The Elizade University, a private tertiary institution in Ilara-Mokin, Ondo State was founded in 2012 by Chief Micheal Ade Ojo. In this exclusive interview with Chris Anyanwu of the African Leadership Magazine, Chief Ojo discussed how the university has been making the difference in educational sector of Nigeria, correcting the wrongs in the system. Excerpt:
You are obviously one of the very few Nigeria successful businessmen who have deemed it fit to also champion a resolute commitment to the development of private universities education in Nigeria and by extension in Africa. Could it be because you believe the decision of the Ibrahim Babangida led Nigeria Federal Government to legalize private participation in tertiary education in Nigeria is a welcome development?
Private participation in tertiary education in Nigeria is a welcome development because without the liberalization of private Universities in Nigeria the Government University wouldn’t have been able to cope with the number of candidates seeking for admission into the University for Formal Education. Private Universities in Nigeria have come up to fill in the gap otherwise there would have been a serious crisis in the sector regarding admission. I deemed it fit to also champion the development of private University education in Nigeria and by extension in Africa and the World in accordance with the vision and mission of Elizade University (www.elizadeuniversity.edu.ng) that I establish in my native town Ilara-Mokin, Ondo State Nigeria.
Academics standards in Nigeria is reported both locally and internationally to be at an all-time low; lagging behind in the global university ratings, particularly in the quality of research. As a frontline promoter of education and university administrator, what can you say is responsible for this downward trend?
A number of factors are responsible for the downward trend of academics standard in Nigeria particularly in the quality of research. Lack of insufficient educated lecturers is one of the key factors for the downward trend in education standard in Nigeria. The fact that many Universities are yet to be involved in research is due to poor funding both from local and International sources. The desired emphasis have not been placed on research in Africa, there are many areas that research ought to have gone into but due to lack of Funds, lack of required competence on the part of the students and lecturers expected to carry out research, no clear cut policy placed on research in Africa. The limited funds available for research are not well utilized by the so called researchers and combination of factors. But Elizade University hope to pay a particular attention to all the shortcomings enumerated above and much more to do things differently in order to bridge the gap in terms of education standard and quality of research in Nigeria and Africa by extension.
Elizade University has been adjoined to be one of the fastest growing universities in Nigeria. What do you do differently in this university to earn you this impressive record in a very short time?
Elizade University tries to distinguish herself by training and graduating students with entrepreneurial skill s and probable employers in view. This was the main reason we relate with all classes of employers of labour and send all our students for internship in various organisations in line with their discipline during long vacation. We hire the best and qualified lecturers across the Globe without any discrimination in accordance with the vision of the Founder to build a world class University. At Elizade University we maintain discipline and we have zero tolerance for Cultism. Smoking of any sort and bad habit of any form are not tolerated at all. We have well equipped laboratories of world class standard; we have high – tech ICT facilities where the whole campus is internet covered, world class learning environment, faculty building and hostels to make our students and staff comfortable for learning and research and we aspire to improve on what is on ground.
What actually inspired the formation of Elizade University and how far have you been able to realize the mission and vision of this institution?
What inspired the formation of Elizade University is the desire to help my native community, and offer best quality education to the young Nigerians in various fields like Automotive Engineering in which EU is one of the two Universities offering it in Nigeria presently. We also desire to make Elizade University an entrepreneurial and research centre that will serve as economic hub to Nigeria and the rest of the world; Elizade University is also an effort to correct the wrongs in the public Universities such as, hiring the best hands, changing method of teaching and teaching aids, multimedia class room, practical and interactive laboratories and many more.
You are a product of public university and currently superintending over a private university. Can you quickly share your experience of both sectors?
I try to provide those things that were not available in the public Universities in my private university to bridge the gap. The desire to make a difference in Nigeria Educational system prompted me to travel around the world to see the way world class Universities operate and we have done things differently by creating the footage of world class in EU and we hope to sustain it.
Leadership has been one of the major challenges to Africa’s growth and development; as one who provides leadership and mentorship to young leaders, especially in business and academia; what would you say is responsible for the quality of leaders we breed in the continent?
In my own opinion leadership is the act of giving a good example in whatever you do where you find yourself as a leader. The following factors are responsible for the kind of leaders we breed in the Continent: Lack of Accountability is one of the key factors; failure of the past and present leaders living up to the expectation of good leadership traits and values; lack of Discipline; lack of capacity and technical knowhow; inability of past and present leader to set realistic and achievable goals; and culture of impunity and corruption.
Your submission for induction into the African Leadership Hall of Fame received an overwhelming yes. How does this honour come to you?
I was glad when I receive your letter of nomination into the African leadership Hall of Fame because it is a testimony of what I stand for which are leadership with excellence, hard work, discipline, leading by example , integrity and fairness which my associates , staff and business partners do testify to in my public life.