Though it is difficult to fully assess or judge the current administration of the University of Ilorin now, there is a popular saying that a good Friday can be forecast from the preceding Thursday. So is with the Abdulganiyu Ambali administration at the University of Ilorin. Just like yesterday, precisely 16th October 2012, when Professor Is-haq Oloyede publicly handed over the mantle of leadership this foremost Nigerian university to Professor Abdulganiyu Ambali, so many questions agitated the minds of many due to the tremendous achievements of Professor Oloyede. This means that the most difficult challenge people envisaged is whether Professor Ambali would be able to maintain and improve on what Professor Oloyede had done.
Barely one year after and to the surprise of many, Professor Ambali has not only maintained or improved on the achievements of Professor Oloyede, he has introduced many more innovations, a confirmation of the saying that where one man’s strength stops another man’s strength begins. With his calm style of leadership, Professor Ambali has been able to win the minds and hearts of many members of the University community and even beyond. Apart from working relentlessly to take the university beyond the imagination of many, he is seen not as a boss by many but as a listening, accommodating and friendly leader.
On assumption of office, Professor Ambali said part of his vision for the University is to ensure that the University is ICT-driven such that lecturers would only go to class with their flash drive and teach via the projector. In driving this vision, the Vice-Chancellor in his tenure visited a team of ICT experts (Cyber soft Technologies) in Maryland USA, so as to seek partnership, collaboration and support in the provision of high tech ICT infrastructural backbone for the University.
Precisely, the ICT team is expected to assist the University of Ilorin in its march to digital transformation. The project is expected to evaluate and provide scalable and seamless solutions to the University and also provide support for business processes by maximizing the current bandwidth allocation. It is also expected that the project will help develop and design robust networking of intranet and internet facilities, both wired and wireless, such that there would be uninterrupted connectivity when using digital devices on the University Campus.
The project, among its aims, is to help provide proper account systems and centralized access management control and as well cyber-security. Public Key Infrastructure PKI is also expected to be incorporated into the accounting system such that digital certificates would be used in endorsing documents. Through such a robust digital platform, training and retraining would also be facilitated so that the infrastructure put in place would be properly and effectively maintained.
Within the past one year, the Ambali administration set machinery in motion to produce new ID cards staff and students. Ordinarily, one would consider the production if ID Cards as commonplace but according to the Vice Chancellor, the newly introduced ID Card is a multi-functional type which would be serve the multiple purpose of identification, cash guarantee and access control. In this respect, the University would put in place some security measures such that only registered cards can access. There will also be Point of Sales (POS) machines at designated places within the University so that members of the community would transact business without cash.
Besides, the University has created new academic programmes while some existing ones have been reviewed. The Faculty of Business and Social Sciences was split into the Faculty of Management Sciences and Faculty of Social Sciences for better efficiency. The Department of Arts and Social Science Education, which used to be a very large department with at least ten Programmes, was within the one year split into the Department of Arts Education and Department of Social Science Education. The same thing is applicable to the Department of Science Education which is now split into the Department of Science Education and the Department of Educational Technology, the latter of which is positioned to eventually become Department of Technical Education. The Faculty of Environmental Science has also been established while Physical and Health education which used to be a programme now has an addition of Environmental Education Department.
For close to seven years, the management of the University of Ilorin has been striving to ensure that it has its own branded UNILORIN WATER but the plan has become a reality. Hopefully during the next convocation ceremonies, guests at the ceremony would be served with the University branded table water. The production of the table water will serve the purpose of revenue generation, training centre and laboratory that will serve the purpose of teaching, research and entrepreneurial purposes.
Drastic and progressive changes have been made towards improving the quality of teaching, learning and research of the University while the University has taken its internationalization project to a higher pedestal through the repositioning of the Centre for International Education. Though the University has students and staff from across the globe, the Vice-Chancellor has taken the drive further by attracting students and scholars from the US and UK. In this respect, the Vice-Chancellor has paid academic visits to the University of Wisconsin, Harvard University, University of Minnesota in the US and a host of others in order to establish cordial relationships and academic exchange and networking. It is hoped that over time the relationship would be further solidified and improved upon. Some of the universities have also reciprocated the visits and demonstrated their sense of commitment. In all of these, it is expected that joint research, student/staff exchange and capacity building opportunities would be established and developed. Currently, the University has one hundred and fifty three foreign students spread across fourteen countries while staff number has moved up to about forty from at least twenty different Nationals. The University has also helped in facilitating participation in international conferences by staff while also sponsoring staff on overseas studies.
