In this interview with SAMUEL ABULUDE, the vice chancellor of Covenant University, Professor Abiodun Adebayo, speaks on the need for re-engineering of the universities’ structure in terms funding and the institutions’ twenty years journey
Congratulations on twenty years of Covenant University. How has the journey been so far?
We would like to give all the glory to God for being a faithful God. Indeed, it has been God all the way. God has been the founder of Covenant University through us. We cannot thank him enough. We give all the glory back to him for what he is doing in Covenant University. You recall that at the inception of the University during the Founder’s day, the university was handed over to God. God said to the Chancellor, Dr David Olaniyi Oyedepo to lay down flat and hand over the university to him, which he did and obeyed the command from God. It was at that point God took over the running of the university. Before then, at the time the license was acquired and given by the National University Commission, the Chancellor in his hotel room went to God and said, Lord if you are not the one behind this university, please tell me and I will tear this license certificate? God told him, it is I. So, when you look at all of those instances, experiences and encounters, you will know that from inception, it has been God. And twenty years down the line God has been the one powering the affairs of this university. No wonder the great things that God himself is the one doing. It’s not anybody, it’s not the board of Regents, it’s not management, it’s not faculty, it’s not the doing of the staff and it’s not the doing of the students but it is by the finger of God. And what we did as a university, when you look at the amazing wonders that happened to us this past twenty years, it only calls for celebration, so we had a week-long celebration where we returned all the glory back to God in all these events. We had sessions of thanksgiving, we had sessions where we had to share the acts of God, testimonies and we danced, we praised God and again handed over the university to him which he handed to us.
How unique is the Entrepreneurial Development Studies in your institution?
If you look at the Entrepreneurial Development Studies, it is unique that our center, which was established right from when the university started, is to empower our graduates and position them rather than become job seekers. They become job creators and they have been very successful in this direction. And what is our model? Our model is very simple. We had to revitalize our curriculum to inject this EDS right from the time they start from 100 level to final year. And what do I mean, from 100 level, the two semesters, there are usually two EDS courses, 200 level, the same thing and not just theory, it has some practical components and at the same time they have projects that they run. They have vocations that they are also introduced to and we have an Incubation centre where a number of them that have ideas are aided to formalize the ideas and bring them to fruition. I think that has been very helpful for us. That model has worked for us. If you look at, all through their years in school, a number of them are taught how to start up their businesses. And that’s why a lot of them have their start- ups. These ideas begin while they are on campus and they end becoming household business owners. We have many of them who are major employers of labour today. For instance, one has an IT company with many staff members under its employment. We have Tribe Agric, which has so many networks within Nigeria and they are spreading out outside Nigeria. Also, we have the likes of Fuad Atanda Lawal, Executive Chairman of Ikoyi local government, Femi Badejo, Odunayo Eweniyi, the CEO of Piggyvest and so many others in the entertainment industry and other sectors both home and abroad. Because of the success stories of our EDS, NUC (Nigeria University Commission) has adopted our curriculum to be replicated in other universities. If that is the only thing we have contributed to the educational sector, we appreciate God for this. We have graduated over 21,000 graduates as of the 16th convocation. In our 17th convocation, we graduated 1,934 students and among them were 206 in the first class category.
What is your advice to the government on revamping education?
The truth is our government needs to be more sensitive to the demands of education in Nigeria. There is a need for re-engineering of the structure of the universities in terms of how funding should be. Since education is the bedrock of development in a society, Government must have a blueprint which can be broken down to long term and short term planning on how to systematically develop the educational sector and funding is key to this. A situation in which students in the public universities stayed at home for eight months due to the strike shows the government needs to do more and develop a framework to fund its institutions