Chief Afe Babalola, Founder, Afe Babalola University (ABUAD), Ado-Ekiti, has called on relevant government regulatory agencies to apply appropriate sanctions on operators of illegal universities in the country.
Babalola made the call on Sunday at the 9th Convocation ceremony of ABUAD.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the institution at the convocation conferred honorary doctorates on Gov. Babagana Zulum of Borno, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, the Ewi of Ado Ekiti, Oba Rufus Adejugbe and the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu Gambari.
Babalola, a legal luminary, called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the National Universities Commission (NUC) to as a matter of urgency ensure the arrest and prosecution of those involved in the operation of illegal universities in Nigeria.
He said the call became necessary in order to safeguard the nation’s education system from imminent collapse.
The ABUAD founder urged the NUC to be strict and thorough in regulating the establishment of ivory towers in Nigeria.
He advised the commission to stop the creation of what he termed “mushroom institutions“ that are destroying the system.
Babalola also warned state governors against establishing universities for political reasons.
Accordiing to him, many of such universities are found to be unsustainable after the governors might have relinquished power.
“Most disappointedly, the National Assembly for some time now approved the establishment of one-subject university in members constituencies.
“One remembers the fate of state universities established by some governors in their localities, which were not sustainable after they left power.
“I call these universities political universities. I call on NUC, which in law is authorized to approve establishment of universities, to ensure that the conditions laid down in law are strictly followed.
“The NUC on its website had been publishing names of illegal universities annually. This means no action had been taken against those which were discovered the previous years.
“The damage done to education by these illegal universities is irreparable.
“I call on the Federal Government, Federal Ministry of Education, NUC, EFCC to identify these universities, their operators and teachers and take appropriate sanctions which include forfeiture of the property and imprisonment of collaborators,” he said
Babalola said ABUAD has spent N620 million in the last 10 years on reward mechanism for students, academic and non-academic staff, who demonstrated exemplary qualities in character, scholarship, entrepreneurship and leadership.
Speaking on behalf of the honorees, Gov. Zulum blamed the lack of education as a critical factor responsible for the incessant cases of kidnapping, banditry and killings being witnessed in the country.
Zulum called on Nigerians to join hands and work together in order to sustain the unity of the Nigerian nation. The governor, who is also a university professor, identified the mismatch between the education sector and industry and the mismatch between graduates and labour markets as the two critical problems facing the education sector.
“We shall work together to ensure the unity of our nation. The reason why we are facing insurgency, banditry and killing in Nigeria is as a result of lack of education, and high unemployment rate among our youth.
“This university and others should strive to address all these problems by providing quality education that will guarantee jobs for our teeming youth.
“This is the first time I got honorary doctorate degree in any university since I became governor.
“This is not because universities were not willing, but I decided to get this because of the credibility of this university and its founder.
“This is not for political reason, this university is just 12 years, looking at the academic quality and infrastructure, one would think it is up to 100 years.
“I know that this university has been offering quality education that can provide jobs for our youths,” he said.
Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti said the state was proud that ABUAD is domiciled in the state.
“This university is a tourism for us, not only in education, but in medicine, because we have one of the best hospitals in Nigeria here in this university.
Fayemi, Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum, urged the graduands to design their lives in most profitable ways by imbibing the spirit of “delayed gratification”.
He urged them to perceive candour, integrity, honesty, competence as qualities that would serve them in good stead in life.
“This university must stay here till eternity, we want Baba to stay with us forever, but this is not possible.
“When this university is allowed to stand forever, we will continue to feel Baba’s impact and his love for humanity,” Fayemi said.