As he gradually rounds off his tenure, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. AbdulGaniyu Ambali (OON), has reiterated his commitment to handing over a better institution than he inherited five years ago to his successor.

Prof. Ambali, whose five-year tenure ends on October 15, 2017, disclosed this in an exclusive interview published in the latest edition of an education-focused newsmagazine, The 6334 Reporters.

The Vice-Chancellor noted that his administration had done its best towards sustaining the legacies of the founding fathers of the University and also succeeded in maintaining an uninterrupted academic calendar as well as ensuring peace on campus.  

Prof. Ambali said, “I have ensured that there is peace and that the majority of the people are satisfied as it is impossible to satisfy everyone. I don't have problem with anybody personal; everything I do, is done in the best of my ability to achieve the golden rules and target of the University. I have the responsibility of taking Unilorin to a higher level to ensure that I hand over a better institution to my successor than what I inherited five years ago”.

Expressing gratitude to God for the opportunity to serve in the capacity of a Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ambali, who described it as “a tremendous experience”, said he had learnt from the experiences of his former bosses over the years, which had prepared him for the present challenges of leadership.

The erudite Professor of Veterinary Medicine said, “I used to tell people that one can't be a good leader without being a good follower. I have seen Vice-Chancellors carrying out their responsibilities both within and outside Nigeria”.

Citing the specific example of the then Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool, where he had his postgraduate training in the UK, Prof. Ambali noted that the white man displayed uncanny leadership quality that greatly influenced him. He said, “I was impressed by the manner in which some of these responsibilities were carried out. He was more or less the image-maker, fund raiser for the University. He was busy selling each and every University Department to the public and industries, and getting the attention the University required, that has given the institution a very good outreach. I admired the administrative skill of the then VC.”

Prof. Ambali added, “Again in Nigeria, I had served under the administration of about five Vice-Chancellors either as Head of Department, Dean or Director, and I have seen the manner in which each and every one of them operated. All of the cumulative experiences of my bosses are assembled and have had effect on my personality and in carrying out my responsibilities”.

While commending the efforts of the Federal Government through support interventions like TETFUND and NEEDS Assessment, the Vice-Chancellor pointed out that all the funds provided through these agencies “have been used to develop the institution for the task they are meant for”.

“I must commend the Federal Government and also acknowledge the roles played by the friends of Unilorin and some of my personal friends, because these three avenues have been employed to negotiate the best for the institution”, Prof. Ambali said, disclosing that “I have been able to reach out to my friends for support and administration of the University”.

The Vice-Chancellor said, “Quite a number of things found on the campus are contributed by some of my friends. The University friends especially in the area of the private hostel development project under the BOT, we have been able to reach out to the friends of the University and entrepreneurs in the country to come and invest on our campus.”

The Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Dr. Abdulllahi Bichi Baffa,  has said that funds allocations by the agency are aimed at enabling tertiary institutions in the country to become first class institutions thereby improving their global ranking

Dr. Baffa stated this at the University of Ilorin last Friday (August 11, 2017) during a sensitization meeting with officials of the University on the activities, guidelines and modalities for accessing intervention funds.

Represented by a Director at the Fund headquarters, Dr. Jacob Alada, the TETFund Executive Secretary disclosed that the agency is working with the National Universities Commission (NUC), the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) and the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) to ensure that quality and standards are improved and sustained.

He revealed that in the year 2016, Universities, Polytechnic and Colleges of Education received N1 billion, N691 million and N679 million respectively for the development of benefiting tertiary institutions across the country.

Dr. Baffa further disclosed that remarkable progress has been made in the area of academic staff training and developments, noting that as at May 2017, a total of 17,482 academic staff have been sponsored by TETFund for Masters and PhD courses in top ranked universities both in Nigeria and overseas.

“Also, in 2011, the Fund launched the National Research Fund (NRF) with a seed of N3 billion to support cutting edge research in areas of critical national need and development. So far, a total sum of N1.7 billion has been accessed by lecturers to finance their research activities”, Dr. Baffa said.

The Executive Secretary explained that TETFund does not award contracts and does not get involved in the beneficiary's contract award process except to monitor projects for which monies were provided.

According to Dr. Baffa, the Fund believes that a strong tertiary education system is the backbone of the economy, concluding that interventions are well calculated and targeted to bring about a solid foundation for the educational future of Nigeria.

