In its bid to engender an enduring academic culture among the University lecturers, the Library and Publications Committee of the University of Ilorin has organised a three-day Talk Shop.

The Talk Shop, which held between last Tuesday (September 26, 2017) and Thursday (September 28, 2017) at the University Auditorium, was attended by academic staff from all the Faculties of the University.

In his presentation to the members of the humanities group of academics on Day One, Prof Ahmadu Sessay of the Centre for Peace and Strategic Studies (CPSS) described the University System as a production factory of ideas for the society but noted that the African higher education system has been in crises since the eighties due to the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP).

Prof. Sessay noted that the value of the academics in the University system is like those of the philosopher king, who sees the society from the Ivory Tower and proffers solutions. He noted that for an excellent system, there should be strict adherence to the rules and regulations and a mechanism for reward and punishment.

While discussing the presentation, the former Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Ilorin, Prof. Wahab Egbewole, described integrity as the hub around which academic culture revolves, adding that integrity begins from the recruitment and admission processes.

On the second day of presentation which had in attendance lecturers from the Sciences and Engineering group, Prof. J.A. Obaleye of the Department of Chemistry noted that academic culture is not the same as campus culture. He noted that collaboration is the current culture of academics around the world, which should be embraced at the university, adding that a research is incomplete until it is published.

While discussing the presentation, the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Technology, Prof. D.S. Ogunniyi, underscored the importance of integrity of research, noting that a research without integrity cannot benefit humanity.

On Day Three of the Talk Shop dedicated to lecturers from the Medicine and Pharmaceutical groups, the immediate past Dean of Veterinary Medicine, Prof. S.F. Ambali, noted that cronyism is now a worrisome trend in the academic community, pointing out that true academics say things as they see them and do things as they should be done.

Prof. Ambali added that to become excellent academicians, one has to solve existing problems of the society or fill the gap and lapses in an innovation.

While discussing the presentation, the immediate past Provost of the College of Health Sciences, University of Ilorin, Prof. A.B. O. Omotosho, noted that the ideal academic community has a common goal and that the way members of the town describe those of the gown show that they recognise the distinction of the university community.

In his daily presentation at the Talk Shop, entitled “Where do I Publish”, the Chairman of the Library and Publications Committee, Prof. Y. A. Quadri, noted that serious academics do not restrict their works to their circle but open it to the world with online presence.

The Head of the Electronic Library, University of Ilorin, Mrs. Olabisi Adeshina, took participants through a practical session on registering with Elsevier Scopus

Following extensive deliberations after the Talk Shop, the participants agreed to recognise journals on Scopus index only, with the condition that such journals are non predatory for the purpose of staff promotion at the University.

The management of the University of Ilorin has said that it does not victimise any of its staff for participating in union activities whether the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) or the National Association of Academic Technicians (NAAT).

This was made known by the Head of Corporate Affairs Unit of the University, Mr. Kunle Akogun, while featuring on a Royal FM radio current affairs programme last Wednesday (September 27, 2017).

Mr. Akogun told his interviewer that there is only one ASUU in the University, headed by Dr. Usman Raheem, adding that “there is no faction whatsoever”.

The University image maker described the recent statement credited to ASUU Chairman of the University of Ibadan branch, Dr. Deji Omole, calling Unilorin a “terrorist institution” as “uncouth and unethical”, adding that “such should not be coming from somebody who parades himself as a University teacher”.

He stated further that the University is very peaceful and conducive for students, staff and the visitors, adding that “it is sheer balderdash to associate such institution with terrorism”.

Mr. Akogun described the Unilorin chapter of ASUU as a progressive, productive and responsible union that has achieved so many milestones even without the support of  the national body.

According to him, the Union has constructed a befitting secretariat, students' hostels and recently took a giant leap in providing befitting accommodation for its members through the launch of its 'ASUU Luxury Quarters', a feat he said the union was unable to achieve while it was under the national body.

