The Igbomina-Ekiti Muslims Forum (IEMF) has congratulated Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, as he resumes work as the 10th Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin.

The Chairman of the Forum, Alhaji Abdulazeez Olawuyi, extended the greetings when he led members of the Forum on a congratulatory visit to the Vice-Chancellor in his office last Monday (October 16, 2017).

Alhaji Olawuyi beseeched Allah to guard and guide Prof. Abdulkareem to succeed in his new position.

In his response, the Vice-Chancellor, who pledged to be a good ambassador of Igbomina land, also appealed to members of the IEMF to always call him to order whenever they noticed any irregularities in him.

Less than six months into his tenure as the Governing Council Chairman of the University of Ilorin, the Pro-Chancellor, Dr. Abdullah Jubril Oyekan, has launched the 'Team Unilorin' Project, a major rebranding campaign to inspire members of the University community towards greater attainments.

Dr.  Oyekan, who made this announcement on Day 2 of the 33rd Convocation Ceremonies of the University of Ilorin last Saturday (October 21, 2017), said that the 'Team Unilorin' Project implies “total dedication to the pursuit of excellence in whatever one is engaged in, putting in all that is demanded and bidding farewell to mediocrity for good. Whether directly involved as students or lecturers or in a supporting role as non-academic staff, there is a strong commitment in raising the banner of Unilorin aloft anywhere and everywhere in the world and practicalising the Unilorin Slogan 'Better by Far.'

He further pointed out that, “every single stakeholder has a role to play and that when all and sundry play their respective roles together we can lift the University to loftier heights”

According to the Pro-Chancellor, “serious pursuit of excellence involves hardwork, being focused and determined to make the sacrifice necessary to achieve set goal. It requires doggedness and it means that we shall not feel fulfilled until our Professors being to metamorphose into Nobel Laureate. Belonging to Team Unilorin also means aspiring for decency and the most commendable human traits.”

However, Dr Oyekan noted that, these aspirations cannot be realised without adequate funding, adding that, “we must find the wherewithal to provide the necessary funds to finance all our projects and aspirations.”

 While noting that the Council has mapped out an Action Plan for Development from the existing Strategic Plan of the University, as well as commissioning of a forensic audit, the Chairman added that, the Council intends to put the “University on the path towards extending the frontiers of knowledge and blaze a new trail in its areas of academic endeavour as a very highly rated Institution if world-renown. The Council will continue to work harmoniously with staff, students, all stakeholders and maintain the cordial relationship and understanding with the University Management.”

The immediate past Sub-Dean of the Postgraduate School, Dr. Abdulwahab Olanrewaju Issa, has been appointed the new University Librarian.

Dr. Issa, whose appointment was ratified by the University Governing Council at its meeting on Tuesday, October 12, 2017, succeeds Dr. Joseph Omoniyi.

Born on October 11, 1967, Dr Issa attended Alore Primary School, Isale Banni, Alore Quarters, Ilorin and Army Children Primary School, Zaria, where he completed his early education in 1979. Between 1987 and 1996, he obtained a Diploma, Bachelor and Master degrees in Library Science from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria where he also got recruited as a Graduate Assistant in 1992. He proceeded to the University of Ibadan for his doctorate degree which he obtained in 2007 and also owns a Postgraduate Diploma in Education from the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto during the same period.

In the course of his sojourn in the academia, Dr Issa, an erudite scholar who has over 58 academic publications to his credit, has been Ag. Head of the Department of Library and Information Science, Federal Polytechnic Offa, 2000-2004; Ag. Director, Centre for Continuing Education, Federal Polytechnic Offa, 2004-2009; Ag. Head, Department of Library and Information Science, University of Ilorin, 2011-2016; Sub-Dean, Postgraduate School, from 2011 before his present appointment as University Librarian.

A member of many professional bodies, Dr Issa was also the Chairman of the Nigerian Library Association, Kwara State branch between 2010 and 2012.

At various times, the new University Librarian has been Examination Commissioner for different Faculties in the University; Chairman of the Committee of the Postgraduate School saddled with the responsibility of producing the PG School prospectus, Chairman of the Committee charged the formulation of the guidelines for the writing of theses and dissertation for the PG School; aside many other administrative responsibilities he has been entrusted with within the University system.

…As Ambali renders account of stewardship

As he assumes office today as the 10th Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem has promised to build on the legacies left behind by his predecessors in steering the affairs of the University.

Prof. Abdulkareem made this pledge last Friday (October 13, 2017) during an interactive session with journalists at the press briefing, which heralded the 33rd Convocation Ceremonies of the University.

The new Vice-Chancellor said, “As the captain of the boat or ship, the last thing you want to do is rock the boat; so I can assure you, being lucky to have had so many effective predecessors, I can assure you that the foundation will be worked upon very strongly to make sure that things work well and continue to get better.” 

