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Directorate of Corporate Affairs
History of the Directorate
Public relations and information management were in existence in 1976 at the inception of the then University College, Ilorin which was an affiliate of the University of Ibadan, though there was no unit undertaking such task. The Principal, as the Chief Executive Officer was also the Chief Information officer. The Pioneer Principal of the University College, Professor O.O. Akinkugbe laid the foundation for information processing, management and dissemination in the University College.
The first task of the Principal immediately after his assumption of duty was to produce the maiden edition of the University College, Ilorin bulletin, which was released on March 31, 1976. That edition featured the appointment of Prof. Akinkugbe as Principal of the University College as sole news. While vetting the materials for publication, the Principal had written:
I have sent this to Peter Ajayi (then Editor of the Nigerian Herald) and left one with Adedoja. I expect you have contacted the Sketchman. This is the prototype of our future Bulletin. The one announcing our office address etc should be on the same format. Please clear all these with me before sending to press.
The Bulletin was a two-page publication, typewritten on quarto size paper and had no illustration. Professor Akinkugbe actually designed the page layout, having possibly contracted professionals in two newspapers, namely the Nigerian Herald, Kwara State government newspaper and Sketch owned by the Western State Government and located in Ibadan. The maiden edition was marked IL.1.00.
The second edition of the Bulletin was released on April 2, 1976, announcing as follows:
With the arrival of the Principal, Professor O. O. Akinkugbe and some of his administrative staff, the University College, Ilorin, is now operating from a temporary office at 5 Forest Road, G.R.A., Ilorin. The Postal Address is P.M.B. 1515 and Tel No. 2525. Later in the year, the University College is expected to move into the campus now occupied by the Kwara State College of Technology when that College moves to its permanent site. Preparations are under way to admit the first set of undergraduates for the 1976/77 academic session this September.
The Bulletin was issued from the Office of the Principal, which took responsibility for its processing and production. The next two editions of the Bulletin featured the appointment of Registrar, Bursar and Director of Works.
The fourth edition was an improvement over the earlier versions. The Bulletin now featured a hard cover, which was printed, while the date and volume were either typed or stamped on the cover. The Bulletin’s name had then changed to Unilorin Monthly Bulletin but was still issued from the Office of the Principal. An Officer in the Principal’s Office usually sent circular to members of the University Community “to send in any news item worthy of attention for publication in the Bulletin.” The March, 1977 edition featured the announcement below:
The Federal Government has decided that the University Colleges of Ilorin, Port-Harcourt and the Bayero College will take on full University status as of 1st October, 1977.
The Bulletin, however, still retained its hard cover with the University College logo until the Vol.1 No. 6 edition, released in June 1977. Thereafter, the Bulletin was issued from the Office of the Vice-Chancellor, University of Ilorin to reflect the new status of the institution.
Subsequent changes in the format of the Bulletin saw the jettisoning of the hard cover. The Bulletin donned a new feature with the creation of the Information Unit in November 1979. The then Vice-Chancellor, Professor Akin Adesola, saw the need to have someone of high calibre for “what is essentially a delicate and sensitive position…There is very urgent need to fill the post of Information officer, and I will find the present position intolerable for the nest session he wrote,” he had written to the Registrar.
With the realization of the need to have a professional to man the newly created Unit, Mr. Ayanda Fajenyo, an Assistant Registrar was appointed as the Pioneer Information Officer of the Unit. Fejenyo had B.A. English, Graduate Certificate in Education from the Ahmadu Bello University in 1972 and a Diploma from the Times Journalism Institute – the training arm of the Daily Times of Nigeria in 1976. An Executive Officer and a Clerical Assistant were deployed from the Vice-Chancellor’s Office to form the nucleus of the take-off staff. Later a Secretary and Messenger were added.
At the inception, the goal and focus of the Information Unit of the University was not too clear. The new Unit thus started with a weekly press release highlighting the activities of the University. The Press Release was thereafter followed up with a monthly Bulletin. While the Press Release was for internal consumption, the Bulletin was for both internal and external consumption as it was being sent to other sister universities in Nigeria and abroad.
The Unit also maintained relationship with the print and electronic media, government and parastatals. All advertisements from the University were routed through the Unit for placement and follow-up. The Unit was further responsible for organizing press conferences and coverage of all University activities.
The Unit was also responsible for the compilation and editing of University publications such as Calendar, Annual Report, Inaugural Lectures etc. It also served as the Secretariat for the University School Board, Ceremonials Committee and the calendar Editorial Committee.
In November 1980, a photographer was employed, thus creating room for the take-off of the photography section of the Unit. The Unit also provided material for international publications, telephone directory, Quarters list and other seasonal publications. As at 1981/82, it was still operating from a two-room office. It had no darkroom, stores and communication facility. The Unit also monitored news reports to enhance appropriate response to any issue concerning the University. It handled sales of Inaugural Lectures. For instance, it generated a sum of N468.00 from these sales covering the period of 1979 to 1987.
