A lecturer in the Department of Veterinary Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Ilorin, Dr. (Mrs.) Nusirat Elelu, has been awarded the prestigious Africa Research Excellence Funds (AREF), research fellowship tenable at the University of East London, UK.

The award, which is worth E32, 733, is in three phases: the preparatory period, the placement period and the follow-up period.

As part of measures towards advancing the cause of effective transitional research in the country, the Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Moji Christianah Adeyeye, has emphasised the need for collaboration among researchers, industries and regulatory bodies while simultaneously canvassing research into herbal medicine.  

Prof. Adeyeye made this submission last Wednesday (April 18, 2018) while delivering the 1st Public Lecture Series of the Nigeria Association of Pharmacists in Academia (NAPA), University of  Ilorin Branch.  

In the lecture, entitled “Translating Research to Product: A Paradigm Shift”, the NAFDAC boss described translational research as “the process of transforming basic and applied research innovations into new drug, diagnostic or medical device products and best practices” with the central objective of improving public health.

Prof. Adeyeye, who was an accomplished academic and a Professor of Pharmaceutics and Drug Product Evaluation at the College of Pharmacy, Roosevelt University, Illinois, USA, noted that translational research could be challenging and prolonged, “but extremely rewarding.” 

According to her, the process involves the activities of stakeholders comprising university researchers, regulatory agencies, pharmaceutical industries, public-private partnerships, hospitals as well as members of the society, which will lead to improved outcomes in research and development, patent development and heighten research on neglected tropical diseases, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. 

Stressing the importance of collaborative education model, Prof. Adeyeye pointed out that multidisciplinary collaborations could exist within a university, between universities as well as Institutes such as NAFDAC. 

The NAFDAC Director General, who further discussed extensively the importance of funding, research infrastructure and data sharing among academics, also highlighted soft skills required for translational research, which include emotional intelligence, perseverance, advocacy, creativity, communication, ethics, marketing and management skills, among others.  

“If you are emotionally intelligent, you will not think that you are the best in the world that you can do it alone, you will be a team player.., nobody can work in solo or by himself or herself and be able to translate; ethics-you have to be able to get your data accurate. You have to be able to have the strength to repeat and think through why it is not working out well …”, she said.

While noting that Nigeria is endowed with abundant natural resources, Prof. Adeyeye advocated building on herbal medicine research, described as “a low hanging fruit”, which “needs a lot of collaborations”'.

According to her, “We were raised on herbs; they work. It is a low hanging fruit so it needs a lot of collaborations- academic pharmacists and scientists, industrial pharmacists, NAFDAC… etc. There are so many groups that can collaborate if we know how blessed we are as a country.”

The NAFDAC boss said, “China does 75 percent of treatment with herbal products… Their Universities-I am talking of a whole University that is traditional-Chinese Medicine University and it is not in one city, it is scattered all over China; because they have realised what they have been blessed with. They have worked on it for ages and many times they do poly-herbal knowing that with experience and time, that one herbal plant can actually reduce the side effects of another and enhance effectiveness. So, they do poly-herbal and it was an eye opener for me and my students…'

In his remarks after reviewing the Lecture delivered by the Guest Lecturer, the Director of the Central Research Laboratory, University of Ilorin, Prof. M.T. Yakubu, said, 'It is high time we started looking at traditional Nigerian medicine.” 

Declaring the Public Lecture open, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, observed that “there is a wide gap between town and gown”, saying, “There is need to bridge the gap between academic research and research needs of the industries and the public in general.”

According to Prof. Abdulkareem, “We must find alternatives and strategies to bridge the gap; the academics have a responsibility to ensure that their research findings are available to the public in a form that is accessible, intelligible, actionable, affordable and profitable for all that are involved.”  

Earlier in his welcome address, the Chairman of NAPA University of Ilorin, Dr. Isaac Olusola Aremu, explained that the title of the Lecture has been carefully chosen to align with the University's vision of “promoting research from Laboratory to Product (LABTOP).”

Dr. Aremu disclosed that the national body of NAPA, under the leadership of its National Chairman, Prof. M.O. Emeje, had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the pharmaceutical industries sector with the “aim of delivering outcome of research for commercialisation.”

A major highlight of the event was the presentation of a gift to the Guest Lecturer by the Vice-Chancellor.

The President of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Prof. Adesola Aderounmu, has called on the Federal Government to raise modern manpower that could sustainably drive the nation's economy.

