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The making of Owo a University town: Unveiling the man behind Achievers University
By TRIANGLE MEDIA
Owo, with deep and rich historical background in Ondo State, arguably one of the most successful towns that has produced more achievers in the history of Ondo State, has been denied several opportunities of being a university community under different governments in the State.
Owo hosted the founding of the pan-Yoruba political party, the Action Group in 1951, led by Premier of Old Western region, late Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Many political pundits have continued to make a case for the recognition of Owo as the political capital of the Southwest considering its position in Yoruba political and cultural history.
First, Owo was denied the opportunity to host the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) sited in the state capital. When it was time for old Ondo State (comprising Ondo and Ekiti) to have its own university, the then Governor of the State late Adekunle Ajasin, an Owo indigene himself, felt that in the name of equity and fairness, the university should be sited in Ekiti, the result of that decision produced the then Ondo State University, Ado-Ekiti, now Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti.
During the time of late Chief Adebayo Adefarati as Ondo Governor between 1999 and 2003, there was a need to establish another state-owned university, since the old one had been allocated to Ekiti State after the creation of Ekiti out of Ondo. Adefarati moved the Adekunle Ajasin University to his hometown in Akungba-Akoko. The decision no doubt must have peeved the people of Owo who felt short-changed by the decisions of successive government to deny them the opportunity of being a university community. No doubt, the benefits a community derive from hosting a university are enormous and cannot be overemphasised.
It is in this light that banker and legal luminary, Dr Bode Ayorinde, took a bold step in 2007 to site his private establishment in Owo to give his people a feel of what it means to be a university host community since it is clear that the dream of hosting a government-owned university may never come to pass in Ondo State. It became clearer that such dream would never see the light of the day with the establishment of the Ondo State University of Science and Technology (OSUSTECH) in Okitipupa by former Governor Olusegun Agagu and the Ondo State University of Medical Sciences (UNIMED) in Ondo town by immediate past Governor Olusegun Mimiko.
Ayorinde, popularly called Achiever by his admirers, described the several incidents of denying Owo a university as painful, not just to him, but also to other patriotic Owo indigenes.
“We (Owo) lost all these opportunities to host a university when lesser towns who were taken bicycles to Owo to make phone calls were already university towns. You must know that Owo as a town was then the most developed and urban town with first in social infrastructural amenities such as telephone lines, pipe-borne water, boreholes, streetlights, motor number plates, asphalted road networks and one of the oldest communities in the Northern division,” he added.
“This year, Owo has celebrated one thousand years of existence as a town. So, Owo was more or less the capital of Ondo North and a senior to both Ado-Ekiti and Akure. This is the story of Owo. You could see how painful it was for the town to have lost all the chances to be a university town after the long wait.”
Ayorinde made up his mind with a determination to bring succour to his people, he wasn’t going to let government’s choice weigh him down.
“So, when God started answering my prayer and put it on my mind to establish the first private university in the whole of Ondo and Ekiti states, I proudly brought the university to my hometown became Owo has lost chances to host a university for four times and I so determined to break the jinx,” he said.
He could have established the university in Ibadan, Oyo State where he already had flourishing educational institutions like the Achievers High School and Achievers Professional Institute that later gave birth to Achievers University, Owo (AUO), but he chose to bring it home where it will add more value to his people.
“I brought Achievers University from Ibadan where it can quickly blossom because of rapid urbanisation, to Owo because Owo as a kingdom with nine beaded crowned kings lost four chances to host a university,” he says.
This level of patriotism to one’s hometown is rare, who places kinsmen’s interest above business interest? Well, Ayorinde did and he is not regretting the decision he took 12 years ago.
Over the years, success stories have been pouring in from the institution. Achievers University prides itself as the first private university in Ondo state and one of the top ten private universities in Nigeria with 22 programs and courses all approved and fully accredited by both the Federal Ministry of Education and the National Universities Commission (NUC).
“We are happy that in a couple of days, we shall have the combined convocation of the 8th and 9th sets of graduands. Currently, we are working on our College of Medicine and Health Sciences which will soon kick-off. We have faculties of Law and Social Sciences, Engineering Applied Sciences, Nursing and Medical Laboratory Science. We have all these courses and enjoyed stabilized management. Our first Vice-chancellor has completed a term of six years. Our projection for the varsity at fifteen tagged Vision 12-2023 is a twelve points agenda which are: 1, Full accreditation of all programmes of study. 2. Abolition of arrears of salaries. 3. Comprehensive fencing of the perimeter fence of the university. 4. Full accomodation of all students in the university campus. 5. Staff quarters for 100 staff in permanent site. 6. Functional sports center in permanentsite. 7. Production of healthy University water, bread and confectionaries in campus. 8. Comprehensive tarring of the University internal roads network. 9. Full departmental offices segregation. 10. Standardization of the University health centre. 11. Campus beautifucation ( flowers and electricity). 12. University comprehensive water scheme.” He said in a recent interview where he spoke glowingly about the successes of the university.
There is nothing stopping Ayorinde, he has got his hands on the plough, there is no looking back.
It may be difficult to pick one part of his life to describe him, call him a teacher, he trained as one. A banker and accountant, Ayorinde is eminently qualified, he holds degrees in Banking and Finance and qualified as a chartered banker before becoming a chartered accountant. As if that was not enough, a man with a burning passion for knowledge never gets satisfied with huge academic success, they always thirst for more. He returned to the classroom again to study law up to Ph.D. level. Wow! You may have exclaimed.
Above all these, his business focus has been strictly education-based, while not jettisoning his career as a practising lawyer, Ayorinde, aside being a lecturer at University of Abuja and also a constant lecturer in the lecturerooms at Achievers University where he is also the Pro-chancellor and Chairman of governing council; he won’t miss any court proceedings where he is advocating for his clients. And when the time to play politics is here, he is also in the forefront with the large crowd of supporters, politicking and canvassing for votes as candidate and party leader.
He further explained: “My business is a hundred percent education, but I don’t work here (Achievers University), and if you go to Achievers High School in Ibadan, I don’t work there either. My profession is law, that is why you see me on Monday morning in court to take cases before their lordships on behalf of my clients. So I practice commercial law and arbitration as a professional lawyer. I have also worked as an accountant in a commercial bank. I have been a politician in my polytechnics day as a student unionist and everywhere I have worked, I have been part of the workers’ union leaders in my days in Cooperative Bank. So, permit me to describe myself as someone with politics running in his blood.”
He would later dip his toe into politics to represent Owo/Ose Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives under the All Progressives Congress (APC) between 2015 and 2019 before joining the PDP in 2018 after he was forced out of the APC.
During his highly impactful stay at the Green Chamber, one very remarkable project among the several projects Ayorinde attracted to his constituency is the construction and asphalt overlay of the 2.9 km Idasen-Ute road which leads to the university and other communities. It is not just serving the university; it has been highly beneficial to other communities.