Earlier while rendering account of his stewardship during the press briefing, the immediate past Vice-Chancellor, Prof. AbdulGaniyu Ambali (OON), enjoined staff members of the institution to extend the same support accorded him to his successor, Prof. Abdulkareem, whom he described as an “epitome of success.”

According to Prof. Ambali, the University's successes will be sustained under Prof. Abdulkareem on the basis of his experiences as a former Vice-Chancellor of a Nigerian university and as a renowned researcher.

 “This is the successful successor that is succeeding me and I believe he will engineer the heterogeneous University community in a way that will catalyse the system to greater heights”, Prof. Ambali said, urging “all members of the University community and indeed our friends and partners to accord Prof. Abdulkareem the same support accorded me and even more.”

“The aspiration of the University is to be better by far everyday or with every Administration. It is all about the University of Ilorin because everyone of us whether we like it or not, will go, it is the University that will remain forever by the grace of God. Let us always support the University”, Prof. Ambali stressed.

While speaking on his tenure in office, the immediate past Vice-Chancellor, who expressed appreciation to God for the achievements recorded under his leadership, stated that the University had recorded giant strides in terms of human, academic, infrastructural and environmental development. 

According to him, the number of Faculties in the Institution has increased to 15, from 12 in 2012 with the introduction of new academic programmes that were accredited by the National Universities Commission in the last five years.

“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, as the human component of development is very vital, it gives me satisfaction that in the last five years, 2,698 staff members in various categories have benefited from our training opportunities. Some 1,711 academic staff and 376 non-teaching have enjoyed local learned conference sponsorships while 148 academic and 25 non-teaching staff have been sponsored to international conferences over these past five years. Some 2, 376 staff members have been promoted by this Administration and the number excludes those whose promotion takes effect this month”, Prof. Ambali maintained.

In the same period, he pointed out that 69 projects have been commissioned while 13 more were due for commissioning during the Convocation Ceremonies this week, which brings the total number of projects completed under his watch to 82. He further explained that when other universities in the country were paying half salaries or reduced salaries on various percentages, the University of Ilorin, over this period, did not fail to pay staff their full salaries every month, saying: “When people wondered how we did it, we said it is God.”

Prof. Ambali said, “It is gratifying and satisfactory that between when I started and now, professors and other staff of the University have been appointed to sensitive positions of responsibility at the national level while I too have served creditably as President of the Association of West African Universities (AWAU) while still being a Board Member of the Association of African Universities (AAU) representing West Africa” a development which he noted, indicated that UNILORIN is on the right course.

“I recall that in my address tagged “Another Dawn”, which was delivered on Monday October 15, 2012 that I received the baton of leading this University, I noted that with the cooperation of all of you, I hope to with full commitment and total dedication, sustain the academic excellence, peace and development the University of Ilorin is renowned for. I am glad to report that I have enjoyed your unalloyed cooperation and the academic excellence, peace and development of the University that I referred to then have been sustained and enhanced” the former Vice-Chancellor submitted.

 Prof. Ambali also announced that the University would at its 33rd Convocation Ceremonies, graduate a total of 9, 018 students with 89 bagging First Class Degree, the highest number of graduands in the coveted category, so far in the history of the Institution.

The new Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, has stressed the need to enhance learning in the Sciences by finding a way in which equations can be brought to life through visualisations as seen in the success of students in the staged Convocation Play.

Prof. Abdulkareem said this last Tuesday (October 17,2017) while commending the crew of the Convocation Play for the 33rd Convocation Ceremonies of the University, a dance drama, entitled "Susan Wenger, (Adunni Olorisa)" written by Kehinde Olalusi and staged by students of the Department of the Performing Arts.

The Vice-Chancellor described the Department of Performing Arts as one where students learn joyfully as he noted that the students involved in the play disposed their responsibility with utmost diligence and dedication and they show that with enough practice, students can become perfect in what they do.

“If only I can express chemical equations with visuals, my students will learn with more joy like the students of the Performing Arts”, Prof. Abdulkareem noted and therefore challenged the Department of the Performing Arts and other relevant departments such as that of Education Technology to advance the frontiers of teaching and learning through research and collaboration that will lead to artistic way of teaching sciences to attain national development more easily.

The Vice-Chancellor further noted that the life of Susan Wenger is a lesson in dedication, whatever our callings, adding that if a woman from a western culture could be so dedicated to a foreign culture and rise to be a priestess, there should be no doubt on how important dedication is and students should practice their assignments so as to be proficient as Wenger was in Yoruba language, culture, tradition and spirituality.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the Dean of The Faculty of Arts, Prof. Oyeronke Olademo, also extolled the virtues of the late Susan Wenger as she shared the memories of her interactions with the late Osun Priestess with the audience.

