1st Matriculation Ceremony by decree


									                    Covenant University
                1st Matriculation Ceremony
                             An Address delivered by the Chancellor,
                                   Dr. David O. Oyedepo
                            at Canaan land Ota on 31st January 2003

Acknowledgment of dignitaries present.

Honour to God
It is my great honour and privilege to welcome you in the name of
Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour who also is the eternal head of
Covenant University, to its First Matriculation ceremony. My prime
and utmost gratitude is to this God who upholds all things by the word
of His power; who opens and no one shuts and shuts and no one

To Him alone be all the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

My address on this historic occasion will seek to answer three main
questions. First, why are we involved? Secondly, what do we have to
offer? And thirdly, how do we hope to fulfill this vision?

Modern Education in Nigeria – An Historical Perspective
History, I believe has proved to be the most valid guide apart from the
Holy Spirit in the adventure of life. I have often said, only a prodigal
generation has no regard for history. The Bible itself asserts this fact
when it says “Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old
paths, and walk in it” (Jer. 6:16 paraphrased).
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Again, it says in Hebrews 6:12 “…be not slothful, but followers of
them who through faith and patience inherit the promises”.

I want to seize this opportunity to explore in brief the beginning of
modern education in Nigeria and how it relates to the advent of

The History of education in Nigeria and indeed the world over can
never start or end outside the advent and advance of Christianity.

The first known school in Nigeria was established by Mr. and Mrs.
de Graft in Badagry in 1843 and the school was named “Nursery of
the Infant Church”.

Though the Methodists established the first “School” in Nigeria, it
was the CMS mission that made the most important early
contributions. They had by 1845 established 2 schools in Badagry
before proceeding to Abeokuta.

Samuel Ajayi Crowther, the foremost indigenous educationist,
missionary and nationalist opened the first school in Eastern Nigeria
in Onitsha in 1856. The school was for girls ages 6-10.

Though the primary objective of the early Christian Missionaries was
conversion, functional literacy was the essence of the established

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The year 1842 – 1882 was marked by intensive missionary activity.
The colonial government left the educational activity absolutely to
the missions and that era is notifiably termed the era of exclusive
Christian missionary education especially in Southern Nigeria.

The educational expansion programme of the churches was on the
increase up to 1929. Without doubt, the missions had good hold on
their objectives for setting up the institutions.

Vocational training was for instance added to the educational
programme. At Abeokuta for example, and later at Onitsha, Lokoja
and Calabar, agriculture, carpentry brick laying, ginnery were
encouraged by the CMS, the Church of Scotland and other missions.

In Topo, near Badagry, the famous Topo Industrial School for
Delinquent Children was established in 1876 by the Roman Catholic

To achieve these educational development objectives, the mission‟s
like CMS, Methodists set up management boards to help regulate
curriculum, teachers‟ salaries and conduct.

Though by 1925, the British Government had for the first time clearly
defined education policy, the hold of the Christian missions on the
educational development of Nigeria was not on a decline as they
continued opening more schools while colonial government‟s efforts
were rather concentrated on making some significant though irregular
assistance to some of the missions in their educational work.
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By 1912, there were 59 government primary schools.

In 1909, the first government secondary school – Kings‟ College was
founded in Lagos. That was exactly 50 years after the first missionary
secondary school (CMS Grammar School) was established in 1859.

Other missionary secondary schools established before the end of 19th
century were:

( i)     Saint Gregory College, Lagos (RCM)          - 1876

ii)      Methodist Boys/Girls High School (Methodist) - 1878/1879

(iii) Baptist Boys High School (Baptist)             - 1885

(iv) Hope Wadell Institute, Calabar                  - 1893

By 1922, total government and assisted schools were 195 with a
population of 28,000 while unassisted which were largely mission
schools were 2,432 with a population of 122,000.

By the 20th century the advancement in contribution to education
became overwhelming as was beyond the “big four” (i.e. the
Methodist, the CMS, the Baptists, the Roman Catholics) as many
other missions were born and there was an explosion of both primary
and secondary education in Nigeria.