While answering a question on the recent disciplinary action taken against two of the University's academic staff, Mr. Akogun said all due processes were followed before the University Council arrived at the decision it took on the status of the concerned staff.

Continued from last week

The Civil society

Members of a coalition of civil society organizations, the Transparency Advocacy for Development of Nigeria, visited the University of Ilorin in March 2017 to, according to them, have an on-the-spot assessment of the University on which so many stories, positive and negative, have been bandied about.  After hours of interactions with a cross section of members of the University community and an elaborate project inspection tour of the campus, the group members were simply flabbergasted. They took turn to express their feelings:

The Team Leader, Comrade Yomi David:  “The visit afforded us the opportunity to see what we have not heard or seen before. Because, what were portrayed in the allegations being circulated in the regular media and cyber space were different from what we saw here in the University of Ilorin.

 “In our total conclusion, you (Professor Ambali) have done well.  We observed that the Vice-Chancellor has executed more than 52 projects. We even found out that most of the projects were funded from the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the University.

 “Professor Ambali is indeed a digital Vice-Chancellor because he has really done well. So, if somebody has made this landmark achievement in four and half years, what of if they give such person another five years to operate? As we go back, we pray to God to continue to strengthen you to be able to make more impacts on the society as a whole”

The Convener of the group, Comrade Adodo Solomon:  “For most of us in the civil society we are known more for criticisms rather than commendations. We scarcely commend individuals because we believe that leadership should be on its toes addressing the felt needs of the society. We want to say that at the University of Ilorin, the felt needs are being met. We might not be at that destination but with what we have seen, we can say that a journey to a good and glorious destination is certain.

“When we went round the structures and facilities, I reasoned and asked myself that most of the schools that fellow citizens rushed abroad to attend, how did they start and why are they where they are today. These institutions are centuries old and it is as a result of what has been done over the years that they are where they are today.

 “We want to say that with what you (Professor Ambali) have done within a short period as the Vice-Chancellor, Nigeria is proud of your efforts and if our institutions will be measuring shoulder to shoulder with the best globally, this is what we want to see. Going round has given me a different perspective. If development wants to be initiated underdevelopment will be pulling it and pushing it backward. The forces of inertia will be fighting the forces of development. If a man has done well and has refused to blow his trumpet, so long as he does not blow his trumpet some naysayers, people with sinister motives that don't mean well for the society, will paint that individual with tar. That is what we have just observed because you are not just assuming office. You have served for more than four years and at the evening of your tenure people are bringing in baseless allegations and accusations.

“We want to applaud you and appreciate you. We want to tell you not to rest on your oars but to ensure that you preserve the tempo till the last minute of your tenure. By God's grace we want to see you rising to greater heights of national service”.

Another member of the group, Muhammed Basah (Director of the Initiative for Probity and Accountability): “I joined the civil society because I always ask questions that bother on how to improve our society. We have seen what our fathers have bequeathed to us, what are we going to bequeath to the next generation? Today, we have come to the University of Ilorin, the school is not just better by far in words but it is better by far indeed. To me, that question that pushed me into advocacy is being answered at the University of Ilorin because from the environment that we have seen, I cannot harbour any feeling that a product of this university will tear Nigeria into pieces. I am very sure that people that are going to lead this country to the next level will come from within the four walls of this institution”.

“Mr. Vice-Chancellor, please continue doing your good work sir. If you look at some of the reports being peddled around, you may feel discouraged and for the kind of work that you are doing, there are going to be those lonely days and nights when you will feel like giving up. But please sir; there are young men like us who are watching you. There are those who are within this University community that are benefitting from the visionary strides that you are making. It takes someone who is selfless to achieve that stride here. No amount of accolades or awards can quantify what you have achieved but continue in this like. Nigeria needs you, we the young ones need more of you to serve as leading light to show us that this country can be moved forward, this country can take its rightful place in the committee of nations”.

Other members of the team, including the Executive Secretary of Independent Publication Service, Bearable Muhammed; the Media Officer of the team, Moshood Babayemi, and the Director of Strategy, Olubayo Fisayo, all took turns to commend the Vice-Chancellor and his team for living above expectations.

