Prof Olugbemiro Jegede: The ABU Alumnus Who Setup the National Open University of Nigeria

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The resuscitation of the National Open University of Nigeria began in 2000, when Olugbemiro Jegede, a Professor of Distance Education was invited from his base at the Open University of Hong Kong by Prof Tunde Adeniran, the Minister of Education at that time.

The military had buried the university after the 1983 coup, but the quartet of Otunba Dele Olapeju, a former Principal of King’s College, Dr. S.K Babalola, who was Obasanjo’s Special Adviser on Education, Adeniran and Jegede planned the resuscitation.

Adeniran it was who took Prof Olugbemiro Jegede to Obasanjo one evening, where he got the rare opportunity to unfold the dynamism and opportunities of the Open University System. Obasanjo was so impressed that night, that he immediately agreed to give the idea a chance.

From Right NOUN V.C Prof. Abdalla Uba Adamu, Dr. John Dramani Mahama, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Prof. Olugbemiro Jegede, Prof. Vincent Ado Tenebe
From Right NOUN V.C Prof. Abdalla Uba Adamu, Dr. John Dramani Mahama, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Prof. Olugbemiro Jegede, Prof. Vincent Ado Tenebe

Although Adeniran was curiously relieved of his position as Education Minister the very next day after that historical meeting, Prof Babalola Borishade, who took over as Education Minister in 2001 built on the foundation Adeniran laid down and gave Jegede his full support.

Borishade not only ensured that Prof Olugbemiro Jegede assumed the full status of Vice-Chancellor, but he also followed through with the original plan of setting up the University in Lagos.

With presidential backing, Prof Olugbemiro Jegede took over the disused huge complex that used to serve as the Federal Ministry of Education’s headquarters along Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos, where he held his first official meeting with NOUN’s pioneer staff members, with worried rats, lizards, and cockroaches watching from the sidelines.

Faced with stiff opposition from familiar forces, who were miffed by the “effrontery” of the institution’s promoters, Prof Olugbemiro Jegede was starved of funds by the National Assembly and could not pay for course materials earlier promised the pioneer students, who soon began to agitate. Obasanjo, it was learned, then advanced some money from his security vote to the Open University and charged Jegede not to waver.

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Another stiff opposition came from conservative academics in the conventional universities, who scorned the distance learning idea, more out ignorance and envy, than their vaguely professed patriotism.

Prof Olugbemiro Jegede was also responsible for the recruitment of the first set of academics that manned the first set of study centers, and also the large number of egg heads who produced the institution’s course materials.

With his wide international connections, he quickly linked up with the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and UNESCO among others, leading to swift collaborations that boosted the university’s standing.

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According to professor Tenebe (former VC NOUN and Current VC Taraba state University), Emeritus Professor Prof Olugbemiro Jegede was the “Moses” who led NOUN out of “Egypt,” while he (Tenebe) was the “Joshua” who settled the university on the Promised Land.

Jegede had predicted in 2004, that the Open University would dwarf the controversial satellite campuses that dotted the country’s landscape at that time and would eventually become the biggest provider of tertiary education in Nigeria at full maturity.

With more than hundred Study Centres spread across the country and still counting, the institution appears to be on course to fulfilling Jegede’s prophecy, although, it would still have to reach an amicable agreement with the Nigerian Law School, which still bars its graduates from attaining full qualification to practice the legal profession.

Who is emeritus Professor Olugbemiro Jegede
Emeritus Professor Olugbemiro Jegede
Emeritus Professor Olugbemiro Jegede

Emeritus Professor Olugbemiro Jegede is a renowned professor of Open Distance Learning who was the foundation Vice-Chancellor of the National Open University of Nigeria. Foundation Head, Research & Evaluation Unit Distance Education Centre, The University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia; Foundation Dean and Professor of Education; Head, Department of Education, Faculty of Education, The University of Abuja, Nigeria.

He is also a former Secretary to the Kogi State Government and also a former Secretary-General and Chief Executive of the Association of African Universities, a position that he assumed on December 1, 2010, after a successful tenure in Nigeria on a special assignment in Higher Education.

Prof Olugbemiro Jegede started his career as a science Instructor at the Nigerian Military School, Zaria, January – September 1972. He served as Research Assistant, Department of Education, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, June – September 1974 and June – July 1975 (Vacation Jobs).

He was a lecturer in Biology at Alvan Ikoku College of Education, Owerri, August 1975 – July 1, 1976, during NYSC Posting. He returned to his alma mater as Assistant Editor, Ahmadu Bello University Press, Zaria, August 1976 – January 1977.

