The Nigerian education sector got a boost last January when the chairman of Caverton Offshore Support Group, Mr. Remi Makanjuola and his family led other dignitaries to Summit University in Offa, Kwara State, to unveil an ultra-modern lecture theatre donated in memory of his late mother. Funke Olaode writes
For those who touched many lives, community, impacted humanity and also committed to their God till the end, their names indeed will remain in the sands of time. Dedicated, compassionate, hardworking and devoted – All these attributes without a doubt suit late Alhaja Adiat Abegbe Makanjuola perfectly well. As a devout Muslim, late Alhaja Adiat profoundly believed in the efficacy of prayers, hence, she always looked up to Allah for constant guidance and her devotion to her maker was so strong that she always created space for prompt and timely observance of the five daily prayers regardless of any other engagements. She successfully combined this with her kind disposition.
Her deep obsession for wiping off anguish from the faces of others was absolute and this, she did constantly without undue publicity. Her kind gesture no doubt reflected in her offspring who are successful in their endeavours. It was therefore a celebration of a life well spent with her commitment to God and humanity, when her son and one of the most successful business men of his generation, Mr. Remi Makanjuola and his family members moved the entire Lagos crowd to Offa, in Kwara State to immortalise his late mother.
The magnificent edifice stands tall among many buildings scattered in the newly established institution with a bold inscription, Alhaja Adiat Abegbe Makanjuola Lecture Theatre. That day, Friday January 26, 2018 was also significant because it marked the 11th anniversary of her demise. Her life ambition was to remain closely associated with Ansar-Ud-Deen Society and it was this conviction that motivated her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to support the faith-based University of Ansar-Ud-Deen Society with a Lecture Hall named after her in commemoration of her remembrance anniversary.
Founded in 2017, the Summit University Offa, the University of Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria (ADSN), is a product of many years of painstaking planning and harnessing of human and material resources. Indeed, the society remains one of the foremost religious organisations with impressive records in the provision of education for Nigerian students at Primary, secondary and tertiary levels irrespective of their religious, ethnic, geographical and political affiliation.
The vision to establish a faith-based university with a world-class standard of teaching, research and community service began in February 2002, when the National Education Board of Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria set up the Higher Education Committee with a view to actualising the dreams and yearnings of members. On April 3, 2004, the National Executive Committee of the Society resolved to locate the University at Offa, Kwara State. On June 2005, the society applied formally for an opening license as a private university from the National University Commission (NUC) in Abuja. And in July, 2013, the Special Committee on Private Universities of the NUC conducted the third verification visit of facilities on the campus of the proposed university.
The commitment and dedication of the conveners actually played out as the approval for the takeoff of the university was granted in February 2015 with the formal presentation of the provisional license to the society holding at a ceremony presided over by then Honourable Minister of Education, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau in March, 2015 at the National University Commission office in Abuja.
Speaking at the event, the donor and son of the deceased, Mr. Remi Makanjuola said the whole idea of erecting a lasting legacy started in March 2005 when his mother of blessed memory was conferred with a merit award by the Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria for her outstanding contribution to the society.
At the ceremony, the plan to build the Summit University was unveiled and she was one of the very first few who donated one million Naira towards the establishment of the University. And 13 years down the lane, Makanjuola said he is happy that the vision has come into reality with its registration by the National University Commission which led to commencement of academic programmes last year.
Talking glowingly about his late mother, Makanjuola said “Looking at women here today actually reminds me of my mother. She always dressed the way you dress, seriously going to the Mosque, Thursday, and Sunday you would not always find our mother at home. She was committed to her God and humanity because she must be at Asalatu and everything the children want to do, Ansar-Ud-Deen comes first. She told us that even in death she would be an Ansar-Ud-Deen. So our coming here today is not by chance it is because of what our mother had preached and what she wanted,” he said
Makanjuola enjoined other well-meaning Nigerians and philanthropists to join the train in moving the newly established university to greater heights and also promised to make the Summit University a prestigious university not only in Nigeria but globally.
