The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), University of Ilorin Chapter, has  commenced the construction  of  an access road to its 1,300 plots of land  at the Budo Alfa, Lajiki end of the University as part of the contribution of the current leadership of the union to the social and economic development of its members.

The Chairman of the  Union , Dr. U. A.  Raheem, who disclosed this last Thursday (April 26, 2018), in a chat with Unilorin Bulletin, noted that Unilorin ASUU  deems it necessary  for members of the University community to settle on substantial part of its neighbouring environment because the vacant lands in the surrounding communities need to be  occupied by people whose life style and orientation  are not at cross-purposes with the interest of the University.

Dr. Raheem, who is also the Ag. Head of the Department of Geography, noted that opening up the road, which is less than two kilometres from the campus, is also a mechanism to depopulate the Oke-odo area of Tanke where students often queue endlessly to get to campus.

The union leader recalled that  until 2011, students of the University were living in Budo Alfa  area before the then University management concluded that the environment was substandard for members of the University community because students were staying in unplastered accommodation without doors, and without ceilings. He appreciated the University Management for supporting the project by making their facilities  available to the Union to clear the road,  and  by involving the security of the University in the process.

The on-going certificate verification exercise at the University of Ilorin is aimed at ascertaining the genuineness of the certificates of everyone drawing their salaries from the University. 

The Chairman of the Certificate Verification Committee, Prof. Musibau Akanji, who stated this last Tuesday (April 24, 2018) at the commencement of the verification exercise, said it is  not conceived to witch-hunt any member of staff.. 

The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, was the first staff member to present his credentials to the Committee for screening.

Prof. Akanji, who is the immediate past Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Minna (FUTMinna), thanked the Vice-Chancellor for the confidence he reposed in the Committee, assuring all that the members are men and women of integrity.

He promised that the Committee would do an excellent job, pointing out that no staff member would spend more than 10 minutes before the panel.

The Committee Chairman further said that special consideration would be given to pregnant women and the physically challenged, adding that those who are on study leave or official duties abroad would have their certificates verified upon their return.

In a brief remark, before his credentials were screened by the Committee, the Vice-Chancellor. Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, explained that the verification exercise was the idea of the Council Chairman, Dr. Abdullah Jibril Oyekan, adding that it was also in line with his thinking.

Prof. Abdulkareem said that the exercise would ensure that everyone is on the same page. He disclosed that when he discussed the idea with the staff unions, they all welcomed the idea, describing the union leaders as people that mean well for the institution.

“I am glad to be part of this exercise because you are as good as the quality of the work you do”, the Vice-Chancellor said, pointing out that “the exercise is simple to ascertain what every staff has in order to make the University greater than we met it”.

Prof. Abdulkareem charged the Committee to be just, fair and honest while praying God to guide and reward them.

The certificate verification exercise, which commenced on Tuesday, April 24, would be completed on Thursday, June 7, 2018.

The new Registrar of the University of Ilorin, Dr. (Mrs.) Folaranmi Modupe Olowoleni, assumes duty today, in a grand style.

To usher her in as the sixth Registrar of the University and the second female to occupy that position, a Personality Lecture, entitled “To Whom Much is Given”, will be delivered this morning at the University Auditorium by a retired veteran administrator and Aboaba of Offa, Chief Yunusa Folorunso Oyeyemi.  

Until her appointment by the University Council last month, Dr. Olowoleni was a Deputy Registrar/Secretary of the Centre for Peace and Strategic Studies (CPSS).

In an exclusive interview with Unilorin Bulletin, the new Registrar described her appointment as a reflection of the hard work, which she had put into the system over the years even though, going down memory lane, she had not envisaged that she could become Registrar. 

She said, “I came in as a Planning Officer in the Academic Planning Unit, but I did not even think that I will become the Registrar… I did not think of it till much later in my career.”

“I am happy. Without any doubt, I am happy”, Dr. Olowoleni said, adding that “it is a good thing to get to the top of your career and when you feel you have worked and being of service to the system, you want to give of your best. I am happy that the system thinks I am deserving of it and has given it to me because I want to be of service to this system….”

Dr. Olowoleni, whose competency as an astute administrator is not in doubt among admirers and critics alike, said that she understands that “becoming a University Registrar is no tea party” and that she had therefore, girded her loins in her bid to ensure that she contributes her quota not only to the development of the Registry in particular, but also to the overall progress of the University at large.  

As she assumes office, the new Registrar said she wants members of the University community as well as other critical stakeholders of the institution to look forward to better and professional services, pointing out that “we have been very lucky that we have had people of good character that have been Registrars before me. So, they have put some things on ground for me to build on.”

 On the enormity of her new job, Dr. Olowoleni said, ”It is a herculean task from what people have been telling me”. 

According to her, “The Registrar is the Registrar of the University of Ilorin and whoever is the Registrar has the Registry staff to assist in doing the job of a Registrar. So, the Registrar is not just of the Registry. She/he is the Registrar of the University of Ilorin that has the Registry staff to assist and when the Registry staff are up and doing and professional, the work of a Registrar comes out as excellent.”

She said, “For me, in order to portray a high professional outlook, I hope to be able to work with the Registry staff and I hope to achieve this through training and retraining because work ethics keep changing all over the world; new ideas keep coming up, so we need to see how we can actually lift the standard and be more service-oriented to the system and to our clients.”

