• With the approval of nine more universities by the Federal Government, Ogun State has practically become the breeding ground of universities. The state now has the highest number of universities in the country, as four out of the nine are located there.

    A former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Prof. Peter Okebukola, offers an explanation why the state has a growing collection of private universities.

    The state, which shares boundaries with Lagos to the south, Oyo and Osun to the north, Ondo to the east and the Republic of Benin to the west, currently is the home of 15 registered universities, comprising 12 private universities and three public ones.

    According to the former NUC helmsman, the state’s closeness to Lagos, proprietors’ influence, early access to missionaries and education, as well as an investor-friendly environment are some of the reasons for the high number of schools in the state.

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    The private universities are the Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo (owned by the Seventh Day Adventist Church); Bells University of Technology, Ota (owned by former President Olusegun Obasanjo); Covenant University, Ota, (Living Faith Church); Crawford University Igbesa, (the Apostolic Faith Mission); Crescent University, Abeokuta (the Prince Bola Ajibola-led Islamic Mission for Africa); McPherson University, Seriki Sotayo, Ajebo (Foursquare Gospel Church), and the Southern University, Okun-Owa.

    Until recently, the Redeemer University, Mowe, owned by the Redeemed Christian Church of God, with its permanent site now in Osun State, had been operating in Ogun State. In fact, the university still maintains skeletal operations in Mowe.

    Nigeria national universities commission NUC

    The new universities in the state approved by the Federal Government last week are Chrisland University, Owode; Christopher University, Mowe; Hallmark University, Ijebu Itele, and the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries-owned Mountain Top University on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

    The Federal Executive Council, after its meeting on Wednesday, announced the approval of nine more private universities. With this, the country now has 59 private universities and 79 federal and state-owned ones.

    The public universities are the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Olabisi Onabanjo University Ago-Iwoye, and the Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijebu-Ode.

    The 39-year-old state, with a land mass of 16,980.55 km2 (6,556.23 sq mi) and a population of 3,751,140 (2006 census), also has three polytechnics, consisting of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta; Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro; and the D.S Adegbenro ICT Polytechnic, Itori. It also hosts the Tai Solarin College of Education, Omu-Ijebu and the Federal College of Education, Osiele.

    Giving reasons for the high number of the ivory towers, Okebukola says, “There are at least four reasons why Ogun State has the highest density of private universities in Nigeria. Proximity to Lagos, the densest city in Nigeria, with a high population of persons hungry for university education, is one of such reasons. Because of the limitation in land area of Lagos, Ogun State, which is proximal and adjoining, takes advantage by providing proprietors a relatively cheaper land space for the establishment of their universities.

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    “Secondly, most of the evangelical churches that are proprietors of about half of the private universities in Nigeria have their headquarters in the Lagos axis and would desire to establish their universities not too far from their centre of operations. Hence, for the first reason of challenge of space in Lagos, they turn to the adjoining Ogun State to establish their educational institutions, including universities.

    “The third reason is historical. Western-type education came through Badagry and had its early foothold in Ogun State. The missionaries came to preach the gospel of Christ and had schools as a platform for evangelism. This early lead of Ogun State in education has been ascribed to the activities of the missionaries, especially the Anglican, Methodist, Baptist and Catholic through the establishment of schools to propagate Christianity.

    “So, history is repeating itself through the activities of the new wave of evangelical ministries, which have a firm foothold in Ogun State and are fanning out to other parts of the country. The first set of (white) missionaries established schools, which are models for us today. The second set of (black) missionaries are establishing universities, which are playing the same role of evangelism and serving as a model for the Nigerian university system. One of such universities, Covenant University, Ota is a pace setter and its exemplary operations are currently being studied for possible adoption by other universities not only in Nigeria but also in Africa.

    “The fourth reason is that Ogun State provides an investor-friendly environment for businesses, including the business of running a university.”

    For the state Commissioner for Education, Mr. Olusegun Odubela, the density of the schools is born out of the fact that the state is the cradle of education in the country.

    He also links their concentration to the early promotion of free and qualitative education as was espoused by the likes of the late nationalist, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

    Like Okebukola, the commissioner adds that the state is attractive to investors because its leadership has created an enabling environment for business.

    He said, “The state is blessed with vast land. Ogun State is synonymous with education. It is the cradle of education. Among the nine private universities approved by government recently, four are here in the state.”

    Okebukola, however, notes that the NUC does not offer its approval to school proprietors without due diligence and scrutiny.

    He identifies such basic approval requirements to include academic brief, physical masterplan, university law, and evidence of sustainable funding as well as extensive land area for future expansion.

    Such institutions, he adds, must have state-of-the-art facilities for teaching, learning and research as well as staff and student residence, including classrooms, libraries, laboratories, workshops, staff offices, Senate building, offices for central administration, hostels and recreational/sports facilities.

    There are no private universities in states like Zamfara, Borno, Sokoto, Kano, Kaduna, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Plateau, Gombe, Bauchi, Yobe and Jigawa.

    While the Al-Qalam University, founded in 2005 is in Katsina, the American University of Nigeria, owned by a former Vice-President in 2003 is in Yola Adamawa State.

    Edo State and Lagos rank second, each having four private universities. While Lagos accommodates Pan-Atlantic University; Caleb University, Imota, CETEP City University, and Augustine University, Ilara, Edo is the home to the Benson Idahosa University, Benin;Igbinedion University, Okada, Benin; Samuel Adegboyega University, Ogwa, Edo State; and the Wellspring University, Evbuobanosa, Benin.
    Culled from Punch Newspaper

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