In a chat with journalists, one of the founders of the institution and National President of Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, Alhaji Femi Okunnu said what prompted the society to float the school was the past antecedents of the society in establishing schools across the country from primary to secondary and college of education. “The establishment of the university,” he said, “is the icing on the cake.”
While the purpose of any tertiary institution is to develop human capital for national development, Okunnu said the university is on the same pedestal with the established ones as the intention is to get boys and girls, women and men to come and receive the very best education. He stressed that the aim is to contribute their own quota to national development and a new Nigeria.
Proffering solution to how Nigerian educational system can recover its lost glory, the legal luminary said if the government puts its orders right and re-orders the educational system, the country is on the way back to the top just as Summit University ought to be a University for change for a new Nigeria and that is her role.
Corroborating Alhaji Femi Okunnu, Chairman Board of Trustees of Summit University, Dr. Musliu Smith said the university is long overdue as the primary and secondary arms established close to a century ago had produced prominent people in the country. “It is better late than never. With all the facilities we are putting on ground, affordable tuition fee, the quality of teaching staff with the conducive environment, I am sure within the next few years you would see new things as our mantra is to provide excellent education for all.”
Extolling the virtues of Makanjola as a generous giver, the Vice-chancellor of the institution, Prof. Hussein Oloyede thanked the family for the important edifice which has changed the landscape of the institution as a world class academic environment. “Mr. Remi Makanjuola is a person who is committed not only to his family, his mother but the society at large which we are one of the beneficiaries as an institution. His mother gave one million Naira when the idea was first conceived and today her son and the entire children have sustained her legacy, setting the pace for others. We are grateful to the Makanjuola family. God will continue to reward him. This is a one major project and I hope it will open more doors.”
In his brief remarks, the representative of the Governor of Kwara State, Dr. Musa Dasuki, said the “government of Kwara State is highly delighted and identified with family of Makanjuola for this generous donation. This edifice no doubt will enhance teaching and learning of our great leaders of tomorrow.” He enjoined other philanthropists in Offa and beyond to come to the aid of this Summit University so it can achieve its goals and objectives.
Shortly before the end of the well-attended ceremony, an award of recognition on behalf of the institution was presented to Mr. Remi Makanjuola. The event was rounded off by Dr. Wale Babalakin, who commended the management team of the university led by its Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Hussein for their prudence, accountability and uncommon commitment to high ideas.
Among the dignitaries that attended the groundbreaking ceremony were Dr. Hussein Taye Aladesawe, Sir Kehinde Smith, Mr. Tola Atekoja, Chairman, Thisday Editorial Board, Mr. Segun Adeniyi, wife of the donor, Mrs. Yoyinsola Makanjuola, Lady Gbeminiyi Smith, Prof. Suleiman Adeyemi , Dr. Musliu Smith, Mr. Akin Sanworiolu, Chief Yinka Adebiyi, Mr. Gbadebo Dallas, Alhaji Tunde Duale, Prof. Mosebolaji Oyawoye and Alhaji Abdulateef Ajeigbe, Prof. Suleiman Adeyemi, Dr. Wale Babalakin, SAN, Representative of Kwara State Governor, Dr. Musa Dasuki, Dr. David Oguntunde, Dr. Abiodun Owolabi, Mrs. Adebisi Lasaki, Mrs. Bimbola Fowor, Mr. Muyiwa Bakare, Mr. Oba Otudeko, Chief Raymond Ihyembe, Alhaji Femi Okunnu (SAN), Mr. Akin Kekere-Ekun and Vice-Chancellor, Summit University, Prof. Hussein Oloyede, Maj. Gen. Tajudeen Olanrewaj, representatives of Oba of Lagos, Chief Tajudeen and Alhaji Waheed Ayen, Chief Missioner for Northern States, Alhaji Muyideen Ajani Bello and Chief Imam of Offa, Alhaji Muyideen Salman Hussain.