He then urged the institutions to make responsible and transparent use of the funds made available to them, adding that they must be guided by the Fund's guidelines, processes and procedures to enable them access the funds allocated.

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. AbdulGaniyu Ambali (OON), while declaring the sensitization meeting open, welcomed the TETFund team and admonished participants to take advantage of the meeting.

Speaking through the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research, Technology and Innovation); Prof. Gabriel Olatunji, the Vice-Chancellor assured TETFund that the University would take advantage of the sensitization to access more funds for the development of the University.

Also present at the meeting were the University Registrar, Mr. Dada Obafemi; the University Librarian, Dr. Joseph Omoniyi; and the Deputy Bursar; Mr. O. Dere.

The sensitisation meeting featured various lectures on the activities and processes of the Fund.

The Apostolic Church Nigeria (TACN) has donated copies of its centenary history book to the University of Ilorin in order to serve as relevant reference materials for students and staff seeking information about Pentecostal movement in Nigeria, as well as for academics in the Department of Religions.

The TACN Superintendent, Ilorin Area, Pastor D.S. Olayemi, who made the presentation to the institution through the University Librarian, Dr J.O. Omoniyi, last Wednesday (August 9, 2017), at the University Library, said that the book contains records, activities and distinctiveness of the church from 1918 to 2017. 

Also in his remarks at the book presentation ceremony, Prof. J.A. Morakinyo of the Department of Plant Biology, University of Ilorin, who is also a member of TACN, pointed out that the book is a “compendium of knowledge” that will guide anyone seeking any information about the Church.

In his remarks, the University Librarian, Dr. Omoniyi, expressed the University's appreciation to the Church for the donation, saying that “the books are not just reference materials but text books that dwell on Christian studies particularly comparative church history and since we have a programme in the University called Comparative Religious Studies, it will be highly useful.”

Dr. Omoniyi, who received the books on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. AbdulGaniyu Ambali (OON),  pointed out that because of the religious harmony evident on the University campus, “a book like this will be appreciated by all regardless of individual religion. The institution is very accommodating of people of various religions and that is why in the past 17 years we have not closed our door to strike or to protest”.

The importance of education towards the realisation of women's rights and dignity was again brought to the fore at the third edition of an interactive session organised by the Protection of Women Dignity Initiative (PWDI), a brainchild of Dr (Mrs.) Naimat Modupe AbdulRaheem, the Head of the Department of International Law and Jurisprudence, University of Ilorin. The event was themed “Muslim Women and the Right to Self-Realisation”.

In her presentation at the event penultimate Saturday (August 5, 2017), the Ag. Head of the Department of Mass Communication, University of Ilorin, Dr (Mrs.) Saudat S. Abdulbaqi described self-realisation as a developmental goal, which necessitates the fulfilment of certain objectives and requires women seeking knowledge.

According to Dr. Abdulbaqi, “a woman should be educated; a woman should seek knowledge because with this, she is going to improve the lot of her family… Prophet Muhammad (SAW) also said when you train a man, you have trained an individual, but when you train a woman, you have trained a nation. So if men should invest whether in the education of their daughter or their wife or their sister, they are invariably laying a very good foundation for a very strong society.”

While pointing out that most women lack self-confidence, the keynote speaker said, “We shouldn't be pushed to doing things that we don't like”, noting that a woman has the right to maintain her basic identity.

The Communication expert said, “Women must be encouraged to have high self-esteem devoid of pride … each person has what has been predestined for him or her; how far a man will go has been destined and how far a woman will go has equally been destined; so we should not suppress the destiny of somebody because she is a woman. When she goes up, it is going to be to the credit of the family as well as to the benefit of the entire society.”

Dr Abdulbaqi, who also highlighted some challenges confronting women as including rape which, often, is perpetrated by people close to the family, bullying, amongst others, said equal attention should be paid to both male and female children. She further urged men and women not to take each other for granted, while advocating the virtues of tolerance, perseverance and looking up to God as a panacea.

Also in his presentation, the Ag. Dean, Faculty of Law, Dr K. I. Adam, commended the initiator of the programme for the initiative.

Dr. Adam pointed out that Allah designated both men and women to complement one another rather than the husband and the wife living as competitors.

