Olumuyiwa-Oludayo-InterviewDr. Olumuyiwa Oludayo, at 34 holds sway as Registrar, Covenant University. He was actually 32 when he was announced the university’s Chief Administrative Officer on August 12, 2013.

The father of two children, married to a banker, told ENCOMIUM Weekly’s Associate Editor, UCHE OLEHI in an interview at Covenant University, Canaanland, Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria, reasons Covenant University is not like the regular institution of higher learning.

Can you please share your academic journey with us?

I would take it way back to 1997 when I graduated from Federal Government College, Odogbolu. I waited five years after JAMB to gain admission into a higher institution. Every year, I had to write JAMB all over again. It was just the cross I had to bear for five years. I didn’t have to write WAEC twice, but I had to write JAMB all over again.

Your parents must have been worried by the delay?

Certainly. It was a serious challenge for them. My mom was mostly affected. In 2002, my mom took ill (I’m her first son and her first child). Obviously, because her son was not making headway, he was not making progress. A couple of her friends checked her up in the hospital and one of them said, “There is a university coming up, owned by Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel) would you love to consider him for admission there? She was like, ‘Let’s just try it out.’ She was worried unlike me, because I had this assurance that things would get better. That year (2002), I got admission as a pioneer student of Covenant University. When I graduated in Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management, I went ahead to have my Masters degree here and my Ph.D in the same discipline at Covenant University. My NYSC was at Spring Bank, which later became Enterprise Bank and now Heritage Bank.

After that, I got many job offers. I had the opportunity to work with Pricewater, Spring Bank but I declined all of them because I wanted to come back to Covenant University. Though it was not economically advantageous. I used to tell my colleagues when we started, I didn’t come to Covenant University to work for the economic advantage, I came for the destiny advantage. If I had come for the economic advantage, I would have gone for blue chip jobs, jobs like KPMG, Pricewater. I started as a Graduate Assistant.

Don’t you feel privileged to have so many firsts at Covenant University?

I think there is a pioneering grace on my head. People of my type, I believe are not common in a generation. For me, it’s a great privilege.

What year were you appointed registrar?

Before I was appointed registrar, I was the Dean of Students. I was appointed in August/September 2010. That ushered me into the highest academic decision making body at Covenant University, which is the Senate. I was the youngest then at just 29. I was born in 1981. I worked for a year, went back to complete my Ph.D in the same university while I was working as a lecturer. On August 12, 2013, I became the registrar of the university. That’s in summary how my journey began. I lecture here primarily in Human Resource Department.

What does your office entail?

The registrar is the Chief Administrative Officer of the university. Everything administrative revolves around the registrar: procurement, admission, staff equipment, external engagement, maintenance, salaries and compensations, quality implementation, ensuring compliance to rules and laid down guidelines of the university, exams and records.

How do you handle all these successfully?

For me, what I have been doing is ensuring that every opportunity God gives me, I make maximum use of it. I may not have all the competences, we must make mistakes.

It is obvious you would be taking decisions affecting those far older than you are. So, how do you handle such a complex situation?

For me, it’s about carrying everybody along, irrespective of one’s age or knowledge. I also largely depend on mentorship. Somebody was there before, so, I lean on such a person. I don’t downplay anybody’s idea.

You are married?

Yes, I’m married to a graduate of Covenant University (laughs).

Covenant University is really the centre of your world?

Yes, for me it was safer. With the kind of teaching got here, it would be difficult to go out there to look for somebody who has all I needed in a wife. I needed somebody compatible with me. I was looking for both spiritual, social and mental compatibility. We are blessed with two children. My wife works with UBA. We didn’t talk to anybody before she was posted here at Canaanland. God did it for us. And because of the environment we found ourselves, our children also school here. So, in many many months, I may not know what happens outside Canaanland. My wife works here, my children attend school here; it’s once in a while I step out of campus.

We should assume your boss, Pastor David Oyedepo is your mentor?

Although he’s my mentor, Bishop Oyedepo is uncopyable. You can’t copy him. What he has done in my life is the assurance of my future. We have this consciousness we are not ordinary, a consciousness we are not second rated. He made us know this all the time. He believes in looking within for solution to problems. I also got absolute dependence in God. He believes there are no self-made men but God-made men.

