It’s very uncommon in Nigeria to see a public office holder enroll in a public school for whatever academic programme.
But this has just happened in Cross River, where the State Governor, Sir Ben Ayade, a Professor of international repute whose work in groundwater remediation led him to invent a sewage treatment plant powered by solar energy is now a student of University of Calabar, Unical.
Ayade who started his primary education at St. Stephens Primary School, Obudu and proceeded to Government Secondary School, Obudu for his secondary education obtained his B.Sc. (Honours) in Microbiology at Ambrose Alli University in Ekpoma, 1988. He proceeded to the University of Ibadan between 1990 – 1994 where he obtained his Ph.D., winning the Best Doctoral Dissertation Award in Environmental Microbiology.
Ayade was appointed a Professor at a very young age. Despite being a Professor, his quest for knowledge didn’t end there. The Governor went further to acquire a Law degree and subsequently proceeded to Law school where he was called to the Nigeria Bar as a Solicitator and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
In 2015, Ayade became the first Professor in the history of Nigeria to be elected Governor.
Even as a Professor and Governor, his unmatched quest for knowledge has again motivated him to enrol in Unical for a Masters Degree (LLM), in the Faculty of Law. This is the first time a serving Governor in Nigeria will be enrolling in a public University in Nigeria for a degree.
As a Governor, there’s no school in the world that he cannot afford but the Governor decided to set the pace at a time Nigeria and indeed West African universities are under attack by telling the whole world that Nigerian universities are still good to have a reputable Professor, an inventor and Governor as Student.
This singular act will not just serve as an endorsement of public schools in Nigeria but will boost the credibility of our tertiary institutions at a time the reputation of varsities is under serious threat.
It’s also worthy of note to add that, Gov. Ayade didn’t just enroll as a student to use his influence to get the degree but has submitted himself to go through the rigorous process of attending Lectures, doing assignments, presenting seminars as other regular students.
This is not just commendable but an act that every public office holder in Nigeria should learn from.
Gov. Ayade has demonstrated high level of faith in our public university and this will go a long way to send a message that if leaders of his standing with all the resources and contacts at his disposal will choose a Nigerian University ahead of others then there’s hope for this country.