In his address at the just concluded 33rd Convocation Ceremonies of the University of Ilorin, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council, Dr. Abdullah Jibril Oyekan, enunciated what looks like a new policy direction for the University with the introduction of a new mantra into the social lexicon of the Better by Far University. Team Unilorin, the new catch-phrase, is a wake-up call on staff and students of the University to rededicate themselves to the pursuit of excellence in whatever we do.

Dr. Oyekan said the Team Unilorin Project, “to which every stakeholder of the University, from the Chairman of Council to the cleaner, Professor to fresher, belongs, … 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”.

The Council Chairman explained further that a Team Unilorin member, “whether directly involved as students or lecturers or in a supporting role as non-academic staff”, should be strongly committed “to raising the banner of Unilorin aloft anywhere and everywhere in the world and practicalising the Unilorin slogan Better by Far”. He said, “Serious pursuit of excellence involves hard work, being focused and determined to make the sacrifice necessary to achieve the set goal. It requires doggedness and it means that we shall not feel fulfilled until our Professors begin to metamorphose into Nobel Laureates”.

According to Dr. Oyekan, “belonging to Team Unilorin also means aspiring for decency and the most commendable human traits”.

Although this is not an entirely novel brand for the University of Ilorin, which has been nationally renowned for excellence in all spheres of its tripartite mandate of teaching, research and community service, the Chairman's clarion call is a very timely invigorating tonic in a community that is fast yielding ground to complacency.

Of course, Dr. Oyekan found a ready ally in the new Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem. In his first major encounters with two critical segments of the University community, the Congregation and the Senate, Prof. Abdulkareem not only aligned with the Chairman's vision to rebrand the University for greater efficiency, he also expanded on it by explaining the nitty-gritty of the import of the Team Unilorin Project.

Addressing the Congregation on October 25, 2017, the Vice-Chancellor charged Unilorites to “continue our sturdy sail of progress on a more reinvigorated and redirected course”. For, according to him, “this is the moment we all need to reaffirm our enduring spirit that has been driving us with greater vigour and greater sense of duty. This is the moment when we need to be much more seriously and sincerely faithful to the ideals of our mission and vision. The moment demands that we should act boldly and swiftly in order to refreshen our journey to greatness and to strengthen our foundation for a far better Unilorin.”

Also last Monday (November 6, 2017) at the first Senate meeting he was presiding over since assumption of office, Prof. Abdulkareem told the University's highest decision-making body that “our common interest is to sustain the tempo of the progress of the University to the zenith of recognition and excellence.  Let us therefore re-commit and re-energise ourselves, with stronger sense of sacrifice, to the common goal”.

In essence, what the Team Unilorin project demands of all Unilorites is a renewed commitment to the faithful execution of our assigned duties and a more vigorous dedication to the cause of the Better by Far citadel, imperative traits that could take this great institution to even greater and loftier heights.

And in an apparent rephrasing of the well-worn aphorism “to whom much is given, much is required” to now read “to whom much is demanded, much will be given”, the Vice-Chancellor has pledged not to deny any hardworking and committed staff his/her fair share of necessary motivations and entitlements. He told the University staff during the meeting of the Congregation, “If we must seize this moment together, we must enjoy it together; we will not only ask of you what you can do for the greater good of this University, we will also persistently ask ourselves what the University can do for your own good as well. As we ask of a higher standard of dedication of your life to the greater purpose of moving the University higher in all ramifications, we should compensate you with the same standard of deserving rewards to motivate you and develop you through training and retraining for the larger goal.” In other words, no sacrifice would be in vain!

Hey, I belong to Team Unilorin! Do you?

In line with the directive of the Vice-Chancellor, who is also our de facto Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, the Unilorin Bulletin is refocusing its editorial slant to give more attention to the celebration of the unique contributions of all deserving staff members that exhibit exemplary dedication to the University's cause of greatness. To this end, we have introduced a new column, tentatively styled “SPECIAL FEATURES”, to fish out exemplary staff members wherever they may be for special focus. It is our hope that this will not only bring out the best in Unilorites, it will also encourage others to bring out the best in themselves towards ultimately bringing out the best in our University.

A Professor of Fishery at the Department of Zoology, University of Ilorin, James Sunday Omotosho, has called on the Federal Government to ban sport fishing and reorganize fishing festivals such as those of Argungu in Kebbi State, Nwonyo in Taraba State, and Pategi Regatta in Kwara State, to eliminate the stress and pains they cause fishes in the process.

