A former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, who enrolled Tuesday for a Master/PhD in theology at the National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN, said he took on the course to deepen his knowledge of God and serve Him better and not because he aspired to become a pastor.
Mr. Obasanjo, who was speaking after completing his registration at the university’s main study centre in Lagos, also said that by enrolling for a Ph.D, he was out to prove that one’s position or age should not be a barrier for continuous learning.
“Learning should be a continuous process and if you can do it and learn without the formality of a university, all well and good. But I chose to learn and continue to learn by other means and through the discipline and the formality of the university system,” he said.
Mr. Obasanjo said the other reason he decided to enroll at the institution was to display the opportunity the institution provided for those aspiring to get a higher education but unable to get admission into conventional universities.
“I wanted to throw a bit of limelight on this institution; knowing fully well that this country at no time in the foreseeable future would be able to provide built and walled universities for all the Nigerian students who want to have higher education,” he said.
The former president is perhaps the biggest ambassador of the institution. In 2009, he enrolled for a postgraduate diploma in theology at the university and graduated with “flying colours.”
According to the Dean of School of Arts and Social Sciences, David Otubanjo, the number of students that enrolled at the university quadrupled following the former president’s enrollment in 2009.
The Vice Chancellor of the institution, Vincent Tenebe, said the number of enrolled students jumped from 32,000 with 16,000 of them being active students in 2010 to 308,000 enrolled students with 16,000 of them being active in 2014. He said its study centres had grown from 32 to 55 in the same period while the institution’s staff strength grew from 820 in 2010 to 25, 000 in 2014.
“Your intervention in educational development in Nigeria by resuscitating the National Open University, ensuring vigorous development of the institution, enrolling as a student and graduating with flying colours and yet today returning for a higher qualification of PHD can never be over emphasised,” said Mr. Tenebe to Mr. Obasanjo.
The former president called on Nigerians aspiring for higher learning to consider the opportunity provided by NOUN. He said the quality of study at the university was not inferior to conventional universities in the country.
Mr Obasanjo, whose real age is a source of controversy, declined to say how old he was but noted that age should not be hindrance to acquiring knowledge.
“I’ve told my children that when I have difficulty I’d tell them to come and teach me. This proves that there should be no shame in learning and any knowledge that you acquire becomes your own, nobody has to take it away from you,” he said.
The university Vice Chancellor also introduced Mr. Obasanjo to his supervisor, Isaac Ayegboyin, a professor of church history at the Department of Religious Study, University of Ibadan and his assistant, Philip Tachin.
The university also seized the occasion to commission its Centre for Anti-Corruption and Anti-Money Laundering named after the former president.