Prof. Abiodun Adebayo

Vice-Chancellor | Covenant University

“African leaders must strategize to regain Africa’s lost glory. We have abundant natural resources in Africa, sufficient for everyone. To achieve this, we need to promote utilization and a culture of integrity.

One of our notable indigenous programs is the Total Man Concept (TMC), where we recognize that an individual is a triune being comprising the spirit, soul, and body. We emphasize nurturing the mind, which is the seat of knowledge for better productivity, alongside caring for the spirit which has unlimited capacity because of its link to God and the body for proper fitness.”

Key Points

  • Vision and Values: Covenant University aims to raise a new generation of leaders deeply rooted in African values. The curriculum focuses on seven core values, emphasizing character development and practical skills, departing from traditional education methods.                    
  • Leadership Development and Impact: The university’s approach is not only about knowledge sharing but also developing leaders. Graduates undergo rigorous leadership training, equipping them with life skills and values to excel in both academic and professional spheres, fostering positive societal impact.
  • Innovation for Impact: Covenant University places significant emphasis on innovation that positively affects society, especially in addressing challenges like poverty, global food security, climate problems, and diseases. They secure grants for research and have various ongoing projects aimed at improving life through innovation.       
  • Building on Indigenous Research and Local Content: The university advocates for Africanisation to retain talent and address challenges within the continent.  “For instance, during the Covid period, we focused on indigenous research, utilising local resources in our laboratories, aiding in designing solutions for other West African countries. This reflects our dedication to research and finding solutions locally.”


AfricaLive: How would you define the identity of Covenant University?

Prof. Abiodun Adebayo: Covenant University has been in existence for several years, established on October 21, 2002. The vision is to raise a new generation of leaders who will promote values and reshape the narratives of the continent. Africa has had a challenging history, particularly in the modern world. One of the key reasons for establishing the university is to help redeem Africa’s image.

We achieve this by providing qualitative and life-applicable training, focusing on values and skill development. The goal is to raise a new generation of leaders deeply rooted in African values, shaping a better narrative for the continent. Our curriculum is designed to encapsulate this vision, built on seven core values: spirituality, possibility mentality, capacity building, integrity, responsibility, diligence, and sacrifice.

Our approach to education is a departure from traditional methods which stalls progress and advancement. Our founding philosophy is hinged on our compelling desire  to offer life-applicable and life-transforming education. We emphasize character development, incorporating it into our training and assessment processes. This philosophy aligns with the global shift towards dynamic education, focusing on practical skills and real-world empowerment.

In summary, Covenant University aims to restore Africa’s lost glory by nurturing a new generation of leaders committed to African values and dedicated to rebuilding and uplifting the continent. Our departure philosophy guides us from form to skills, from knowledge to empowerment, from legalism to realism,from figures to future-building,  from points to facts and from mathematics to “life-matics”, all in the pursuit of a better future for Africa.

The graduates we are training today are prepared to seamlessly integrate into the society and significantly contribute to the nation. This ethos underpins our philosophical model as a university. We invite and instil these principles as part of our founding philosophy, fostering an industrious spirit that firmly establishes sound education.

Looking at our curriculum, we offer indigenous programs that enhance the uniqueness of our graduates and set them apart, making them highly sought-after by employers. Covenant University has become a preferred choice for employers due to these distinct qualities. 

One of our notable indigenous programs is the Total Man Concept (TMC), where we recognize that an individual is a triune being comprising the spirit, soul, and body. We emphasize nurturing the mind, which is the seat of knowledge for better productivity, alongside caring for the spirit which is a link to God and the body for proper fitness.

Our curriculum includes fitness and exercise components, ensuring our students maintain a holistic approach to health. Spirituality, a core aspect, guides students towards leadership qualities through engagement with biblical principles. The concept of this course is to develop the man who will in turn develop his world. It is also designed to align with our core values. 

Another significant indigenous course is Entrepreneurial Development Studies, emphasizing that our graduates should be job creators and not just job seekers. This course encourages creativity, practicality, and soft skill development. Our students are taken through practical experiences, fostering successful ventures even before graduation.

Another indigenous initiative is the Diploma in Leadership program, a crucial element of their training. Students undergo a comprehensive leadership program, earning a diploma alongside their degree. Recognizing the critical need for competent leadership in Africa, we have embedded leadership training across our programs, addressing a major gap on the continent.

This multifaceted approach to education equips our students not only with knowledge but also with practical skills and leadership abilities, setting them on a trajectory of success and positive impact within society.

AfricaLive: Your approach is not only to share knowledge but to develop leaders?

Prof. Abiodun Adebayo: Yes, our vision at Covenant University is to cultivate a new generation of leaders. Consequently, we ensure that every graduate undergoes rigorous leadership training. Upon completion, they are awarded a diploma in leadership from Covenant University. 

We focus on imparting life skills and practical knowledge that regular schooling often overlooks. We teach them how to navigate various aspects of life, such as maintaining a good home, instilling work ethics, and how to present themselves in interviews and society at large. Our objective is to ensure that our graduates do not only excel academically but also make a meaningful impact in their respective spheres once they transition into the broader society.

AfricaLive: That’s indeed fascinating. The emphasis on values and ethics beyond academics is crucial. How do you perceive these principles, embedded in the Total Man Concept and Towards a Total Graduate initiative, impacting Nigerian and West African society? What drives the importance you place on instilling these values before your graduates step into the professional world and their communities?