Prof. Omotosho, who made this call last Thursday (November 2, 2017), while delivering the 174th inaugural lecture of the University, also canvassed the regulation and restriction of human activities involving metals in riverine and coastal areas of the country in order to preserve and protect aquatic life.

In the Inaugural Lecture, entitled “Fish: Their Prize and Pain”, the don noted that the people of Kwara State especially could face health hazards through metal poisoning of the Asa River along with the aquatic life therein, and therefore counselled that mechanical workshops located along the river banks should be strictly controlled to save the environment from increase in the levels of the trace metals.

Pointing out that aquatic life in freshwater and the oceans is not abundant to the extent that it is inexhaustible, Prof. Omotosho stressed the need to do everything necessary to save fishes from the pain they suffer as a result of human pleasure.

According to the Inaugural Lecturer, “This resource, though unlimited, is now realised to be finite and in delicate balance with the biological, chemical and physical factors of the aquatic environment. Over fishing, pollution and alteration of the environment are the chief enemies of fish and fisheries management, both in fresh water and in the ocean.”

Prof. Omotosho stressed the need for the government to extend its duty of protecting aquatic life beyond the national level to international fronts. He, therefore, called for the introduction of the endangered species laws as obtainable in some developed countries to prohibit dumping of wastes, chemicals, particles, pesticides and industrial discharges into oceans and seas and also ban obnoxious fishing methods and operations through monitoring and surveillance in order to protect fish and fisheries.

Noting that Nigeria has a coastline of about 850 kilometers and a continental shelf area of about 25,000 – 40,000 square kilometers, the don said that the country is blessed with a rich fishing ground and the Federal Government has a duty to protect the country's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to check illegal exploitation of the marine fishery resources by foreign vessels some of which dump sewage in Nigeria's waters.

Prof. Omotosho also called for the establishment of a research organisation in Nigeria, which will develop institutional guidelines from the best scientific evidence available on the biological nature of fishes, saying that this will address the welfare challenges of fishes.

Stressing the need to have reliable fish production records and fish catch statistics in the country, the Inaugural Lecturer disclosed that fishes have been in existence for more than 450 million years and land vertebrates including man are highly modified fishes.

He suggested that researches that involve fishes and other live animals must be based on experimental designs that will consider the welfare of the animals as a priority through avoiding stress and pain in the animals being used for research.

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, has reaffirmed his desire to increase the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the institution, using the resources available at his disposal.

Prof. Abdulkareem stated this last Thursday (November 2, 2017) when members of the Management Board of Unilorin Drama Village and Lakeside Resort visited him in his office.

The Vice-Chancellor disclosed that he was already looking for ways to generate more revenue for the University and expressed happiness that the Drama Village and Lakeside Resort is one of the areas that may be promising if properly harnessed. 

He said, “I subscribe to the idea of harnessing what we have around the Dam properly in order to generate a lot of money for the University. We supposed to be good managers as University staff and I hope what is said about government bureaucracy institution will not affect the system of our institution.

Earlier in his address, the Chairman, Management Board of Unilorin Drama Village and Lakeside Resort, Prof. James Morakinyo, told the Vice-Chancellor that the Drama Village is a facility for education, entertainment, ethical evolution and exchange of ideas.

Prof. Morakinyo, who was represented by a member of the Board, Prof. Abdulrasheed Adeoye, explained that the idea of creating a Drama Village to showcase the cultural diversity of Nigeria was mooted during the Vice-Chancellorship of Prof. I.O. Oloyede “and since then, efforts have been made to give physical expression to the lofty idea.

He said, “The Drama Village, as the name implies, is a place to display the historical and contemporary life styles of people of particular cultures. It is a place where dramatic expression is given to life styles and cultures of people. It is, therefore, a facility for education, entertainment, ethical evolution and exchange of ideas”.

The Management Board Chairman said, “The architectural concepts have been produced in line with the multicultural reality of Nigeria. The design provides a central place for the host and proprietor of the village, and this is surrounded by spaces designed for geographical/cultural zones of Nigeria where the zones can showcase their cultural identities in architectural designs, artifacts and life styles.

Prof. Morakinyo said that “another main mandate of the Board was the Lakeside resort with the idea to build a jetty literarily on the artificial lake earlier created by UNILORIN on Oyun River. This will provide an enhancing environment for various social events and is always in popular demand for such event”.