Also during the year members of the House of Representatives Committee on Education visited the University on an oversight function where they openly poured encomiums on the institution. The Committee members, led by Hon. Shehu Garba, were particularly impressed by the institution’s accomplishments in the areas of academic excellence, efficient system of administration, beautiful environment, infrastructural development and sustained high ranking among universities in Africa particularly and in the world at large.
Giving his impression after an inspection tour of projects on the campus, the lawmaker said he was very proud to be at the University of Ilorin. He said he graduated close to 30 years ago and has always been worried by the standard of education in the country. However, experience at the University of Ilorin made him hopeful and elated such that he felt that in the midst of the decay, there is an institution of excellence with robust teaching, research and beautiful infrastructure. He said the University is one of the few universities in the country that are often mentioned outside Nigeria as a centre of academic excellence. Hon. Garba observed that the University has the “largest and best kept environment in the country”, and tasked the management to leverage on its conducive environment to attract investors to improve its internally generated revenue. Members of the Senate Committee on education were also on the Campus during the year and also expressed similar appreciation and commendation.
The management has also within the year written a joint grant with the University of Solford in Manchester which earned it a sponsorship from the Association of African Universities and got a grant to the tune of 10 thousand Euros to facilitate a collaborative visit between the two Universities with a view to establishing some special postgraduate programmes. The University has also signed about 10 new Memoranda of Understanding MOUs within the year. There has also been enhanced student exchange programmes with Universities like Kenyata University among others.
The University has also participated in a number of International conferences among which is the Global Universities Network Initiative in Barcelona, the Association of African Universities as well as a Joint Conference with the University of Cape Cost Ghana among others. The University is also activating the U6 Consortium, a network of Six Universities coming together in order to have a partnership that will drive them forward. The Universities are Cape Peninsular University in South Africa, Bondo University in Kenya, University of the Gambia in The Gambia, University of Cape Cost in Ghana, University of Ilorin as well as Kwara State University in Nigeria.
There is always the need to involve alumni members in the development of every University. Realising this, the University management reached out to its old students so as to get them involved in the developmental strides of the University. The University has been able to identify some of its Alumni in key positions while making efforts to reach out to them and also presenting them to students and aspiring students of the University. The University of Ilorin has further strengthened its Public Relations drive and also continues to project its image. Within the year, quite a number of internationalscholars have been to the University to deliver lectures and also train some of its staff. Within the next few years, the university plans to expand its exchange and collaborative initiatives such that it would be fully recognized worldwide.
The University has also been able to facilitate more research grants from the Science and Technology Education Post-Basic (STEP-B) Project sponsored by the World Bank and monitored by the Federal Ministry of Education. This has helped members of staff develop their various laboratories and conduct more researches. The completion of the fiber optics project was also greeted with great success within the last one year. This has strengthened the internet connectivity and with the upgrading of the bandwidth from 15 Megabits per second to 155 Megabits per second. The University has now got to an advanced stage in its effort to build a Central Research Laboratory, with the acquisition of high tech equipment.
The current trend in library practice all over the world is ICT-driven, as such, the University within the last one year embarked on massive procurement of computers. This will help in automating the services, ensuring that the catalogue facilities are online, and improve the Electronic Library. The University is improving on the digitization of its library by converting the current hard copy materials to soft copies, which will ensure easy accessibility and safety of the documents.
Professor Ambali said on assumption of office that for all staff to be efficient in all they do they need training and retraining. The Centre for Research Development and In-house Training (CREDIT) has been positioned to provide training for staff members. The University Secondary School has also been transformed to an international secondary. Though the past administration started the project, the spirit of continuity, sustenance, maintenance and continuation of work have been strongly activated. Currently the school has been well renovated to a first class secondary school with work still ongoing.
During the year under review, the University also had a change of baton at the helm of affairs at the Registry where Olufolake Oyeyemi formally concluded her tenure in office as the first female registrar, who handed over to Mr. Emmanuel Obafemi. The new Registrar sought the total cooperation of staff members and charged them to work in unity in order develop the University further and make it sustain its current status across the globe. He promised to build on the foundation laid by his predecessor and also lead the university to a great height.
The University management has also taken into consideration the importance of boosting the morale of its members of staff. Recently the Vice Chancellor approved the promotion of over 290 Junior Staff of the University. It has improved on the enabling environment for both staff and students to work and learn while ensuring the security of lives and property on campus.
With the tremendous work done within one year at the University of Ilorin, it is clear that the University is blessed with the best of leaders, staff and students. Therefore there is no doubt saying the university is in for better years and would definitely grow form strength to strength.
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