It was these education explosions that is largely responsible for the
move towards Nigerian Independence and to a larger extent the
economic growth and development the nation in the past decades.

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The Evolution of Higher Education

However, between 1930 – 1950 due to accentuated demand by the
people for more educational facilities, there was an historic expansion
in education. This explosion was in spite of the worldwide
depressions of 1929 – 1935, the Second World War between 1930 -
1950 and the Nigerian Nationalist Movement which spanned the
period and led to self government and independence between 1952
and 1960.

It is consequently appropriate to briefly trace here the development of
Nigerian higher education which was firmly established during this

The Fourah Bay College which has played a pioneer and conspicuous
role in the history of higher education in West Africa was founded in
1827 by the Church Missionary Society to “train ministers, teachers,
and lay workers for the church.”

The institution more than any other in or out of West Africa is known
to have opened the way to higher education for students, not only in
Nigeria but also from all former British colonies.

The college is known not only to have produced scores of West
African clergymen, school principals, teachers and civil servants,
from Bishop S. A. Crowther, its first Nigerian graduate (who also
acted as its principal several times), Nigerian graduates of the college
continue to occupy influential positions in Nigeria!          From its

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inception till 1950 (over 100 years) more than 50% of the student‟s
population were said to be Nigerians.

Therefore, following the trend of history, the present wave of mission
involvement in promoting higher education can be easily understood -
That was where it all began from!

This is due to the service-oriented nature of the Christian mission
which is much more committed to investing into lives than the quest
for financial returns which is the driving force of the business sector.
I therefore believe that Christian missions will be increasingly
involved in contributing to the educational development of our great

As the pressure for higher education opportunity mounted, the Elliot‟s
Commission was set up and while submitting its report in 1943
recommended establishment of Ibadan University College which
started in 1948.

Admission was strictly contingent on job vacancy and its entrance
standard was known to be considerably higher than that required by
Cambridge School Certificate.

The First indigenous administrative machinery to examine higher
education in Nigeria was the Ashby Commission Report issued in
October 1960.

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Apart from its liberal recommendation on the establishment of higher
education in Nigeria, it also recommended that “the new Nigerian
Universities should be independent of one another and each should
confer its own degrees.”

The Private Sector Initiative in University Education

The demand for private initiative in University education surged from
the fountain of the liberal provision of the 1979 constitution, which
empowered private individuals to open Universities.

The expression was most noticeable in the Eastern part of the
country especially as the constitution or the administration or
control by the government did not set up minimum standards. They
therefore became objects of educational ridicule in terms of
facilities and programmes.

The military government therefore addressed this by December1983
when it closed them by fiat, closing also 4 of government Universities
and merging them with older ones which were though reopened as
autonomous in 1988.

So by 1990 there were 22 Federal Universities and 8 State
Universities, six degree-awarding Colleges of Education. By today,
there are 24 Federal Universities 15 State Universities and 7 Private

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The Founding Philosophy of Covenant University

In response to the global demand for a needed departure from
dogmatism to dynamism in the existing educational system, the
Covenant University is built on this philosophical platform:

        A departure from „Form‟ to „Skill‟
        A departure from „knowledge‟ to „empowerment‟
        A departure from „figures‟ to „future-building‟
        A departure from „legalism‟ to „realism‟
        A departure from „points‟ to „facts‟
        A departure from „mathe-matics‟ to „life-matics‟.

This is what informs our motto “Promoting Mental Productivity”.
The Question Then Is; Where Are We Now As A Nation?

The fall out of every spiritual awakening is a socio-economic revolution as
authenticated by the trend of history.

Beginning in the mid 70s, a spiritual revival broke out here in Nigeria
beginning among the students of higher institutions, which later began to
overflow into the cities and towns resulting in tens of thousand of thriving
fellowships and churches.