 

How Unilorites assessed Prof. Ambali

To members of the University community, Professor Ambali's achievements speak for him.

 

Prof. N.Y.S. Ijaiya, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)

“The tenure of our amiable Vice-Chancellor, Professor AbdulGaniyu Ambali, was a period of excellence. There are many angles by which we can look at the achievements of his administration and I thank God I have the opportunity to be part of it. Talk of the infrastructural, academic development as well as human development, Professor Ambali elevated this University to an enviable height. He took Unilorin beyond Nigeria to the extent that in many parts of the world, our name is now uniquely popular. We signed many MOUs with many universities and organizations and the result is what we are witnessing today in terms of human development, in terms of collaborations and so much more. So I will say that Professor Ambali's administration was wonderful; it has been a blessing.

“We have many projects going on in the university now. We have the hostel projects going on and you will see that during the tenure of the Vice-Chancellor, many hostels built on BOT (Build, Operate and Transfer) have come on board and they are ongoing, so that by next session, many more students will be accommodated on campus and it is a very good development for the University because we will be able to decongest the Oke-Odo area and I am sure parents will be happy to have their children on campus”.

 

Prof. A.Y. Abdulkareem, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Management Services)

“Assessing the administration of Professor AbdulGaniyu Ambali is a herculean task, because he has contributed tremendously to the growth and development of the University. He advanced development, building on what his predecessors, i.e., the founding fathers of the University, have been able to do in the University. He has been able to cope with the challenges of large school system. When you talk of large school system, the programme of activities in terms of academic programmes and the infrastructural development, the staffing even the volume of financial transaction, all of these have tremendously grown during his tenure.

“And of course, they have some challenges, for instance, the student population has grown because you are aware that the University of Ilorin has unbroken academic calendar, and this has attracted a large number of prospective candidates wanting to come to the University. For the past four years now in the country, the University has been the most sought-after in the country. This year alone, over 104, 000 candidates chose the University of Ilorin out of which about 75,000 of them have above 180 in the UTME.  You can see that that would bring a lot of challenges in terms of space for the candidates, in terms of personnel that would mean the activities of teaching and non-teaching, and of course in terms of facilities and services, health, transportation, electricity, water …as it is today, University of Ilorin has a dedicated line for power supply from Ganmo power distribution axis there.

 “Again, the administration of Professor Ambali promoted student-focused management, focusing on the activities of students to ensure that students learn in a conducive environment because when you graduate, we talk of excelling in character and learning, all of these are the concern of the administration of Professor Ambali.”

“He also promoted what we call concept of participatory cooperative and collaborative management and I can say that for sure, he never took decisions on his own even if he knew what to do. He would invite the stakeholders jointly; they would all participate in the decision process. He also delegated responsibilities very well. When he delegated responsibilities, he ensured that the player of the responsibility was allowed to function to also give a sort of feedback. He was receptive of other views as well as ideas; he also gave freedom but he kept control.

“Related to that is when you talk about research and innovation; the Central Research Laboratory, a number of outsiders including vice-chancellors from other universities and even foreigners, that have been coming to the University of Ilorin, have been marveling about the state-of-the-art equipment that are stocked there. The facilities that are there are of international standard. Related to that is not just conducting research, the University has a Centre which we call Lab to Product. Quite a number of other Centres are springing up, programmes springing up of international standards just to ensure that the University caters for the needs of the society. The Ambali administration made good use of the Departmental heads. Whatever the decisions, especially academic would have to come from the grassroots, and if there are any policies and decisions made at the top, they are also allowed to be implemented at the grassroots by the departmental heads. He ensured continuous development of staff; he also showed examples.

