The visit of the Executive Chairman of the Oriental Energy Resources Ltd, Alhaji (Dr.) Muhammadu Indimi (OFR), to the University of Ilorin recently meant a lot to the institution. Not only did it signal another giant step in the University’s sustained exploration of the possibility of mutually beneficial town and gown relationships, it also opened a new vista in the institution’s measured interface with the movers and shakers of the society. And by the time the visit was concluded, it was clear to everybody that the University had made a big catch, as the soft-spoken, almost reticent billionaire oil magnate gave some indications that he was ready to “work with Unilorin”. And that was a very loaded commitment!
Apparently impressed by what he saw of the beautiful and serene University campus and the proposals presented to him during a meeting he had with the management of the University, Alhaji Indimi could not hide his feelings, as he said, “If other universities in the country are thinking the way the University of Ilorin thinks, Nigeria would have progressed more than this”!
Such was the candid view of Alhaji Indimi, who said he had read and heard so much about Unilorin, which, incidentally, he was visiting for the first time!
This impulsive expression of admiration for the University of Ilorin by yet another outsider is not surprising, for spontaneous endorsement has become almost a routine by impartial observers and keen watchers of the ever rising profile of the truly better by far University.
Among the regular attestations to Unilorin’s well-known unique selling points were from the views expressed by sundry accreditation teams sent by the National Universities Commission (NUC) to the University, as well as the goodwill messages of both President Muhammadu Buhari and Kwara State Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed during the institution’s recent 34th Convocation.
While the President, who is also the Visitor to the University commended Unilorin for “maintaining a robust academic tradition and a stable academic calendar for close to two decades now”, he advised other institutions of higher learning in the country to emulate the University by keeping their gates continuously open for learning”.
In the same vein, Governor Ahmed also commended the University of Ilorin for consistently being the nation’s most patronized University and for running an impactful, smooth and consistently productive academic calendar in the last two decades “.
I cannot agree less with Alhaji Indimi’s hypothesis that “if other universities in the country are thinking the way the University of Ilorin thinks, Nigeria would have progressed more than this”.
And here are the reasons:
If all universities think like Unilorin…all the positive attributes associated with the University that have inexorably made the institution the nation’s most sought-after, would be replicated in all the nation’s universities.
If all universities think like Unilorin…there would be zero tolerance for anti-social behaviour like cultism, examination malpractices, irresponsible dressing on our campuses.
If all universities think like Unilorin…there would be stable academic calendar, as the managements, staff and students would show a faithful commitment to on and off-session time-table.
If all universities think like Unilorin …there would be staff abstinence from frivolous strikes, as the interests of students and their struggling parents would always be uppermost in the minds of those that are being paid to tend to the needs of these students.
If all universities think like Unilorin …there would be zero student unrest on our campuses, as the aloa spirit would always supersede the archaic aluta mantra. And rather than pandering to the self-serving instigation of external forces over matters that could be amicably settled, most students of the nation’s universities would emulate the ever articulate Unilorin students’ dispute resolution mechanism of constructive engagement with the management.
If all universities think like Unilorin … the campuses would be suffused with constructive and progressive staff unions, which, like we have at the University of Ilorin, will be more interested in partnering the management on issues that would make the campus more conducive for the students. For instance, both academic and non-teaching staff unions at Unilorin are known to have ventured into on campus hostel developments that have gone a long way in alleviating the problems of shortage of accommodation in the University.
If all universities think like Unilorin … there would be constructive and progressive student unionism, whose student leaders would always think of how to better the lots of the student populace like forging sustainable partnership with transport operators on how to effectively increase the fleet of buses that ply the campus routes, among other student-centred social welfare programmes.
If all universities think like Unilorin … staff – students relationship would be defined by some measure of conscientious engagement: students would not be unduly exploited either by the management or by individual staff; there would be less incidence of sexual harassment, and unnecessary linkage of hand-out purchase to mark allocation, etc.
Indeed, if all universities in the country think like the University of Ilorin, the current crisis bedeviling the nation’s education sector would have been minimized if not totally extirpated. Now then, wouldn’t they just see reason?
*Akogun is the Director, Corporate Affairs, University of Ilorin