Vice Chancellor Lead City University Professor Aderemi Kabir Adeyemo in this interview with the Publisher Nigerian NewsDirect Dr SAMUEL IBIYEMI speaks on the importance of research, the need for TETFUND scholarship in private universities for indigent students and facilities of Lead City Law Faculty among others. Excerpts.
From the advert of Council of Legal Education published on November 7, Lead City happens to be one of the few private universities granted approval to commence law by the Council of Legal Education, can you provide brief information on the quality of facilities and manpower that helped in securing the approval?
I would have advised you to move round the university and see all our facilities at least. I have attended about five different universities in Nigeria and I have not seen any university that beat Law Faculty of Lead City in terms of facilities and manpower. The Law Faculty of Lead City University is the best today if true independent survey is conducted.
As at today we have a very good quality assurance to make sure that our students are not only taught the undergraduate program but offered courses that will help them to perform excellently at Law School.We have introduced to them the Law School curriculum so that by the time they get to Law School they will scatter everything there and they will emerge best students.
Also, we are trying to make sure that our students at the end of the day will be on their own after graduation and that is what we called self reliance. We believe that the only thing we can do is to create a conducive environment which will definitely help them towards achieving their particular goals.
What is your view towards TETFUND and private universities considering investment being made on research by private universities?
That is a very good question, we all know that TETFUND has been supporting mainly public tertiary institutions and they have enjoyed the fund to a large extent. First of all, we have to commend the Federal Government for encouraging the establishment of private universities in order to eliminate the crisis of poor access to tertiary education.
As at today, we have more private universities than Federal or state universities. The implication of this is that if we look at student enrollment, we have a lot of students who are now trying to go to private universities but the private universities are at a disadvantage in the sense that the Federal Government focuses purely on Federal universities especially on the issue of TETFUND. The Federal Government gives TETFUND a lot of packages for public universities for them to be able to develop. What we are trying to say in essence is that, we are not saying that the government should give money to private universities but there are many other things they can do.
This includes introduction of scholarship programmes instead of sending students to go and study in the United States of America (U S A),China, and other countries. The government can use the money to send them to school here in Nigeria. This will help the students to pursue their academic carrier in private universities by providing scholarship for indigent students so as to use the money obtained from scholarship to offset their school fees.
So, to a large extent, if this can be done for private universities, I think it will definitely allow many other students to be educated in private universities. I want to mention that people believe that private universities are so expensive that individual cannot afford. I disagree with that belief. This is because at Lead City, we have tuition fees as low as N160,000. For instance, fee for Sandwich programme is as low as N100,000. We have some fees whereby students pay above N160,000 per session, N210,000 and N325,000 per session. So, they believe that private university education is more expensive. We have the highest tuition fees for our Nursing, Biochemistry, and Law faculty currently at N625,000 per session.
To a large extent, we have many students coming to register for these courses here. Government should make TETFUND money available to private universities so that students who are interested in coming to private schools can have access to qualitative education. TETFUND money should not be for state and federal universities only. Government can even revisit the students loan board for repayment after the university education. This is very easy with the student’s BVN. The student who collects the loan can be tracked for repayment.
What of standard?
If we don’t have standard, our programme will not be accredited. As at today, we have about 45 programmes that have been fully accredited. Also, we have about seven new programmes that have been approved by National Universities Commission (N U C). This includes Nursing, Medical Laboratory Science, Public Health, Estate Management, Agricultural Science, Criminology and Security Study.
These are new programmes that have been given approval so that we can commence. We have programmes that have been fully accredited by NUC which include Bio Chemistry, Computer Science, Law, Mass Communication, Media and Media Technology, Computer Science with Information Science, Accounting, Economics, Business Administration, Public Administration, Politics and International Relations, English and Literary Study, Performing Arts, Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, Chemistry, Biology, Marketing, Sociology, Education Biology, Education Chemistry, Education Physics, Education English, Education Economics, Education Management, Business Education, Social Study, Information Management, Human Kinetic, Sport Science , Industrial Chemistry and so on.
We also have collaboration with some other professional bodies. We have a collaboration with Chartered Institute of Secretaries and Administrators. What this means is that our students after graduating will have their professional certificate and Chartered Institute of Bankers certificate. We signed the agreement recently that if a postgraduate student is coming for M.sc Accounting, M.sc Business Administration, by the time he is completing his programme, he is going to have two certificates consisting of “ACIB/M.sc Accounting, ACIB /M.sc Business Administration”.
