The National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN, Sunday said that, 103-year-old paramount ruler of Isoko North Local Government Area of Edo State; Francis Onovughakpor Ekhama and the 80 year old Awujale of Ijebu Land, Ogun State, Oba Sikiru Adetona are among the 200,000 students of the University.
The Vice Chancellor of the NOUN, Professor Vincent Tenebe, who revealed this to newsmen in Kaduna, added that 9 Vice Chancellors of Nigeria universities were also students of the NOUN.
“The NOUN, has demystified university education; it has liberalised and democratised university education in Nigeria. Our open university is the most diversify of all universities to include people of all ages, class and professions.
“I want to inform you that unlike conventional universities where the entry age is 16 and above, yesterday we matriculated the youngest student of the University, and he is just 15 years. We are not restricted by age limit.
“Also, His Royal Higness, the Odion of Emevor, the paramount ruler of Isoko North in Edo state who is 103, has been our student and is in his 200 levels now. We have given him full scholarship to study to any degree. He is still very strong and articulate. He has taken the advantage of the Study Centre that we took to Emevor and he is doing fine.
“Also, the Awujale of Ijebu Land, Ogun State, Oba Sikiru (Adetona), is 80. He is also one of our students”, he said.
In 2004, 84 year old Kenyan, Kimani Ng’ang’a Maruge entered the Guiness Book of Records as the oldest person to enroll in Primary school, before dying at 90.
Vanguard checks also shows that Priscilla Sitienei, also a Kenyan enrolled at a primary school in Ndalat village, in the Rift Valley district, five ago and is still a pupil of the school at 90.
There is no known person of the age of Ekhama who is known to be in school, probably making him a potential recipient of the Guinness Book of Records award for the oldest student alive.
Speaking further, Tenebe said: “Even as the Vice Chancellor of the NOUN, I am also a student. I am a Post Graduate Diploma Student student in Distance Education. I am not the only Vice Chancellor studying there, there are 8 others including several other professors and Ph.D holders all doing various courses. So how can anyone doubt the quality of graduates?
“As you may recall, former President Olusegun Obasanjo graduated from our university. Before President Goodluck Jonathan left Aso Rock, he told me that after his tenure, he would come and seek for admission to study at the Open University. I still believe that he will still come.
“We have serving and former Governors; we have Senators, all kinds of professional in the schools. There are also serving and retired military and police top brass; all kinds of accomplished professionals at the University, including the immediate past National President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Abdullwaheeb Umar.
“I am taking pains to say this just to explain that the age composition of our students and the professional callings cannot make the formation of Student Unionism feasible, putting in mind the agitation of some of our very young undergraduates calling for it. The average ages of our students is between 45 and 50. I do not see these people forming unions, even as some of them already belong to various professional unions”, he said.
“We now have an active student enrollment of 200,000. This is way below the 500,000 I expected that we ought to have reached by now. But, we are targeting to hit 1.5 million students in the next five years, and we are working towards that, he said.