Ajayi Crowther University: Assessing Asaju’s one year in office, by Oludayo John Bamgbose

education-ministerThe ancient town of Oyo, besides being the ancestral stool of the Yoruba, hosts the famous St. Andrews College of Education (now Emmanuel Alayande College of Education) located along theOyo-Ogbomosho expressway.

St. Andrews is reputed as the premier college of education in Nigeria.

Like a mustard seed, the College has metamorphosed into a full-fledged University, attracting students from different parts of the country.

Ajayi Crowther University (ACU) is named after late Bishop Ajayi Crowther, a missionary who evangelised many parts of Nigeria and interpreted the Holy Bible into many Nigerian languages.

Ajayi Crowther University (ACU), Oyo, is one of the foremost faith-based Universities in Nigeria with the mandate of raising Godly intellectuals who will emerge as beacons of hope not only in Africa but around the globe.

It would be recalled that the quintessential legal icon, one-time President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and currently, Pro-Chancellor of the University- Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, FCIArb, OFR had in 2015, announced the decision of the Governing Council to appoint Rt. Rev’d (Prof.) Dapo Asaju as the 3rd Vice Chancellor of the University for a five-year term. Now that the first of those five years is down, it is necessary to take stock of how the University has feared under Asaju’s leadership.

Asaju on the 5th of October, 2015 began his record breaking tenure with a symbolic triumphant entry into the St. Andrews Chapel where a Holy Communion Service was organized to usher-in his administration.

The tenure began in an atmosphere that is conducive for setting the ball rolling, with a pledge of unwavering support from the Governing Council, Senate, Management and Staff of the University.

Regrettably, shortly after assumption of office, economic recession set in, making some sceptics to doubt the workability of Asaju’s audacious manifestoes.

But rather than accept defeat, Asaju went about ‘selling’ his incurable optimism to all and sundry. The management team saw this as a golden opportunity to go back to the drawing board to craft out creative and innovative ways to sustain the University.

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Asaju’s first task was to convene all staff at a leadership retreat where he shared his five-year agenda together with the short and medium terms strategies to actualize same. It was a moment to further stress the place of accountability, fiscal discipline, quality control, high productivity, and zero tolerance for wastage amongst the staff as the benchmarks.

The University Don who doubles as the Bishop Theologian of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, rose to the position of the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) of the Lagos State University (LASU), Nigeria, where he had with visible and excellent track records, meritoriously and selflessly advanced the frontiers of knowledge for a period spanning over three decades.

One would recall with nostalgia also, the wonders of God to the people of LASU during his tenure as the Chaplain of the University which again was to prepare the Lord Bishop for the unique task ahead. Today, Prof. Asaju equally provides the right spiritual leadership required of a faith-based University thus reminding one of the biblical Prophet Samuel who combined the spiritual and political headships over Israel.

To all and sundry, Asaju has not only transformed the University better than he met it in terms of quality institutionalisation of servant-leadership model, probity, hard work, punctuality, transparency and accountability, but also actually gone a step further to set up an unprecedented record of value addition in the memories of all stakeholders.

Not minding the increasing monthly wage bill, within the last one year, the University can boast of a newly tarred road network and facility facelift. It is on record that the school has also within the year under review built a new 3000-seater multi-purpose hall, new blocks of class rooms, staff quarters, shopping mall, 30 blocks of shops, volley ball, badminton and long tennis courts and a gymnasium.

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To facilitate easy movement within and outside of the University, one big coaster bus and a campus shuttle cab were also procured while all faculties have been provided with alternative sources of energy and public address systems to aid teaching and research.

ACU Venture became fully strengthened to be able to generate income through production and sale of water and bread. The newly established ultra-modern ACU laundry Unit, whose competitive pricing and satisfactory services now attract customers both within and outside the campus also makes the list.

It is worthy of note that although the primary aim of these projects is to generate funds for the University, such would also ensure her gself-sustenance while also developing students’ entrepreneurship skills since interested students now have the opportunity to opt for student-work scheme in any of these investment outlets.

In line with the University Management’s frantic efforts to scale-up access to qualitative education in different fields of human endeavour, using approved conventional and flexible instruction modes, the University successfully hosted the Council of Legal Education, thereby leading to the grant of approval for the commencement of its LLB programme.

Postgraduate, part-time, and HND conversion degree programmes have also been added to the catalogue of courses earlier approved with their first set of entrants, currently on campus.

As a flagship centre for the conduct of teaching and research, the inaugural lecture series of the University commenced with Prof Ayodabo of the Department of English. Efforts are now at top gear to introduce the Central University Journal which would be a multi-disciplinary journal.

Further still, the Management, in its bid to support staff development, has a pool of funds to support further education and participation at academic and professional development meetings within and outside Nigeria.

Just recently, three staff of the University enjoyed support to participate at a conference in Columbus, Ohio, USA.

Despite the unfavourable economic climate in the country and the exclusion of privately-owned institutions in accessing endowments and other forms of interventions that government-owned institutions enjoy, it is worthy of note that the University with the support of some distinguished individuals have kept making giant strides in attracting first-class facilities into the University.

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The Modupe and Folurunsho Alakija Faculty of Law Building, the newly renovated St. Andrew’s Chapel, and the recently commissioned Wole and Lara Olanipun Vice- Chancellor’s Lodge – the three of which are cynosures of all eyes were all commissioned within the first year of Asaju’s administration.

The security of life and property remains paramount to the current leadership. To this end, the University now has a combination of security outfits with requisite intelligence gathering as well as the use of modern technology and specially trained pets to combat crime in any shade or colour.

In addition to this fast-paced development on-going in the university, it is worthy of note that the University is still one of the most affordable tertiary institutions in Nigeria.

Despite the low tuition, the University still awards scholarships to deserving students. One can only imagine what the present administration of the University would achieve if provided access to TETFUND, ITF and other special grants which public institutions enjoy, after all, staff of ACU like other institutions contribute to the vault of the government through regularly payment of tax.

There is no doubt, better days await ACU as the University Management under the distinguished leadership of Rt. Rev’d (Prof) Dapo Asaju is poised to continue with its good works.

Therefore, I make bold to say that most assuredly, with God’s continuous guidance, unflinching support of the Governing Council and the University’s unwavering commitment to innovation, fiscal prudence and discipline, ACU is, indeed, an institution to look out for in another four years.

Bamgbose wrote from Oyo, can be reached through:oj.bamgbose@acu.edu.ng


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