The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Tertiary Education and Services, Hon. Suleiman Aminu, has commended the management of the University of Ilorin for judicious use of money appropriated to it for the execution of various projects in the University.

Hon. Aminu gave the commendation last Thursday (November 9, 2017) when the Committee members visited the University of Ilorin as part of their nationwide oversight tour of tertiary institutions in the country.

The Chairman, while congratulating the Vice- Chancellor, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, on his appointment, expressed the belief that he would perform excellently considering his records as an erudite scholar and versatile administrator.   

Hon. Aminu said, “Let me assure Nigerians that the National Assembly would continue to engage in productive actions that would improve the system. Let me also express our satisfaction with the management of the University of Ilorin for executing critical projects and maintaining stable academic calendar for the past 17 years”.

He said that the team came to the University of Ilorin to confirm if all what have been appropriated to the institution have been released by the executives and utilised for the purpose they were provided for.

The Committee Chairman said that “it is commendable that the University of Ilorin does not have any uncompleted project on its campus.”

Stressing the essence of the tour, the Chairman said that the tour, as provided by the law, is to engage with the leadership of the institutions to find out the challenges mitigating against teaching and learning; and would also allow them to examine the evidences of the payments released for personnel, capital projects and overheads by the executive arm of government.

Welcoming the legislators to the University, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, informed them that Unilorin, being a socially responsible institution, has zero tolerance for abandoned projects.

The Dean, Faculty of Science, Delta State University, Abraka, Prof. E. O. Adaikpoh, has called for the overhauling of the Nigerian education system in order to improve its systemic value before it can serve effectively in the development of science.

Prof. Adaikpoh, who stated this last Thursday (November 9, 2017) while delivering the 12th edition of Prof. Mosobalaje Olaloye Oyawoye Endowed Lecture organised by the Faculties of Life and Physical Sciences, University of Ilorin, added that Science and Technology, being systemic value-improving, are needed for such deployment. 

In the lecture, entitled “In the Service of God and Humanity”, the scholar lamented that the Islamic Studies subject has been 'maligned' at each stage of its growth. He called for the review of the 60:40 Science to Liberal Arts ratio, as envisioned by the National Policy on Education, stating that this was “necessary because a technologically advanced Nigeria devoid of decency will be counter-productive.”

Prof. Imam also noted that the decline in the total number of candidates who registered and sat for the May/June WASSCE Islamic Studies between 2007 and 2016 has led to a reduction in enrolment to study the subject at Nigerian tertiary institutions. “These sorry conditions of the subject have been worsened by insufficient teaching staff, infrastructural and instructional materials, which earned most of the departments offering the subject at the tertiary institution level interim accreditation status”, he added.

The Inaugural Lecturer said, “Islamic studies and those who study it have experienced one form of dislike, mockery or the other. Quite a number of successful Islamists today yesterday had low estimation of themselves and felt inferior to their peers. A few others have also relegated the subject to the background and treated those who chose it as a career with disdain”.

He, however, explained that “despite this negative attitude, it has been demonstrated in this presentation that Islamic Studies confers spiritual and mundane benefits to those who acquire it. Spiritually, it provides a correct understanding of Islam to those who acquire it and leads them to its proper practice. In the mundane sense, taking a career in Islamic Studies provides meal ticket and helps to address numerous problems facing the society through researches that recommend Islamic solutions to those problems”.

Prof. Imam further stated that “such competence has been acquired through critical and creative thinking skills that training in different subject areas of Islamic studies have inculcated in those who acquire it, explaining that given these benefits that Islamic studies confer on both individuals and the society, “it will not be out of place to state that it is a discipline dedicated not only to the service of God but also to humanity.”

Highlighting his contributions to his field among which is the production of an anti-corruption teaching/preaching manual funded by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Prof. Imam said the manual was meant “to appeal to the religious consciousness of the Nigerian Muslims so that they can abhor economic and financial crimes and assist in fighting them to a halt.”

