Undeserving persons, moneybags must not get Varsity honourary degrees – Afe Babalola
Elder Statesman and legal icon, Afe Babalola (SAN), has advised universities against awarding honourary degrees to those who do not merit it, in both characters as well as individual contributions to the nation’s growth and development.
The legal luminary said this on Saturday at the 14th Founders Day celebration, and 11th convocation of Afe Babalola University Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), declaring that only distinguished persons would continue to be recipients of such degrees.
This is just as he advised the Federal government to revisit the large number of new universities it has approved in the last few years and ensure conformity with the rules.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the founder of ABUAD said there was the need to emulate the institution, where honourary degrees are not based on any other considerations than selfless service to society and the nation at large.
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According to him, the award of honourary degrees by the institution is not for the highest bidder and would never be.
He said the choice of the trio of former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Emir of Lafia, Justice Sidi Bage Muhammad Rtd, and the Managing Director of BOVAS Oil and Company Limited, Dr. Victoria Adunola Samson, as the 2023 awardees was in itself instructive, and therefore not by accident.
NAN reports that while Justice Sidi Bage Muhammed 1, Emir of Lafia Bare-Bari, bagged the Degree of Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former Secretary of the Commonwealth, bagged the Degree of Doctor of Letters, D. Lit Honoris Causa, while Dr. Samson, MD, BOVAS and Company Limited, bagged Degree of Doctor of Letters, (D.Lit) Honoria Causa.
He described the trio as “great citizens of the world who have changed the world through their chosen fields”.
“In the beginning, honourary awards were not only very serious, they are also very important and respected, in that they were bestowed only on those who have made significant contributions to academic and learning, and not seen as reward for those who have donated money to Universities.
“They were even viewed as being superior to earned degrees. That was how important they were. But all that would appear to have been bastardized by some universities now.
“The need to protect the sanctity of Nigerian Universities’ honourary degrees, once led to the Keffi Declaration, 2012, of the Association of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, at its 27th Annual Conference, held in Keffi, Nasarrawa State, in Sept. 2012,” he said.
Continuing, Babalola said, “Here in ABUAD, we are in strict compliance with the Keffi Declaration, hence we are in the habit of deliberately choosing only those who wear the toga of our honourary degrees.
“We always look in the direction of how impactful and altruistic our award recipients have been, and how they have positively affected their communities and their world. Our university here only honors men and women of integrity”
On the issue of a large number of universities in the country, Babalola said the only solution to quality education in Nigeria was more of non-profit private universities, which have residential education where all the students live on campus.
He condemned a situation where over 80 percent of students in public universities live off campus, saying they could not have been mentored in learning and character, with a warning that Nigerians should stop deceiving themselves.
At the ceremony, a total of 1,668 students, made up of 1,459 Bachelors and 209 Postgraduate students convocated, while Aransiola Grace Oluwadunsi, became the Overall Best graduating student, with 4.97 CGPA, from Agric Science department, while 141 students had first-class degrees.
In her speech, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Smaranda Olarinde, told the graduands to position themselves, by providing sustainable solutions, not only to Nigeria but also to the SDGs (UNSDGs) that ABUAD is noted and ranked as number 1 in Nigeria for two consecutive years.
Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Biodun Oyebanji, commended Afe Babalola for his promotion of education in Nigeria, and the huge success that his dream had become.
Oyebanji said ABUAD had carved a niche for itself, considering its huge academic standard, emerging as one of the best in Nigeria, in Africa and indeed the whole world.
“ABUAD is second to non in research and industrial development. A place of first choice in Nigeria”
The Governor called on all the graduands to be the solution provider for the numerous challenges in Nigeria and humanity in general.
Personalities at the convocation included the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, many traditional rulers from Ekiti, and those from the Eastern and Northern parts of the country. (NAN)