‘My Vision is to Make Elizade Varsity Attractive to the World’
A Nigerian entrepreneur and founder of Elizade University, Chief Michael AdeOjo shared with Uchechukwu Nnaike his vision to build a world class institution, dedicated to the pursuit of academic and moral excellence, for the growth of knowledge and charact
What are the values, vision and ideas that motivated you to establish Elizade University?
My core motivation behind this noble dream is to raise students and graduates who would be confident enough to stand strong anywhere in the world, and can be relied upon in whatever they say or do. We are training students, who upon graduation, can measure up to other academics and professionals anywhere in the world. Note that we are not just educating people for academics alone, but morally too, because without good character, the whole effort will be a waste of time. We are building people who will make significant impact in the society.
With so many private and public universities springing up in Nigeria, what are the unique advantages that can encourage parents to send their children to Elizade University?
We have so many areas that stand us out. One of the ways among many that stand us out from other universities is the quality of internship partnerships we have with different companies and organisations within and outside Nigeria. Our internship programme is a compulsory course for the students, and through this, they gain practical quality work experiences as they regularly familiarise themselves with real work situations. Clearly, many of their peers will not have the opportunity to experience this even upon graduation. So, we are training them to become all round persons with superior capacities to compete with their peers from other universities. As far as our infrastructure is concerned, we are above our peers. Anybody that gets to our university will have nothing but praises for our physical structures. And the general belief is that it is unlike anything within Nigeria. In fact, some people say they are carried away because when they are there, they feel they are not in Nigeria, but in a developed country. Well, my vision is that it will become one of the best, if not the best university in the country. I want a university that will compare very favourably with the likes of Harvard University, with Oxford and Cambridge and other first class universities all over the world.
As a versatile business administrator that has excelled in Nigeria’s tough business environment for many years, what are the helpful counsel you can give young, upcoming professionals like your students to help them rise to the top?
First, I will let them know that it is not the certificate they will get that is their most valuable tool, but really, what they have learnt here and what they will make out of what they have learnt. This is because knowledge is different from wisdom. Knowledge is what you acquire upstairs, but wisdom is the application of that knowledge. And if you cannot apply what you have learnt, then you have very little chance to succeed. So, in this university, we lay emphasis on the application of knowledge. You can graduate as an engineer, but you will be good enough to fit into some other professions because of the various opportunities made available for you while you are here. You are trained to be versatile even though you have a core specialty in your discipline. I will advise them to aim to be independent, to think deeply about what they can use whatever they have learnt in the university to achieve in their lifetime. For prospective students or those who are just coming in, well, the thing is that they have to learn to enjoy themselves, to enjoy the university life and to learn how to make themselves useful because here, we are training our students to be total persons so that they will be useful, not only to the society, but to themselves and their families. We are also inculcating in them the spirit of entrepreneurship that guarantees a future for them and authenticates their certificates. Our certificate confirms that the holder has done well and is ready to excel in his or her chosen field of endeavour and in the society at large.
Apart from the internship programme and quality academic training, what other competitive edge does the university have?
All the qualities put together amount to the competitive edge that the university has been investing heavily to build. Another thing is that our fees are still very reasonable, compared to what the student will go back with to function in the society. I think we are just training them to become responsible citizens at an affordable cost so far. But this is not to say that it will continue like that because the facilities that we provide are beyond the average that you see anywhere in Africa.
The cost of getting the university to this level must have been high. What opportunities are there for the institution to operate on the global or even continental stage. How do you plan to build on the successes of the past five years?
Well, the university has dug a very big hole in my pocket in the sense that it has cost me a lot. But really, I am doing this as a huge legacy that will definitely outlive me. So I am still determined to spend a lot more. We have spent over N27 billion on the university’s structures and I believe we still have a long way to go to get to my exact vision. It has been my determination to establish an institution that will remain a long-term legacy, which will be useful to the younger generation and will be a global citadel of learning, not only in academics, but in morals as well. So this project is very important to me and I think, especially now that the dream is unfolding rapidly, it should be very important to every parent because what we are doing now is quite comparable to what is happening in universities in developed economies.
What is the total picture or vision of Elizade University in your head?
I have this vision of making Elizade Nigeria’s biggest academic attraction to the world. I want people across the world to aspire and strive to send their children here because of the standard the world will see. Another great news is that with just a fraction of the cost of going overseas, Nigerians will have the experience of a world-class university in their country. I know within me that it is just a matter of time; Elizade University will draw the type of national pride that Harvard and Oxford attract to their various countries.