“We are also lucky because of the unbroken school calendar of the University. Quite a number of institutions, organizations, governmental and non-governmental, continue to partner with us, giving us the opportunity of allowing our staff to grow and develop, we have MoUs, as well as MoAs. Of recent, there was an organization from China that came to partner with the University of Ilorin in terms of agricultural development. About 200 hectares of land were earmarked for agricultural purposes and also to develop machinery equipment for use in agricultural development. The University is partnering with another group from US to generate power through solar energy, and that one alone will bring magnificent development to the University.

“A number of individuals as well as organizations have also been partnering with the University by way of developing hostels to accommodate the students. All of these are as a result of the activities and the commitment of Professor Ambali.

“A number of academic programmes in the University have gotten full accreditation status. “There is also industrial harmony, which is leading us to having unbroken calendar as a result of his efforts. Managing the image of the University has been a priority in the mind of the Vice-Chancellor. He promotes sports developments and there is what I call academic integrity. The University respects integrity of academics, there is what we call quality assurance in the University. We can go on and on; the man gives free hand to operate, but of course he insists on accountability and integrity.”

To be continued next week

The Chairman of the Association of West Africa Universities (AWAU), Prof. AbdulGaniyu Ambali (OON), has underscored the crucial role of universities in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in view of their status as the pinnacle of education and human capacity development.

Prof. Ambali, who is also the Vive-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, made this submission last Monday (September 18, 2017) in his address at the opening ceremony of the Association's 5th Annual Conference and General Meeting held at Hotel Gaweye, Niamey, Niger Republic. The theme for the Conference was “Attaining the Sustainable Development Goals: Role of Universities”.

In his address, entitled “Walking Together”, the AWAU Chairman told a large audience of mostly heads of universities across the West African sub-region that none of the 17 lofty goals can be achieved without education, which he described as “the vehicle that will convey all the SDGs to fruition”

According to Prof. Ambali, “if education is the vehicle, it goes without saying that universities are its engine. Without universities, not only education but the entire SGDs will be a complete nullity”.

The Unilorin helmsman, therefore, submitted that “our universities have significant roles to play at the levels of providing leadership, fostering partnerships, developing human capacity, increasing research, creating awareness and promoting knowledge”.

Prof. Ambali explained that “all these cannot be achieved without commitment to working hard and walking together on the part of the stakeholders from governments and development partners to universities and the people themselves”.

The AWAU Chairman told his colleagues that “what is desirable from us all is the need to keep working and walking together to achieve SDGs as we realise that we cannot clap with one hand”

Pointing out that “universities are established to fast-track development and anything regarding development is within the purview of our institutions”, the AWAU Chairman said, “Our teaching, our research and our community service or engagements should be aimed at adding value to the society”.

He, therefore, challenged the participants to ensure that at the end of the conference, they should “go back and further think of how we can domesticate and attain the SDGs within our institutions and hosting communities”, adding, “If we work well and we walk together by sharing ideas, expertise and values, we will together sail smoothly to the shore of sustainable development, which has been eluding many societies in our region”.

Prof. Ambali explained that the Annual Conference was one of the Association's strategies to meet its objectives of promoting collaboration among member universities. This, according to the AWAU Chairman, is achieved by focusing on thematic issues bordering on development and advancement in the region.

He said, “Since 2012 till date, the Association has been organising annual conferences on diverse themes that are relevant to its vision and mission. This year's conference is not an exemption as it focuses on an apt, crucial and relevant theme: 'Attaining the Sustainable Development Goals: Role of Universities”.

The Association of West Africa Universities (AWAU) was founded on January 10, 2011 at the University of Ilorin through the “Ilorin Declaration” with the main vision of making a significant landmark in the provision of qualitative higher education in the region.

Prof. Ambali was accompanied to the Conference by some top officials of the University including the Vice-Chancellor-designate, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem.

Others were the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Management Services), Prof. Adedayo Yusuf Abdulkareem; the Director of the Central Research Laboratories, Prof. (Mrs.)Temidayo Oladiji; and the Director, Centre for Research Development and In-House Training  (CREDIT), Prof. B. S. Alabi, among others

In recognition of his integrity and professionalism, Mr. Woli S.A. Adam of the Security Division, University of Ilorin, has been awarded the “Integrity in Professionalism” award by the Institute of Human and Natural Resources. He was also honoured as a Fellow of the Institute.

