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Lead City University: The Leap of Success

BY Toyin Falola



In every human’s genetic makeup is the desire to succeed, to excel in their chosen endeavour, and be seen as someone who knows what they want and how to get it. Success, for humans, brings a strong sense of fulfilment and achievement. Yet, this same success is never a happenstance or a fluke. It comes through many things, including the thirst for accomplishments, the will to push even in the lowest moments, the determination to attain the desired heights, and the efforts to boot. And at the heart of all of these things is consistency, the ability to contract energies and maintain concerted efforts, stringing together other traits in a bid to achieve that which one so desires.

For ages, this has been the formula for genuine success. The world, as we have come to know it, is a place of abundance. Whatever endeavour one sets out to do, whatever innovation, enterprise, or conceived idea would have been thought of or even hatched by another person. Of course, there are slight variations, but in the end, it is just a recycling of already attempted or conceived ideas. With this phenomenon comes the reality that success is not easy to come by, as the probability of one succeeding among many other people who have the same ideas and equal or better resources is low. When Prof. Jide Owoeye, celebrated scholar and extraordinary educator, conceived the idea of extending the tentacles and scope of his educational contributions to Nigeria, he knew he would not be the first to grace the scene of private university proprietorship in Nigeria. Madonna, Covenant, Igbinedion, Babcock, and a host of other universities had begun to exist a few years before establishing a private university in the city of Ibadan.

Fifty-seven years after the first university was established in Ibadan —and Nigeria at large — Lead City University, formerly City University, Ibadan, was founded. Stemming from years of educational support and consultancy and the successful management of a standard and quality secondary school, Prof. Jide Owoeye found the need to establish a higher institution of learning. The visionary and his team sought to create an urban learning environment known for excellence and the power to equip those who pass through it with one of the essential skills for thriving rather than just surviving—self-reliance. Founding a university provided Prof. Owoeye and his team with a variety of options: put into practice the ideas and theories of educational development they have worked on; contribute to Nigerian students’ access to qualitative higher education, and pick up the challenge to shake the decay in the nation’s educational system to its roots.

In a country where access to quality education is complex, and a conducive and well-tailored learning environment is even rarer in higher institutions of learning, Lead City University has made its mark as one of the universities committed to ensuring that learners are ready and the environment is also conducive. Since 2005, Lead City University has dedicated itself to this mandate, producing over 5,000 graduates, despite the trials, challenges, and potholes on the path to success. Sometime in 2021, the institution’s license was revoked, followed by the attendant struggle to reclaim the same license.

If there is any lesson to be gained from all of these struggles and trials, it is that the management and administration of Lead City University, year-in-year-out, have learned to make leaps beyond and above potholes, advancing further on the path to victory. Lead City University is like that persecuted faithful who sees the persecution as a source of motivation to persevere and exert more effort. The trials that this institution has faced have more than fueled the leadership’s desire to forge ahead and remain committed to the mandate of providing quality education to Nigerians.

In its sixteen years of existence, Lead City University has not ceased to grow. If anything assures one of Lead City University’s sustainable success, it is the leadership’s ability to continually grow, develop, and make the institution evolve. The Lead City University of today is not the Lead City University of two years ago. The Lead City University I saw some weeks ago is starkly different—and positively so—from the Lead City University I saw in 2012. This ability to constantly grow, evolve, adapt, and adopt makes humans the supreme species on earth. It is one of the surest confirmations of success and attainment, and given the rate at which Lead City University is advancing, there will be no surprise that the institution continues to gain incessant international recognition for its work in academia and contributions to society.

Infrastructure is one of the most fundamental considerations of a higher institution of learning, and in this wise, Lead City University is doing excellently for itself. I am happily surprised by the infrastructural growth rate of this university, which surpasses that of many government-owned universities in the country. Lead City University boasts state-of-the-art facilities that did not come through TETFUND support or other government-assisted funding. Therefore, it is commendable that the leadership continually aims to outdo itself in the structuring and patterning of the university.

In 2021 alone, the university has completed some infrastructural projects like the Camp David 1 – 4, expected to house students; staff quarters for indigenous and expatriate employees; the Faculty of Pharmacy building; and a road project. On the trail of these projects are some other ones that are very well near completion: the College of Medicine building, Exodus Hostel, Hibiscus Hostel, University Dining Café, among others. I am doubly sure that by my next visit to the university, the ongoing projects will have been completed, and there will be new projects in their wake. Such is the uniqueness of Lead City University, an institution whose leadership is consistently seeking the opportunity to grow and thrive. No doubt, Lead City University is indeed leaping in bounds and ever successful, as the “lead” in the institution’s name is to lead, to symbolize Ibadan, the city that leads.

Truly, infrastructures alone do not define success. What of scholarship? Staffing? Opportunities made available to students? And I say, in all of these, Lead City University is not found wanting. Recognizing the need to train employable graduates, the university’s management made it compulsory for all students to gain at least one professional certification before graduation—be it in MS Office, Human Resources, Chartered Accountancy (ICAN), Marketing, but to mention a few. The significance of this, which I hope the students at Lead City University are aware of, is that graduates from this university have an added advantage over their counterparts from other schools. Professional certifications are unlike academic certificates. Professional certifications serve as proof of true competency in the field. So that a student who studied accounting at the university and has an ICAN certification to boot has an advantage over a student who studied accounting without any certifications.

Lead City University gives enough attention to quality teaching, learning, research, and scholarship, so much so that there is a Quality Assurance system in place that ensures that faculty members discharge their duties to the best of their abilities. The university also provides learning facilities and equipment for the betterment of students and the facilitation of learning. This year alone, I have heard about close to a dozen lectures organized by different faculties in the university, not to mention lectures delivered by faculty members at external conferences. The dedication to quality education, teaching, and research has helped this citadel of learning see a substantial increase in the number of annual intakes. To wit, Lead City University ranks well compared to its competitors regarding the number of admitted students. That can be tied to how learners have come to recognize the quality that the institution seeks to give.

A recent feather to the cap of this institution is the accreditation of fifteen academic programs at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels of education. These programs will further expand the institution’s scope and increase its relevance and contributions to higher learning in Nigeria. Furthermore, Lead City University has rightly taken its place as a member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

One of the qualities I look out for in any higher institution of learning is its ability to significantly contribute to and influence the society it belongs to, which many call the Gown-Town relationship. In this aspect, Lead City University does not fall short. The institution has remained committed to putting academic excellence and access to quality education first, far above profit-making. There have continued to be scholarship offers to brilliant but disadvantaged students to pursue a degree in their preferred field of study. The institution’s facilities, such as the dental clinic, also contribute to society.

It is not in my habit to speak of higher institutions of learning, but as the Yoruba people say, bi omo eni ba dara, e je ka wi—if a child is indeed worthy of praise, let us praise him.” Lead City University is worthy of praise, and far be it from me to withhold these praises. From the Chairman, Prof. Jide Owoeye, to the members of the Council; to the Chancellor, Prof. Gabriel Ogunmola; to the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Kabiru Adeyemo; to members of staff and everyone who has keyed into the Lead City University’s vision and is doing their best to advance it, I say, kudos! May the labours continually yield positively bountiful fruits.

  • Prof Falola is University Distinguished Professor at The University of Texas at Austin, USA.




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