- The founder of Al-Hikmah University, Ilorin, Abdulraheem Oladimeji, has spoken about 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 establish a plastic company
- The businessman spoke about how one of his sons dreamt of him establishing an Islamic university while in Saudi Arabia for Hajj in 1994
Ilorin, Kwara state – Al-Hikmah University, located in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital, is one of the popular private universities in Nigeria.
What many may not know, however, is that the university was established by a man who had no formal education: Abdulraheem Oladimeji.
My investment in education sector is divine, says Oladimeji
Asked how he felt about founding a university even though he lacked formal education, the businessman said investment in the education sector was divine.
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He further spoke on how his initial idea of establishing a plastic company turned into a successful private university.
“Well, I feel fulfilled and honoured that we are finally here today. I will say my investment into the education sector was divine after one of my sons dreamt of me establishing an Islamic university while in Saudi Arabia for Hajj in 1994.
“This coincided with my desire to impact my family and humanity through Islamic and Western knowledge. I had planned to establish a plastic factory and had imported all the equipment and machines with almost all the buildings completed.”
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He said the process was initially difficult because the return on investment in education is not instant.
Al-Hikmah University: How the process began
Oladimeji said he started with AbdulRaheem College of Islamic Foundation, which was affiliated with the ABU Zaria, International Islamic University in Sudan and later, the Islamic University in Madinah, Saudi Arabia.
“This then propelled us to get our own university license during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo.
“I also have AbdulRaheem College of Advanced Studies in Igbaja for remedial studies, for people wanting to gain admission into the undergraduate degree studies in the university,” he said.
After spending N100m to obtain the license ( which was later returned), Oladimeji said he had to sell “half of his property abroad” to meet up with the university’s financial needs.
“But I was happy to do so because I used it to fulfill my heart’s desire,” he said.
The businessman added that he never regretted his decision to venture into the education sector, noting that the university is doing well.
“We are on the verge of birthing our medical school,” he added.
How lack of money deprived me of formal education, Oladimeji reveals
Oladimeji said he lost his parents at an early age and lived with his uncle in Igbaja in Kwara state.
In search of greener pastures, Oladimeji later left Igbaja for Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre where he cut his teeth as a businessman after engaging in menial jobs.
At some point, the businessman said he made an attempt to return to school but the effort was not successful.
“While still with my boss, I wanted to go back home but was denied and I felt unhappy, so I wanted to communicate.
“My attempt to find someone to help write a letter was not successful. I became angry and resolved to learn how to read and write, at least. I enrolled myself in an evening lesson costing one penny a month to learn ABD, the Yoruba alphabet,” he said.
Oladimeji also, against all odds, proceeded to learn the English alphabet.