The All Nations Disciples of Christ led by J. K. Solomon of Ibadan, began
training men in evangelism which led to unprecedented conversion of
souls in the 70s.

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Then came in, the renewal wave of Deeper Life Ministries led by Williams
F. Kumuyi. This led to the establishment of large Bible study groups in the
late 70s which saw multitudes renew their commitment to Christ before it
metamorphosed into the Deeper Life Bible Church. Its headquarters
church rose to become the 4th largest congregation in the world with about
70,000 membership.

In the early 80s, the fall out of the awakening in the campuses could be said
to have led to the establishment of Charismatic churches such as Christ
Chapel, led by Chris Tunde Joda; Living Faith Church Worldwide a.k.a.
Winners’ Chapel, led by David Oyedepo; Sword of The Spirit, led by Francis
Wale Oke; Scripture Pasture, led by Olubi Johnson, to mention a few of the
tens of thousand of such Charismatic Bible-believing Churches, leading to
the salvation and establishment of the faith of millions of men and women
since the early 80s when this wave began and this has continued to grow in
strength up till now.

Towards the close of the 80s, one of the old Pentecostal Churches, The
Redeemed Christian Church of God under its new leadership began to
experience a revival. This led to the establishment of hundreds of branches
called parishes and their monthly meetings have continued to attract
multiplied thousands. This eventually culminated in the largest human
gathering in the world as widely reported of the Lekki ‟98 event which
held in December of that year, led by Enoch Adejare Adeboye – the
General Overseer of that mission.

Evangelistic efforts also climaxed during the period under review. 1985
saw the largest crusade attendance estimated at one million people at
Tafawa Balewa Square in Lagos, led by the late Benson Idahosa.

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Other missionary Evangelists like T. L. Osborn, Reinhard Bonnke and
many others had great evangelistic feats here in Nigeria.

The new wave churches by and large have been the vogue among the
Nigerian populace – lots of chapels, centres, churches, sanctuaries,
tabernacles, name it !

It is therefore obvious that Nigeria has been experiencing a most unique
wave of spiritual awakening for upward of 20 years now.

Therefore, following the trend of history, Nigeria is overripe for a socio-
economic revolution. It is this foresight that justifies the establishment of
Covenant University, which seeks mainly to train Experts Managers of
the forth-coming socio-economic wave in the country.

In modern history, technological breakthrough in Europe was an aftermath
of the Martin Luther reformation crusade, which made Europe the centre
of civilization in the World. Subsequently, a wave of spiritual revival arose
in America in the later part of the 20th century, which resulted in a surge in
scientific discoveries the effect of which changed the course of human

Few years late, there was a decline in spiritual fervency in America. This
brought about an economic depression in the nation. It took another wave
of spiritual awakening called the healing revival to bail the nation out. It
was this awakening that culminated in the microchip technology
revolution believed to be largely responsible for their present political,
technological, industrial and economic status.

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Another notable historical growth experience is that of South Korea which
in 1945, was said to have a population of 24million and only 400,000 or
1.6% of that population were Christians. The per capita income of the
country then was $50. And she was obviously considered as one of the
poorest countries in the world.

Only 40 years later that is by 1985 South Korea had a population of
48million with 12million, which by then had become 25% of the entire
population. The per capita income of the country had gone up to $7,000
making South Korea the 13th on the list of the industrialized nations of the
world. All of these point to the positive influence of the Christian faith.

It is believed that for the next many decades, Nigeria will continue to
enjoy socio-economic development, which this profound awakening is
about to birth.

Contemporary Case Studies In Church Involvement

There is perhaps no better way to prove the above assertions than to
study the cases of universities all over the world that had worked by
the elicited perspective.                      It particularly instructive to look to
understand the purpose and influence of higher education in the
American nation.

