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”.

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.

The Unilorin Microfinance Bank has launched its Automatic Teller Machine that are meant to provide better and more convenient services to its clients.

The inauguration of the ATM service was performed last Monday (November 6, 2017) by the University Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem.

In his address on the occasion, the Managing Director of Unilorin Micro Finance Bank, Alhaji Issa Nuhu Funsho, said that the primary objective of the ATM machine was to improve the bank's services to its esteemed customers and to make more income for the bank.

Alhaji Issa said that with the development, customers with ATM card would not have to queue inside the bank hall before they transfer or withdraw money from their various accounts.

He explained that anyone with a bank card can perform any form of transactions, ranging from quick cash withdrawal, account balance inquiry, getting details of recent transactions, transfer of funds between accounts within the same bank and payment of utility bills.

The Managing Director, however, disclosed the plan to move the banking system from its present category, which is Unit Micro-Finance Bank, to State Micro-Finance Bank category with the aim of attracting more customers.

In his own remarks, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Abdulkareem, encouraged the management of Unilorin Micro Finance Bank to continue to be customer-friendly in order to attract more patronage.

Prof. Abdulkareem observed that the number of services the bank offered to people actually determines the rate of customers it gets, adding that if the bank satisfies its clients, it can be assured of more patronage.

He expressed his happiness over the introduction of the ATM service by the bank, saying that the development would ensure that the welfare of the bank's customers is adequately taken care of as well as making banking easier for its teeming customers.

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.”

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, has commended the commitment of the members of the Unilorin Bulletin Editorial Board to the ideals of the University, pledging his support to them towards a more effective discharge of their duties.

Prof. Abdulkareem made the commendation last Monday (November 6, 2017) when he received the Editorial Board members, who visited him in his office.

The Vice-Chancellor, who said that he knew the Board members to be industrious and committed to the service of the University, encouraged the team to do things that will reassure the members of the University community that the Ivory Tower belongs to them all.

Prof. Abdulkareem also appealed to the team to refocus the editorial slant of the weekly publication such that it would now highlight members of the University community that are projecting the image of the University positively through their attitude to work, research breakthroughs and other positive attributes. He said, “The Unilorin Bulletin should showcase more of such committed staff to encourage more people to contribute positively to the growth of the University”.

The Vice-Chancellor appreciated and commended the Unilorin Bulletin Board for the report on Prof. Olugbenga Mokuolu, who recently won a research grant as published in last Monday edition of the newsletter. He observed that “anybody who brings huge amount of money into the university system deserves to be recognized”.

Earlier, the leader of the team and Chairman of the Editorial Board, Dr. Lukman Azeez, said that the essence of the Board members' visit was to assure the Vice-Chancellor of their commitment to uplift the University through the weekly publication.

Dr. Azeez said, “The Editorial Board is a special body that was constituted by the Office of the Vice-Chancellor to set policy directions for the Unilorin Bulletin.

            He disclosed that the Board meets regularly to review the publication, adding that this is why the Bulletin has been growing in leaps and bounds.

The Editorial Board Chairman also urged the Vice-Chancellor to always relate with the Board whenever he has an idea that could lead to the improvement of the Bulletin and in the overall interest of the University.

Dr. Azeez, however, announced that the Unilorin Bulletin had started implementing the Vice-Chancellor's directive to the Bulletin to go back to grassroots journalism in his address during the maiden Congregation meeting he presided over.

Other members of the Editorial Board on the visit included an Associate Professor of English Education, Dr. (Oba) Bily Olajide; the Director, Centre for Peace and Strategic Studies (CPSS), Dr. Mahfouz Adedimeji; Dr. Foluke Aliu-Ibrahim of the Department of English, Dr (Mrs.) Biola Adimula of the Centre for Peace and Strategic Studies (CPSS), and the Head of the Corporate Affairs Unit, Mr. Kunle Akogun, who is also the Secretary to the Board.

Representatives of Unilorin Press Management Board paid a thank-you visit to the Vice-Chancellor, Prof S.A. Abdulkareem last Friday (November 10, 2017).

The three-man delegation, led by the Chairman of the Board, Prof A. O. Mahmoud, lauded the Vice-Chancellor for positive developments in the fortunes of Unilorin Press since his assumption of office.

The Board seized the opportunity to thank the management for awarding the production of last Convocation’s Order of Proceedings to the Press and gave the assurance that subsequent productions would be error-free as all hands are on deck in early preparation for the next edition. The Board also appealed to the management to kindly put up more effort towards liquidating the debts owed the Press by various organs of the University.

The Board also appealed to the Vice-Chancellor to favorably consider the ground-breaking ceremony of the construction of a modern press facility at the Permanent Site within the first quarter of the coming year. “With things looking up at the Press, the benefit of higher returns is assured,”, the Chairman submitted.

Other members of the team were Prof (Mrs.) S. O. Malomo and Mr. LiadTella.