By Qasim Akinreti, Ph.D
On Tuesday, 9 March, 2021, the serene city of Ikirun, in the progressive state of Osun was alive with teeming retinue of visitors across Nigeria and the world. The event was the foundation laying ceremony and unvieling of the Minaret International University (MIU), project sponsored by the the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Nigeria and globally.
The journey for the MIU, began in 2016 following resolution at at the Shoora – Annual Consultative meeting of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat, Nigeria led by the immediate past Amir(Head) of the global Islamic organisation, Professor Mashuud Adenrele Fasola.
The international Shoora proposal came from the Ibadan circuit of the Jamaat, once adopted, it was presented to the Worldwide head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Masroo Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih, V, at a Mulaqat – meeting by the Nigerian delegation to the annual Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, UK, Jalsa (Islamic Conference) with the spiritual leader, in London. Coincidentally, the present Amir, Alhaji (Barrister) Alatoye Folorunso Azeez, host of Nigerian journalists including: Haj Ishaq Tunde Okunola of MITV; Ishola Balogun, Vanguard Newspapers; Kabir Garba from The Guardian Newspapers; Sekinat Lawal of the defunct National Mirror Newspapers; Jumah Abiodun of Gazelle News Online; and Dr Qasim Akinreti, Voice of Nigeria were present.
The initial main campus was on a 600 hectares of land at Agbonbiti in Ile – Ife, same State of Osun. The traditional ruler of Agbonbiti, equally travelled to London to see the Khalifatul Masih. But as fate would have it, Ikirun was later considered as the main campus, while Agbonbiti will be the satellite campus solely for Agriculture and Farm Settlement project.
Professor Abdul Rahman, a Professor of Animal Science and Crop Production at Babcock University, Ilishan Remo, member of Board of Trustees, current National Secretary in charge of Agriculture told me Agbonbiti failed the litmus test of a main university campus due to factors ranging from accessibility and infrastructure challenges. Ikirun site was close to a Federal Government College, connected to the National grid and easily accessible from the newly constructed dual carriage way to the town. Of course, the immediate late Akirun of Ikirunland, His Royal, Majesty late Oba Abdul Rauf Olawale Adedeji II, (May Allah swt bless his soul) played a unique role in the establishment of the MIU in Ikirun. He used all his contacts in government circles and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community to achieve his goal. With a Federal University – Obafemi Awolowo University and a private University – Oduduwa University in Ile Ife, the Ife elites were not too keen for the MIU.
The Certificate of Occupancy (C of O), of the 530 acres was signed by the immediate former Governor of the State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, now Minister of Interior, while the current Governor was the Chief of Staff. All documentation with the National Universities Commission is ongoing while the provision for the physical infrastructure for the Minaret International University has commenced.
The university will start with three faculties namely: Humanities, Sciences and Education. The remaining faculties will come up progressively.
This is the first University with combine Islamic and western education model to be established by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community globally, now cited in Nigeria. Ghana had the opportunity of the establishment of a solely theology university years back.
As a truly international university, it will draw academics, researchers and students across the globe.
The vision of MIU is to pursue intellectual and moral development for creativity, entrepreneurship, adaptability and survival of our University graduates. Such a university education for the youth will be designed to promote academic excellence, moral discipline, and the spirit of self-less service for the advancement of socio-economic development, the emancipation of the people, and commitment to global cooperation for development and unity of humanity.
The mission is to establish a world-class tertiary institution for the intellectual and manpower development of human resources for sustainable socioeconomic development nationally, regionally and internationally.
The University will be committed to giving opportunity to all qualified candidates at home and from abroad on the basis of merit and equity, through a work-study methodology, and without any sectarian or racial discrimination.
And The Philosophy
The philosophy of university education is a wholesome one that integrates moral and academic excellence for a healthy development of the mind and body in such a manner that the graduate of our university would be of immense benefit and dignity to himself or herself, to the family, the community, the nation and humanity at large. The university education will focus on environmentally sustainable growth and development of all aspects of agriculture, energy and transportation infrastructure, water, and natural resources, manufacturing and processing, management sciences, engineering, communication technology, humanities as well as scientific and technological research relevant to global development problems and challenges. In precise terms, as a wholly faith based university, the philosophy implies the following specific principles: Strict Enforcement of Moral Discipline, Guarding Against Alcoholism and Drug Addiction, Banishment of Cultism, infusing Theory and Practice/Work Approach through Practical Entrepreneurship Training, Philosophy of Students’ Research Projects, Sports, Physical Fitness and Martial Arts. These will be done with and Affordable Tuition Fees for Brilliant and indigent Students.
The MIU, will be guided by the following aims and objectives: offering admission to various academic and professional programmes of the institution based purely on relevant well-defined and universally accepted academic and moral merits; admission to undergraduate courses in various approved disciplines for all qualified candidates globally;
admission to graduate programmes in various approved disciplines based on well-defined qualifications for distinguished graduate students from the institution and other recognised universities and similar institutions globally; to provide remedial programmes for interested candidates with deficiencies towards meeting the standards required by merit for various programmes; undertaking and promoting research in areas of environmental and development challenges unilaterally and in cooperation with other research institutions as well as industrial and agricultural establishments; commercialising research findings through pilot projects for the benefit of small- scale enterprises, and invite interested corporate bodies to participate in the efforts to commercialise research findings; engaging in intellectual and charitable community services such as community development projects, public policy analysis, debates, and career guidance and counseling for prospective university students; organizing academic conferences from time to time to address problems of socio-economic development and environmental challenges; publications of academic journals and monographs through internal and external publishing outfits; business ventures and consultancy services relevant to the competence and capacity of the human resources at the disposal of the university for the promotion of the practical and technical orientation of the university.
Governor Ishaq Adegboyega Oyetola agreed with these objectives in his speech , stating that education and religion are timeless transformation of a society for a truly moral and ethical rebirth. He appreciated the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat for this great gesture at an auspicious time in the history of the state and Nigeria in general.
Ahmadiyya on the threshold of History
In 1922, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat of Nigeria pioneered Muslim missionary education in Nigeria in 1922 with the opening of first Muslim primary school, Talimul Islam Primary School Elegbata in Lagos Island, inaugurated by Late Mr Henry Carr, the then Colonial Education officer for the Lagos Colony. There after, the flood gates of Islamic and Western education for teeming Nigerian Muslims children across gender, race and religion commenced, thereby laying a good educational foundation. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat of Nigeria first foray into secondary education, followed in the 1950s and 1970 across the country with a special programme called “The Nusran Jehan Scheme” (Africa Leap Forward Project). Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and the Gambia profited immensely from this scheme. In Nigeria, there are over 20 secondary schools in Lagos, Ibadan, Owode, Ogbagi Akoko, Onda, Ara, Umaisha and Kano. The primary schools across the country were feeders for the secondary educational institutions for the current and next generation of elites for Nigeria.
Within this period, a wholly Islamic Missionary training College, Jamia Mubashireen, was established at Ilaro along Owode road in 1976. Two schools for the memorisation of the Holy Quran for boys and girls with 9 to -13 years were established in Ilaro. The current Ahmadiyya Science College in Ilaro will metamorphose into a technical college any moment from now as team of experts and Ahmadi Engineers from London visited the Ogun State Commissioner of Education, Science and Technology recently .
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat of Nigeria was quite methodical in approach to educational pursuits for better understanding of the religion of Islam, the humanities, science and deep knowledge of the Holy Quran. the educational institutions has produce manpower resources and generate employments for Nigerians.
Minaret International University (MIU), obviously, is the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat of Nigeria last lap towards a prosperous, sound and functional education for Nigerians and foreigners as well.