It’s been two decades of unprecedented breakthroughs — Covenant University VC – Punch Newspapers

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Covenant University will be celebrating its 20th anniversary on October 21, 2022. In this interview, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Abiodun Adebayo, tells GRACE EDEMA about the attainment of the CU’s Vision 10:2022
Ten years ago, Covenant University had some visions to be attained in 2022 called Vision 10:2022  … has the school achieved them?
I would like to mention that Covenant University’s vision is a prophetic mandate delivered by the Chancellor and Chairman of the Board of Regents, Dr David Oyedepo.
The vision, which was delivered at the 10th anniversary of the university, held on October 21, 2012, was to get the university listed among the top 10 universities in the world within the next 10 years. It was a very tall order, a tall vision but we believed in the ability of God to make it possible.

As you know, we have seven core values, one of which is spirituality, that is, believing in God. We also believe in the possibility mentality. Everything is possible. This mandate means, first and foremost, that we believe in God’s absolute possibility and that nothing is impossible with God. We then set out to look at what it takes for the internationalisation of our university. How do we get listed among world-class universities?
At that time, Covenant University had no presence in the world. We were making waves within Nigeria, and we now need to break into the global scene. Then an eight-point agenda was conceived to drive this vision, having looked at the parameters to get universities listed among the world’s universities. We looked at the Academic Ranking of World Universities; Shanghai Jiao Tong Academic Ranking of World Universities, Times Higher Education World Universities Rankings and others. On our own, we had to look at what we needed to do.
While the first phase of this mandate emphasised on creating an enabling environment and infrastructure for us to be able to drive this Vision 2022, the second and third phases focused on enhancing our research profile in the university – that is, in teaching, research, citation, internationalisation, and industry income, which are key parameters that help to drive this ranking and to get listed.

On September 26, 2018, I think six years into that vision, in the ranking of prestigious world higher institutions, Covenant University was one of those universities. At that time, Covenant was ranked between 601 and 800 brackets and became the best university in Nigeria and, by extension, even in West Africa.
In 2020 of world ranking universities, Covenant was ranked as the sixth best university, as we were jointly ranked among some other universities in the continent. If you look at that, you will see that it is a very big one for Nigeria, and in the most recent Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Covenant University is still within that bracket, 601 to 800.
In 2020, Covenant was also ranked among the top 500 universities in the world and it was also listed as number four in Africa. I want to say that Covenant University has been consistently ranked among the world’s universities, not that we are alone ranked among economists universities. If you look at the rankings, Covenant University is highly ranked there with five subject rankings, particularly in Computer Science, Business, Social Science, Physical Science, and Engineering. As of today, Covenant University is leading in Nigeria in this ranking.
And in computer science specifically, it’s the only university that is ranked in the Times Higher University because we have been in that ranking for about two–three years now.
Again, look at the impact ranking, which looks at how universities have been able to address the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Covenant University has been in that ranking for about 4 to 5 years now. The latest one that came, Covenant University was top within the brackets of 301 to 400 globally, that is the Times Higher Education Impact Ranking.
And if you look at that ranking, Covenant University is number one, jointly ranked with Afe Babalola University. Last year, Covenant University was number one and was followed by the University of Ibadan. And consistently, two or three years ago, we were also in that ranking.
Even in the ranking of young universities, you can look at how Covenant University has been. All glory be to God because He has helped us to get to where we are today. Let me also say that Covenant University has become a pride for Africa and Nigeria.

And if you look at what Covenant University is set out to do, it’s to raise a new generation of leaders that will help to rebuild the broken walls of Africa and to emancipate Africa. To a great extent, all of these rankings have helped in fulfilling our vision as a university. Covenant University has continued to grow in leaps and bounds. Nobody ever believed that Covenant University would be where it is.
Elsevier Scopus ranked our publications as nearly six thousand in terms of journals, in terms of abstracts, and books. Our citation count is over 31 thousand, and our authors are 2,773, and these have affected our global ranking. Glory be to God.
In 2002, God asked the Chancellor of the university to hand over the university to him. I recall when the licence of the university was given by the National Universities Commission, the Chancellor went into his hotel room and asked God, “Is it your university?” Otherwise, we have no business running this university and God told him, “It is I.”
What were the challenges to making these goals a reality?