In his remarks, the immediate past Dean of the Faculty of Arts, University of Ilorin, Prof. Shehu Abdussalam, said that the theme of the event should not be viewed from a negative perspective, but rather from the perspective of women's rights and responsibilities which are inalienable.

Earlier in her opening address, the Coordinator of the PWDI, Dr (Mrs.) AbdulRaheem, explained that the organisation was established “to support the mission of Islam towards promoting an enabling and sustainable Islamic society for Muslim women to enjoy their rights and revive their dignity as stated in the Islamic injunctions and as taught by the Holy Qur'an”.

She pointed out that “Islam does not only accord many rights to women but also enjoins them to play positive developmental roles in the society in addition to having access to justice”, adding that “it is not news that a lot of rights are accorded to Muslim women by Almighty Allah in the Qur'an, the realizations of these rights have continued to be a global problem and almost impossible to be achieved”.

Dr. AbdulRaheem said, “It saddens my heart when I hear the yearning and crying our weak, feeble and vulnerable Muslim women who would have been useful instrument for the benefit of Islam and society at large being subjugated and lavishing in ignorance. They are seemingly alive but dead as their potentials could not be tapped for the benefit of the society. How can we as Muslims cut one of the wings of a bird and still expect it to fly. The day we accord Muslim women their due rights, a new wind will blow and light will definitely replace darkness in this country as women are illuminating and wonderful”.

In order to rekindle interest in the learning of the Yorùbá language and save it from extinction, a Professor of Yorùbá Literature in the University of Ilorin, Olalere Adeyemi, has enjoined the Federal Government to establish a National Literature Committee to be saddled with the responsibility of improving and preserving indigenous literary works, as well as encouraging and motivating indigenous writers.

Prof. Adeyemi of the Department of Linguistics and Nigerian Languages, Faculty of Arts, made this submission last Thursday (August 10, 2017), while delivering the 172nd Inaugural Lecture of the University, entitled “Yorùbá Literary Criticism: Theories and Theorizing in Nativism”.  

The Linguist, who observed that “only writers in the English language medium are encouraged, rewarded and recognized,” suggested that the National Literature Committee, when set up by the Government, “should encourage and motivate indigenous writers by organizing literary competitions at state and national levels while prizes are awarded deserving writers.”

“Indigenous writers in Yorùbá medium should no longer be ignored”, the Inaugural Lecturer argued, just as he canvassed that “indigenous languages and literatures should be given the attention they deserve in the school curriculum”.

According to Prof. Adeyemi, “a situation where the teaching and learning of Yorùbá language and literature is made optional at the secondary school level portends a great danger of extinction for Nigeria's indigenous languages and literatures.”

The don stressed the need for each state of the federation to “set up indigenous literature committee under the State Ministry of Education to be concerned with the improvement and preservation of indigenous written literature”. He said, “This kind of committee was established in the Western Region in August 1944 known as the Western Region Literature Committee; it motivated the early Yorùbá writers. Such a committee would see to it that indigenous writers and their works do not go into extinction”.

He lamented that “after fifty-seven years of Nigerian independence, the virus of colonialism has continued to affect our vision and perception of indigenous languages and literatures to the extent that people hate cultural values that belong to them and love what belongs to other civilizations.”

Prof. Adeyemi, who copiously spiced  his lecture with Yoruba proverbs, said, “The Yorùbá elders say: Oso Olosoo ko yeni bi ka ni teni, agbabo Sokoto ko yemo eniyan bi ko fun won lese, a so won regiregi lohun eni I bani mu.(An imitated fashion cannot be compared to one's original creation. A borrowed pair of trousers cannot completely fit the wearer, if it is not too tight, then it will be too loose. One's own garment is a perfect fit)”.

He maintained that “due to the large scale ignorance of many, the psychological fallout of colonialism and deliberate disdain for indigenous languages and literatures, particularly among the elite speakers”, there is “the need to look inward and engage in theorizing derived from our indigenous knowledge system, which in literary parlance is called Nativism.”

Describing the theory of Nativism as that which “calls for cultural revival especially the cultural values that can help the society move forward and create a definite identity for African language literature in the comity of world literatures”, Prof. Adeyemi explained that Nativism “is a 'look back' to the relevant aspects of our traditional civilization.”