Prof. Aderounmu made the call last Wednesday (April 18, 2018) while giving the Keynote Address at the first International Conference on ICT for National Development and its Sustainability organised by the Faculty of Communication and Information Sciences, University of  Ilorin, to mark its 10th anniversary.

In his lecture, entitled “Leveraging ICT for National Development and its Sustainability”, the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Professor of Computer Science lamented that the country's economy has not fully embraced technology as its driving force.

Prof. Aderounmu said that nearly 90% of technologies used in Nigeria are imported despite the huge knowledge infrastructure of 162 legally recognized universities, 125 polytechnics and more than 500 agencies. 

The NCS President said, “It is sad that after 58 years of independence, Nigeria had failed to come up with neither a globally recognized company nor product originating from Nigerian indigenous technology because the national economy had not been technology-driven”.

Prof. Aderounmu then called on the Federal Government to develop the Information Technology Industry through research centres, technology parks and incubators, provision of reliable and affordable infrastructure and provision of fiscal incentives for indigenous software developers.

He further suggested that the government could develop the sector through the creation of a special fund to assist start-up businesses as well as grow existing developers, enactment of a law that mandates MDAs to patronize indigenous software while mandating the immediate implementation of the approved Scheme of service for IT professionals.

While recommending that priority should be given to registered IT professional in the award of IT contracts in the country, Prof. Aderounmu equally tasked the academia to promote productive collaborations and partnerships both internal and external and create learning opportunities for the students.

He said, “The system of mentoring, apprenticeship and tutelage, which existed in the past should be re-introduced and strengthened. Split-site arrangements should be encouraged to enable young researchers to be acquainted with new trends, globally. Spend a considerable portion of its yearly budget on global promotion activities”

While declaring the conference open earlier, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, assured the participants that the University would do everything possible to ensure conferences are successfully held in the institution.

He submitted that conferences are crucial to the students' development and growth as it gives them exposure and cross-fertilization of ideas, adding that students should be invited in large numbers to attend conferences.

Prof. Abdulkareem revealed that discussion is ongoing to mobilize the Faculty leaders and talented students to work together to house the University's ICT incubation room so that the entire University processes could be automated.

He also disclosed that facilities required improving ICT research activities for staff and postgraduate students have been identified. 

In his welcome address, the Ag. Dean of the Faculty of Communication and Information Sciences, Dr. Rasheed Gbenga Jimoh, explained that the conference received over 100 articles from over 41 different academic institutions nationally and abroad cutting across computing, library and information science, telecommunication science, mass communication and media technology, information and cyber security and information technology.

Dr. Jimoh said that a major hindrance to national policy implementation is lack of full integration of ICT, which he submitted, has prevented the nation from being able to retrieve vital information for effective decision making.

The Dean said, “The Faculty under my leadership is therefore committed to doing everything possible to assist the University to realize her dream of becoming a citadel of learning to be reckoned with globally with full integration of  ICT”.

Awards were later presented to some distinguished Nigerians for outstanding services. Notable among the recipients were former Vice-Chancellors of the University, Prof. Shuaibu Oba Abdulraheem (OFR), Prof. Is-haq O. Oloyede (OFR), and Prof. AbdulGaniyu Ambali (OON); as well as the incumbent Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem' the Aragbiji of Iragbiji, Osun State, HRM Oba Abdur-Rasheed Ayotunde Olabomi. 

Former Deans of the Faculty of Communication and Information Sciences, Dr. Omenogo Mejabi, Prof. Lenrie Aina and Prof. Joseph Sadiku; as well as the pioneer Head of the Department of Mass Communication, late Nureni Doyin Mahmoud were also awarded at the Gala Night that marked the end of the conference.

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, has expressed his appreciation to members of the institution's branch of the Non Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) for their contributions to the progress and development of the University.

Prof. Abdulkareem said this penultimate Thursday (April 5, 2018) at the 2017 NASU Day held at the University  Auditorium. 

Represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research, Technology and Innovation), Prof. Gabriel Olatunji, the Vice-Chancellor, told the unionists that he is always favourably disposed to their needs, saying that it is not in his character not to grant requests he has power to grant”. 

In his own address at the event, the Registrar of the University of Ilorin, Mr. Emmanuel Obafemi, commended the leadership of NASU for maintaining its annual programme and urged the union to build or acquire a secretariat where it can hold events and its members can interact informally.

Mr. Obafemi also congratulated the retirees for being alive to witness the important event and disclosed that he will also retire at the end of the month as he urged the retirees to look forward to an interesting life after retirement.