Prof. Abiodun Adebayo: The feedback from employers about our graduates has been incredibly positive. Employers consistently commend our graduates for their exemplary behavior and strong work ethics. A Covenant graduate stands out by embodying the right values and ethics. They exhibit an inherent sense of readiness for the workplace, demonstrating when and how to apply their skills effectively. Their level of ingenuity, innovation, and creativity adds significant value to any organization they become a part of.

A survey report shared by Stutuern placed Covenant University graduates as the most employable graduates in Nigeria. 

Several reputable companies have expressed a strong desire for more Covenant graduates due to their outstanding performance. For instance, Huawei and Sahara Group have recognized the exceptional qualities our graduates bring to the workplace. Dangote Group and various other multinationals have echoed this sentiment. It underscores the impact of instilling the right values and ethics in our graduates, preparing them to excel and contribute positively to society and the professional realm.

This dedication to values has been recognized on a global scale. Notably, a faculty member from a distinguished US university shared an encounter with our graduates. Even in a vastly diverse environment, Covenant graduates stood out. We recently hosted delegates from the University of Alabama from the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering where some of our graduates in this program came top and they came to understudy our educational model and to also deepen the relationship. These and many more are testament to the impact of instilling strong values within them. We’ve witnessed the positive influence of our approach on a grand scale, with graduates scattered across more than 60 countries worldwide. They are making significant contributions to society.

Recently, one of our graduates made history by becoming the youngest parliamentarian in Nigeria’s National Assembly. His determination to drive change and contribute positively to society is a reflection of the values instilled during his time at Covenant University. 

AfricaLive: Let’s look at the ongoing work at the university and, for example, the impact of your Center for Research, Innovation, and Discovery. What does innovation mean to you? 

Where can we see the university’s output in research and innovation impact on Nigeria and Africa?

Prof. Abiodun Adebayo: Innovation, for us, is bringing something new to the table, making contributions that affect the common man on the street. 

How can we bring the needed change to alleviate poverty from the land?

What better ways can we do this? That’s our target for innovation. 

Activities are ongoing at the university, and it’s one of the leading research institutions. Our projects target challenges like global food security, climate problems, waste management, and electronic governance for business and poverty reduction. We’ve clustered our efforts.

These university clusters drive the desired change. We’ve secured grants from notable global bodies such as the NIH, Bill and Melinda Gates, World Bank, National Cancer Institute, US Department of Defence, etc. The University has an African Center of Excellence. It’s called the Applied Informatics and Communication Center. It has about five to six million US dollars in grants, running for the past four years with proof of progress.

Our projects focus on addressing malaria, a major challenge in Africa. We’re developing targeted drugs and exploring vaccines to alleviate malaria treatments. We’re also looking into resource sharing and the federated genomics cloud architecture.

Focusing on West African sustainable leadership and innovation training, we aim to secure grants to drive progress against malaria. We’ve also received grants from various organizations including the Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation grant for the West African Virus Epidemiology (WAVE). This initiative is aimed at increasing food security by developing effective methods of management and control of transboundary plant pathogens. Many crops today, especially cassava, are infected by viral diseases. We’re aiding local farmers and working with scientists to ensure sustainable food development and ensure cassava is disease-free. We’re also conducting advocacy with farmers in the communities across the southwestern Nigeria. 

Many research activities are ongoing in our campus today, all aimed at improving life, which is the essence of providing innovative driven solutions we’re discussing.

AfricaLive: We recently published an interview with Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe of Makerere University and the African Research University Alliance. He highlighted that following the response to the Covid-19 pandemic in Uganda they can’t keep relying on the developed world’s ready-made solutions. 

There is now a drive for finding local solutions and increased investment in research. How is the situation in Nigeria?

Prof. Abiodun Adebayo: In Nigeria, research has been a major challenge, particularly with government funding. While there are funding agencies, unfortunately, private universities aren’t part of it due to the established act. The public universities receive this funding. 

However, the universities in Nigeria are doing their best, despite being underfunded, especially by the government. 

At Covenant University, we encourage our faculty members to seek externally funded grants to support their research activities. However, the University has also instituted internal grants to promote indigenous research by using local content for global relevance. For instance, during the Covid period, we focused on indigenous research by utilising local resources in our laboratories, aiding in designing solutions such as smart hand washer, sanitisers, and diagnostic kits for local communities. This reflects our dedication to research and finding solutions locally.

We believe in promoting indigenous content and values, advocating for self-sufficiency and leadership.

We advocate that Africans don’t need to travel abroad for everything. It’s about having the right leadership in place, capable of guiding us towards progress and knowledge advancement within our continent.

AfricaLive: My final question revolves around Africanisation and African ties. How do you perceive Africanisation in the context of higher education and research?

Prof. Abiodun Adebayo: Africa’s history of colonization has impacted our thinking patterns and modern-day challenges. Factors like revised visa policies lure African talent to the Western world, depleting our local talent pool, especially in critical fields like medicine, economics and ICT. Promoting Africanisation is crucial to retain talent and address these challenges within our continent.

African leaders must strategize to regain Africa’s lost glory. We have abundant natural resources in Africa, sufficient for everyone. To achieve this, we need to promote utilization and a culture of integrity. Our leaders must refrain from theft and misuse of resources for personal gain.

We should strive for unity within Africa, envisioning a united nation with unrestricted movement across African countries. The current visa barriers hinder intra-African travel while being relatively easier for travel to Europe. Removing these barriers will promote collaboration and friendly conditions for entrepreneurs to establish businesses across African nations.

By adopting a synergy similar to the Chinese model, where I pursued part of my studies, we can make significant progress. Encouraging knowledge exchange and leveraging on expertise can drive Africa towards prosperity and development.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.