He, however, lamented that “financial constraints have prevented further development that would have raised the resort to world standard for greater patronage from within and outside Nigeria, particularly, with the standard accommodation provided in the nearby Researchers' Lodge. This has led the University to seek private partnership/collaboration for the development of the Lakeside resort”.

A Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Ilorin College of Health Sciences, Olugbenga Mokuolu, has emerged one of the winners of this year's Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG) Prize for Science.

With his research work, “Multifaceted Efforts at Malaria Control in Research: Management of Malaria of Various Grades and Mapping Artemisinin Resistance”, Prof. Mokuolu shares the prestigious prize with Ikeoluwapo Ajayi, Ayodele Jegede & Bidemi Yusuf whose research entry is entitled “Improving Home and Community Management of Malaria: Providing the Evidence Base”; and Chukwuma Agubata with research entry “Novel Lipid microparticles for Effective Delivery of Artemether Antimalarial Drug using a locally-sourced Irvingia fat from nuts of Irvingia gabonensis var excelsa (ogbono)”.

 The three research entries were picked from 27 entries for this year's edition of the prize. The award comes with a cash prize of $100,000.

The Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Nigeria Prize for Science and Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG), Prof. Akpoveta Susu, announced the three research works as joint winners for this year's edition of the prize in Lagos last Thursday (November 2, 2017) after two years intensive search for innovations in the fight to end Malaria.

Reacting to the verdict, the General Manager, External Relations of NLNG, Dr. Kudo Eresia-Eke, congratulated the winners “for a job well done and for achieving this feat in the midst of an impressive array of entries. This is indeed a call to do more so that the identified potentials could be realized,”

A renowned Paediatrician, and consummate researcher in the field of malaria prevention, Prof. Mokuolu, who is the Director, Unilorin Consultancy Services, was the University of Ilorin's Researcher of the Year 2011.

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, has said that there will be no preferential treatment for any individual, group or region in terms of admission, appointment or promotion in the institution.

Prof. Abdulkareem said this when he received the First Class Traditional Rulers from the Igbomiland of Kwara State and members of the Executive Council of Omo Ibile Igbomina, who visited to congratulate him last Thursday (November 2, 2017).

The Vice-Chancellor appreciated the team for understanding that the University of Ilorin is a public school which belongs to everybody.

While welcoming advices and prayers of the traditional rulers and prominent people in the team, the Vice-Chancellor said that he needs the prayers and support of all and sundry to succeed as the 10th Vice-Chancellor of the country's most subscribed institution.

Earlier in his address, the National President of Omo Ibile Igbomina, Engr. Timothy Adebayo, said the visit was to assure the Vice-Chancellor of the immense support of all Igbomina people.

Also in his remarks, the Olupo of Ajasse-Ipo, Oba Sikiru Woleola II, said Prof. Abdulkareem was representing the entire people of Kwara State, hence he should be a good Ambassador of Igbomina land and the State in general.

Other dignitaries on the team included the Elese of Igbaja, Oba Ahmed Arepo, and other National Executive Council members of Omo Ibile Igbomina.

The National Lottery Trust Fund (NLTF) has donated sporting equipment worth millions of naira to the University of Ilorin as part of its efforts to support and encourage sport development in the institution.

The Head, North Central and FCT Zone of NLTF, Mr. Bankole Kamal, presented the items to the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, in his office last Thursday (November 2, 2017).

Mr. Kamal said the gesture was in line with the Federal Government's desire to promote, advance and uplift sporting activities in the country.

He, however, refuted the impression that the commission deals with gambling. According to him, the National Lottery Trust Fund was established through the National Lottery Act of 2005 to regulate the operation and business of national lottery in Nigeria.

Mr. Kamal clarified that the objective of the commission is to receive fund that is due to the government and to promote transparency, propriety and integrity in the operation of national lottery in Nigeria.

Receiving the donated items, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Abdulkareem, who appreciated the lottery agency, said he had a very wrong impression of the commission until the visit of its officials and clarification of its duties.

Prof. Abdulkareem suggested that a different and easier-to-understand name should be adopted by the agency to clear any wrong impression that the people might have for them.

He, however, expressed his profound gratitude to the lottery commission for the donation of the sport equipment to the institution, explaining that giving athletes the opportunity of wearing standard jerseys and uniforms make them perform better.

Items donated include soccer boots, hose for players, socks, jerseys, chin guards, canvas, track suits, and T-shirts, among others.