The Registrar urged the NASU members that are still in service to put in their best.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Chairman of the University of Ilorin Branch of NASU, Mr S. H. Ibrahim, highlighted the achievements of the Union in the last one year, which include alleviating financial challenges of some union members, conducting free eye tests for some members, signing of Memorandum of Understanding with the University on the construction of Hostel, part-payment of Earned Allowance, reinstatement of disengaged Staff School teachers and the election of Mrs. Adeola Oyedepo into the Kwara State Branch of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).

Highlights of the event included presentation of cheques for financial assistance to 25 retiring members of NASU and to family members of 10 deceased members, as well as presentation of a special award to the immediate past Chairperson of the Union, Mrs. O. F. Adeshina, who is now an academic staff.

Among the dignitaries that graced the occasion were the veteran NASU leader at the University of Ilorin, Mr. Ibrahim Agboola, the leadership of NASU at the Kwara State Council and the Chairman of the Unilorin Branch of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Comrade M. Akanbi, and his National Association of Academic Technologists (NAATS) counterpart, Comrade Olufemi Awolola.

A Professor of Agricultural Extension at the North-West University, South Africa, I. O. Oladele, has emphasised the importance of enhancing capabilities of farmers and farming communities through agricultural extension. He said, “The World Bank has indicated that growth originating from agriculture through extension services has been two to four times more effective at reducing poverty than growth originating from other sectors.”

Prof. Oladele stated this last Monday (April 16, 2018) while speaking at the 23rd Annual Conference of the Agricultural Extension Society of Nigeria (AESON), held at the University of Ilorin.

Speaking on the theme “Enhancing Capabilities of Farmers and Farming Communities through Agricultural Extension”, Prof. Oladele, who was the Keynote Speaker, described extension as “all systems that facilitate access of farmers, their organisations and other market actors to knowledge, information and technologies; facilitate their interaction with partners in research, education, agri-business and other value-chain actors and assist them to develop their own technical, organisational and management skills.” 

The don noted that innovation is the only way through which extension services can be responsive to the changing scenes of agricultural landscape. He said, “By so doing, innovation extension system should meet expanding high value markets through innovative farmers, carrying out on-farm research on high value crops and constant training of farmers.”

While stressing that capability development for extension officers requires relevance, exposure, continuous education, professionalism, professional development and skills acquisition, Prof. Oladele advised that when choosing extension professionals, especially in developing countries, the core competencies of programme planning and implementation must be highly considered.

The Professor of Agricultural Extension added that “communication skills, leadership, education and information technology, diversity and multiculturalism, professionalism, extension and organisational management, project evaluation and research and technical expertise” are major skills that must also be considered during selection because not only are these skills useful to extension workers, they are also very vital in achieving the goal.

Prof. Oladele, who is also the Head of the Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension Education, stated that for Nigeria's policy to enhance the capabilities of farmers and farming communities, there is need for donors/funds to strictly follow the plans of action.

He then appealed to agricultural extension scholars to write papers on advocacy for extension in Nigeria, adding that extension professionals need to do more research and seize every available opportunity to supply agricultural produce to various places where such is sold in order to further encourage local production and minimize importation rate.

On his part, the President of AESON, Prof. Agwu, E. Agwu, described the theme of the Conference as “apt and timely” because of the current economic crisis in the nation and also because it is in line with the second Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations that seeks to end hunger, achieve food security, improve food nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

Prof. Agwu pointed out that “extension services enhance people's capabilities to revitalize their communities and also strengthen and empower people with new skills, knowledge that enables them contribute successfully to improving livelihoods and incomes in their communities.”

The AESON President then noted that the aim of the conference is to intensify the exchange between the scientific and practice communities, thereby closing the gap between town and gown.

In his address, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, urged students to utilise the opportunities the conference provides, adding that the conference is a good platform to tackle issues in agricultural extension, as well as proffer ways forward.

A major highlight of the conference was the presentation of Fellowship Awards to five members of the Association: Mallam Y.Y. Mahmoud; Prof. Elizabeth Onwubuya; Prof. C.P.O. Obinne; Dr. Windapo and Prof. E.M. Igbokwe.

The Director of the General Studies Division (GNS), University of Ilorin, Prof. Abdulwahab Olasupo Egbewole, has disclosed the Unit's plan to organize public lectures for students, especially for those in final year, in order to prepare them for life after graduation, saying “it is not enough to be book-smart, students need to also be street-wise”. 

Prof. Egbewole, who disclosed this last Thursday (April 12, 2018) during the send-forth for two of the Division's retired staff, stated that the 1st public lecture will hold next month and a successful Alumnus of the institution will be invited to talk to the students in order to motivate them to aim higher.