The Bulletin, as earlier stated, was then still being produced by the Information Unit of the Vice-Chancellor’s Office. It was designed on a soft cover with a man blowing trumpet and the University logo adorning the cover in magenta colour. The cover was printed and the contents were displayed with their paginations. The rest of the pages were cyclostyled. By January 31, 1986 a Gestetner Duplicating machine was acquired by the Unit to ease the production of the Bulletin. By 1994, however, it had been realized that the Information Unit needed to be further professionalised. It had not been structured as a distinct career post, but rather it was in the mainstream administrative cadre, though another officer, Mr. E.D. Obafemi was employed as Administrative Officer I (Information) and had assumed duty on September 28, 1981. Another Officer, Mr. J.O. Orinya was posted to the Information Unit, after the exit of Mr. R.O. Olajide, as Administrative Assistant. Due to shortage of professional staff, these officers, including Mr. A. Olukotun, performed public relations role. Orinya was to, thereafter, act as the Acting Information Officer after Mr. Fajenyo was transferred and had handed over as Principal Assistant Registrar (Information) on July 7, 1998.
Following the call for the professionalisation of the Unit, a proposed organogram was forwarded to the Vice-Chancellor on March 23, 1995 and was re-presented on November 22, 1996. What probably encouraged the idea of upgrading the Unit to a Directorate was the existence of the Directorate of Public Affairs in the University of Lagos then.
This was the situation until the Governing Council of the University directed that the role of the Information Unit with regard to public relations should be properly defined. It also approved the upgrading of the Unit to a Directorate as obtainable at the University of Lagos and the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, in order “to achieve the desired positive change, improved performance and productivity”. It also directed that an organogram should be presented through the appropriate committee of the University for due consideration by Council.
UPGRADING INTO A DIRECTORATE
Following the approval of Council, the Information Unit was upgraded to a Directorate. A Deputy Director, Mr. I.Z. Aliagan, was appointed. He was the first trained journalist and former newspaper editor with first and second degrees in Mass Communication to head the University’s Information outfit. Aliagan got his Bachelor Degree from the Bayero University, Kano in 1989 and Masters Degree from the University of Lagos in 1991. He had been Editor of The Herald prior to his assumption of duty at the University.
The professionalisation of the Directorate was in tune with the emerging trend in information management in the University system. This has improved the performance of the Directorate significantly as the Directorate has been able to meet the increasing challenges in information packaging and dissemination. Between 1999 and the to date, the Directorate was been able to boost the media profile of the University and facilitated prompt dissemination of information from the University to its internal and external publics. It upgraded the editorial as well as aesthetic quality of its publications.
From September 20, 1999 when he took charge at the newly created Directorate, he began efforts to professionalise the Directorate in consonance with the Governing Council’s vision.He forwarded a memo to the Vice-Chancellor on October 13, 1999 on the need for at least three professional staff in the area of information management and computer. He proposed the publication of a four-page information pamphlet on the University, Calendar & Diary, Quarterly Newspaper, the University Annual Review and the University Calendar for 19993-2000. Follow-up to this was the deployment of two Administrative Officers with media experience to the Unit. They were Mr. G.Y. Balogun B.A. English (Unilorin) 1992, Diploma Independent Journalism Institute and Mr. T. A. Bamigboye, B.A. Ed. English (Unilorin) 1993. While Mr. Balogun had worked in The News Magazine, Mr. Bamigboye worked in The Herald newspapers.
A memo was also sent to the Administration on August 30, 2000 recommending that entry into the directorate should be determined by professional qualifications and promotion as directed by the University regulations. It proposed personnel such as Director, Deputy Director, Assistant Director, Chief Information Officer, senior Information officer and Information Officer.
A career structure for the photography and video personnel was also forwarded to Administration on October 30, 2000 emphasizing professional qualification of HND in Audio Technology & Photography for HATIS 7 & 8 and OND in the same disciple for HATIS 4 – 6.
When the Deputy Director Information assumed duty, the Gestetner Duplicating Machine was in bad shape. A memo was then sent to the Vice-Chancellor on the need to have a CPU, Monitor with Printer and an Electronic Typewriter to improve the work of the Unit.
As at 1999, the Bulletin, which began as a monthly, eventually became a weekly and thereafter published when there were sufficient materials. The reason for this was due to pressure on the rolling machine and computer for processing the materials, which were not available in the Unit until year 2000, among others. The Bulletin also graduated from quarto-size to full-scap length, with the front page printed in navy blue colour. The Bulletin now displayed ISSN No. 0331-6483 with space for typing of the headline and the pages. The rest of the pages were cyclostyled. The aesthetics was poor; with ink splashing across the pages, and often time blurring the contents. Usual stories included administration circulars, reports on Faculties and departments, doctors call duty roster and duty roster for telephone operators, staff and students matters etc. There was no definite pagination for the Bulletin then.
