Rev Dr Augustine Ebido, is a member of the Board Dominican University. He is also the Director of the Dominican University Education Foundation. The foundation coordinates activities for the university.
He was ordained a priest in 2001, after spending nine years studying Theology, systematic theology with a moral-ethical background in the United States.
Iplege2nigeria.net webteam caught up with him at a health walk-themed Walk for a Healthy Nation organised by Dominican University in Lekki phase one, Lagos.
In this interview Rev Dr Augustine Ebido, talks about, the health walk, the importance of exercise, the quality of education in the university and other issues.
What inspired this health walk?
The inspiration behind this walk is very personal for me, personal in the sense that since I came back to the country after the year 2020 the COVID season. We began to see signs, of a lot of deaths, young people dying.
People come back from their daily activities and sit down in their parlour and die. I have buried so many young people as a priest and it breaks my heart. I am not talking about older people dying, am talking about young people dying.
Unfortunately, there are no statistics, and there is no way to find out the reason behind their demise.
The University thought that there is something we could do as an institution just like an individual may decide to do something, as an institution we decided to do something, to create awareness for our people with the health walk.
Could it be depression and frustration due to how things are going in this country?
I wouldn’t want to put a hand on it but what I think is that as a country we need to know that each one of us can do something to build a better country. If we look up to the government for everything then we forget that we are agents of change for our own country. Somebody is not going to build it for us, we will build it ourselves.
If young people are dying and we don’t know the reason why these deaths are happening, at least, we can follow the most reasonable cause of action, exercise has been proven to be very helpful to prolong life and to help our Cardiovascular health.
I feel that most of these deaths perhaps are simple cholesterol problems because many of the deaths are either heart attacks or strokes, which is something that could easily be managed through regular exercise. So we are creating an awareness that we can prolong our lives by making it a routine culture to do some form of exercise every day or at least maybe every week. As an institution when we use our platform to create more awareness, people will understand that this is no longer a joke.
Is Dominican University a faith-based institution?
It is a Catholic University, but it is not only Catholic students that attend it. The world knows that Catholics have good educational standards. Even University education itself is a result of Catholic effort, the Universities we see in the world today, we are all enjoying because of Catholic education that started with Monastery school, which was how universities started.
The university is open to everyone, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, traditional African religions, whichever one you want because we are building a country whereby everybody is recognised and accepted and where you can feel that Nigeria is your home.
We are training leaders to be leaders that will be responsible and accountable, If there is anything that is lacking in our country today, it is accountability in our leadership, and so we want to form a new generation of Nigerians who will know that Nigeria is our heritage. If we want it to be a place where everybody feels happy and everybody has a fair shake then it begins with good formation.
We know that Catholics have been champions of good education, not just for the sake of academics but for the sake of good character and that is why even Muslims bring their children to Catholic schools from primary to secondary and university and we are spreading the word around and saying “come” and be part of this effort to build a better Nigeria.
And of course, the school is a university that was founded on academic excellence and character formation.
We were affiliated with universities abroad both in Rome and in the US but eventually, we transitioned to a full-blown University when we got licensed in 2016. It is a beautiful thing because now, we can sit down and plan how to be real agents of change for our country so we do not have to have this capital flight, sending children abroad for education. Everywhere you go around the world, Nigerians are there studying. Because, not just that we don’t have quality education perhaps, in many instances, we have young people who are coming out of secondary school, they can’t get into university because there is no space for them and then when they get in, they don’t when they are going to graduate because there is constant strike so we want to change all that.
Do you have a provision for adult education?
You know, the university is a universe of its own and we start small and then we grow, that’s how a Catholic church does its thing. Start small and then expand as you respond to the needs around you. In Nigeria, it’s a big problem, it’s not just a question of unemployment, but the problem is some people are ready to bring money to invest here but they find someone they can trust to run their business. That’s why we are going back to the drawing board, to raise accountable leaders.
Talking about education, in the past few months now, what Nigerians and Nigerian youths are looking out for now is cooking, and becoming a chef what can you say?
It’s a beautiful thing too because that’s also what the university wants to ensure that anybody who graduates from the school has another skill apart from their major. Because we have found out that people come out of university and they have no skills. Just theory. So we want to make sure that it is not just academics, but also a skill, what can you do with your hands. Cooking is one of the things you can do with your hands so even if you don’t find a job because of the job block. You can employ yourself and employ others too. So that is the idea, not just to come out and start looking for a job, but you can be an employer. So we are interested in entrepreneurship, to train people in different areas of skill acquisition, so they can be independent after graduation.