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Varsities Talk: Be careful, private universities can fold up (2)

Continues from last week

By Dele Sobowale

Fortunately for the C&S churches, Mose Ori-molade died before the arrival of private universities. The same can be said of the Celestial Church of Christ under Oshoffa and the Aladura Church under Ositelu. But virtually all these churches broke up into splinter groups after the founder died. At least, none went beyond the immediate successor before breaking into factions.

Winners is still led by the founder. So, it has not yet experienced the problems of succession which have characterized such huge financial empires. It has a university. The most troubling question is: what happens after the founder passes on? After all, everybody must die – whether man of God or not. And, anywhere there is enormous wealth to fight about, people will fight over its control.

Nothing in the Holy Books argues against that. Since division is inevitable, the next question is: what happens to the university jointly established by the “faithful” and will the successor to the original founder inherit the visions and the zeal which got it established in the first instance or will they go off in a different direction? Furthermore, in the case of a break-up of the church, who will inherit the university and will the support provided by the whole church still be available?

There are literally thousands of questions which one can ask with respect to the future of faith-based universities which have been established by one man. It is clear enough what happens when the battle for control of bank accounts starts and when management of key assets are being disputed. But a university is not a building you can lock up for three years while the issue of leadership and control is being sorted out in the courts of law. It must function everyday or die within months.

To a great extent, what is true of the Christian faith-based universities is also true of the Muslim universities. The best example, (there are few to chose from) so for convenience, let us start from Crescent University in Abeokuta, Ogun State. The Prime mover is Prince (Alhaji) Bola Ajibola, former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, former Federal Minister for Justice and Attorney-General; former World Court Justice, etc, etc..

He belongs to one of the three original Muslim sects in Nigeria – Ahmaddiya, Ansar-U-Deen, and Zumratul (forgive me if the spellings are incorrect on any of those). But as with Christians, other Islamic sects have risen to challenge the mainline sects mentioned above. Irrespective of which of the sects establishes a university now, banking on the financial prowess of the founding fathers and mothers, the question of sustainability for 10,20, 50, or 100 years must be answered.

Otherwise, we are only establishing universities which might not outlast their founders. Then what? Neither the Federal Ministry of Education, nor the NUC, had, to the best of my knowledge, addressed this problem.




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