What are the books that shaped you?

A lot of books. I have about 3,000 books in my hard drive. Some of my students have probably ‘stolen’ some (laughs). I read John Maxwell, if there’s any book written by John Maxwell I haven’t read, maybe he published it yesterday or this morning. In terms of leadership development, John Maxwell’s books have really influenced me. And I listen to a man called Peter J. Daniel. He’s an Australian mogul, life coach and writer. I read a lot of books by Donald Trump and Richard Branson. I read a couple of books on leadership. I listen to Pastor E. A. Adeboye a lot. I cherish his simplicity in communication without sounding verbose or ambiguous.

Having read this much, are you an author?

Yes, I have a book. I also have unpublished works. My first book is entitled, Grace of God. The first day it was published, it sold 700 copies, the next day about 800. I have been trying to push the book. I don’t sell it anymore. I give it out anywhere I go. The reason I have not published more books is that I don’t want to write without credibility like many authors. I want to communicate my experience.

There are complaints you cage your students and punish them severely when they misbehave. So how do you give this a human face. How do you handle those who can’t cope here?

Covenant University is not a rehabilitation centre. We screen students before admission believing they are capable of adapting to our rules and regulations. The training and leadership system here is thorough. The way you process gold is not the same way you process bronze. For us, the university has a responsibility to God, and parents, Nigerian society and the world at large, to produce a new breed of leaders. So, it couldn’t be the same. We have core values. Number one, spirituality. Number two, is integrity. You must be total in your character, what you say must match what you do, what you do must match what you believe. You must be responsible. You can’t just sneak out of campus without permission. If one’s parent comes and asks for the child, who would be held responsible? Hard work is also our core value; sacrifice, extra mile. Sacrifice is key here. You must go the extra mile.

Generally speaking, the cost of attending a private university is on the high side, and Covenant University doesn’t help matters?

If I could graduate from Covenant University at the time I did, parents who want the best for their children can afford our fees. It wasn’t as if my parents were the director-general or permanent secretaries of this world. They were middle level civil servants. Parents have to plan. Many of us need to learn the law of delayed gratification. Covenant University is relatively affordable, if you consider our facilities. Today, you have a Covenant graduate running one of the most visited job sites, PushCV. It is currently the number one job site; Career 247 is number two, Jobberman is now number three. PushCV.com was developed by a graduate of Covenant University.

Covenant University has a mobile learning portal where all our students have a mobile tab, where they can learn and have social interaction. It was facilitated by Covenant University graduates in partnership with telecom giant, Samsung. Who does that? We have some of our graduates flying for airlines, yet we don’t have aviation school here. Most of our jobs here are related to physical development, IT and more are executed by CU students and graduates.

What were you doing the time you were home for five years waiting for admission?

My father is a chartered accountant. He had a couple of jobs. So, I was always following him to do some auditing jobs. And when I got such a job I did it faster than he could imagine. I worked with a cyber café, but no pay, though I go early and close late. Also those years, I gave myself to reading the Bible. I could read for 18 hours. I fasted and prayed 50 days, dry.

I have taken a prayer walk, three hours’ journey. I have walked from Mile 2 to Ijesha, praying. I grew up around the area. You possibly saw me on the road and said, I was one of these mad guys (laughs).

What career path were you pursuing?

I wanted to be an ambassador. I wanted to study International Relations, but I’m now wiser. I don’t need to study International Relations to be an ambassador. I don’t need to study Political Science to be in politics. All I need to do is not be a VIP, but a VAP. I developed the Value Adding Personality (VAP) concept. The perception you are a VAP not VIP suggests you have something you can contribute. Anybody can be VIP by virtue of his status but as VAP, you have measurable contribution.

What’s your ultimate ambition?

For me, I don’t think I have any office ambition. My desire is simply to be given a platform. If you think I should be the security officer of Covenant University, believe me, I would serve in that capacity. You see many people don’t celebrate where they found themselves, that’s why God can never decorate them. You must be happy wherever you are. If you ask me now to go teach students at 100 level, I will celebrate it. If you ask me to be anything, be it up or down there, as far as I’m making some meaningful and measurable contribution in improving the lot of humanity, I would serve.

