Afe Babalola: How ABUAD Sustained Best Nigerian University Position for Three Years

Gbenga Sodeinde in Ado Ekiti 

The founder and Chancellor of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), Aare Afe Babalola (SAN), has revealed how the university has continued to stand out since it was ranked the Best Nigerian University three years ago and is maintaining its status as the Best University in Nigeria for the third time.

ABUAD was the Best Nigerian University in 2022 and 2023, and for the third time, in 2024, it emerged as the first university globally for SDG 7 on Affordable and Clean Energy, Outreach Programmes, with 98 per cent, and Stewardship Programmes, with 98.2 per cent.

Babalola revealed that the university was able to sustain national and global excellence because of the quality of graduates it produced through impactful education and training, which is not only for degrees but also in character and industrious moulding.

The legal icon, and a former two-term pro-chancellor of the University of Lagos, stated this while briefing journalists on the ranking of the university as number one in the world for Sustainable Development Goal SDG 7 and number one in Nigeria for three consecutive years in 2022, 2023 and 2024, attributed the rise in the ranking of ABUAD.

He attributed the feat to its quality curriculum and stable and predictable academic calendar.

Babalola said, “We are here today to share some good news for the third consecutive year. Part of it is that our 15-year-old university has again been ranked as the number one university in Nigeria and number 142 in education generally in the world. The above notwithstanding, our ranking position has changed significantly. The reason is because this year, our ranking has gone beyond the shores of Nigeria and, now gone global.”

He added, “This result constitutes a challenge to all Nigerians, particularly our universities. We are all aware of the economic doldrum that the country is battling with. I must stress that education is the panacea to all the ignorance, extremism, poverty, religious bigotry and tribalism among other problems, confronting the country.”

He explained that it “is my conviction that if people can emulate the type of complete and innovative education system, hard work, honesty, and faith exhibited in ABUAD, Nigeria would have been better for it,” encouraging his staff to see “our current ranking as a call to duty, so that apart from remaining number next year, we will be number one in other areas, and number one globally in everything.”

Corroborating Babalola in an interview, the Vice-Chancellor of ABUAD, Prof. Smaranda Olarinde, commended him for deploying his hard-earned resources in championing the needed revolution in the education sector with the establishment of the university.

Olarinde, who had just clocked their second year in office as VC after acting for three years, said the institution’s management and staff would continue to justify Babalola’s huge investment by working harder towards making the institution one of the best 100 in the world.

She said it would be a disservice for any higher educational institution, as endowed as the country is, to produce regular graduates.

“In ABUAD, our role in the educational sector in the country and in Africa is to transform the entire educational system.  It is the belief of our founder that you do not transform something by doing everything the usual way,” Olarinde stressed. “Olarindeyou can only transform something by doing things the excellent and the uncommon way.

“We at ABUAD have achieved this enviable level of national and global excellence because of the quality of graduates we turn out through  impactful education and training, not only for degrees but also in character and industrious moulding.”

She added, “We commenced academic operations at ABUAD approximately 15 years ago. In those short 15 years, we rose from nothing to being continually ranked high by the global body, the Times Higher Education Impact Ranking, and even agencies of government in Nigeria.”

According to her, out of thousands of qualified universities globally, ABUAD has always effectively come ahead of several other universities, both in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the United States. We are just starting.

Olarinde pointed out that in a few years, “we shall be talking of ABUAD being in the top 100 universities globally,” vowing not to rest “until we have achieved this goal.”

Olarinde, a former head of Department, of Public International Law at the University of Ibadan, and Dean of Law Faculty at ABUAD, described as a great challenge and unique call to service, her current position as a female Chief Executive Officer of the university, promising to continue to use her wealth of experience to deliver on the responsibilities attached to her office.

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