Chief Obasanjo, who is pursuing a PhD in Christian Theology, was at the university on May 3 to present his PhD research proposal to the Department of Religious Studies, Faculty of Arts, and was received by the VC, the faculty’s Dean, his head of department and other management staff.
The topic of the research proposal is: “Resolving the Unfinished Agenda in Liberation Theology: Reflection on Leadership, Poverty and Underdevelopment in North-eastern Nigeria.”
Authorities of the university said the proposal was thoroughly scrutinised by the faculty before their final nod.
Chief Obasanjo, who the university described as taking his academic work seriously, urged his supervisors not to show him leniency unless he deserves and do well in his academic as he wants his PhD thesis to be comparable to that obtained at any university in the country.
After the presentation of the topic, Chief Obasanjo responded to a series of questions thrown at him by a panel of professors.
Turning to his academic supervisor, Chief Obasanjo, on whose name NOUN’s newly established Good Governance and Development Research Centre was named, urged the supervisor to thoroughly peruse his research work as the standard demands.
He said: “Don’t pass me if I didn’t do well. So, be hard and harsh because they will scrutinise it. If I didn’t do well and you passed me, the blame would be shared.”
Before his presentation of the research proposal, the former president visited the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Abdalla Uba Adamu, where he went down memory lane and explained what motivated him to come back to school.
Narrating how he started as a NOUN student, he said: “The purpose for me (of coming back to study) is to set an example; to show that learning is from cradle to grave. And as long as you are alive, you must learn.
“However, if you want to learn, you must subject yourself to a form of discipline: taking exams, making sure that you go through the rigours of learning and so on.”
He lamented the present inadequacy of universities in the country despite the ever-increasing thirst for tertiary education, stressing that the 153 combined federal, private and state universities were grossly inadequate to meet the education needs of Nigerians.
“That is why this university is very important. The Open and Distance Learning is the answer to that. There is no substitute for it. We have 153 universities with over 200 million population. They are not enough. You (NOUN) are not inferior to any university,” he said.
The ex-Head of State said he enrolled into NOUN to set example and demonstrate the importance of seeking knowledge despite one’s longevity. He also emphasised the importance of Open and Distance Learning mode of education in the country.
He said with the growing population and demand for higher education in Nigeria, there is no substitute for the ODL mode, which NOUN offers.
While welcoming him to the university, Prof. Adamu thanked the former president for giving life to NOUN, as what he preferred to call “resurrection” because NOUN was dead but he resuscitated it and gave it all the support it needed to become what it is today.
The vice-chancellor also acknowledged Chief Obasanjo's display of tolerance by choosing to go back to school after attaining such great height in life which, the VC said, “has always shown that nobody is too big to learn, that you don’t need to study for promotion but for knowledge, nobody is too old to learn and that he is studying just for knowledge sake.”
The VC said for the former president to return to school, his previous records and age
notwithstanding, three points were valuable to note.
“Firstly,” he said, “the former president is back to school despite attaining the highest position in the land; secondly, Obasanjo has shown that age is not a barrier to seeking knowledge and, thirdly, by coming back to seek for his PhD, the former president is back for the sake of knowledge and not for seeking promotion.”
Prof. Adamu said the presence of Chief Obasanjo in the university was enough publicity to show to all Nigerians what NOUN is capable of as an ODL institution that offers flexible, accessible and cheap education to Nigerians.
When him Tuesday, Chief Obasanjo said he had already commenced his research following the approval of his proposal.
“I travelled to Borno yesterday, and I commenced my field work,” he said. “I came back to Abeokuta today. I will be returning there again soon. I want to do a good job. And anything worth doing at all is worth doing well.”