What we did to obtain this approval was concluded when the Governing Council of CIBN came here. We were able to harmonize the curriculum. To a large extent, we have good quality and the University is strategically located, we have many Professors from the University of Ibadan (UI), Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Olabisi Onabanjo (OOU) and UNILAG. We are having a linkage program with collaboration from UI and LLM /MPHIL/PHD from the Faculty of Law. In essence, the students will attend their lecture here in Lead City and the Master’s Degree certificate will be awarded by UI in LLM /MPHIL in Law.
With this collaboration, people can easily come to Lead City to study and collect their certificate in UI with this collaboration with Lead City and UI with the quality assurance and methodology involved. The lecturers from UI and Lead City will be adequately involved. The curriculum will be designed by both lecturers and it will be a very good program at the end of the day.
In Lead City, there is nothing like strike, our institution is a strike-free university whereby students know when they will come in and when they will graduate. Lead city is a place to come, and a place whereby quality education is assured and which our students can use to develop themselves and contribute their own quota to the development of Nigeria.
We have also completed an Ultra Modern Sports Stadium, it is of a FIFA standard pitch. We have former Nigeria’s Chief Coach, Chief Onigbinde in charge of the Football Academy. Our last convocation was a very good one and it was well attended. We had the Vice President Prof Yemi Osinbajo in attendance at the convocation.
He was very impressed with the management of the Institution. During the convocation, two Eminent Nigerians were honoured, they are Kolade Mushoro , (Chairman Booksellers Limited) and Mr Victor Osibodu, Chairman, Board of Directors, Benin Electricity Distribution Company. Mr Kolade Mushoro received Doctoral letter (Honorary) and Victor Osibodu received Doctor of letters in Business Administration. Dr Oshibodu gave graduates of our institution especially First Claas in Business Administration, Accounting and Computer Science automatic employment. Dr Kolade Mushoro approved scholarship to five graduates of our institution to study in UI in Bio Ethics. This is a University that definitely allows students to achieve their potential.
What is the linkage between the students, school and alumni?
We are trying to streamline our alumni unit. We have two of our graduates that are now in the Senate and we have one in the House of Representatives. Many of them are in various sectors, some as lecturers and some of them have bagged Phd.
The University has contributed very well to the development of Nigerian Economy. We have Ayorinde Mary Olukorede, she was the most outstanding Student in the University and she bagged a GP of 5.00, while the best graduating male Students was Ahmedu Anthony 4.70 CGPA and they have been given automatic employment by the Chairman of Vigeo Holdings.
Recently, the Chief of Army Staff came visiting with some Major Generals. They were here for a lecture and the lecture was delivered by Major General James Heens , a Professor of Political Science and International studies, Virginia Military Institute, USA and the title of the lecture was “THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECTION, STRATEGY FOR AFRICA”.
We have many scholars from USA who came here especially scholars from other Universities. It was a very good public lecture that projected the image of the institution very well. Lead City University public lecture is a mechanism in which we expose the university to the whole world. The public lecture generates solution to many of the societal problems and the Chief of Army Staff was impressed by what he saw during the Law students public lecture week.
The Commissioner of Police from Oyo State visited the University and the lecture was delivered by Senator Buhari from Oyo North and it was well attended. Our aim is to see Lead city University become one of the best in the world. We make sure the quality assurance is solid and at the end of every semester, the quality assurance unit makes sure lecturers submit their course work and question paper. Our university is student-friendly because that is why we are proud of our students because they are contentious and friendly.
Discipline and cultism, how are you able to control this because I can see that the environment is surrounded by bush outside your fence.
There is nothing like cultism, we have been here for almost 12 years. We have never recorded any case of cultism. We have our own security here and there is nothing like student union here. We did not encourage student unionism but we have Student Representative Council whereby each department has their representatives. The chairman of the council reports to the Dean of Student Affairs and also each department has a course adviser.
There is a class representative which is called Class Governor. So, if there is any serious issue, they will definitely report to the course Adviser, the course adviser reports to the Head of Department (H.O.D). If the H.O.D cannot solve it, he will report to the Dean and if the Dean cannot solve the problem, it will be reported to the Vice Chancellor. Recently, the National Universities Commission (NUC) came to Lead City for postgraduate accreditation of students of Accounting, Business Administration, Banking and Finance and to a large extent the visit was favourable.
How do you sustain these achievements in the midst of competition because last week the Federal government approved six new private universities and one of them happened to be from Ibadan?
We are not on the same level because we are leading them. The new universities are coming behind us. It is not a joke to have these mega facilities on ground. That is why you see us coming up with different programmes. I mentioned to you that we have programmes with the University of Ibadan (UI).
