Good things don't come to good people in trickles; they come in torrents. So was it for Mr Aderemi Makanjuola, chairman of Caverton Offshore Support Group, as his good deeds were rewarded with a double honour of appointment as first chancellor of Edo University, Iyamoh, as well as an honourary doctorate degree. Sulaimon Olanrewaju reports.
Saturday, November 2, 2019, was the public acclamation of the quiet contributions Mr Aderemi Makanjuola, chairman of Caverton Offshore Support Group, to improve life and living while creating prosperity for many. It was the day Edo University, Iyamoh, chose to confer two honours on him, appointing him chancellor and awarding the university's first honorary doctorate degree.
Unassuming, unobtrusive, undaunted and unrelenting, Makanjuola has built a reputation as a notable pillar of support to many tertiary institutions. His interventions litter university campuses from the North to the South. While he did not embark on the philanthropic expedition to get noticed, like a goldfish, his good works have made it difficult for him to be anonymous.
In his address at the epoch-making event, the university's vice-chancellor, Professor Emmanuel Aluyor, said given Makanjuola's antecedent, the institution poised to greatly benefit from the Caverton boss's wealth of experience in its stride to become a world-class university. While thanking the aviation lord for accepting the offer to be the university's first chancellor, he said he had no doubt that the decision would impact positively on the university, its management and the student population.
While responding to the honour done him, the new chancellor expressed his profound gratitude to Edo State governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki for considering him worthy of the honour. Makanjuola, who could not hide his joy, enthused, 'I deeply appreciate this honour done to me.'
Speaking further, he stated, 'You have introduced me into a new hall of fame for which I am most grateful. I learnt about this university and its uniqueness through friends and associates who told me that Edo University, Iyamo, is the Harvard, Cambridge and IMT of our time. I was not in doubt of this claim because I know that great things are usually found in the heart, as Edo State is the heartbeat of the nation.
'I see Edo State redefining education in Nigeria. It is with this sense that I accept the offer from His Excellency, Mr Godwin Obaseki, to be the first chancellor of this great institution of higher learning.
'Nigeria has been yearning for this kind of education since independence, but no one was ready to face the challenge and come up with a world-class university of this status. I must commend the founding fathers of the university for their foresight in establishing a university that competes favourably with Ivy League universities like Cambridge and Harvard. I must say that EUI's facilities are among the best in the world.'
While lauding the management of the institution for ensuring quality delivery, Makanjuola said, 'I am confident that with the kind of management team in place, facilities, environment and staff, the students and, indeed, the pioneer graduands of the university, are set to take over the world with the acquired skills and knowledge.
'I am aware that all the programmes in the university have passed through the National Universities Commission (NUC) assessment and accreditation with a minimum of 82 per cent, far above the NUC benchmark of 70 per cent required for full accreditation status. This is indicative of the fact that the university is blessed with a team of dedicated lecturers and administrative staff that are first among equals.'
He added, 'And with the prize of N5,000,000 by the university to the best graduating students in entrepreneurial business ideas, Edo University, Iyamoh, has shown that, as a citadel of learning, it is not only preparing the students for the labour market but for them to become employers of labour.'
Speaking further on the uniqueness of the institution, Makanjuola said running industry-based academic programmes is one of the qualities that stand it out, saying this would give the university's products an edge in the employment market. He described the university as a centre of entrepreneurship that would equip students with vocational skills. According to him, the nation needs university graduates who will be job creators, not just job seekers, adding that the university is blazing a trail that others need to copy.
Then event saw many captains of industry storm the university town of Iyamoh to identify with Makanjuola and share in his double honour. All of them agreed that Edo State government could not have made a better choice than Makanjuola as the university's first chancellor.
His friend and business associate, Chief Adebayo Sarumi, a former Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), said 'He truly deserves this and much more because of the service he is rendering to humanity. This is a man who believes he doesn't exist for himself but for humanity. I have known him for over 15 years and he has been the same man. He loves to reach out and he loves to serve people. He serves God and he is committed to humanity, which is our purpose here on earth.
'This is in recognition of the best he has given to society. I don't need to reel out his numerous achievements. My wish for him is that he will live long to eat the fruit of his labour, not only in terms of blessing which God has given him but also in terms of happiness and everything that matters to him; good health and longevity.'
Dr Oba Otudeko, another friend and business associate, described Makanjuola as a person of good character. He said, 'He is a man of uprightness, transparency, accountability, and a dependable friend. He is positive and constructive and someone who is particular about humanity and society at large. 'His appointment as chancellor and the conferment of honorary doctorate degree on him constitute a double honour. The university has chosen well because he will bring his wealth of experience which he has used successfully in his career to bring to bear in the affairs of this great institution.
'This is a call to duty, a call to serve and I have no doubt that he will excel in this role. I wish him God's blessing, longevity, good health to be of service to God, humanity and society at large.'
Sir Alex Onabanjo, a bosom friend, said the double honour suited Makanjuola perfectly.
He said, 'I am so happy that the university has decided to choose an astute chancellor. I am also grateful to God Almighty for the double honour of first chancellor and the conferment of an honorary doctorate degree. The honourary degree happens to be the first to be bestowed.
'Makanjuola is a man of humility. He is thorough and meticulous. He is an honest man. He is a man of the people. We have trust in him that he will do his best to soar the university high. I wish him all the best in this new assignment.'
Dr Aderemi Makanjuola was born in Lagos on November 24, 1948. He had his elementary and secondary education in the city of his birth. He later left for the United Kingdom, where he bagged a first degree in Economics and an M.Sc. in Management Science after which he returned to Nigeria to join the banking industry. He started with the Union Bank before moving on to Devcom Merchant Bank where he rose to the position of Executive Vice Chairman. He left Devcom in 1999 to start his own business.
As a private businessman, Makanjuola started with shipping. After recording huge successes in that area, he diversified into aviation with Caverton Helicopters. Today, Caverton is an industry leader with as many as 35 helicopters in its fleet.
Makanjuola's business acumen has been acknowledged globally. This resulted in his appointment in 2014 as Chairman, International Commercial Bank Senegal, S.A. The bank is a member of the ICB Banking Group, which comprises a network of banks established in the three continents of Asia, Europe and Africa. He currently serves on the board of many blue-chip companies as well as the Lagos State Security Trust.
When fortune smiled on Makanjuola, he extended his fortune to others by establishing the Caverton Foundation because of his belief that God's purpose is best served when man serves his fellow men. The foundation is one of the foremost charity organizations in the country, intervening in critical areas to bring succour to many. Recently, the foundation donated a multi-million naira Molecular Biology Laboratory to the Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASCOM) as his own contribution to improving the wellbeing of Nigerians.
© Pakistan Press International, source Asianet-Pakistan