-EconiumMagazine


buhari-school-certificateThe All Progressives Congress (APC), on Friday, rose in defence of its presidential candidate, former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari, over the controversy trailing his academic qualifications.

Also on Friday, the Nigerian Army authorities explained that they do not keep original certificates of officers and men of the armed forces, adding that their personal files contained only photocopies of credentials.

Buhari’s academic qualifications to run for president in the February 14 election became an issue following the disclosure that he deposed to an affidavit informing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that his credentials were with the military secretary.

Speaking with the Saturday Tribune, on Friday, on the controversy trailing the discovery, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the controversy was an assault on the institution of the military.

He added that the insinuation that Buhari was without the requisite academic qualifications before rising to become a general in the army was an insult to the officers that had served the nation.

Mohammed wondered on the kind of politics that would make anyone to think that Buhari would rise to the apogee of his career before becoming the head of state, by being shielded by the system over the academic qualification that was needed for the special military trainings and qualifications he got.

According to him, “how can anyone say someone of General Buhari’s calibre didn’t have secondary school certificate after his career in the military? What kind of politics are we playing? What kind of signal are we sending? Whereas in the developed world, there are certain courses in the military such as staff college or command that are on the privilege of bachelor or masters. Now, if you are now making provocative comments about someone of the status of General Buhari over an issue that one way or the other would soon be sorted out, you are casting aspersions on the entire military and those who had given service to this nation. It shows the kind of politics some people are playing. This is unfortunate and sad.”

Meanwhile, the army also stated on Friday that it does not keep original certificates of any serving or retired officer or soldier.

A top army officer at the Defence Headquarters disclosed on condition of anonymity on Friday that the army could not keep anybody’s original certificate because it is a personal property of the owner.

According to the source, “the army only has photocopies of officers and soldiers’ certificates kept in their personal files in the military secretary’s office.”

“The original certificate of any officer or soldier is only needed at the point of entry into the service — either as a cadet officer entering the Nigerian Defence Academy, or by recruitment officers when interviewing recruits to be sent to the depot for training. This is so because they are needed to verify what is in the photocopy supplied or for verification from the necessary examining bodies,” he said.

The source stressed that for anybody to claim that his original certificates are with the military secretary (Army) does not hold water.

“Let me tell you now, in the Navy, the Navy Secretary (NAVSEC) keeps photocopies of the documents of all naval officers and ratings and not their original certificates which are their personal properties.

“Also, in the Air force, the Air Secretary keeps the photocopies of all officers and airmen’s certificates, and, if the need arises for any verification, those concerned will be asked to bring the original documents.

“If you start keeping every officer’s or soldier’s original certificates, how many will you keep and if in case there is a fire outbreak, that means all original certificates of those concerned will be burnt.

“There is no way, the military secretary can keep any officer’s original certificate — either serving or retired,” the source said.

The source, however, added that, all his claims did not preclude General Buhari from being qualified or eligible to contest next month’s election. “After all, he attended some of the best military institutions in the world, and rose to the rank of a general and was once a head of state, so the issue of certificate does not make any difference,” the source said.

Meanwhile, a retired general who claimed to be a contemporary of Buhari told Saturday Tribune on Friday, that some of the military courses they did abroad did not require the participants possession of a secondary school certificate.

While demanding anonymity, he explained that the noise being raised over Buhari’s certificate was needless because the constitution allows for an equivalent of school certificate which many of the courses they did abroad would qualify for.

Endorsing Buhari for president, he asked Nigerians to look at his track-record and not a flimsy issue of secondary school certificate in electing him. -Tribune

Asuu strike-university-studentsIt is still a long journey to ending the strike embarked upon by the nation’s university teachers, CHARLES ABAH writes

Eneke the bird says since men have learnt to shoot without missing, it has learnt to fly without perching. This is one of the Igbo proverbs that readers come across in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Like the bird, a good number of students of various universities across the country have learnt to convert the adversity provoked by their lecturers’ ongoing strike into positive ideas.

