THE new vice chancellor of University of Ilorin, professor AbdulGaniyu Ambali, a professor of Veterinary and medicine spoke on Sundry issues affecting the institution and how to tackle the challenges confronting the country’s education sector, Taiye Joseph was there.
What do you consider your main challenge since you become the vice – chancellor?
My first challenge is that I have lost my weekends. Hitherto, my weekends used to be spent in my house; visiting one or two friends and then I use the major part of it’s to rest at home. But now, I have found out that the position of vice – chancellor is almost 24/7 because things are very dynamic and nothing is static. You leave the campus around 3:30pm and then next minute, you find out that your attention is needed. Most of the time, I spend the weekend at the office. But nevertheless, I have enjoyed my new assignment so despite the challenges, I am happy to be ‘there, to serve people and I hope I continue to do it better.
How do you describe the recent disturbance at the university?
On the little disturbance we are having, yes it is very unfortunate, but we have taken various measures to tackle the problems has been with us for a while only that the frequently of its occurrence has been increased of recent. But we have taken the measures and employed more hands. We have more security agents patrolling the troubled spots that we have identified on campus for the last six months we have really reinforced the security strength of the staff on campus. We are quite comfortable now since we have staff that cooperate with us, and who are ready to tackle the problem. We are on top of it. Whenever you have a set up like a university and with all our borders, we have to constantly be on our guard. We have reinforced the security strength of the university and we hope and pray that we will not witness such again. We have gotten the assurance of the security agencies in town and they have increased their surveillance of the place.
What are the expectations of the university community from your administration?
You will discover that since we started, we met peace and tranquility on campus and I am very determined to consolidate on that. Again to assure our people on and off – campus that laboratory equipment for research are being given serious attention. In fact, government has promised to assist us in achieving this. We know that it is not only about facilities, but also about furthering education to improve the capacity of the staff. The university has started training its academic staff, especially the registry, the security and all those working at the internet centre. We will give them the opportunity to advance their study for the growth of the university. We have started that and very soon, others will follow because we are having the training in batches. In six months to a year from now, staff of the university would have improved the efficiency of their work with the requisite training we have to carry out for them. The training will not only be done in the institution the university will also explore ways of sponsoring the staff aboard.
Is there any plan to execute new projects?
We are supposed to start three projects for which the faculty of education and that of arts are included. The multi-purpose hall is the third. In respect of the money for these projects, you should know that we have various categories of approval. These are some approvals that are beyond the limit of council and some beyond the limit of management. These three projects are above the limit of management and council approval, based on this, we have to take the document to the federal ministry of education for approval.
I am happy to tell you that approval has been given for the take off of two of the project by the ministry of education which came out about two weeks ago. As a matter of facts, we are expecting the financial backing from TETFUND any moment from now. The project will surely take off in the next one week and I will soon go to Abuja to collect the necessary document and thereafter, the contractors will start their work.
We are still awaiting the approval of the faculty of Art. That of the educational multi-purpose hall will take off next week. Also, council has also approved university water project, which will take off any moment from now. I assure within the next three months, the water that will be taken on campus and to serve our friends will come from the university.
We also have central laboratory project and we are top of it soon, the process will be completed and we hope that before the end of the year, it would have been in place. We have other projects that we are hoping that before the end of the academic session, they will be on or completed. I can assure you that will have goods hands and the financial backing is there. What is left now is for us to identify good contractors that will finish these projects within record time.
Again, we are all advanced stage and talking with a lot of partners and just recently, we had a contact in the US and he is linking us up with Harvard and Kansas state universities. We are at advance stage of collaboration, which will no locust yield a lot of resources and other inputs from our partners. They have expressed their willingness to assist both in terms of supplies and manpower training. We look forward to that.
WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO THE PERCEPTION THAT IN CERTAIN QUARTERS THERE IS A SHARP DECLINE IN QUALITY OF UNIVERSITY EDUCATION OR PRODUCTS IN THE COUNTRY?
The quality of education is not as bad as we think; I was interacting with one former Vice-Chancellor who stays in the US and he said that most of our doctors are practicing there. If our education is bad, the people in the US will net recruit them. Once you don’t finish your MBBS in the UK and you want to practice there, they subject you to their medical council examination. This means that our doctors that are there have been undergoing this examination and been passing it. So if the quality was bad, that wouldn’t happen. Of course, we cannot generalize and that is why the NUC and other professional bodies are constantly monitoring and accrediting programmes in the university.
Again, if you have well trained and competent teachers, the quality of the product will improve. We have to also take cognizance of the fact that that universities are getting their students from the product of secondary schools in the country and as you know, garbage in, garbage out, good quality in, better product out and vice versa. This means that whatever is happening in the university, we are just making use of what we are being fed with. The responsibility is not only that of the university because of the university is coming in at the middle of the educational development of an individual. You have the nursery, the primary and the secondary school before you come to the university. If we convince ourselves that the quality is declining, then let’s all watch what we are feeding the university with. It is a collective responsibility. We have to encourage our state and local government to improve the quality of graduate they are giving the university. I know some state governments are doing their best. The University of Ilorin or any university for that matter has a defined catchments place to serve which means majority of our product should come from that particular locality. The quality of products that we have in those states effect the university. I personally want to encourage our state government to please improve quality of products they are giving us in the university.
WHAT IS YOUR ADMINISTRATION DOING TO TACKLE THE PROBLEM OF ACCOMMODATION ON CAMPUS?
Accommodation of students is one of our priority areas. The government has given us to go ahead to encourage the public to come and partner with us under the Build operate and transfer [BOT] arrangement. I use this opportunity to thank and acknowledge the society on campus. Many of them have erected facility to accommodate the students and even one of the buildings was opened to students. Right now we are talking with almost three developers, who are ready to come and invest within the university. And I am sure before the end of the session or early next session, we are still going to continue to encourage people because right now the university has a population of 34,000 students and the facilities that we have on campus accommodate just 3,000. so you can imagine the gap between the needs and available facility. We are still going to encourage and partner with the public to come and build more hostels to accommodate students on campus because it is better and safer for students to be on campus, they are under our control, but once they are outside, we have limited jurisdiction. We hope and pray that more people will heed our call to come and build more hostels within the campus.