The Inaugural Lecturer pointed out that “Yorùbá literary criticism and theory must have its roots deep in Yorùbá culture”, insisting that “it must take its birth from Yorùbá experience and culture and must pulsate with Yorùbá feelings and knowledge system”.

Prof. Adeyemi enjoined African writers, specifically, those of the indigenous language expression to “come together as a force to ensure that African literature in indigenous languages is given recognition as is being done for literature of English expression”. He urged parents and guardians, especially the elite, to desist from “discouraging their children and wards from speaking the Yorùbá language”, enjoining them to rather “encourage them to love, speak, read and write in their mother tongue.”

“The house of Oduduwa (both continental and Global Yorùbá), traditional rulers, corporate groups, individuals and organizations must not allow Yoruba language and literature to die. They must support academic researches in Yorùbá studies through awards of fellowships and grants to researchers, scholarships to Yoruba students, and financial reinforcement or support to indigenous publishers to reduce the burden borne by writers in the publication of Yorùbá texts”, the Yorùbá literary scholar  advocated.

A former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Uyo, Prof. (Mrs.) Comfort M. Ekpo, has said that access to uninterrupted internet facility is a sine qua non for quality education, pointing out that it will be impossible to guarantee a high-quality education for Nigerian youths if they are disconnected from the rest of the world in this age of internet services.

 Prof. Ekpo made this observation recently (July 27, 2017) while presenting her keynote address at the International Conference of the Association for Innovative Technology Integration in Education (AITIE) held at the University of Ilorin with the theme, “That all may Integrate Technology for Learning”.

The Keynote Address Speaker, who noted that scholars are quite conscious of what they lose by not being connected with the rest of the world, submitted that once internet access is in place, the creation of digital local content stimulates the rapid use of Technology especially if this local content drives users to complimentary web resources.  

The former Vice-Chancellor suggested that every teacher should be encouraged to use as much of the available software in their daily class instructions, saying, “For instance, Microsoft Word, Excel, CorelDraw and PowerPoint programmes should be integrated into appropriate teaching/learning events.”

In his opening address, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. AbdulGaniyu Ambali (OON), congratulated the Association for Innovative Technology Integration in Education (AITIE) on the thoughtfulness of convening the International Conference on Innovation, Technology and Education, thanking the organizers for choosing to hold the conference at the University of Ilorin.

Prof. Ambali informed participants at the conference that the University pioneered the use of technology through the Computer-Based Test (CBT) in examining large classes in Nigeria, which he said has now become an integral part of higher education service delivery. He said that the name of the University would always be in gold when the history of CBT is written in our universities.

According to the Vice-Chancellor, the University's commitment to education and scholarship at all times without break has earned the University a vantage position and a lofty place in the community of Nigerian universities such that it is the most subscribed University in the county since the past four years.

Earlier in his welcome address, the President of AITIE, Prof. I. O. Salawu, explained that the association is a professional forum for academics, non-academics, media specialists, instructional designers, distant educators, and other stakeholders interested in improving teaching through innovative emerging technologies for the sole purpose of facilitating learning.

Prof. Salawu added that the conference was specially organised to sharpen and improve media specialists' skills in the promotion and development of positive attitude towards technology integration for innovative teaching.

Also in his remarks, the Dean of the Faculty of Education, University of Ilorin, Prof. Noah Oyedeji, submitted that AITIE has set a good example by taking a lead in promoting transformation and excellence in education.

The Ag. Dean of the Faculty of Communication and Information Sciences (CIS), University of Ilorin, Dr. Rasheed Gbenga Jimoh, has been elected the North-Central Zonal Coordinator of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) and member of the Governing Council of the Nigeria Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN).

At the election, which took place during the 13th National Conference of NCS in Abuja recently, Dr. Jimoh won  with a wide margin of 151 to 47 votes against the incumbent North-Central Coordinator, Prince Majemite.

Dr. Jimoh, who recently assumed duties as the Ag Dean, CIS, had earlier served as the Chairman of the Kwara State Chapter of NCS.

In a statement made available to Unilorin Bulletin, Dr. Jimoh expressed the hope that his election “will further increase the visibility of the University of Ilorin nationally in the Information Technology (IT) profession”.

While pledging to always be a good ambassador of the University, the new NCS Zonal Coordinator thanked the management of the University for affording him “the opportunity to contribute to the growth and development of IT profession in Nigeria”.