Although there is the fear that many of the thousands of the undergraduates forced to stay at home may be tempted to engage in untoward activities, investigation by our correspondent shows that some of them are going into positive and meaningful ventures. For example, Oluwaseun Sanusi, a final year Sociology student of the University of Ibadan, says the strike has opened up a vista of business opportunities for him.

Instead of idling away during this period, he engages in marketing Information Technology gadgets online. He sells and delivers online, items that include BlackBerry phones, Ipods and MP4s, to buyers.

“Just today, I sold and delivered an iphone that a cousin of mine in the United Kingdom sent to me for N70,000 and made a profit of N8,000. Agreed, the venture is not an everyday thing, I have no regret taking to the business while I wait for my teachers to end their strike,” he notes.

Another student, Ronke Adefalujo, of the University of Abuja, is now a make-up artist. From the initial N10, 000 the Theatre Arts student was making at the beginning of the strike, she now makes between N20, 000 and N30,000 daily.

The ‘breakthrough’ is not peculiar to Adefalujo and Sanusi. Tom Usen of the Federal University of Technology, Minna, says the strike has enabled him to go far in his final year project and IT knowledge. For the Akwa Ibom State-born geologist in the making, there is no regret so far for the industrial action.

Indeed, there are many students who have mapped out surviving strategies for keeping body and soul together, just as there are many facing hard times, following the strike, which started on July 2, 2013. Since the shame that the strike ought to represent seems to have become the lot of the nation, the students, who remain the biggest victims, are finding the means of taking their destinies in their hands.

According to Ore Adejobi, a 400 level Statistics student of the University of Ibadan, the best thing is not to agonise or grumble too much, as this would not lead to anything meaningful.

He says, “As far as I am concerned, I have a lot of things lined up for me. I am a creative writer. So, I have stepped up my writing since the strike started. I have also been reading a lot – including fiction, Christian books and those about capacity building. I am planning to register a non-governmental organisation that will focus on literary matters and youth development.

“The strike started just when we resumed for the semester. I am aware of its consequence on the academic calendar, but I don’t let it bother me too much. This is the advice I want to give my fellow students across the country. I guess the struggle boils down to nation-building. It is a national thing. But it should not present an excuse for grumbling. Already, I have started exploring the course I want to pursue during my master’s programme.”

As if heeding Adejobi’s call, Eludayo Ekundayo, a Part 1 English major at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, explains that since the strike has continued to linger, he has decided to return to the shop where he sells animal feeds and drugs.

He notes, “At least, I earn about N10,000 a month, which is something. Not that I am happy doing it, but I cannot just sit at home to watch ASUU and Federal Government waste my time. In fact, I have learnt a lot of prescriptions for animals during this holiday. I hope the strike will not lead to a change of career for me, because I think I am knowledgeable enough to give drugs and feeds.

Still at loggerheads

Even as these students recount their experiences, the news, last Thursday, FG had released N130bn for development of infrastructure in the universities, excited many stakeholders, particularly the students.

The excitement was born out of the fact that at last, the seven-week old strike embarked upon by ASUU members would soon end.

The Needs Assessment Committee Chairman and Governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, who announced the intervention, said N100bn would be for building new hostels, renovation of hostels, provision of libraries, laboratories, lecture rooms and theatres, as well as Information and Communication Technology facilities, among others; while the remaining N30bn was for the teachers’ earned allowances.

So, for the students, throwing the gates of the universities open once again for normal academic activities would just be in a matter of days.

But while Suswam and other members of the committee were in Abuja, thumping their chests, thinking that they had found a solution to the strike, the ASUU leadership was in Lagos, toeing a different line. For the striking teachers, the end of the industrial action is not in sight and their President, Dr. Nassir Fagge, was explicit in conveying the message.

He said, “A lot of people are asking us to shift ground by accepting the government’s offer of N30bn and going back to class, while we reach an agreement on when the next instalment will be paid. I do not see that as being acceptable to us for now, because we had made that mistake before, whereby only the salary component of the agreement was singled out. So, we cannot afford to make such a mistake again. I want to make it categorically clear that until the entire agreement is fully implemented, we are not going to call off the strike.”

