By Kunle Akogun
Right from Day One, Prof. Wahab Olasupo Egbewole, SAN, who assumed office as the 11th Vice Chancellor of the University of Ilorin on October 16, 2022, has left no one in doubt about his messianic mission and transformative leadership. One event particularly underscored this assertion: his very first official assumption day, the first working day, Monday, October 17, 2022, was the very day that members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) returned to the classrooms after an eight-month long national strike. Could this have been a mere coincidence? Quite probably. Or a divine design by Providence? Most certainly! Whatever it is, this singular event certainly set the tone for an administration with a historic sense of purpose and an unparalleled sense of duty.
Also, the deluge of congratulatory messages that greeted his appointment by the University’s Governing Council on August 8, 2022 was unprecedented. It invariably signified the massive popularity of his choice and general acceptability across all sectors of the University community. This is not surprising, as the erudite Professor of Jurisprudence and International Law is known to have adequately prepared himself for the job with clearly spelt out vision and methodically marshalled plans on how to bring the vision into reality.
In his maiden address to the University community on the occasion of his formal assumption of office at the University Auditorium, on Monday, October 17, 2022, Prof. Egbewole clearly set out his agenda in unmistakable terms and he has been vigorously pursuing it with single-minded commitment, breaking new grounds in all areas of the University’s three-prong core mandate of teaching, research and community service.
On that occasion, the visionary Vice Chancellor told the jubilant crowd of staff that converged on the University Auditorium that having been part and parcel of the University for the past 25 years, he was aware of its nature and texture. He said, “I have taken time to study the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) that characterise or confront the University and I am prepared to address them for institutional excellence and our collective interest”.
Prof. Egbewole added, “My vision for the University of Ilorin is all about attaining global reckoning as a 21st Century University and the best in Africa. This is not a tall dream as I believe strongly in the human capital of this University. Together, we can take the University to the topmost league in Africa if we are SMART”.
Welcome, the SMART Agenda! Not being a leader blankly coming into an office with no idea of what lies ahead, our Vice Chancellor is well conversant with the situation on ground and well-focused on how to go about righting the identified wrongs. According to him, the compass to navigate the intricate administrative superstructure of the University is his SMART Agenda, which he said, “will be purposively geared towards achieving: Sustainable development, Monumental achievements, Adaptive capacity, Rapid response to change and Team building.
With this mantra of “SMART CAMPUS, the Vice Chancellor’s vision 1 – 10 – 500 is being vigorously pursued. The main essence of this vision is to return UNILORIN to its Number One position among Nigerian universities; make it one of the 10 best universities in Africa and among the top-notch 500 in the world.
One of the early signs that this ambitious vision is attainable within a short time was the resurgence of national and international honours and awards won in quick succession by UNILORIN lecturers and students within the first few weeks of Prof. Egbewole’s assumption of office. Added to this is the sterling performance of some of the University’s Faculties in global academic performance ranking. Also recently, the University moved a step ahead in World University Ranking in a survey conducted by the Time Higher Education (THE). In that ranking, the University of Ilorin moved from its previous seventh position to sixth among its peers in the country.
The first year of Prof. Egbewole has indeed been eventful as several landmark achievements have been recorded in all spheres of the University’s core mandates of teaching, research, and community service.
Other areas in which the impact of this astute administrator has been felt are his humanistic approach to staff welfare, reinvention of the University’s administrative superstructure, academic excellence and research breakthroughs, stellar students’ performances in national and international outings, massive infrastructural, development, collaboration and partnerships, rigorous internationalisation drive, establishment, reinvention and revitalisation of centres. And of course, the University remains a veritable a factory for minting Vice Chancellors and sundry administrators for other universities in the country.
As it is often said that the outlook of a good Sunday could be gleaned from the preceding Saturday, the myriads of achievements recorded in juSst one year of the Vice Chancellor’s five-year tenure could be safely taken as tell-tale signals that the Egbewole years would be full of bags of goodies for the University community.
However, as the Vice Chancellor said in his maiden address to members of the University community, “being Africa’s numero uno (number one) University definitely requires efforts and sacrifices on our part as stakeholders”. Thus, the journey ahead requires the cooperation of all in terms of renewed commitment to efficient service delivery, undiluted dedication to duty and the active embrace of the Team Unilorin spirit. These are sine qua none requirements to “propel the University to where it should be, right among the galaxy of stars”. And it is achievable!
Akogun is the Director, Corporate Affairs, University of Ilorin