Nigerian Businessman With No Formal Education Establishes University And Reveals How He Succeeded
- Founder of Al-Hikmah University, Ilorin, Abdulraheem Oladimeji explained how the university was established
- Oladimeji, who had no formal education, said his investment in the education sector was divine as his previous plan was to start a plastics business.
- The businessman told how one of his sons dreamed of him setting up an Islamic university while he was in Saudi Arabia for Hajj in 1994.
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Ilorin, Kwara State – Al-Hikmah University, located in Ilorin, the capital of Kwara State, is one of the popular private universities in Nigeria.
What many may not know, however, is that the university was started by a man who had no formal education: Abdulraheem Oladimeji.
In an interview published by Daily Trustthe 84-year-old business magnate has told how he created the most important institution of higher learning.
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My investment in the education sector is divine, says Oladimeji
When asked what he thinks about starting a university even though he lacks formal education, the businessman said the investment in the education sector is divine.
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He then explained how his initial idea of starting a plastics company turned into a successful private university.
“Well, I feel fulfilled and honored that we are finally here today. I will say that my investment in the education sector was divine after one of my sons had a dream of me founding an Islamic university while he was in Saudi Arabia for the Hajj in 1994.
“It coincided with my desire to impact my family and humanity through Islamic and Western knowledge. I had planned to establish a plastic factory and imported all the equipment and machinery with almost all buildings completed.”
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He said the process was initially difficult because the return on investment in education is not instantaneous.
Al-Hikmah University: how the process began
Oladimeji said he started with the Islamic Foundation’s AbdulRaheem College, which was affiliated with ABU Zaria, the International Islamic University in Sudan and later the Islamic University of Madinah, Saudi Arabia.
“It then pushed us to get our own university license under the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo.
“I also have the AbdulRaheem College for Advanced Studies in Igbaja for remedial courses, for people seeking admission for undergraduate study at the university,” he said.
After spending 100 million naira to get the license (which was later returned), Oladimeji said he had to sell “half of his property overseas” to meet the university’s financial needs.
“But I was happy to do it because I used it to fulfill my heart’s desire,” he said.
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The businessman added that he has never regretted his decision to venture into the education sector, noting that the university is doing well.
“We are about to give birth to our medical school,” he added.
How lack of money deprived me of formal education, reveals Oladimeji
Oladimeji said he lost his parents at an early age and lives with his uncle in Igbaja in Kwara State.
Seeking greener pastures, Oladimeji then moved from Igbaja to Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub, where he cut his teeth as a businessman after engaging in odd jobs.
At one point, the businessman said he tried to return to school, but that effort was unsuccessful.
“While I was still with my boss, I wanted to go home but I was refused and I felt unhappy, so I wanted to communicate.
“My attempt to find someone to help me write a letter was unsuccessful. I got angry and decided to learn to read and write, at least. I signed up for an evening class that costs a penny a month to learn ABD, the Yoruba alphabet,” he said.
Oladimeji also unexpectedly learned the English alphabet.