No doubt, the ASUU’s comments immediately dashed the hope of many stakeholders and students.

Implications of the action

Many analysts and public commentators hold the view that the ongoing strike would disrupt the 2013/2014 academic session. A lecturer at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Dr. Fidelis Okoro, notes that many of the universities were in the middle of their academic sessions when the strike started.

According to Okoro, who teaches English, with two months gone so far, the disruption will affect the next academic session. He points to the fact that some of the universities have yet to conduct the compulsory and qualifying post-Universities Matriculation Examination for candidates seeking admission to these institutions for the 2013/2014 session, just as others have their class work and examinations frustrated by the strike.

Linked to this are the issues of the National Youth Service Corps scheme and the place of some medical schools, whose students have been caught in the web of the strike. While some schools will not have their students ready for the forthcoming service year, the medical students will also have their programmes deferred.

The man-hour loss is another issue that bothers observers. Citing previous FG/ASUU face-offs, they point to the fact that the observance of the “no work, no pay” policy is usually in the breach. They note that even as the lecturers refuse to teach, at the end of the strike, they will still earn their salaries and allowances – a situation akin to “milking” the nation.

Observers also argue that the frequency of strikes is contributing to the decline in the quality of education in the country. An educationist, Mrs. Fidelia Ugbodu, who says she is not happy about the strike, urges the FG to address comprehensively the issues raised by the teachers.

She says, “Agreed, the call by ASUU is to alter the face of the universities, but the frequent strikes are not good for the sector. Besides disrupting academic activities, the already bad situation in the sector is worsening. The education standard is nose-diving yearly and I strongly believe that it has a link to the frequency of the strikes.”

Decayed Infrastructure

Investigation shows that the dearth of infrastructure is common in many of these universities, especially in the older institutions. From the University of Lagos, to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka; Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; University of Jos and Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, to mention but a few. The shortage, an analyst says, is affecting their yearly admission intakes.

There is also the issue of decayed and abandoned facilities in the public universities – a development that explains why individuals and firms are donating hostels and Information Communication Technology, among other items, to the schools.

The latest of such is the donation by the mother of President Goodluck Jonathan to the Federal University of Technology, Otuoke, Bayelsa State, which has stirred controversy.

In fact, the N100bn released to 59 varsities last week by the FG for infrastructure development is an acknowledgement that there is the need to address the gross deficit in the provision of critical infrastructure in the institutions.

Funding

Closely associated to infrastructure is the debate for funding. Nigeria has never met the 26 per cent United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s annual requirement for education. Little wonder, the tumour has refused to die. For instance, ASUU says the N130bn is a far cry from its N1.5trn demand to spread over three years (2009 and 2011) to address the decay in the universities. Inadequate research and development in the universities, the union says, is a fall out of poor funding of the sector.

Fagge notes, “All the government is gloating over now is N100bn, which is nowhere near the scientifically-arrived-at congruent sums in the 2009 agreement, the 2012 memorandum of understanding and the 2013 technical report on the Needs Assessment of Nigerian public universities. What further evidence do we need to establish government’s bad faith?”.

king’s college Lagos, Nigeria
The British- Nigeria Education Trust (BNET) disclosed on Wednesday that an anonymous donor donated the sum of one million pounds sterling (about N250 million) for the upgrade of Kings College, Lagos State, and Edo College, Benin, Edo State.

The chairman of the Trust, David Reeves, revealed this in London at a reception organised by the Nigerian High Commission for BNET, noting that the donor emphatically requested that the donation be spent on the schools.

He said, “We have been most encouraged by a recent anonymous donation of one million pounds sterling; the donor has charged us with negotiating the use of this very generous amount of money with two of the major schools in Nigeria… The schools are Kings College in Lagos and Edo College in Benin.

“We are already in discussion with them and hope to identify a major project in each of them,” he added.

Mr. Reeves however assured that a chunk of the donation would be set aside for scholarship schemes for the less privileged students in both schools.