It is not just a day’s job. This is a business because my pro- chancellor is a distinguished scholar and he knows what it takes. We have developed a blueprint. So on daily basis, we are brainstorming on how we can make sure that our university is relevant. It is not only being relevant but to be ahead of others in providing quality education. That is our focus.
There are certain institutions with a directive that students should not use phone, wear trousers what is your view?
You can see that everybody is corporately dress from Monday to Friday. Students have to be corporately dressed. They must put on tie and we have the university tie. You will always see our students corporately dressed and that is a sign that we mean business here.
If you go into the exam hall, you will see them very neat and a good atmosphere in the university. In Lead City university, we believe that the university is not a place whereby students should be caged because during our own days we were not caged. By the time we compel students not to do this or do that, they will definitely do them. They can constitute a nuisance. So, we allow them free lifestyle but they are not allowed to go with their phone into the exam hall when they are writing exam.
However, we allow them to use phone on campus because telephone is useful. Some use it as a source of information for them. Some Universities that said their students should not use phone, some of the students are using it underground. We should allow the students to develop, use their own knowledge skills and attitude (KSA). This institution is not a secondary school they can challenge.
In this institution, as a professor or HOD, you cannot frustrate a lecturer or student. We have seen a situation whereby in some universities, some people frustrate students by telling them that they are not graduating or get promoted. In Lead City University, there is nothing like that, because we have open and transparent system here. If a staff is due for promotion, there is a system and there is a process.
The process starts from the department, from department to the faculty, the faculty will pass it to the Vice Chancellor. If it is senior lecturer level, we will invite external examiner to come and access and they will come here. We don’t send paper out because if you send paper out for like two years, you may not even see the paper. If you are due for promotion we send your paper out, it is your paper that will speak for you.
Let’s look at Nigeria’s education system what is your advice on how to ensure that we have qualitative education in Nigeria?
Qualitative education is a function of everybody. The government has its own role. The parents have their own role. As a parent, you have to make sure that the background of your children is solid because if the background is faulty what will the university do. So, to a large extent, all the stakeholders should perform their roles, perform their duties. Then, the federal government should create a conducive atmosphere.
However, we thank God now that we have private investors on ground. But the private investors should be adequately encouraged, motivated and given a lot of soft landing. But the situation whereby the private sector is not being encouraged is not good in providing quality education.
If you look at what is happening now, majority of the parents prefer to bring their children to private universities because there is nothing like strike and students graduate at the right time. There are many institutions such that six, seven years, students will sit down at home.
To a large extent, I think the system is still not okay, all the stakeholders and the regulatory authority should do things on how it should be done. There should not be any victimization. The NUC now has a very good template unlike before. Panel members that are coming into schools now know what it takes unlike before that somebody will just come to you and tell you I will close down your department.
This is because you cannot compare a university that is about 50 years of age to that of 12 years. So, the regulatory authority should try to make sure that they carry everybody along, so that at the end of the day, we are going to achieve a good result. If you are looking for first degree in any course, either in federal university, private university or state university, the owner of the result should be allowed to defend the result. The same technique NUC is using for OAU is the same technique being used for Lead City and have seen some programmes that have been denied in some federal universities that we got the approval here.
It implies that we have the facilities, resources and we know what we are doing. So, people should not discriminate. The people we use for assessment from federal universities when they want to assess me for my professional position, a professor from OAU was invited.
Our system is solid and we believe in qualities here. We believe we are doing the right thing at the right time and we have a lot of assessors from other universities. Our focus is to be one of the best universities and to the glory of God we are getting there.
I can see your passion for this job, what is the joy of being a VC and a teacher?
The position of VC is the making of God ,you just do what you know how to do best because you don’t know people are watching. I join this university 2006 and I was appointed the pioneer head of Management Accounting Department. Initially, we started with accounting then after that, the department was merged. That was the first department accredited by the NUC.
Accounting and business administration received accreditation. Later, we merged the two departments to Management accounting we want to use OAU style. In management accounting, we have different programmes which are accounting, business administration and marketing.
I was the Head of Department (HOD) for about eight years, I served as sub-Dean for sometimes. I was the director of part-time programme. In most cases, when the university wants to do any other thing I represent the VC in several events.
I have attended so many convocations and this has exposed me to many things and training programmes. Also my pro-chancellor is a very hardworking man, he comes to the office as early as 9 a.m. The position of VC is challenging but it is the backing of God.
The parents, students and staff will be on you but God has been making it easy for us. I don’t operate with closed door, my door is always open for everybody. I also have the support of the council, staff and students.
I have been enjoying the cooperation of the staff. Initially I was appointed the deputy vice chancellor, later the acting vice chancellor and then becomes the vice chancellor at last. The Lead city university has exposed me and gives me good leadership training.