In a couple of years from now, Imala, a sleepy community in Ogun State, Nigeria will host the first-ever non-denominational, transnational mega Christian university in Africa.
Already the university has established its presence in the community.
Known as Providence International University, (formerly Africa Christian University) it has a template of a World Class University with a prospective student population of 100000.
The project is driven by Christian Development Foundation. it is a non-governmental body registered in both Nigeria and the US.
People behind it
The president of the foundation is Dr. James Rose former GM of Exxon Mobil.
Rose, an American had wanted to be a missionary before he veered into the corporate world. But as time progressed, he came to the reality of his call.
He then took early retirement from Exxon Mobil to pursue his childhood dream to be a missionary. And his own mission perspective is to impact lives through a mission-driven university.
Also on the board of CDF is Professor Gary Maxey. Also an American, Maxey has been in Nigeria since 1982 doing missions. He is the founder of West Africa Theological Seminary and co-chair of CDF
The CDF founded in 2001 has an array of Nigerians known for integrity and forthrightness on its board. They include Elder Felix Ohiwerei, who serves as the Chairman of the board, and HRH Moses Olabode, Kabiyesi of Imalaland, Ogun State. Also on the board are Dr. Victoria Ezeokoli, Trustee CDF and Senior Pastor of This Present House, Dr. Tony Rapu.
Africa has great potential
The proposed university has secured 12,000 acres of land in the Imala community in Abeokuta North LGA, Ogun State. It has a promise of 13,000 acres for the planned community.
In a recent meeting with prospective stakeholders in Lagos Rose noted that Nigeria is the only African country with all of the ingredients to establish a world-class Christian university.
He said Nigeria has more PhDs than any other country in Africa (with a high rate of deeply committed Christians). It also has millions of potential students. He described Africa as the only continent in history to become majority Christian in one century. “It has an abundance of natural resources. Human resources representing intelligence, enthusiasm, and extraordinary talent,” he said.
The decline of the potential
Rose regretted however that in the last 30 years there has been a large-scale decline in public universities all over Africa. “Government funding has either dried up or has seriously diminished. Libraries have languished. Facilities have deteriorated or become outdated.
Incessant strikes have kept many universities closed for up to half of the time. Exam malpractices have soared, along with other forms of corruption.”
He noted that many Christian universities have since been established in the last 30 years to address the great need in Africa. But according to him many of such universities are” circumscribed by denominational and national identities.”
He said, “Currently all are relatively small—the largest has barely 10,000 students. Africa Needs a Christian Mega-University. “One that is non-sectarian clearly inculcates Christian spirituality, Is thoroughly Christian in its philosophy of education, and inculcates Christian and biblical values and worldview into every sector of education and society.”
PIU coming to fill the gap
Rose said PIU is coming to fill the lacuna in the educational sector in Africa. “It is a university that we believe will serve as a dynamic catalyst for the transformation of Africa and the unleashing of its globally-strategic potential.
“We are working on a university integrating typical university disciplines and professions with a thorough Christian worldview.
“A university enrolling up to 100,000 resident students, with hundreds of thousands more online. A university capturing and directing the enormous global potential arising in Africa.” He said.
He said further that the university would impact key issues challenging Africa. It will address poverty, corruption, medical inadequacy, and a wide range of other issues in Africa.
Rose stated that the University is being founded on the conviction that the God-ordained future of Africa is one of freedom from corruption, poverty, and decadence.
The beauty of the coming university is that it is envisioned as a large world-class Christian university. it is being designed to provide education in the full range of academic disciplines.
Its cutting edge is its non-profit disposition. It is also going to be a broad-based interdenominational academic institution directed by a Governing Board made up of Christians of outstanding character and reputation.
The ten-fold agenda
The university according to Rose has a ten-fold vision. “It will foster a global renaissance of biblical Christianity. It will combine the best of residential and online training. PIU will also lead the way in the development of the largest internet-based distance learning programs on the African continent.
“The university will play a key role in reversing the African brain drain. It will lead to reversing the tide of corruption and incompetence that has characterized too much of post-colonial Africa.
The university will also lead the way in training leadership for technology, research, and the industrialization of sub-Saharan Africa.
This will be tailored along the lines of what has happened in east Asia over the past 30 to 40 years according to Rose
He said PIU will help remold modern Christianity by producing graduates with a full grasp of the wholistic gospel. “It will provide the training engine for responding to the peculiar opportunities and challenges of one of the greatest urban migrations in modern times—all across Africa. It is expected that it will also play a key role to refocus the Church and society on the disciplining of hundreds of millions of Christian converts who have come into the faith over the past 40 years in Africa.
The institution is being projected to provide Africa with the leadership training that is lacking in every segment of society.
PIU would also strive to develop leaders with a comprehensive Christian worldview with the view to tackling the social realities in Africa.
Take off date
Though the projected take-off date for this mega university is in 2024, the CDF has engaged in agriculture to help secure the land. It also has a foundation of a College of Agriculture in the proposed university.
Presently, the CDF is supporting various community development and educational programs in the Imala community
An NGO, Schools for Africa (SFA) has joined the community work providing education and medical care for hundreds of nearby Fulani, Tiv, and Yoruba children in the Imala community.
CDF is also constructing new facilities using local artisans. It has also established an initial university office.
In addition, there are plans to replicate Ghana’s West Africa Institute for Special Surgery in the Imala community. The project is driven by Dr. Ifepo Sofola
The immediate plan for the university is to establish colleges of agriculture, education, nursing, and theology. All these are expected to be a reality before the end of 2022 and the first quarter of next year.
The registration with National Universities Commission is expected to come through in 2023. But it has so far gotten national and international strategic endorsements. It has also secured initial seed funding ($2+ million).
The CDF has established Providence Academy and the First Phase of Research Farm (Greenhouse) on the large expanse of land in Imala. It has also signed a partnership with West Africa Theological Seminary.
CDF plans to open the first university faculties in 2024. An estimated $20 million is being projected for the funding of the initial university development between 2023 – 2024.
Funding for additional university faculties is expected to gulp another $200 million between 2024 – 2025. Eventual construction of a planned community of 9,000+ hectares and campus of 1,000 hectares for 100,000+ Students is estimated at $2+ billion.
Though the project looks big and larger than life, Rose told the prospective stakeholders that it is not too big for God. He agreed that the hurdles are many pointing out however that the rewards are unimaginable. He then itemised areas people who want to support the vision can come in.
“This is a grass root project that will require support from the entire church. There are opportunities to support the project with your time, talent, and or treasure,” he said.
One of the critical areas of need according to Rose is Prayers. “We need intercessors. We need people to help coordinate prayer, help with prayer letters and hold prayer meetings for the project.”
There is also the need for expert support. Rose said there is a need for volunteers and team members adding that a Committee of 1000 has been established for those playing key roles in supporting the project.
“There are also those that will support with their funds. The capital goal for 2022 alone is N1.5 Billion. Ultimately we will need billions more.”
He disclosed that those supporting the project from the US have agreed to provide $100,000 in seed funds.
“But if there are signs that Nigerians support this project the US supporters are ready to match every capital contribution we receive from Nigerian supporters,” he said.