Prof. Olademo noted that the white woman who called her daughter and whom she referred to as mother was laid to rest in the kind of local fabric that she wore.

While welcoming the audience, the Head of the Department of the Performing Arts, Prof. AbdulRasheed Adeoye, disclosed that the Department renders social services to the University and even beyond and added that the story of Susan Wenger is one of the triumph of good over evil as a number of malevolent forces allied to oppose Wenger whom they saw as an intruder and usurper.

In his remarks, the 2017 Convocation Lecturer, Prof. Chris Imafidon of Oxford University also commended the team which brought the memories of Susan Wenger, known as Adunni Olorisa, to life in the dance drama and noted that coordinating an orchestra involves mathematical principles and therefore everyone aspiring for University education needs to take Mathematics seriously.

The 2017 Convocation Ceremony of the University of Ilorin has come and gone but its memories would linger for some time to come. The event, the 33rd of its kind in the annals of the better by far institution, was unique in  a number of ways: it could happen only once in every five years; it was presided over by two vice-chancellors, one flagging it off at the twilight of his tenure, the other seeing it through as his first public outing and official assignment on assumption of office; it had the benefit of attracting a Nigerian of global renown to the country, to deliver his first public lecture anywhere in Africa in about 30 years; it encompassed the presentation of a documentary book on an exiting helmsman of the University; and above all, it witnessed one of the highest turnouts of important dignitaries ever.

Flagging off the ceremonies penultimate Friday (October 13, 2017), the immediate past Vice-Chancellor, Prof. AbdulGaniyu Ambali (OON), who was performing his last official assignment, seized the opportunity provided by the press briefing to render the account of his five-year stewardship. He also unveiled the new Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, who he described as “the successful successor that is succeeding me”. Expectedly, it was an emotion-laden moment.

And to celebrate Prof. Ambali's end of tenure, a documentary book, chronicling his landmark achievements, was publicly presented immediately after the press briefing. Not only was this unprecedented in the annals of vice-chancellorship tenure in the University, the medio-literary review of the book – 'The Ambali Years' – by renowned journalist, respected author and former Presidential spokesman, Olusegun Adeniyi, also gave the book a certain uniqueness that will continue to be the talk of the campus for some years to come.

Then the Convocation Play, staged by students of the Department of the Performing Arts, also added colour to the ceremonies. Almost everybody that watched that play, 'Susan Wenger: Adunni Olorisa', had something good to say about the wonderful performance. It was commendation galore from those who had the privilege of making public their impression there and then. For the new Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Abdulkareem, the stage play was simply “fantastic”. And for the Convocation Lecturer, Prof. Chris Imafidon, the performance, which clips he said he instantaneously posted on his Facebook wall, Periscope and on other social media, was “excellent”. He added that members of his family back in the UK, “who saw the clips on Facebook live, Periscope and other social media are jealous of me and wished they came along”! 

Then came the high point of the ceremonies, the Convocation Lecture by the Britain-based Nigerian renowned scholar and genius mentor par excellence, Prof. Chris Imafidon. Entitled “The Genius in You: New Tools, Techniques and Technology for Developing Individual and Institutional Greatness”, the lecture was simply awesome, as everybody that listened to it and got some insight into the Britain's brainiest family, the Imafidons, confessed it was one of the most brilliant and most inspiring lectures in recent times.

Then the main Convocation Days – Friday, 20th and Saturday 21st October – came with the usual glitz and glamour. Of particular significance was the admonition of the new Vice-Chancellor to the graduating students to have “uncommon common sense” if they hope to survive in today's world.

Two major happenings spotlighted the second day and grand finale of the convocation on Saturday (October 21): the Presidential encomiums on Unilorin and the haul of awards by Miss Rashidat Adedoyin Alabi, the best graduating medical students, who coasted home with no fewer than 26 different prizes!

Also worthy of note was the presidential disclosure that a ministerial summit on education will soon be convened to tackle the identified disequilibrium in the nation's education sector. This is very heart-warming indeed.

Wow! The 2017 convocation ceremony will definitely dominate discussions on the campus for some months to come. It was brilliantly organised and meticulously delivered. Town & Gown gives a big kudos to the Ceremonials Committee, under the veteran leadership of Prof. Job Atteh.

The immediate past Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. AbdulGaniyu Ambali (OON), has acknowledged and extolled the University Senate for the way and manner in which the transition to another leadership of the institution was taken.

Prof. Ambali stated this in his valedictory address, titled "You are Wonderful" to a special meeting of the University Senate last Thursday (October 12, 2017).