A letter of award signed by the Registrar/Secretary to the Governing Council of the Institute, Prof. J.C. Iorhember, stated that the awardees were considered worthy because “our investigation revealed that they have done the best to act rightly in a corrupt system. They have not been unduly influenced to change their inner strength even in the face of pressure to do so”.

The letter, a copy of which was made available to Unilorin Bulletin, added that after nearly three years of investigation and putting the shortlisted candidates through rigorous tests of integrity, responsibility and positive relevance, the awardees have proven “that one can still succeed in life without soiling his/her hands in corruption.”

The Institute's focus is on wealth creation, finding new investment opportunities, as well as discussing and encouraging integrity among Nigerians in whatever area of expertise they might be.

…Osinbajo, Obasanjo, Anyaoku, Adeboye to be honoured at same ceremony

In what is arguably a befitting parting gift to the outgoing Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. AbdulGaniyu Ambali (OON), a Lagos-based Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), working in conjunction with The Guardian newspaper, has nominated the University of Ilorin for this year's 'Landmark Achievement Award for Academic Excellence', citing the institution's “impeccable academic records and proven integrity” as one of its criteria.

The notification for this prestigious award was contained in a letter written to Prof. Ambali by the Governing Council of the Nigeria Education Week Award (NEW), a copy of which was made available to Unilorin Bulletin.

The award ceremony will take place on a yet to be announced date and venue.

The tone of the letter suggested that the University of Ilorin is the only institutional honoree in the Award that also parades the likes of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye and the former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, Chief Emeka Anyaoku. 

In the letter dated September 4, 2017 and signed by the Chairman, Main Organizing Committee of the Nigeria Education Week Award 2017, Prof. Sidi Osho, the Council said, “In furtherance to our call for nomination advertorial as published in The Guardian newspaper editions of August 16 and 18 this year and subsequent nomination of your institution by the general public and recommendation of our panel of judges, on behalf of the Governing Council of the Nigeria Education Week, we are pleased to inform you of the decision of the Council to confer the 'Landmark Achievement Award for Academic Excellence' on your institution, as an acknowledgment of your impeccable academic records and proven integrity”.

The Council disclosed that the 'Landmark Achievement Award for Academic Excellence' “is only awarded to institutions that have distinguished themselves in academic excellence, both in the professionalism of lecturers and specifically in the efficacy of produced graduates”.

According to the organisers of the Award, “this honour recognizes the commitment demonstrated by the University towards education programmes, activities and the ideals of the Governing Council of Nigeria Education Week”.

Congratulating Prof. Ambali on the prestigious award, Nigeria Education Week Award's Governing Chairman said, “The Council took cognizance of the University's track record of unflinching excellence in research, innovation and academics, institutionalized discipline, strict compliance with admission ethics, and promotion of social values”.

Prof. Osho expressed the Council's hope that “this award will encourage the University not only to maintain this standard, but also to raise the bar of excellence in the comity of Nigerian universities”.

The Kwara State Governor, Dr. Abdulfatah Ahmed, has called for the creation of inter-community economic platforms as part of the efforts to create more opportunities for the youths, promote inclusiveness in governance, as well as ensure that prosperity is shared in a way that discourages conflict.

Dr Ahmed made this call last Thursday (September 21, 2017), while delivering his lecture at the 2017 United Nations International Day of Peace, organised by the Centre for Peace and Strategic Studies (CPSS), University of Ilorin.

Speaking on the theme "Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All", the Governor, who was the Guest Speaker on the occasion, explained that because the "youths make up about 70% of the country's total population", they can be "dividend for social transformation with the right investments or exploited to promote violence, insurgency and drive radicalisation."

