By Kunle Akogun
In the run-up to the August 28, 2017 appointment of a new Vice-Chancellor, members of the University of Ilorin community waited with bated breath and palpable anxiety as news filtered through the campus that the Governing Council was about to take a major decision that would invariably chart the direction the University would tread in the next five years. On that day, the Council, led by Dr. Abdullah Jibril Oyekan, met to, among other businesses, consider the report of its Selection Board on the appointment of a new Vice-Chancellor.
This anxiety was not restricted to the University community, as even members of the general public were also on tenterhooks as to who would emerge the new helmsman of the University that is currently making waves across the country, and even beyond, as Nigeria’s number one citadel of learning by all objective standards.
And the mass media were not left out in this pervasive aura of tensile anticipation. Indeed, members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm inadvertently, or, in some cases consciously, fueled the general anxiety over what should ordinarily be strictly an internal affair of the University with all sorts of speculative news stories on the likely candidate for the plum job!
And after about four hours of brainstorming, Dr. Oyekan, tailed by other Council members, emerged from the hallowed Council Chamber and headed straight to the more spacious old Senate Chamber, where a bevy of anxious pressmen were waiting in the wings. So, it was understandable when a pin-drop silence immediately enveloped the Senate Chamber as the Council Chairman and other members of his entourage settled into their seats.
“Gentlemen of the press”, the Council Chairman began, barely waiting for a short introduction by the University Spokesman, yours sincerely, to end, “Noting that the tenure of the Vice-Chancellor, Professor AbdulGaniyu Ambali, OON, will come to an end on 15th October, 2017, Council commenced the process for the appointment of a new Vice-Chancellor by announcing the vacancy in two National Newspapers, ThisDay and The Heraldon Friday, 14th April, 2017. The advertisement was also placed on the University website and the University’s Weekly Bulletin”.
Dr. Oyekan then launched into the details of the selection process that culminated in the just concluded Council meeting. And finally, he said, “At its meeting on Monday, 28th August, 2017, Council, in accordance with the University Act and the provisions of the Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Amendment) Act 2003, considered the recommendation of the Selection Board and I am happy to announce that Council approved the appointment of Professor Sulyman Age Abdulkareem as the 10th Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin. The appointment is to take effect from 16th October, 2017”.
And so the erudite Professor of Chemical Engineering and inventor of an anti-oil spillage substance, the Unilor Oil Sorbing Wafers, among other inventions, was named the University’s new Vice-Chancellor.
A specialist in Heterogeneous Catalysis/Reactional Engineering and consummate researcher as well as patent owner of several groundbreaking inventions, Prof. Abdulkareem joined the services of the University of Ilorin as a Senior Lecturer in 1996, becoming a Professor in 2005. He is the immediate past Vice-Chancellor of Al-Hikmah University, Ilorin.
The Vice-Chancellor-designate was born on 21st January, 1954 at Oro town, Irepodun Local Government area of Kwara State. He attended the Government Secondary School, Ilorin, for both his secondary school education and the Higher School Certificate (HSC) from 1968 to 1974, which he undertook with a Kwara State Government Scholarship. He later got the Federal Government Scholarship for his university education at the University of Detroit, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A. between 1975 and 1980. At the end of the course, he came out in flying colours and was awarded the MChE, BChE (Chemical Engineering) specializing in Heterogeneous Catalysis/Reaction Engineering.
From 1985 to 1988, this high-flying intellectual was awarded the United States of America National Science Foundation Fellowship for his Ph.D programme in Chemical Engineering at the University of Louisville, USA. He also completed his Ph.D in flying colours and obtained the Engineer-In-Training Certificate of the State of Minnesota, USA in 1991. He became a registered Engineer of the Nigerian Society of Engineers in 2002 and a COREN Registered Engineer in 2004.
Prof. Abdulkareem was a Lecturer, engaged by the Detroit Board of Education Detroit, Michigan, USA from August 1984 to August 1985; and a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, from September 1985 to August 1988. He joined the services of the University of Ilorin as a Senior Lecturer in 1996 and rose to become a Professor in September 2005, the same year he discovered and fabricated a substance that could be used to rescue the environment of the oil producing areas from the menace of oil spillage and save their waters from perennial pollution.
A consummate researcher and thorough-bred academic, he has a lot of inventions and has many Patents to his credit. These include:
· Kareem, S.A., Unilor Oil Sorbing Wafers, Federal Republic of Nigeria, RP 16005 (2005);
· Kareem, S.A. Unilor Lubricating Grease, Federal Republic of Nigeria, RP16006 (2005)
· Kareem, S.A., Unilor Candle, Federal Republic of Nigeria RP16007 (2005)
· Abdulkareem, S.A. and Amoloye, T.O. (2013). Catalytic Conversion of Low Density Polyethylene (Discarded Pure Water Sachet) to Solid, Liquid and Gaseous Hydrocarbon Fuels, NG/P/2010/332
The Vice-Chancellor-designate has held many important positions in the University, among which are: Director, SIWES (2000 – 2008); Head, University Admissions Unit (2006 – 2009); Dean, Student Affairs (2008 – 2010); and Director, Laboratory-To-Product (LABTOP) Centre (September 2015 to date). He is happily married with children.
From the general mood of obvious satisfaction that has pervaded the campus since the announcement of Prof. Abdulkareem’s appointment, with torrents of congratulatory messages pouring in from members of Senate and the leadership of the various staff unions in the University, it is safe to say that the University of Ilorin is in for another glorious era, a sustenance of the excellence for which the institution has been known for years.
There is no doubt that the Vice-Chancellor-designate’s appointment is a call to national service and many people believe that by his pre-eminent antecedent, he is well-equipped to take the University of Ilorin to greater heights.
Not only has he served in a similar capacity in a sister university before, available records have also shown that Prof. Abdulkareem discharged himself creditably in his former duty post, making ground-breaking achievements that are yet unsurpassed. Moreover, his intimidating credentials are a source of joy, pride and assurance to every Unilorite that the University is indeed lucky to have him take over from a great achiever in the person of Prof. Ambali. Generally acknowledged to be a very principled, open-minded, fair and incorruptible administrator wherever he has been privileged to serve in the past, Prof. Abdulkareem will surely be bringing all these sterling attributes to bear on his administrative style at the University. This is necessary not only because of the need to keep his well-known integrity intact but also because of the need to sustain the lofty heights that the University of Ilorin has attained over the years, and also hopefully take this a notch higher!And as Prof. Ambali said at a forum few days after Prof. Abdulkareem’s emergence, “I am happy that I am handing over to a man who will not let the University down”.
Once again, congratulations, sir on this well-deserved appointment. May the Almighty Allah, by whose Divine Help you have attained this enviable height, to guard and guide you aright in the onerous task ahead. To be sure, only the very best is good enough for Unilorin.
*Akogun is the Head, Corporate Affairs, University of Ilorin