Prof. Imam, who also serves as the Research Manager (Humanities Cluster) in the Centre for Research Development and In-House Training (CREDIT) of the University, enjoined teachers and students of Islamic Studies “to be proactive at all times and ensure that they contribute meaningfully among their peers without any complexities”.

He further urged Islamic scholars to  “take portents from other professionals who not only express the desire that their children take after them professionally, but ensure their training in that direction by encouraging some of their children to specialise in Islamic Studies or related fields”, saying, “If you do not value or know your worth, who will?”

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, has solicited the support of the University Senate in his mission to move the institution to greater heights just as he maintained that the uninterrupted academic calendar, which is the hallmark of the University, remains sacrosanct. 

Prof. Abdulkareem, who made the appeal last Monday (November 6, 2017) in his address to the first Senate meeting he was presiding over, stressed the need to sustain and improve on the tempo of progress being witnessed in the University while building on the achievements of successive leaderships of the institution.

 In his address, entitled “Your Support is Our Victory”, Prof. Abdulkareem said, “Overall, the continued stability of this University is sacrosanct.  We have enjoyed it for the past 17 years, and it has given us an image that draws the largest number of admission seekers within and outside our country to us. It is one of the identities that make us different and better than the others in Nigeria. I will, therefore, oblige to negotiate anything else but the continuous stability of this great University will remain non-negotiable”.

Prof. Abdulkareem, who described his emergence as Vice-Chancellor as “a product of divine act”, noted that successive leaderships of the University “have been interpreting and implementing the spirit and letters of our statement of goal in different but equally remarkable ways”, saying, “This is why I must appreciate all my predecessors for laying solid foundation on which I can build and on which I must endeavour to improve.”

The Vice-Chancellor expressed his commitment to championing the drive towards ensuring that the University becomes more reputable for research outputs, which can change the world, adding that “this is also the dream of the Chairman of our Council, who had prodded us to aim at producing a Nobel Laureate within a short time.” He said, “This is achievable if we have a renewed energy, devotion, faith, attitudes and ethos that can rekindle our unique Unilorin spirit for attaining greater heights.”

Prof. Abdulkareem, who explained that he was committed to the promotion of staff and students' welfare as well as sustaining the infrastructural development of the University, highlighted strategies which he intends to adopt over the next five years. These, according to him, are re-orientation of staff and students' attitudes towards commitment and excellence and promoting healthy and effective collaboration and cooperation amongst Unilorin Team members to synergically solve societal and global problems.

“It is my intention to revive and review the practice of assessing lecturers' performance by students in order to make us more alive to our statutory responsibilities”, he said, explaining that “I am not unaware of the subjectivity that may be associated with the process. All the same, I have the conviction that we have astute professionals that can come up with a practicable, suitable and acceptable design”.

Prof. Abdulkareem stressed that “the success or failure of our cause rests on all of us”, adding that “on my own part, I will not fail in my responsibilities to you, and I will open my eyes, my doors and ears for your pieces of genuine advice.”

He told the University Senate members, “I will not deceive myself by thinking that I know the answers to all problems...In this hallowed chamber, let us be free to express our minds for the genuine purpose of generating consensuses that will lead us to our desired destination. You can be sure that I will always examine what is said rather than who said it.  I do not believe in bigotry and I will not promote it because it dwarfs the soul by shutting out the truth.

“There are still other thousand ways of making our University a vibrant university that is absolutely self-reliant, which, I think, are lurked inside each and every one of us, and which I will like you to willingly release to assist the leadership in achieving our common goal”, the Senate Chairman implored members.”

The Vice-Chancellor said, “I want to assure you that I will drive us all with the principles of justice, fairness, consideration and co-operation because I believe these are the values that can lead us to eternal peace and existential glory. In our operations and journey together, there will be dissents and disagreements, but such dissents and disagreements should not lead us to anarchy.”

Amidst intermittent applause by the crème de la crème of the University's egg heads, Prof. Abdulkareem said, “Let me remind you that we are on this bus together and we cannot afford to let it crash. We should all be involved genuinely in the Unilorin Project, even if there is a need to beg anyone for such genuine commitment to the larger goal of making the project work and succeed for us all. When there is a need to make compromises, concessions and negotiations, let us make it with genuine purpose for common good that binds us together”.

