MTN Foundation has set up several youth-driven schemes and initiatives, the latest being the launch of the e-library at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), in honour of its Chairman, Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, on his 80th birthday. Ferdinand Ekechukwu reports Any young Nigerian who has passed through a government-owned tertiary institution in Nigeria has experienced one of the maladies that assail the education sector in Nigeria.
Constant strike actions that interrupt the learning experience and libraries lacking up-to-date textbooks are only a few of these experiences. Even a diligent and motivated student forced to learn under these circumstances would be frustrated.
To improve the quality of life and experience of young Nigerians, the MTN Foundation has set up an e-Library at Obafemi Awolowo University, in honour of its Chairman, Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, on his 80th birthday. OAU is Adelusi-Adeluyi’s alma mater.
The foundation was inaugurated in May 2005 with a commitment from MTN Nigeria of up to one percent of its profit after tax as the foundation’s main source of funds.
It was created out of a mission to improve the quality of life in the area of health, education, and economic empowerment. Ten years later, when Adelusi-Adeluyi became the foundation’s chair, it was clear that he was going to bring his wealth of experience to his new position.
He understands the value of youth, health, and education. This has reflected constantly throughout the course of his life and more recently in his role as the chairman of the foundation.
He is a pharmacist and a lawyer. Starting out with pharmacy, he was one of the pioneer students of the Department of Pharmacy at the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University.
Prince Adelusi-Adeluyi passed through the halls of this ivory tower and excelled as a student and a leader, even then, showing signs of the great accomplishments for which he was destined. He combined his education with the many positions he held.
In 1964, he served as the vice president of the International Affairs of the National Union of Nigerian Students (NUNS). Even though by 1965 he had graduated, he did not slow down in his student union activities.
Soon after his graduation, Adelusi-Adeluyi became the secretary-general of the world student body, the International Students Conference (ISC), headquartered in Leiden, Holland.
In his early 20s at the time, he displayed excellence, service, and leadership in his capacity, building student union organizations across Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. In the process, he visited 143 countries and became multilingual.
In an act of bravery and concern for his country, he led a 17-nation delegation to Nigeria during the civil war of 1967 for advocacy and peaceful resolution of the conflict for which he received a special letter of commendation for service to the nation from then-military Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon.
In 1968 Prince Adelusi-Adeluyi was done with his mission in Holland and rested his student leadership hat. He returned to Nigeria to pursue his profession as a pharmacist and in 1970, began building what eventually became JULI PLC.
With painstaking diligence, JULI PLC made history as the first indigenous company to be quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 1986.
About the time, Adelusi-Adeluyi started nursing the desire to have his company quoted on the NSE, he also decided to return to school to study Law. In 1986, he graduated from the University of Lagos with an LL.B degree, and by 1987, emerged as the best graduating student of the Nigerian Law School.
A scholar like Prince Adelusi-Adeluyi with two degrees in different fields of study is a man who understands that it is important for youths to explore the opportunities around them.
It, therefore, comes as no surprise that as part of its investment in youth education and empowerment, the MTN Foundation has completed the renovation of a digital library at OAU to mark its chairman’s 80th birthday.
Adelusi-Adeluyi said, “The infrastructure was donated to enable OAU students to have easy access to books that will broaden their scope of learning.”
Due to the restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the handover ceremony took place at a virtual event on July 30, 2020. The library will herald a new learning experience for OAU students and society, providing a much-needed solution to the lack of learning materials in the country.
Other efforts of the foundation in improving the prospects of the Nigerian youth under the leadership of Prince Adelusi-Adeluyi includes establishing the MTN Scholarship Scheme, which is made up of the MTN Foundation Science and Technology Scholarship Scheme (MTN STSS) and the MTN Scholarship Scheme for Blind Students (MTN SSBS).
Under both scholarships, eligible 300 level students studying science and technology-related courses and blind students studying in public tertiary institutions (universities, polytechnics and colleges of education) across Nigeria are awarded scholarships worth N200, 000.00 annually until graduation as long as they maintain the required grades.
In its continued concern for the youth population in Nigeria, and the scourge of substance abuse, the foundation launched the Anti-Substance Abuse Programme (ASAP), a multi-sectoral platform aimed at promoting awareness on drug abuse and discouraging first-time users.
The MTN Foundation has invested over N22bn in youth empowerment, improvement of healthcare, education, arts and culture in Nigeria.