As from August 2000, the Unilorin Bulletin was printed on Kord machine, on 70grams bond paper with photographic illustrations. The first two printed editions were loose but stitched. Further aesthetic improvement led to the folding and stitching of the Bulletin copies. The first editions were in four pages, later becoming eight pages. The Bulletin has since risen to 12, 16 or more pages per edition, depending on the volume of materials available.
The first printed edition of the Bulletin was published on August 4, 2000. It had two stories on the on the front page, namely “Strike action: Council lauds Workers’ Unions for embracing Dialogue” and “Two-year Tenure for New Deans.” It also had on its front page, list of contents. It was illustrated with the photographs of Lt. Gen. Salihu Ibrahim (rtd), the then Pro-Chancellor while the photograph of Professor S.O. AbdulRaheem, the then Vice-chancellor and Professor F.L. Bello-Ochende, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) adorned the back page. The August 11, 2000 edition was illustrated with the photograph of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Admin), Prof. O. O. Balogun, while the back page had picture of the Registrar, Mr. M.T. Balogun. That edition featured an interview with the Director of Works, Mr. P.K. Oyatoye. The August 18, 2000 edition featured an interview with the Deputy Director of Security, Lt. Col. A.O. Jimoh.
Sometimes emergency edition of the Bulletin was printed on cyclostyled copy. The printed format was retained until April 2003 when toning of the pages was introduced as part of efforts to further beautify the Bulletin. By the March 4, 2004 edition, the Bulletin was printed on glossy art paper, with photographs on the front and back pages in colours and the inner pages toned with cyan, magenta, yellow and green colours. It has since maintained that format, oscillating between eight and twelve pages, depending on the volume of materials.
As at September 1999, there were 11 staff in the Directorate, comprising the Deputy Director, one administrative Officer, one Higher Executive Officer, One Confidential Secretary, one Chief Typist, one Senior Typist, two photographers, two messengers and one driver. Staff strength of the Directorate as at December 2003 comprised of the Deputy Director, two Administrative Officers, one Confidential Secretary, one Senior Typist, two photographers, two messengers and one driver, making a total of 10.
The Directorate engaged in series of media activities within the period of 1999 to date. These included issuing of periodic press releases on University activities, reacting to publications in the newspapers and magazines, arranging interviews for the Vice-Chancellor and other principal officers of the University, responding to media enquiries, organizing facility tours for the media, packaging special reports on the University and engaging in positive image building for the University through effective media liaison. The Directorate also engaged in packaging and production of special documentaries on the University in the NTA Network service. The Directorate produced four documentaries within this period. All these improved the positive media rating of the University and as well tamed negative media propaganda on the University.
As at 1999, the only publication of the Directorate was the Unilorin Bulletin, which was being produced through cyclostyling and in loose sheets, as stated earlier. This was sustained in that form until August 2000 when the Directorate pioneered the production of the Unilorin Bulletin in printed form with pictorial illustrations. This innovation enhanced the editorial and aesthetic appeal of the publication. It is noteworthy that the Directorate pioneered the printing of the Information Bulletin. It received delegates from some Universities whose information handlers came to understudy its set-up.
The Bulletin was an important information tool particularly during emergency. It bridged information gap between Administration and its publics, both internal and external. The Bulletin was published as a weekly and sometimes-emergency publications were produced. Other publications of the Directorate include seasonal information pamphlets, handbills and posters produced for public enlightenment purposes. The seasonal Unilorin Star usually produced during convocation started as a tabloid packaged by the NNI Communications in December 1998. During the 2002 Convocation, it was produced in-house. Unilorin Star graduated to a quarterly publication in October 2003. It is now printed on glossy art paper, in full processed colours and in conventional magazine size.
The Directorate currently serves as secretariat to some key committees of the University. The committees include the Ceremonials Committee which handles all important ceremonies of the University, including the Convocation ceremony, among others; the Library and Publications Committee which regulates publications of academic staff and handles the publication of CENTREPOINT, an academic journal of the University; the Governing Board of the University Primary school, among others. The Directorate has served creditably in these committees and all adhoc committees set up by the Administration.
At the moment, the Directorate has some facilities, which are adequate for its functions, but there is a need for back-up in case of sudden breakdown. In this case additional computers are required. Editing Suite and facilities will be required in due course to equip the Video and Documentary unit as well as some additional professional staff. Additional personnel will enable it to create and staff its proposed Research and Documentation Unit; Media Liaison and Monitoring Unit; Protocol; and Video and Documentary unit.
Just like every other sector of the University, the Directorate requires additional funds to be able to meet increasing challenges of modern information management. With additional fund the performance of the Directorate could be greatly enhanced. Secondly, professionalisation of the unit requires that it be allowed to focus more on information management, procurement, processing and dissemination, and to reduce some of the adhoc tasks that impede concentration on these schedules.