Story of a devoted staff that refused to get married for 13 years because of his commitment to the system

When the history of the University of Ilorin Bursary Unit is written, it will not be complete without the mention of a particular name, AbdulBarki Oba, a man who has risen through the ranks over the last 18 years to becoming a Deputy Bursar in the University. This is not only as a result of his unusual work ethic but also because he had come to be seen by friends and foes alike as an epitome of modesty, transparency and accountability in the discharge of his duties, which he does with a passion. For him, “financial rules are not meant to be followed by only a few people, they are meant to be followed by everybody even including the head of the University.”

Oba is firm in his belief that accountability and integrity is a far-reaching demand for all those entrusted with managing funds on behalf of the public whom they serve.  His words: “If you are an accountant and you do not have integrity, then you are nobody because, as a public accountant, they are going to entrust public money to your hand. But public money must be spent according to rules. If as a public accountant, if you have integrity, you must know your onions as to the rules so that you don't begin to lead people astray because we can get ourselves into trouble when we do things that are not in tandem with set rules for such spending.”

Indeed, the Deputy Registrar of the Directorate of Human Resources, Mrs. R. A. Okojie, attested to this stance when she described Oba as someone “who knows his onions as far as figures and accounting are concerned.”

Mrs Okojie told Unilorin Bulletin. “I have watched him from a distance; I think he is very professional. I have had cause to attend meetings with him and I think he is courageous too; he is able to guide by the books professionally. I think he knows his onions as far as those figures and accounting is concerned and that too from observation”.

Oba's life is borne out of the credo that you must be good to everyone irrespective of faith, language or affiliation. He recalled his growing up days when he used to hawk perishable fruits and boiled eggs in order to support his family after the death of his father, Alhaji AbdulBarki, popularly called Mukadam AbdulBarki Ayinde of Isaleoja, Ilorin, who lost his life in Nigeria's first recorded plane crash in 1970 in Kano on his return from pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.  This sad incident marked a critical turning point in the younger Oba's life. As he put it: “I don't like losing out on the lessons of whatever happened to me in the past... you can imagine as a little boy, I haven't even entered primary school. I had hopes; I was expecting the man (his father) back and the man never came back.

So, that has affected my whole life personally. As a father of my kid, I can go out and not return that has clearly affected the way I relate, even with my own wife at home.”

“There was a day my mother said I had to go and hawk boiled eggs”, he continued, “but I did not want to go because we had a match. My friends were already on the field, So, she said, “if you don't go, you will not eat”. Reluctantly, I went out to go and sell these eggs at Oja- Oba as a small boy.”

Thus, with a full tray of boiled eggs balanced on his head, Oba went to the market to sell his wares where the unexpected happened. A market porter, laden with heavy burden, had failed to observe the youngster selling eggs ahead of him, pushing Oba, and in the process, the tray filled with eggs tilted and alas, everything went down. “I haven't even sold any of the eggs and I was crying as a small boy”, he revealed.

“That day, a woman I never knew from anywhere came and said to me, ‘come’; wiped my face, and she packed all the eggs one by one and begged people around to buy the eggs. She was telling them, “you won't eat the eggs with the shells after all”. And she sold everything. This woman up till today, each time I remember her, I pray for her.  Somebody I never knew from anywhere.”

“She said to me, ‘either your father or your mother did something good that God recognised and you are the one reaping it today’. That particular lesson never left my head. And the lesson there is for you to be good to everybody; this woman never knew me from anywhere... she helped me as a small boy. Therefore it was my own resolve that wherever I find myself, I will be fair and just to everybody and that has been my driving force.”

Having worked with successive leaderships of the University, like Professors S.O. AbdulRaheem, S.O. Amali, I.O. Oloyede and AbdulGaniyu Ambali, Oba disclosed that he has also learnt lessons in humility and hard work.

