Recently, the management of Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo, Ogun State held an end-of-the-year parley with media men. On the occasion, the President/ Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ademola Tayo, spoke on a number of issues. Excerpts.
By Adesina Wahab
WHY celebrate the media
We have to celebrate journalists because they toil to keep the nation informed and they are also exposed to a lot of risks. A country that is not informed is going to be malformed. Journalists have helped to sustain democracy and keep us all on our toes. Conditions of journalists should be improved upon and they should have life insurance coverage. I would strongly suggest that their renumeration should also be better than it is now.
During the #EndSARS protest, despite the violence that was the order of the day in some parts of the country, I saw on TV how journalists were still going about, risking their lives, to let the people know what was happening. My only charge to journalists is that they should, in spite of all odds, uphold the truth, be fair and objective and not compromise their integrity.
What will be your focus now that you have been given a second term?
We are launching into areas we have not touched before. We are going into areas such as environmental science, engineering, e-learning among others. The National Universities Commission, NUC, has reached out to us that we should launch our e-learning facilities and we are doing that soon. I was in a university in South Africa some years back and my mind was blown off when I saw over 100,000 students on their e-learning platform. We are also working on getting Wi-Fi to be all over our campus. We want to use technology to drive education. We have already laid fibre optics cables on campus.
How did you cope with COVID-19 pandemic?
The mark of a great institution is the ability to navigate through difficulties and still stand. When it came, we decided that the challenge should not define us but that we are the ones to define the challenge. We were among the first set of universities to hold online graduation. We are online now and we are almost finishing the first semester of the 2020/21 session. Our ICT guys are great. Our molecular laboratory is one of the best. Recently, we spent over N100 million on it. The National Centre for Disease Control will soon be here to assess it. We can do COVID-19 test, Lassa Fever test among others. Our medical students would soon write their final exams.
God has been good to us. In the last two years, we have been the most subscribed private university. This year, we would have concluded our admission procedures but because COVID-19 affected WAEC and NECO exams, we were told to hold on for now. We have more students applying to study here than our carriage capacity.
Should TETfund support private universities?
I am an active member of the Committee of Vice Chancellors both in private and public ones and I know what obtain in those committees. There was an enabling Act that set up the Fund, there were no private universities then. The law has to be amended. If private universities are also producing for the Nigerian nation, why shouldn’t we benefit? It is political and we need to be careful about it. At Babcock University we don’t want anything that can soil our hands. A situation whereby an agency will give you money and demand something before doing that or somebody would want to dabble into a matter that does not concern him, is not condoned here.
Future of education in Nigeria
I am an incurable optimist. If Sola Akinlade and Ezra Olubi could come from Nigeria and are doing exploits globally, there is a bright future. It is only that the government should do their part of pumping enough money into education, things will be better.
MANS threat to shut down private universities
As a responsible parent and stakeholder, some things impressed me. The way our youths conducted themselves during the #EndSARS protest impressed me a lot. Students in public universities are not destructive. The threat was borne out of veiled frustration. When public universities are shut down because of strike, we all lose. Private universities are not happy when public ones are shut down. Private universities collaborate with public ones and when that does not happen, we all lose out.