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.

It was a harvest of tributes last Monday (April 23, 2018) at the Valedictory Lecture delivered by the immediate past Registrar of the University of Ilorin, Mr. Emmanuel Dada Obafemi, who completed his tenure last Saturday (April 28, 2018), as the fifth Registrar of the institution.

Mr. Obafemi joined the University in September 1981 and served as Registrar between 2013 and 2018.

At the Valedictory Lecture, entitled “A Child of Circumstance”, the former Registrar, fondly called 'ED', while rendering an account of his stewardship, spoke extensively on the different phases of his administrative career within the University system; as a FIFA-graded referee and as a unionist.

Recounting the various postings and assignments, which he had undertaken over the years, Mr. Obafemi said, “The more service you render, the better you are”, adding that this had enabled him to understand the problems and strengths of the University. 

Highlighting his contributions as Registrar, Mr. Obafemi stated that these include the conversion of staff with additional qualifications, reduction of the promotability period of non-teaching staff from four to three years, extensive staff training and retraining, introduction of the Registry Seminar Series for Administrative, Executive Officers and Secretaries, and introduction of Paperless Senate, among many others.

The former Registrar further stated that “as a FIFA referee, I did not shun my responsibilities within the University.”

Recalling that “…for 18 years in this University, I was on the level of Principal Assistant Registrar”, Mr. Obafemi said that the struggle to reduce the promotability period was not for him “because I had become a Registrar but it was for those who were coming; thank God that it would not happen to anybody again. I want to say that to the Glory of God and to the Vice-Chancellors that I had served and I know that our current Vice-Chancellor is going to continue; there was no year, from 2013 to date, that promotion did not take place.”

Mr. Obafemi, who is also the Chairman of the Association of Registrars of Nigerian Universities (ARNU), added that in the performance of the tasks of a University Registrar, “there is no way I would have not stepped on toes”, pleading that “I want such toes to believe that the stepping on them was not deliberate. It must have arisen as a result of my efforts at giving my best to protect the University system, which we all took oath to defend and develop”. He said, “Such steppings were definitely inadvertent and I pray that you will all have places in your hearts to forgive, knowing that I am mortal. I want to confirm that as directed by the Psalmist, I was able to count my days as the Unilorin Registrar and God had helped me to apply my heart unto wisdom.”

Earlier in his address, the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, had set the tone for the torrents of tributes, which followed, when he described the former Registrar as an “exquisite administrator”, who “has advanced the transformation of the administrative system of this University, which in turn, has tremendously pushed the University in its journey to a greater height”.

While pointing out that Mr. Obafemi never compromised on the training of staff, Prof. Abdulkareem lauded the former Registrar's commitment to the advancement of the University, saying, “You have made your marks and your marks will never be forgotten.”

A major highlight of the event was the presentation of gifts and launch of a 161-page book titled “Registry Seminar Papers”, which is a compilation of papers presented during the Registry Seminar Series by seasoned administrators and edited by Prof. (Mrs.) Victoria Alabi.

According to the Book Reviewer, Prof. Noah Yusuf, who also is the Director of the Centre for Peace and Strategic Studies (CPSS), Mr. Obafemi deserves commendation for his initiative and vision in putting in place, the Registry Seminar Series as well as the publication of papers presented at such events.    

 Prof. Yusuf stressed, “In addition to the Holy Books (Qur'an and Bible) and the regulations governing the condition of service of Unilorin staff, every staff of the University-academic and non-academic alike, who earnestly desire to be successful, must have a copy of this manual for daily consultation”.

Earlier while welcoming guests to the event, a Deputy Registrar, Mrs. M.A Oladosu, noted that the Valedictory Lecture delivered by the former Registrar was the first of its kind in the history of the University. 

On his part, the Dean of the Faculty of Clinical Sciences, Prof. O. T. Adedoyin, noted that Mr. Obafemi was very accessible and operated a “no-door policy” and had transformed the Registry to an intellectually-driven one. “I wouldn't say he is a partial man but anything affecting the College, he would always attend to it with dispatch”, Prof. Adedoyin disclosed, describing him as “a team player and very loyal to his boss.”

Others who took turns to eulogise the former Registrar, were leaders of the various staff unions in the University - NASU, SSANU and NAAT; as well as professional bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM). Others were friends of the former Registrar among who is, the Alakinyele of Akinyele from Ibadan, Oba James Odeniran, who described Mr. Obafemi as a “workaholic”, who had made the country proud through his activities not only as an administrator but particularly through sportsmanship.

Mr. Obafemi's successor, Dr. (Mrs.) Folaranmi Modupe Olowoleni, who gave the Vote of Thanks at the event, commended her immediate predecessor for his contributions to the development of the University while also soliciting the support and cooperation of staff members to further move the institution forward. 

Among the dignitaries that graced the event were the Executive Chairman of the Kwara State Inland Revenue Service (KWIRS), Dr Muritala Awodun, who was represented by the Director, Special Duties, Olusegun Olaniyi; the Registrar of Fountain University, Osogbo, Mrs. K. W. Sallee, Principal Officers of the University, Deans of Faculties, Directors and administrators in the University among others.

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.

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.