Olugbemiro Jegede was afterward appointed as a Graduate Assistant, Department of Education, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, January 1977 – September 1977 and promote to an Assistant Lecturer in October 1977, lecturer II in October 1979, lecturer I October 1981, senior Lecturer, October 1984 and Reader (Associate Professor) October 1987.

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Professor Olugbemiro Jegede, at the invitation of the Federal Government of Nigeria to restart open and distance learning activities in Nigeria assumed position as the National Coordinator of the National Open and Distance Learning Programmes in 2001 and subsequently was appointed in 2003 as the founding and current Vice Chancellor of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).

As Vice Chancellor of the fledgling institution, he concerned himself with activities and responsibilities associated with the establishment of the new institution.

These include the development of the Blueprint, the university strategic plan, capacity building in ODL for Nigeria and the West Africa sub-region, course material development, admissions, hiring and training of all cadres of staffing for the young nationally funded university and forging partnership with renowned and well established distance teaching and open learning institutions and organisations across the world.

Prior to his special assignment in Nigeria, Prof Olugbemiro Jegede served in various capacities in different parts of the world including being the Staff in charge of the M.Ed program by ODL at the Curtin University of Technology Science and Mathematics Education Centre, Perth, Australia.

Founding Director, Centre for Research in Distance & Adult Learning, The Open University of Hong Kong; Foundation Head, Research & Evaluation Unit Distance Education Centre, The University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia; and Foundation Dean and Professor of Education; Head, Department of Education, Faculty of Education, The University of Abuja, Nigeria.

Prof Olugbemiro Jegede has practiced as an Open Distance Learning professional for the past three decades with demonstrable expertise in the areas of Instructional Design, ODL Management, Course Materials development, Psycho-Social Environment and Learning with particular reference to the Socio-cultural influences, Teacher Preparation and Professional Development, Knowledge Engineering and Cognitive Science, Assessment and Evaluation of Learning, Information and Communication Technologies in Instructional Delivery and ODL Research.

Professor Jegede, who is a chair Professor in both Science Education and Open and Distance Learning, obtained his B.Sc.Ed and M.Ed degrees at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria, and his Ph.D at the University College of Wales, Cardiff, UK.

At the convocation ceremony of the National open university in 2016, Prof. Olugbemiro Jegede, ACDE Goodwill Ambassador was confirmed as Professor Emeritus.

He is a chartered biologist of the UK Institute of Biology and a recipient of several awards including the University of Southern Queensland Award for Excellence in Research (1995), the Fellowship of the Science Teachers Association of Nigeria (1996), The People State and Resource Development in Nigeria Merit Award (2002), and Kwame Nkrumah Africa Leadership Award for professional contribution to the development of Education in Africa (2004).

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Prof Olugbemiro Jegede has published extensively in various internationally referred journals in both science education and ODL reflecting many areas of knowledge and practice including those listed above. He has served/ continues to serve as a member of the Advisory Board, Editorial Board or as Editor of several journals in Science Education, ODL and Learning and Instruction worldwide.

He is a member of the International Council for Distance Education and served as Chairman of its taskforce on research in 1995. He has served as Chair, Planning Committee, Association for Development in Education in Africa (ADEA) Ministerial Regional Meeting, July, 2004; Member, The International Programme Committee, The International Council for Open and Distance Education 20th World Conference on Open Learning and Distance Education, Hong Kong, 3-5 June 2003; and he is a member of the Executive Board of the African Council for Distance Education (ACDE).

Prof Olugbemiro Jegede’s Major Awards

2012- Regional Integration and Leadership Award by the Nigeria High Commission Accra, Ghana on 30th March 2012 for exemplary, distinguished and results oriented service to Africa in higher Education.

2010- Prestigious Chieftaincy Award (the Ogurefa of Ogoriland) by the Ogori Community of Kogi State for Services to the Nation, Kogi State and Ogori Community on 15 October 2010.

2010- Nehemiah Award by the OgoriMagongo Missionary Diocese of the Anglican Communion for exemplary services to young Diocese created in 2009.

2010- Award for Exemplary Service to the Nation, Ogori Community and Humanity by Ogori Descendants Union, 16 April 2010

2010- Outstanding Leadership Award by the Kogi State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, 16th March 2010.

2009- African Leadership Star Award for Excellence in Tertiary Education for 2009 – Given in Paris, France on 20 February 2010

2009- Best Vice-Chancellor of the Year and Gold Award by National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS).

2009- Man of the Year Award by North Central States Students Association of Nigeria.

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