The Chairman, Caverton Offshore Support Group, Mr. Aderemi Makanjuola was on November 2, installed as the first Chancellor of Edo University, Iyamho, and was honoured with a doctorate degree in Business Administration. Funke Olaode, who was at Iyamho, reports
His record of achievements in business and philanthropy is legendary. He has impacted critical sectors like education and health, touching lives and lifting the less privileged. Despite his fortune and philanthropy, Aderemi Makanjuola is noted for his quiet and unassuming manners. On Saturday, November 2, the academic community, friends and family gathered at Iyamho, Edo State to celebrate and honour the rare achiever and humanitarian.
The Caverton boss was appointed as first Chancellor of Edo University, Iyamho and conferred with honorary Doctor of Business Administration during the first convocation of the university, established in 2016 by the administration of Adams Oshiomhole.
The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Emmanuel Aluyor said Makanjuola’s association with the institution was a big boost in the efforts to make the state-owned university world class. He thanked the newly installed chancellor for accepting the challenge.
Similarly, the acting Pro-Chancellor, Professor Emeritus Kimbe Audu, lauded the vision of the founding fathers of the institution in establishing a university that would be a model for the 21th century. Audu said the vision of a centre of excellence was already yielding results in terms of quality education of world standard, which has prompted many parents to enrol their wards in the school. He said he had no doubt that the management will continue to keep the flame of excellence burning.
Responding, Makanjuola expressed delight at his appointment as chancellor of the institution by Governor Godwin Obaseki, saying, “I deeply appreciate this honour done to me.
“You have introduced me into a new hall of fame for which I am most grateful. I learnt about this university and its uniqueness through friends and associates who told me that Edo University, Iyamho is the Harvard, Cambridge and IMT of our time. I was not in doubt of this claim because I know that great things are usually found in the heart, as Heart Beat of the Nation.”
He added: “I see Edo State redefining education in Nigeria. It is with this sense that I accept the offer from His Excellency, Mr. Godwin Obaseki to be the first chancellor of this great institution of higher learning.
“Nigeria has been yearning for this kind of education since independence, but no one was ready to face the challenge and come up with a world class university of this status. I must commend the founding fathers of the university for their foresight in establishing a university that competes favourably with Ivy League universities like Cambridge and Harvard. I must say that EUI’s facilities are among the best in the world.”
Makanjuola commended the management and pioneer graduates, saying, “I am also confident that with the kind of management team in place, facilities, environment and staff, the students and indeed, the pioneer graduands of the university, are set to take over the world with the acquired knowledge.”
He also congratulated their parents for taking the decision to send their children and wards to EUI.
“I am aware that all the programmes in the university have passed through the National Universities Commission assessment and accreditation with a minimum of 82 per cent, far above the NUC benchmark of 70 per cent required for full accreditation status. This is indicative of the fact that the university is blessed with a team of dedicated lectures and administrative staff that are first among equals,” he said.
Makanjuola identified industry-based academic programme as one of the qualities that stood the institution out, saying that it would prepare students and give them an edge in the employment market. He described the university as a centre of entrepreneurship that would equip students with vocational skills. “And with the prize of N5,000,000 to a graduate with the best proposal at the end of this maiden convocation ceremony,” Makanjuola said: “The idea behind the entrepreneurship training in Edo University is that the citadel of learning is not only preparing students for the labour market, but they will become employers of labour.”
Born in Lagos over 70 years ago, Makanjuola started showing traits of leadership early in life. He shone brilliantly among his peers, which earned him the position of senior prefect to provide leadership for his classmates and juniors in secondary school. This provided the springboard for future leadership roles.
A man who sees the future beyond the confines of his environment, Makanjuola proceeded abroad for further studies after his secondary education. Between 1973 and 1976, he was at the University of Leicester, England, where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics with second class upper division. He went ahead to obtained a M.Sc in Management Science.
Makanjuola believes in Nigeria of today, tomorrow and the future. He put his faith in motherland to work when he headed back home in 1978 to fulfil his destiny. He is guided by the philosophy that says “do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
With an experience in the banking sector, which lasted two decades at Union Bank and Devcom Bank, Makanjuola quit in 1999 to pursue a career in business. He began first as a shipping magnate and having succeeded in that area, he went into aviation. Today, Makanjuola has conquered the land, the water and the sky.
His Caverton Helicopters has remained a trailblazer, which has successfully altered the equation in the aviation sector. Caverton Helicopters today owns a fleet of about 35 helicopters, perhaps the highest fleet in sub-Saharan Africa.
A lover of education, the school managed by the Makanjuola family has continued to provide quality education for Nigerians in Lagos.
He has made huge interventions in tertiary education in different parts of the country. From Minna to Offa and Lagos, the 500-seater multipurpose halls he built and donated stand tall. Recently, he donated a multi-million naira Molecular Biology Laboratory to Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASCOM) through his Caverton Foundation.
Those who know Makanjuola say his appointment is an honour well deserved.
Oba Otudeko, a friend of Makanjuola said: “He is person of good character, a man of uprightness, transparency, accountability and a dependable friend. He is positive and constructive and someone who is particular about humanity and society at large.”
On his appointment as chancellor, Otudeko said: “It is a double honour, the university has chosen well because he will bring his wealth of experience which he has used successfully in his career to the helm of affairs of this great institution.
“This is a call to duty, a call to serve and I have no doubt that he will excel in this role. I wish him God’s blessing, longevity, good health to be of service to God, humanity and society at large.”
Sir Alex Onabanjo also commented on the new feather in Makanjuola’s cap, saying, “I am so happy that the university has decided to choose an astute chancellor. I am also grateful to God Almighty for the double honour of first chancellor and the conferment of honorary doctorate degree. The honorary degree happens to be the first to be bestowed. “Makanjoola is a man of humility, thorough, meticulous. He is an honest man. He is a man of the people. We have trust in him that he will do his best to soar the university high. I wish him all the best in this new assignment.”
Another friend of his, Smith, also commended Makanjuola for the honour bestowed on him, saying, “It is an honour well deserved because Makanjuola is a thorough person. It is befitting that the university recognised that kind of person to be at the helms of their affairs. He is a man with a Midas touch and I am not surprised that the university reached out to him to be the chancellor. They have chosen right.
“Apart from this, I am impressed with the university. The infrastructure is excellent for an out-of-town university. I would recommend Nigerians to send their children there. I am sure that is why my friend agreed to this. I wish him good health and long life.”
Adebayo Sarumi said of Makanjuola: “He truly deserves this and much more because of the service he is rendering to humanity. This is a man who believes he doesn’t exist for himself, but for humanity. I have known him for over 15 years and he has been the same man. He loves to reach out and he loves to serve people. He serves God and he is committed to humanity, which is our purpose here on earth.
“This is in recognition of the best he has given to the society. I don’t need to reel out his numerous achievements. My wish for him is that he will live long to eat the fruit of his labour, not only in terms of blessing which God has given him, but also in terms of happiness and everything that matters to him: good health and longevity.”
Makanjuola’s son, Mr. Rotimi has this to say of his father: “I feel very proud and excited because it an honour well deserved.” He described his father as a wonderful, caring and generous man.