‘We Are Raising Generational Leaders’ – Professor Ola-Rotimi Ajayi, Vice Chancellor

Landmark 2

Professor Ola-Rotimi Ajayi, Vice Chancellor

Going down memory lane, it is four years that Landmark University took off. As pioneer Vice Chancellor, what feelings do you have as the university is about to graduate its first set?

It is a feeling of thanksgiving and appreciation to God that He started this project and has enabled us to come this far. One cannot but give all praise and glory to the Most High God, knowing it could not have been by our own power or might or wisdom.

There is the emphasis on the Total Man Concept at Landmark. Can you explain what this concept means and how well your students have been able to imbibe this concept

The Total Man Concept, (TMC) for short-underlines the development  of a man in relation to his body, soul and spirit. In the world today, particularly in public, conventional universities, the emphasis is on the mental aspect of human development. Even though the statutes of many universities talk about character, but you will agree with me that in many universities the emphasis is more on certificate and less on character. Such education is fundamentally wrong. It is not balanced. And so through the TMC, our focus is to be able to restore the values of the good old days to our education. We believe that a student should not only be found worthy in learning, he should also be found worthy in character. And so, the TMC addresses the development of man in totality – his soul, his body and his spirit. Spirituality is at the core of our values here and we take it very seriously. We are not ashamed to say we are a Jesus Christ-centred university. We are focused on raising generational leaders who will not only be spiritual but also be academic giants.

What is your expectation of these students as they graduate and go into the real world? How will they implement or put into practice those values such as spirituality you have taught them in the outside world?

The bible makes us to understand that the horse is made for battle, but victory is of the Lord. As a university, ours is to prepare, we, however, believe that they will go out there and excel. Based on the knowledge they have acquired here, I have no doubt that a large member of them have fully imbibed the values we have taught and they will do well. Like I said, the TMC programme is to prepare them well for their future. Landmark is not just about academic excellence, it is about spirituality also. For example, we teach them what marriage entails, purely from a spiritual or biblical perspective. Counselling sessions are organised for them. We have health education where we teach them various aspects of their physical or bodily health. We also teach them entrepreneurship through which they acquire entrepreneurial skills so as to be providers of jobs. These are things that we do that make Landmark different from conventional universities. With the type of education we give our students, we believe they will excel when they leave the walls of Landmark. Many of them have been showcasing their talents or entrepreneurial skills in different forms, even before they graduate through the various entrepreneurial fairs we organise. Of recent, we had a fair where students came to showcase their talents in areas of fashion design. I myself couldn’t believe that students of this university could come out with such fashion products. Some of them have musical talents, others have demonstrated great engineering, business skills, different from the courses they are studying. Of course, our dream is that many of them will go out and become big-time farmers. A scheme has been put in place by the proprietors of this institution that anyone of them who desires to set up his or her own farm will not be only be encouraged financially, but other logistics will also be given to such person. If among this graduating set, Landmark can produce 20 big-time farmers, then we will be contributing to the food security of this nation. All these things that we do make Landmark different from conventional universities. So, with the type of education we give our students, we believe they will.

Let us go to the issue of partnership. All over the world, partnership is a tool that drives successful organisations. What partnerships does Landmark have with other agriculture-focussed universities across the world as well as partnerships in other areas?

At the inception, our major emphasis was to look at the major agricultural institutions in Nigeria. We have started from our immediate base here in Kwara State. We looked at Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute in Ilorin, we looked at National Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation, NCAM near Ilorin, we looked at look at NSPI (Nigeria Stored Products Research Institute). We looked at what they were doing and how these can impact what we set out to do. As government agencies, we went out there to also know their challenges with a view to avoiding them. We have robust working relationships with these organisations. Beyond that, we also have a collaborative arrangement with the Lower River Niger Basin Development Authority in Ilorin. They have an irrigated scheme close to us. Our dream at Landmark is to see how we can achieve all-year-round farm harvest, making use of their irrigation facilities. We have entered into an MoU (memorandum of understanding) which will be signed any moment from now. The objective is that Landmark University should be able to take advantage of a thousand hectares of their irrigable land  which be used majorly for food crops. We also have a working relationship with the Nigerian Oil Palm Research Institute in Benin. Our objective is to establish an oil palm plantation. Recently, the proprietors acquired over 269,000 hectares of land here in Kwara State. At least one third of that land will be used for our palm oil plantation scheme. NIFOR is ready to give us their technical expertise as well as the seedlings at reduced costs. We have a linkage or relationship with the Organic Agricultural Institute as well as NIHORT both in Ibadan. These are some of the agricultural institutions we are partnering with in terms of staff-student exchange, research collaborations so that we can achieve our vision.

On the international level, we are working to ensure that our linkage or relationship with Boras University in Sweden is concretised. The same also applies to John Hopkins University in the United States of America. They are also partnering with us. At the inception, we also had a working relationship with Shonghai  Farms in Porto Novo (Benin Republic) under the leadership Revd Father Nzamuje. He was our second matriculation ceremony guest lecturer. The partnership with Shongai is such that it will engender an integrated and mechanised agricultural scheme here at Landmark.

Quote:

‘Spirituality is at the core of our values here and we take it very seriously. We are not ashamed to say we are a Jesus Christ-centred university. We are focused on raising generational leaders who will not only be spiritual but also be academic giants’

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