The era of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo's administration, who mandated that government agencies accounts must be ready a month after the close of the accounting year, otherwise allocations will not be released, presented a new challenge for the young Oba who was just about seven years old in the system as he tackled the challenge with exceptional vigour, passion and commitment to the job. “It was a tug of war”, he added. “That time I was not even taking my bath; I would be the first to get to office, I would be the last to leave”, he disclosed.

Nonetheless, as someone who has served at the most concrete level in the Financial Accounting Unit of the University, becoming its Head as far back as 2006, Oba enjoined Nigerian universities to plan their finances strategically, saying, “If you plan your finances there wouldn't be any problem. Again, I have advised at a certain forum that universities will have to look into our businesses.”

According to him, “businesses of the University are not being run the way businesses are to be run … we continue to run our businesses like civil service-you know, putting university staff to head what should be making profits for us. A good example of good business is our Microfinance Bank. The Microfinance Bank is not being run by University staff. The people there are not university staff. We know banks are set up to make profit, so of course, they will be making their profit. A parallel one is our Water Enterprise, where you go on break if the Federal government declares break for 3, 4, or 5 days, and the place is locked. That is not how to do, business... so there must be a paradigm shift in the way we do businesses around here and with that, we can go places”, Oba opined.

A self-confessed realist, Oba detests doing things in half measures and this is why he enjoin, those working under him to strive to be the best on their job. “…we cannot all be in the same place” he said. “If you are a tailor, do your own best, be the best tailor around. If you find yourself in non-academic, they have given you a challenge; how far have you gone with that challenge given to you? Some of us, non-academic, go to join academic for the wrong reason. Just because somebody is academic, you believe that non-academics are second class citizens.

“That is the reason why some of us go back to get further academic qualification.”

“I worked as graduate bachelor in the University system for 13 years ….I was so committed to the system that it wasn't my priority to get married. I served as a bachelor for 13 years …I enjoy doing the job. I enjoy touching peoples' lives…because we are a service Unit. If we are going to define our effectiveness or whatever, it will be defined by your response time. So, that is me and that is what I try to sell to my people who work under me.”

“I don't like seeing people lurking around and saying they want to get things from Bursary. Normally if you have any claim in the Bursary Department, you are not supposed to go there. That is the essence of e-payment…You don't have to worry about how your claim will get into your bank account. The thing is, I have taken up the job and I know the job that I have; so even when I am at home, I think of how to make better what is in the office.”

A University of Ilorin don, Prof. Yahya Oyewole Imam, has enjoined the Federal Government to restore Islamic Studies to its original status as a core subject in schools, saying this will foster the inculcation of appropriate morality in the youths while ensuring that they become useful adults who will take the country out of its current social morass.

Prof. Imam of the Department of Religions, Faculty of Arts, made this submission last Thursday (November 9, 2017) while delivering the 175th Inaugural Lecture of the University.

In the lecture, entitled “Science and Technology: Tools for Improving Values for a Better Nation, the renowned Professor of Geology described science as a systematic enterprise that builds and organises knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe while technology is the collection of techniques, skills, methods and processes used in the production of goods or services.

Prof. Adaikpoh said that science and technology have been appraised and adjudged to be tools capable of improving values for a better nation, therefore, “the Nigerian Education system needs overhauling in order to improve its systemic value, before it can serve effectively in the development of science. To improve science for national development, a suitable operational environment must be put in place and sustained”.

He disclosed that the best idea in the value chain that a better nation needs is improving the value of the people through science and technology, adding “everyone is complaining that our Nigeria is a failed nation, where wealth is worshipped and the rich adored irrespective of their source of wealth. These people rarely discuss or attempt to give solutions”.

The Guest Lecturer said that any attempt to trouble-shoot the current societal decay must address the question of where are we coming from? where are we going? and what components in developmental factors are not in consonance with the means for societal growth?

Prof. Adaikpoh, who also lamented the diminishing of excellence in the ivory tower, added that “any serious minded nation must be predictive and proactive in developing its capacity to produce crime-arresting tools at the rate commensurate to that of the challenges. This can be done through value means, define and influences.”

