By Tunde Olofintila

When the Elder Statesman and Founder of the increasingly famous Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, ABUAD, Aare Afe Babalola, OFR, CON, SAN, came up with his dual dream of establishing a university that will teach Nigerians how a university, properly so-called, should be run and of institutionalizing quality and functional education, some skeptics would probably have looked at the now flourishing dream with some subdued optimism: some ‘let’s wait and see attitude’.

But today, the 15-year-old university, “ranked by the highly respected UK-based Times Higher Education Impact Rankings Number 1 University in Nigeria for two consecutive years (2022 & 2023) and Number 221 in the world in 2023” has continued to blaze the trail in the provision of qualitative and functional education as demonstrated by its performance at the November 2023 Bar Examination.

This became manifest again when the Law Graduates of the 15-years-old university recorded a 94% pass rate and carted home 21 First Class and 69 Second Class Upper Division in the said November 2023 Bar Examination, thereby giving vent and verve to NUC’s endorsement of the University’s College of Law as the “Best College of Law in West Africa.”

This remarkable improvement over the 2018 performance of ABUAD Law Graduate when they recorded 12 First Class and 65 Second Class Upper Division is a testament to the quality of educational training the Law Graduates received during their undergraduate studies in ABUAD under the watchful eyes of the ever hardworking Vice Chancellor, Prof. Smaranda Olarinde, the fatherly Provost College of Law, Prof. Tunde Yebisi, the ever-supportive Head of Department of Private and Business Law, Dr. Ife Bamidele and the highly cerebral Head of Department of Public and International Law, Dr. Nnamdi Ikpeze.

The superlative performance by ABUAD Law graduates in an examination moderated by outsiders is a further confirmation of the recent ranking of the university by the highly respected UK-based Times Higher Education Impact Rankings and the earlier acknowledgments by national and international education stakeholders.

The feat by the Law Graduates who were called to the Nigeria Bar last week came about a month after the same University recorded a 100% Pass Rate in the MBBS Examination where all the 161 Medical Students passed with 12 of the scoring Distinctions in various Medical Specialties.

The Star of the 2023 set of Medical Students who were Inducted at an elaborate ceremony on February 9, 2024 was Dr, Ernest Chukwuma who apart from emerging the Overall Best Graduating Medical Student, Chukwuma recorded five distinctions in Medical specialties: Anatomy, Physiology, Biochemistry, Integrated Medical Courses and Pathology.

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ABUAD’s match to stardom started very early after its establishment when the NUC, acknowledged the university as a “model, a benchmark, and a reference point for other universities” as well as the “pride of university education in Nigeria”. This was followed by AVCNU, which dubbed the then bourgeoning university as “the most successful Private University in Nigeria”.  On its part, UNESCO which endorsed it as “a world class institution of Higher Education”.

The ranking of ABUAD as the Best University in Nigeria for two consecutive years is neither a flash in the pan nor a fluke. Although the university is barely 15 years old, the huge steps it has already taken, the monumental achievements it has already recorded as well as the rich and luxuriant encomiums already showered on the university bear an eloquent testimony to the towering and intimidating profile of the 21st Century university situated in the heartland of Ado-Ekiti, South-West, Nigeria.

The first private university in Nigeria to take off on its permanent site with all human and material resources on ground, ABUAD is not only applauded outside the shores of Nigeria, but it has also been celebrated by both national and international education stakeholders, including the National Universities Commission, NUC, the Regulatory Authority for University Education in Nigeria, the Association of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, AVCNU, and UNESCO.

All these accolades have been further confirmed by the three partnerships the university consummated in 2023 with John Hopkins Hospital, USA, for Elective Clinical Training in the United States, the Memorandum of Understanding with King’s College, University of London, towards the establishment of the Afe Babalola African Centre for Transnational Education for which Babalola donated the sum of £10million in 2023 and the Memorandum of Understanding between ABUAD and Trinity Western University, TWU, Canada.

No wonder, Scott Royster, an American Admirer, who had visited many universities across 10 countries in Africa, said of ABUAD: “As I toured your university yesterday, I knew this time would be different. Every person I met, every building I saw, every hectare I covered, made me feel smaller and smaller. What you have built is that important, that big, that good. I commend you”.

Indeed, the university has overshot its expectations in the first 15 years of its existence. And this is just the beginning. With the way things are going, particularly with the continuous injection of funds into the system by Babalola, the Founder & Chancellor, a man who is perpetually in a hurry, better days are ahead.

•Tunde Olofintila, Director, Corporate Affairs, ABUAD