The Vice-Chancellor said the emergence of his successor; Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, was an act of the Almighty God, and solicited the cooperation and support of the Senate members for the new Vice-Chancellor.

Prof. Ambali called on all members of the University community to always put Unilorin first as they will one day go but the University will remain in perpetuity.

Highlighting his achievements, Prof. Ambali explained that he adopted the 15 components of sustainable development, which guided the actions of his management team.

Realising the need to guard against poverty, he said, “The University, through the Technical and Entrepreneurial Centre (TEC) and similar interventions, increased its commitment to developing graduates who are not just job seekers but job creators. Also, through Teaching and research Farm, the university is contributing to the food security of the country|”.

On good health and well-being, Prof. Ambali mentioned that apart from investing in the College of Health Sciences for efficient and effective service delivery, the University has shortened the distance to the College and the University Teaching Hospital through the construction and opening of a link road between College/Hospital and the University. He also said, a lot of resources  had been committed to the University Health Services and the Dental Clinic to smoothen their operations in the last few years.

On quality education, he said being the central focus of the institution; “many firsts have been recorded in the last few years showing the quality education that the citadel of learning offers to its teeming students. Apart from “coming first in the National Debating Competition, the increase in the number of First Class Graduates and high rates of researchers' performance in attracting research grants and funds nationally and internationally attest to the quality of the University in training”, he said.

On gender equality, Prof. Ambali said, the appointment of the first female Deputy Vice-Chancellor by his administration as well as emergence of the first female Dean of the Faculty of Arts are indicators of the belief that what a man can do, a woman can do better.

Other areas touched by his administration include provision of clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, industry, innovation and infrastructure development and reduced inequalities in the system.

He, further said, "When I walk round the campus and see the changes in the physical landscape of the University, I feel happy that I have contributed a bit. When I reflect on the 2,698 staff members in various categories who have benefited from our training opportunities, I feel glad that some lives have been impacted on.

“When I consider 1,711 academic staff and 376 non-teaching staff who have enjoyed local learned Conference scholarships and the 148 academic and 25 non-teaching staff, who have been sponsored to international conferences over these past five years, I feel elated that at least some people have been impacted on.

“In such reflections, I become conscious of the fact that if not for God and you wonderful members of the hallowed chamber, I could not do it. Therefore, wholeheartedly thank you for the opportunity to serve you in this capacity as I give glory to God”, he said.

Prof. Ambali who doubles as the Chairman, Association of West Africa Universities (AWAU) observed that “The reality of life is that in every situation and condition, there are blessings and lessons. The past five years at the helms of affairs of this University have been synonymous with blessings to the University in several areas.

In his words, “Apart from deeming me worthy of the national honour of the Officer of the Order of Niger (OON) in the course of discharging this assignment, the University has been blessed with the appointment of its members to sensitive positions of responsibility for which University of Ilorin is proud.

Prof. Ambali appreciated the members of the Senate, the immediate past and incumbent Principal Officers, the past and current Provosts, Deans, Directors, Heads of Departments and Units and all Professors, senior academic and administrative staff who have worked assiduously in making the University the flagship that it is.

In his remarks, the new Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, solicited the cooperation of the Senate in order for him to succeed as the successor of Prof. Ambali. He affirmed that Prof. Ambali enjoyed the Senate more than his predecessors, which helped him to arrive at a promised land.

According to him, "it is unusual for somebody who is not from this system to enjoy the University Senate as Prof. Ambali did". Thus, he expressed his readiness to work with the highest decision making organ of the University, saying that the business of being a Vice-Chancellor is to succeed with everyone's support.

In her remarks, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Prof. N.Y.S. Ijaiya, who spoke on behalf of other Principal Officers, described Prof. Ambali as an embodiment of moral virtues and excellent leadership. She observed that the Vice-Chancellor was very intelligent, patient, focused, confident and above all, has humility.

On his part, the Provost of the College of Health Sciences, Prof. Wahab Johnson, who spoke on behalf of all members of Senate, said that Prof. Ambali has held the line of perfect harmony between the University management and the Senate.

Prof. Johnson who doubles as the Chairman of the Committee of Provost and Deans, urged the outgoing Vice-Chancellor to maintain the calmness in him because that attitude has been one of the qualities he admired and envied. He observed that another quality known to Prof. Ambali was the open window and open door policy which made him to be accessible all the time. He described this quality as legendary.

On his part, the Registrar, Mr. Emmanuel Obafemi, said that the University of Ilorin has been having Vice-Chancellors in the past but he was most fortunate to have worked with Prof. Ambali.

Mr. Obafemi, who spoke through the Deputy Registrar (Academic Support Services), Mr. Monsuru Alfanla, said that the Vice-Chancellor was always concerned about matters that will come to the Senate and how well the matters will be treated by the distinguished Senate members.