Challenges will only bring out the best in anyone. You cannot become a champion if you don’t face any challenge. The first question was how to get our faculty and staff to buy into this vision.
Another challenge was the mockery from several people, saying this is not the church. How can a Christian university be listed as one of the best? But we were not deterred because we believed in the vision. We were able to instill this into our faculty. Again, getting the calibre of faculties will also help. Even though it was a tough order, we thank God for where He has taken us today. And it can only keep getting better and better.
Why is it important to set such goals?

It was the chancellor who said living without a goal is to live like a goat. And when you don’t have a goal, life definitely becomes meaningless. And the Holy Book says that when there are no visions, the people perish. Universities must begin to operate with a vision.
Assuming that Covenant University has no vision, we will just be operating the same way every other university is operating. Whatever comes, you take it. So, the vision has helped every one of us to drive headlong.
My admonition to every university is to have a long-term vision and equally have a short-term vision. And let there be time allotted for it, which should be marked and backed up with actions.
Our long-term vision is to raise a new generation of leaders. And if you look at all the rankings, especially in Nigeria, you will see Covenant University at the top. In Nigeria, Covenant University has consistently been ranked second after the University of Ibadan. About 4 or 5 years ago, Covenant University came in at number one. Universities would be growing in darkness if there were no visions to back up what we do. It is good to have strategic goals, which is also the vision we are talking about now because this will help define organisational goals and organisational destinations. And the kind of resources required will also help to drive the vision. You can be sure that there will be focus and effectiveness in service delivery.
What are the lessons learnt so far over the last 20 years?
Setting up a university that will have a global brand is really hard work. Our 2020 vision was to be a leading world-class university and raise a new generation of leaders in all fields of human endeavour. Another thing driving the university is the “contribution mentality.” All of this is contained within our seven core values: spirituality, possibility, capacity, integrity, diligence, and sacrifice. This evolved from the contributor mindset.
Our core values at the university define our core values for excellence, which is what makes life meaningful and purposeful. These core values have been crucial to the university. Building a global brand takes a lot, which takes the commitment and zealousness of the chancellor. He has invested so much of his time and everything in making sure Covenant University is in the front. You don’t set up the university and go and sleep. It’s all about engaging actively. It’s all about being consistent and consistently consistent. The beauty of it is that you can maintain your status. If you find yourself in the university system today, it is being able to sustain it that matters.

What kind of candidate should Nigerians look out for when voting in the 2023 elections?
I think Nigerians have been deceived for too long. Nigerians should go out and vote for credible candidates. We know them; let’s look at their antecedents. What have they done in the past, in the little leadership positions they were in before aspiring for the next position? We know these people, character-wise. First is capacity-building with skills, because you cannot give what you don’t have. A leader must develop himself; he must understand what it takes to become a leader. He must have the prerequisite knowledge and background of the Nigerian system.
Whether it’s a state, national assembly, or whatever, we must have what it takes to rule. Again, we must vote for credible candidates who speak the truth. People with a conscience; people who have people at heart, irrespective of their ethnic background, or otherwise, let’s ensure that we bring in credible leaders, who are not corrupt.
The challenge Nigeria is having today is a result of corruption and bad leadership. I will resign as president if I see that things are not working very well. If, for instance, I’m elected as a governor or local government chairman, it’s better I just go if I cannot provide the needed leadership for my people. These are the people we need—people who really have the heart to make a difference. These are leaders who have the hearts to lift people out of poverty; leaders who can create jobs; and leaders who can improve the quality of our education.
Again, let’s look at what they have done before and see the promises they have fulfilled. They can be in the corporate world and now go into politics; let’s check them. Nigerians should not vote for leaders who are unpatriotic or corrupt.
What are the celebration plans?
We thank God that it is indeed 20 years of ‘sweatless’ triumph for us as a university, of the faithfulness of God for us, and two decades of unprecedented breakthroughs and great strides that God has helped us to achieve. It is to celebrate the faithfulness of God.

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