Babalola, the University Management, staff, students, parents, friends and our well-wishers.
Our Chancellor’s personal Doctor in England, Dr. Ann Coxon, an Alumnus of Afe Babalola University, captured those days of little beginnings in the following words:
I so remember the early pictures of tan buildings in construction, the same colour sand and not a blade of grass in sight. Within three years, there was a luxury of grasses and trees, an elegant campus, everything in terms of Sports, Assembly Hall, Creche, Dining, Church, Mosque and more. Build it and they will come. You knew that if you build for quality education, people will travel to come to you, and your students come from such a wide spectrum of society, tribe and country. What an education that is in itself. You have never patronised your own people to sense of good enough because you have lived supreme achievement on your own merits.
- FROM THE WHITE ROCK TO ALFA BELGORE HALL
Many of us here would recall that we formerly celebrated the anniversary of the commencement of Academic work at the Foyer of College I, before the celebration was moved to “The White Rock” on January 4, 2020. Last year, having looked at the university’s modest beginning in 2010 compared to its present status and standing, the Founder & Chancellor decreed that with effect from 2023, this annual celebration should be taking place in this beautiful and more spacious edifice, the Alfa Belgore.
- REASONS FOR CELEBRATION: THE JOURNEY PROPER
When the university started exactly 13 years ago, it had just four buildings: two Hostels (one for male students and the other for female students) and two College Buildings.
Arrival of the first set of Students & commencement of academic work in 2010
Barely 12 months after full-scale construction work began at the permanent site, ABUAD opened its doors to the first set of 240 students on Monday, January 4, 2010 in its three pioneer Colleges namely College of Law, College of Social & Management Sciences and College of Sciences. It is noteworthy, that the first session ran without interruptions. Since then, the university’s Academic calendar has remained predictable and stable, making it possible for any student, the moment he is admitted, to forecast with precision, their year of graduation.
The university has developed formidably, now having four additional Colleges, namely: College of Engineering, the College of Medicine & Health Sciences, the College of Pharmacy and the College of Postgraduate Studies. The university which started off with four buildings in 2010 is now populated with innumerable modern and aesthetic structures to cater for the classrooms, laboratories, student halls of residence, staff quarters and other welfare needs of the expanding Academic community which now hosts more than 12,000 staff and students.
- 2023, THE YEAR OF NEW BEGINNINGS
As I welcome you all back to this new year, I urge you to join me to face the year with renewed strength, motivation and commitment to personal and collective growth and development. ABUAD has embarked on an aggressive digitalisation of its processes to ensure efficiency, credibility, and a modern outlook.
At the University level, the management is determined to successfully transit from BMAS to Core Curriculum Minimum Academic Standards (CCMAS) in line with the NUC requirements. This requires a renewed commitment to excellence in learning processes and teaching.
This year, the Times Higher Education Impact Ranking that we pursue to increase our regional and global visibility through research, linkages and exchange programmes, SCOPUS Indexed publications, and innovations, will more intensely focus on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This year, we will commence a new collaboration with John Hopkins University, United States to receive meritorious medical students in their fifth year of study for their clinical electives.
Eight production sites of the ABUAD Industrial Park have been completed. You can commit our students to experiential learning in the processing of cassava, yam, maize, pepper and rice at the various factories. I enjoin you to mentor our students to explore these unique enterprising opportunities.
Work is still on-going on the following factories: carbonated drinks, herbal drug liquid, herbal drug tablet, infusion water, cycling, cashew gin and cashew nut.
ABUAD has prepared for a new beginning through capacity building of the security unit using external collaboration. The security personnel are currently trained on the latest security updates to tackle the unfortunate insecurity in the country and to address internal discipline.
I call on each of you to set out clear goals and start something new, and dynamic that will bring personal and collective blessing to us all. Do not forget that ABUAD is the making of God, through the Founder’s faith. The Founder teaches us that “faith breeds determination, determination breeds success and faith never fails”.
Most distinguished colleagues and ABUAD staff, I am aware that this is not an occasion for speech-making, but there are certain things we cannot gloss over. In rounding off, I want once again to specially appreciate our Founder & Chancellor and his amiable wife for providing the shoulders we are all standing on to veer into a very bright future on this self-imposed journey of reforming education in Nigeria and raising a new generation of leaders that will change the world for the better. Thank you for your attention and I look forward to seeing you here on January 4, next year.
I wish you all a very happy and memorable New Year. May Almighty God bless us all.
Prof. E. Smaranda Olarinde, FCArb, FCAI
Vice Chancellor, Afe Babalola University,
January 4, 2023