The Professor of Jurisprudence and International Law said, “Because it is our mandate to prepare all-round students, it is our hope that these students realise that apart from being a lawyer or whatever professional, they must be street wise, they must know what it takes to be successful in a society like Nigeria and they must learn how to survive in an environment as harsh as Nigeria.”

Appreciating the retirees for their selfless years of service to the Unit and the University at large, the Director described Mr Raifu Babatunde Opoola, who retired as a Senior Secretarial Assistant I, as the encyclopaedia of the Unit because “he started his journey in the University in 1978 in this Division and he is also retiring from GNS. Whatever it is we want to know, we pick from his wealth of experience as he has served all the Directors that have been here.”

Prof. Egbewole also noted that Mr. Lamidi Aliu, who retired as a driver, has been very reliable and useful to the Unit, adding that since he joined the University in 1992, the retiree has served almost seven Directors in the Unit.

While appreciating the retirees, as well as other staff for their cooperation, the Director stated that “all through the non-academic staff strike, the GNS office was open everyday because apart from the Student Affairs Unit, our department interacts with the highest number of students. Therefore, we cannot afford to be like any other unit. The unit also celebrates everybody. As we do for Directors, we do for those below because we are supposed to be models for other institutions.” 

Recalling how Mr. Opoola was preparing for his retirement 5 years ago before the retirement age was extended by 5 years, the Dean of Communication and Information Science, Dr. R. A. Jimoh, noted the retiree has a good disposition not only to work but to people, adding that he is certain the whole University will miss Mr. Lamidi because of his lively and jovial nature. The Secretary of GNS, Mrs Amusa, noted that she will miss Mr Opoola for always praying with her and encouraging her, while, Mr Lamidi will be missed for his very jovial and accommodating nature.

Other staff of GNS also sang praises of Mr. Opoola as being very generous, always ready to give, friendly, do not look down on other staff because he is older, work well with people and always ready to cheer them up.

Responding, the retirees appreciated the Director, as well as all staff in the Unit for honouring them and also pledged to remain in contact with those they are leaving behind.

The Registrar of the University of Ilorin and retired FIFA-badged referee, Mr. Emmanuel Dada Obafemi, has described the appointment of Unilorin Medical graduate, Dr. Ayodeji Olarinoye, as FIFA Doping Control Officer as a “heart-warming news” to him.

Pointing out that the University is proud of its product, Mr. Obafemi said, “We thank God in this University that one of us is making waves in the field of sport on the world stage”.

The Registrar, who was one of the Veteran Recipients at the 2016 Federation Cup Grand Finale, said, ''Dr Olarinoye has always been in sport even when he was doing his MBBS here and it is so heart-warming to some of us that know him that      after attending some courses, FIFA now appointed him.

Dr Olarinoye, a former Team Doctor of Golden Eaglets - Nigeria's U-17 football team, will join the network of FIFA medical officers charged with the responsibility of ensuring safe and healthy participation in football after attending several FIFA anti-doping trainings.  

On the decision of the world football governing body, FIFA to deploy the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system at the World Cup in Russia, Mr. Obafemi, who is also a Referee Instructor, observed that the system ''may be a good one'' as questionable decisions will no longer destroy a game. 

He, however, expressed his reservation, saying that the VAR may ''dampen the morale of a referee if his decisions are upturned by the VAR during the course of a game. But before the game, it is expected to make the referee to be at his best so that none of his decisions will be upturned by the VAR.''

According to the International Football Association Board (IFAB) protocols, VAR should only be used in four key cases: goals, penalties, direct red cards and mistaken identity. However, the VAR is the only person who can decide to get involved as the referee cannot ask them for help.

On the participation of the African Teams (Egypt, Nigeria, Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia at the World Cup which starts in June, Obafemi said "I don't forecast because I'm a referee. The Countries that have qualified are the best. So we expect our best to compete with the best from other continents. The game of football is not a guess game. It is an eleven-eleven game."

He observed that the development of African football has been "particularly good by the day with Ahmad as CAF President".

According to him, the new President of Confederation of African Football, Mr. Ahmad Ahmad has taken some steps making football development in Africa to improve greatly.

The outgoing Registrar of the University, who also doubles as the Chairman of Association of Registrars of Nigerian Universities (ARNU), however expressed shock that “with two months to the World Cup, the Coach of the Super Eagles is still shopping for Number 1 Goalkeeper for the Team".