Dr Ahmed, who was represented by his Special Assistant on Tertiary Institution, Dr Samuel Olawale Ajayi, noted that limited economic opportunities, participation in governance and rising unemployment rates have resulted in frustration and agitation among the youths, adding that "this frustration is evident in the involvement of youths in terrorism....and the alarming recruitment into extremism groups."

The Guest Speaker added that to prevent youth radicalisation and ensure peaceful co-existence in the country, the youths should be empowered in various capacities and reduce the poverty that is prevalent in the country.

Stressing the vital roles youths play in aiding peace building in societies recovering from conflict, the governor called for the inclusion of young people in peace building and conflict resolution, adding that "for us to achieve sustainable peace as a country, we must put aside our differences and work in unity."

Dr Ahmed then urged all to “be advocates of peace and adopt peaceful resolutions to disputes, as well as promote the spirit of harmonious living because peace is essential for any society that seeks an atmosphere in which people can thrive.

Declaring the event open earlier, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. AbdulGaniyu Ambali (OON), described the theme as "very relevant and current". He noted that the occasion is holding at a crucial time "when peace is becoming elusive in Nigeria because of the tragedies that are creating challenges for the government and military."

Prof. Ambali, who was represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Prof. N.Y.S. Ijaiya, stated that in order to ensure peace in the society, there is need to be wary of "what we say or write as they could create disunity, which eventually leads to war and war makes a country vulnerable."

Recalling the efforts of past leaders in Nigeria's attainment of independence, the Vice-Chancellor advocated the teaching of history especially at the primary and secondary school levels in order for the spirit of peace and heroism to be inculcated into the younger ones at an early age "because when they understand the need for peace, it would inform their decision making."

In his welcome address, the Director of CPSS, Dr. Mahfouz Adedimeji, disclosed that the "overarching message of the Peace Day is the need to work in unity regardless of individual, ethnic, religious or political differences", adding that "the theme of the occasion will also advance our quest to live together in peace in Nigeria, as a microcosm of the world, while respecting one another in the interest of our collective safety, dignity and humanity."

Dr Adedimeji explained that "the agitation for secession and the hullabaloo it is generating are borne out of misplacement of priorities because secession is not a precursor to the Eldorado some people are fantasising about". He, therefore, emphasised the need to work together and respect other people's opinion because there is always a need to prioritise mutual respect and safety.

According to Dr. Adedimeji, "there is the need to love, to live and let live. There is the need to treat people with dignity. Nigerians should all be one and each of us should stand for other Nigerians. We should be all for one and one for all."

While stating that the CPSS' mandate is to "develop and train high level manpower in peace and related studies", the Director recalled that at the foundation laying of the Centre in 2008, "the immediate past Vice-Chancellor of the University and current Registrar of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, noted that the establishment of the Centre was compelled by the urgent need for peace in our turbulent world."

He then stated that the Centre has performed excellently in training numerous scholars and professionals that are now contributing their quota to the advancement of peace and security all over the world.

On her part, Dr Biola Adimula, a lecturer at the Centre, highlighted some of the things to do in a conflict situation. According to her, these include "understanding what the problem is, understanding the cause of the conflict, identifying connectors, that is things that bring solution to the problems, planning the solution and exposing all that have been responsible for the conflict."

In her address entitled "Do no Harm Doctrine", Dr Adimula further urged all to advocate peace and shun acts that promote disunity and violence because no success is recorded in an environment known for war and violence.

Highlight of the occasion was the presentation of a "Distinguished Peace Personality" award to the Governor of Kwara State, Dr. Ahmed, as well as "Peace Personality" awards to the Commandant of the Nigerian Army School of Education, Sobi, Ilorin, and the Commander of the Nigerian Army Education Corps.

Also present at the occasion were the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research, Technology and Innovation), Prof. G.A. Olatunji; the Dean, Faculty of Arts, Prof. Oyeronke Olademo; the. Dean, Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Prof. Tanimowo and the Ag. Dean, Faculty of Law, Dr Kayode Adams as well as some Directors and Heads of Departments.