How private universities can be the best— Prof Adedimeji

– You have thousands of universities in the world, but the vision now is to activate strategies towards making the new university to stand out among its peers.

– It will be a university for the community and the community will also be part of the university.

– In terms of teaching, we want to focus on using the latest inventory in modern technology.

Read the details below:

The newly-appointed Vice-Chancellor, Ahman Pategi University, Pategi in Kwara State, Professor Mahfouz Adedimeji, in this interview, speaks on his vision for the young university and how he hopes to take it to a high pedestal.

YOU are the pioneer Vice-Chancellor of Ahman Pategi University, Pategi, what is your vision for the institution?

As I articulated to the Governing Council members (of the university) at the inaugural meeting that we held, my vision is what I call Vision 5-25-50-500. The vision is to within the next five years of my tenure make Ahman Pategi University, APU one of the best 25 universities in Nigeria, one of the best 50 in Africa and one of the best 500 in the world.

You have thousands of universities in the world, but the vision now is to activate strategies towards making the new university to stand out among its peers. That is the general framework. But in order to unbundle this vision, we want to make Ahman Pategi University, a university with a difference. Universities all over the world are established for three main reasons; teaching, research and community development. Every other thing is ancillary.

In terms of teaching, we want to focus on using the latest inventory in modern technology, and that is why our teaching will be different. Now people know the reality with the advent of COVID-19 pandemic. We are going to recruit the best. We are already in communication with some of our colleagues in North America, mainly the US and Canada. That people will be in Pategi and our lecturers will be teaching our students all over the world apart from those that are going to be on ground. So, we have the physical as well as the virtual components of the teaching that we want so that our students will be well prepared for the world of work.

At the level of research, we just want to be a hub of research activities. The location of the university is very strategic. Kwara North happens to be a place where such a university is needed, and then we want to be like a magnet that will be able to attract the local and international talents to the university so that we will be able to galvanize the abundant resources that we have for the benefit of humanity.

And when we talk in terms of community development, it is going to be a university for the community. It is not going to be a university that will be the classical ivory tower which people will just be looking at from afar.

It will be a university for the community and the community will also be part of the university because we believe that it is high time that universities impacted the communities in which they are existing. So, our vision is that APU will transform not only the immediate community in Pategi but the entire landscape of Kwara North through our engagement with the community and participation in socio-economic activities that the university will bring to bear on the community.

In view of the laudable agenda and talking about your background, from where do you draw your inspiration and role models in terms of what you really want to do?

Somebody said that I’m able to see beyond my peers because I’m standing on the shoulders of giants. I think that is what really applies to me. I have been fortunate in my career to interact and interface with people at the highest level of university management.

I was part of the management team of the University of Ilorin at the time the university was ranked one of the best 20 in Africa and the best in Nigeria during the tenure of Professor Is-haq Oloyede and the successive administrations that have also been improving on what was on ground.

I also have as a mentor, the current Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission, NUC, Professor Abubakar Rasheed, who also succeeded tremendously as a Vice-Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano. Based on my ability to understudy these two professors and eminent administrators, and through my interaction with people like Emeritus Professor Michael Omolewa and Professor Peter Okebukola, these are people with whom I have been able to engage at various levels. I know what it really takes to take the university to the highest level.

Dr Jamil Salmi wrote a book in 2009 titled: Challenges of World Class Universities and since we want to be world class, he identified three factors that can make any university in the world to be world class. He used to be the Director of Tertiary Education at the World Bank.

The first factor he identified is concentration of talents. This is to have quality academic staff and attracting quality students that will be the university alumni. If you are able to do that, you are on your way towards being a world class university.

, The other one that he mentioned is abundant resources. When the resources are abundant, forget it. It wouldn’t be that the internet is not really working.

We do not have this and that. Though we know as private university, even public universities too are complaining of poor funding and some other things like that, we are still going to leverage on our goodwill to be able to attract the funding and resources that we need that will make the vision fly. And the third factor he mentioned is favourable governance to make the university operate the way it should.

When these three factors are established, there is no doubt that a university is on its way to the top. So, being acquainted with some of these things, we believe that this is not going to be a tea party since it is something we are starting afresh. We are going to build on nothing, because as a pioneer vice-chancellor, we know that the challenges will be there. But we are prepared with the support of the Governing Council, Board of Trustees and Founder himself, Hon. Aliyu Ahman Pategi. We believe that it is achievable. Whatever a person can conceive and believe, he can as well achieve it.

Your appointment as vice-chancellor came barely two years after your elevation to the professorial rank at the University of Ilorin. Is it accidental or coincidental?

Everything in this life is either a lesson or a blessing. And life itself is not all about how long it is but it is a quality of life that really matters. That is why you have people becoming President or Governors before the age of 40 and then you have some other people at the age of 70 or 80 still struggling to become local
government chairman. So, what is fundamental is that a professor is a professor. What is fundamental is capacity to deliver, ability, integrity, goodwill and competence that would be brought to bear into the service.

To be honest with you, I was not expecting it the way that it came. But when it came, I said definitely they (appointing authority) did their own research and fortunately enough, when I was engaging with the stakeholders the day I was invited, what everybody was telling me was that we have read much about you.

We have googled and we believed that you have all the qualities that are needed including the youthful energy, experience, research profile and integrity. I think these were the factors that they put into consideration and everybody was just telling me that you are the type of person that we need to make this university bright.