There was excitement in the air as Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, ABUAD, rolled out the drums over the weekend to celebrate the 9th Anniversary of the commencement of uninterrupted Academic works in the 21st Century University which has earned itself a name in the league of world Class Universities, its short history of existence notwithstanding.
It has become part of the luxuriant history of the university that it commenced Academic works on Monday, January 4, 2010 with 240 students but today has more than 7,000 students after it has graduated 2,121 students since its maiden Convocation Ceremonies on October 21, 2013.
The early morning brief but impressive celebration was a bold from the blues for many, including the Founder & Chancellor, Aare Afe Babalola, who aptly described is as an ambush by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Michael Ajisafe, and some Management Staff. All the same, it still turned out to be a memorable outing which concentrated on gratitude to God for his enduring mercies and appreciation for the Babalola family for setting the tone and the tenor of quality and functional education in this clime.
Celebrating the 9th anniversary of the commencement of uninterrupted Academic works in a university in Africa is no mean achievement considering the persistent and deafening drum beats of strike actions and other forms of high velocity disturbances ravaging the average African University, particularly since the Military made an incursion into governance in most African countries in the 60’s.
After being received with the University Anthem at his Car Park, an obviously surprised but elated Babalola, with his elegant wife, Yeye Aare Modupe Babalola, walked briskly through a Guard of Honour into the Foyer of College of Sciences where Babalola’s office is domiciled and which had been peopled by many of the university staff with an imposing celebration cake virtually assaulting the face of whoever entered the Foyer.
Ajisafe, the Vice Chancellor, set the ball rolling by recalling how the university commenced Academic works with 240 students on Monday, January 4, 2010. He stressed that apart from the fact that the university now has more than 7,000 students from all the 36 states of the Federation, including the Federal Capital Territory, the university has also overshot its expectations and overtaken many universities which are several decades older than ABUAD.
For all these and sundry other achievements and blessings, he called for celebration, gratitude to God and appreciation to the Babalola family for their unparalleled selflessness and sacrifices for the good of the majority.
After the brief introduction, Babalola did not forget to thank God for the ABUAD story and for all his staff who have watered his dream and vision into a flourishing reality and a toast of many, including many universities which are several decades older.
Babalola who consistently garnished his speech with the fact that he is not a social or party-going person, but a true believer in action, expressed utmost surprise at the early morning ambush and gratitude to those who made it possible even though he jokingly “threatened” a writ against Ajisafe and his accomplices in the act of ambush.
His words: “I am not a social person. I am also not a party-going person. All I am interested in is action, action and action. But that notwithstanding, I am grateful for today because it reminds me of what we have been able to achieve in the last nine years by the grace of God and the cooperation of you all”.
He added: “I can beat my chest that our hope, our prayer and our wishes of establishing and running a world class university has come true. And that goes to confirm one very important thing: that it is not too late for anybody to venture into anything and make a success out of it.
“I started this university when I was almost 80 years old. But look at where we are today. It is no longer news that we are a world class University. It is no longer news that we are the clear leaders in Law, Medicine and Engineering and several other disciplines. It is no longer news that we have surpassed those far older than us’’.
Not blown away by the waves of successes, the frontline legal colossus called on his staff to do everything morally and legally possible to ensure that the university maintains the stream of successes it has attained in the last nine years.
Waxing philosophical, he said: “We prayed to get to the top, we are now at the top. Now that we have got there, how do we maintain our position at the top? How do we maintain the high standards we have set for ourselves? That is the assignment for all of us in the New Year and beyond”.
As if giving a clue into how maintaining its place at the top could be achieved, Babalola urged his staff to pay prime attention to time and timeliness, stressing that punctuality is the beginning of success. He equally encouraged them to take their assignment/business as theirs and not that of ABUAD or anyone for that matter.
A man who does not forget the contributions of others to the realisation of his ABUAD dream, Babalola eulogized both Prof. Smaranda E. Olarinde, the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Administration who doubles as the Provost of the College of Law and Prof. Israel Orubuloye, OON, a robust Academic of note and a mobile Encyclopedia of University Administration, who were part of the pioneering team who navigated the thick vegetation that eventually gave way ABUAD, a 21st Century modern and model University of Afe Babalola’s dream.