According to the don, “our people do not perish for lack of knowledge but they perish because of inconsistency and lack of will and courage to function as the good people that we are. At different times and fora, we have had to point accusing fingers, and we have been discussing our challenges. There is hope. Our people are reacting and we are close to the end of the tunnel where there is light”.

In his opening address, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, appealed to Nigerian youths to spend less time on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms, urging them to dedicate much time to knowledge acquisition.

Prof. Abdulkareem observed that there are many things in the world that the parents and grandparents of today lack during their youthful days which their children now have access to.

The Vice-Chancellor, who also challenged the youths and school children to be dedicated and committed to knowledge gaining through their gadgets, encouraged them to learn from the life of the endowee, Prof. Muhammad Jamiu Mosobalaje Oyawoye, the crown prince, Aremo of Offa and the first African Professor of Geology who deployed his youthful days to skill acquisition.

Earlier, in his welcome address, the Chairman of Faculty of Science Endowed Lecture Committee and Dean of Life Science, Prof. A. T. Ande, said though the lecture came up late in the year, there can be no better time to discuss the topic than now when the world is run by science and technology and the national values are dwindling.

While appreciating the endowee and guests including the Secondary School students who were in attendance, the Dean of Physical Science, Prof. U.B. Eke expressed the University's profound gratitude to Prof. Oyawoye for his support in making the lecture a reality every year.

Responding on behalf of the endowee, Prince Abdulganiyu Oyawoye appreciated the management of the University of Ilorin for honouring his father, disclosing that Professor Oyawoye will not relent in making impact in the field of knowledge.

About 62 hectares of land procured by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, (ASUU), University of Ilorin Branch, have been allocated to about 500 members to build their own houses.

The large expense of land, which is about 1,300 plots, is situated at Budo-Alfa Village in Ilorin East Local Government Area of Kwara State.

Speaking with Unilorin Bulletin during the presentation of certificates to the beneficiaries, the Chairman of Unilorin Branch of ASUU, Dr. Usman Raheem, said the objective of the land acquisition scheme was to empower members to own property. 

Dr. Raheem explained that because of the nature of their job and salary scale, his members might not be able to acquire properties except if they have proper planning.

The ASUU Chairman said the union identified the location as the immediate neighbourhood of the University, adding that they felt it was important to capture the neighbourhood on time before some external forces and influences begin to invade the neighbourhood.

“Secondly, we have a number of young people in the academics now that are paying through their nose to get the rent. But, if they have a plot of land and are developing it, it won't take time for them to have a house of their own.

“Generally, we identified this location as the immediate neighbourhood of the University first for proximity purpose and also for the future. We believe that the neighbourhood of the University is very important for the peaceful existence of the University community so we felt it is important to capture the neighbourhood on time before some external forces and influences begin to invade our neighbourhood”.

The President of the University of Ilorin Students' Union, Comrade Adebisi Ridwanullah, has disclosed that the Union had concluded an agreement with Albarka Transport Service on how to ease transportation problems being encountered by the students of the University.

Comrade Adebisi, who stated this last Wednesday (November 8, 2017) while addressing journalists during the 3rd edition of the University of Ilorin Students' Union Press Briefing, also said that the Union, in fulfillment of its electioneering promises, will install machines that will boost internet accessibility at various departments.

While welcoming the students, the Union President said, “I feel honoured to be here as the 31st Students' Union President of our great “Better by far” University, a University centered on doctrine and probity, an institution that does not only issue certificate but also inculcate the right character needed by the outer world”.

In his address, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, disclosed that the University has internalised education system for easy teaching and learning.

Prof. Abdulkareem, who was represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Management Services), Prof. A. Y. Abdulkareem, maintained that the institution was proud of its achievement that majority of its students shunned cultism.

He said this was made possible because of the high level of discipline of the staff and students.

In his remarks, the Dean, Student Affairs, Prof.  M. T. Ajibade, explained that the University management was working round the clock to ensure adequate and total security of life of students in and outside the campus.

Prof. Ajibade stressed further that the management had collaborated with private companies to construct new hostels that will accommodate additional 1,000 male students on campus. This, according to him, will ease the problem of accommodation for students.