For example, Christians started the first 150 colleges in America and
they were all founded on very strong biblical principles. It should
therefore not become a surprise that the nation enjoyed rich Christian
heritage that built such a huge human capital for her as education and

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Christianity went together like hand in a glove. Many of American
founding fathers were graduates of these Christian universities. This
experience was consequently and lavishly reflected in the American
constitution with effects that had generated deep ripples across
decades and generations until the percolation of secular humanism.

Should you not have wondered why Greek intellectualism, which
came much earlier before America discovered the power of
knowledge and gave birth to great philosophers like Socrates,
Aristotle, and Plato, has much less positive influence of knowledge
and technological identity. Whenever Biblical background is missing,
education can not be profitable. Have you thought about the fact that
most of the mind boggling inventions of all times were by ordinary
men who were committed thinkers and who had rob their little minds
with that of the only wise God? For the Lord by wisdom hath
founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens
(Prov. 3:19).

Let Us Take A Short Tour Of Some Of Those University.

1.       Harvard University (oldest institution of higher learning in
         the US – 366 years old).

         -       Established 1642 – (the first new academic building was
                 completed in 1644).

         -       Original establishment purpose: To advance learning and
                 perpetuate it to posterity: dreading to leave an illiterate
                 ministry to the churches.
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         -       Leadership: the first non-clergy president was elected in
                 1708 i.e. 166 years after its establishment.

         -       Christian culture. Harvard made it a basic rule for learning
                 that every student must understand that the knowledge of
                 God and Jesus Christ is the only foundation for all sound
                 knowledge and learning.

2.       Duke University
         -       Established 1838 (165 years).        The Leader Craven, a
                 licensed and an ordained minister got the college
                 rechartered and to award degree in 1853.
         -       Culture: At some time in her history the trustees agreed to
                 provide free education for Methodist preachers in return for
                 financial support from the church.
         -       The school‟s motto – “Knowledge and religion”
         -       Leadership - the sequence of ministers who served as
                 presidents‟ of the university underscores the institution‟s,
                 attachment to a godly foundation.

3.       Yale University
         -       Established 1701 (301 years).        The institution is also
                 founded on Christian doctrine and actually instructed her
                 students to obtain the clearest conception of divine things
                 and enforced concrete regulations to lead them to a saving
                 knowledge of God in His son Jesus Christ.

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4.       Stanford University
         -       An historic university which opened its doors on 1st October
                 1891 after 6 years of planning by Mr. & Mrs. L. Stanford.
                 This couple founded a university that broke from the
                 classical tradition of higher learning.

Other American institutions that excelled by Christian foundation are
Princeton University which demanded that every student attend
worship in the College Hall morning and evening at the hours
appointed and that they must behave with gravity and reverence
during service. It was also mandatory for every student to attend
Sunday service.

Similarly, Columbia University would not accept any student that
could not render in English the gospel from Greek.

All of these universities never shifted on their Christian values and
standards. This can be seen in their rules, regulations and even staff
constitutions. It is instructive that America today owes her sustaining
values to these institutions.

What is more, this Christian institutions with unwavering
commitment to Biblical principles are also the leading universities in
the world today.

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The Ten Top Universities in the USA –           US News 2003

 Rank           University
 1              Princeton University
 2              Harvard University
 3              Yale University
 4              California Institute of Technology
 5              Massachusetts Institute of Technology
 6              Stanford University
 7              University of Pennsylvania
 8              Duke University
 9              Dartmouth College
 10             Columbia University

Leading A Revolution In Education

Every revolution is a product of a reaction. What are we reacting to? If the
point of reaction is not clear, objectivity will not be defined.

We are reacting to the mental development of the average Nigerian
University graduate. He is politically independent, socially free but still
mentally colonized!

He craves mental independence restlessly. This young man wants to be
productive and contributive but has not been adequately mentally equipped
to deliver.

He has been for years through school but has not much to show for it – the
present training concept must be obviously faulty!

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His curiosity about the uncertainty of life has driven him to cults and into
drugs. Mental laxity I consider is the base line for these ignoble acts.

This is why Covenant University is leading a revolution in education.

A revolution is much more committed to mission than to persons.

A revolution is much more committed to tasks than to titles.
Revolutionaries are more committed to the demands of their tasks
than to their comforts. Covenant University is the epitome of the
revolution we want to birth in the nation.

A revolution calls for creators and inventors. A revolution responds
to demands. We will go the extra mile. To be a leader means to see
ahead, to go ahead, and to prove it by taking on extra load.

This revolutionary necessity is the reason for our commitment to a
departure from every imprisonment of tradition. It is our intention to
establish a lasting platform for the redemption of the degrading
identity of our people by sticking to the inspired instructions that are
the sure guide to our impressive end. To build an educational legacy
which will last till the coming of Jesus Christ on the basis of the
principles he had taught. In getting this done, we will respect no
tradition nor are we going to be retarded by any but we will rather
move forward and occupy our place with revolutionary zeal. May I
therefore strongly appeal to all lovers of the destiny of our nation and

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continent here present in the same manner as Mrs. Jane Stanford (co-
founder of Stanford University) did.

“Let us not be afraid to outgrow old thoughts and ways and dare to
think on new lines as to the future work under our care”

We therefore like to ask the Education Ministry and the National
Universities Commission ably represented here today to be worthy
partners in this new effort to renew the mind and reconnect the spirit
of university education in Nigeria and in Africa. All they need do is
to formulate and implement stable support policy that will enable a
full experience of October 1960‟s. Ashby Commission report which
inter alia recommended that:

“The new Nigerian universities should be independent of one
another and each should confer its own degrees”.

This incidentally is what the NUC was instantly and purposely
established to fulfil.                    There is no point stating that the current
experience is far from that expectation and not even the autonomy bill
sent to the National Assembly can be said to be close to setting that
preservation target in motion. We must know that it should not be
called a university which is not financially and academically
autonomous. Indeed true and profitable perpetuity as unique hallmark
of universities all over the world is impossible without genuine

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Student Discipline

As a revolution, we need to move as an army with unity of purpose
responding to the command of the captain.              The university is
committed to helping the students discover themselves by a loving
expression to the principles espoused by their maker in the Bible. We
therefore attempted to codify a few of the character demand in the
students‟ handbook as image of the expectation of their God and their

We believe the students must first be developed according to their
creative purpose before they can develop their world. In acting as in-
loco-in-parentis, we demand absolute cooperation of both the students
and their parents. We assembled this students from a society we all
agree to have become rotten and we called you all parents and
students into a covenant by which you will allow us to engage the
unfailing scriptural principles to allow God to separate this students
for the desired change in our society. Our prayer is that God will
separate them aside as seeds of redemption in which we have vowed
to give our very best to see these students through.

We should know that only God can bend a dry fish without breaking
it. If it will take God to do it, to exclude Him from the beginning is
an inexplicable antithesis. There is no absolute liberty anywhere
outside the grave and except with the man who has lost his mind. We
celebrate the profit of liberty as regulated by law and we do not
discountenance the demand of discipline along with diligence for

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personal success in life. We must recognize the fact that a glorious
result will always require a serious approach.

The thrust of an educational revolution always transcends generations.
We therefore appeal to parents to allow the lasting legacies which
they have desired by asking their children and wards to come to
Covenant University to be fulfilled. This is by your cooperation with
us by taking dedicated interest in your children.

We emphasize again that we are in a revolution and this will be
reflected both in teaching, research and in community work. We are
committed to producing into the labour force, active agents of change
whose appearance will lead to new demonstration of integrity probity,
assiduity, and sustained growth. This university in the next few years
certainly before its tenth anniversary will have become a major centre
of excellence in the world and a pride to the nation and an institution
that the entire world will be proud to be associated with.

Finally, I like to again say thanks to God almighty that has so
generously favoured us and so affectionately loved us to get us
involved in this venture, to Him alone be all the glory.

We appreciate everyone of you for coming and we say be blessed.

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