In his inaugural speech after he formally assumed office as the 9th Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin on October 15, 2012, entitled “Another Dawn”, Prof. AbdulGaniyu aniyu Ambali noted among other things, that the philosophy of his Administration would be anchored on “Sustainable (human and material resources) Development.”
Consequently, in his well-acclaimed first address to the University Senate on October 30, 2012, which he tellingly called “For Sustainable Development”, the Vice-Chancellor espoused the philosophy of his Administration. “This Administration is for sustainable (human and material) development such that the mandate of the University, viz, teaching, research and community service, will be further strengthened. It is our guiding principle to stimulate the two major resources available, the human and material, and synergize them for institutional excellence. We all know that without sustainability, development itself is ultimately counterfeit and counter-productive. We shall sustain and maintain what is on ground and build afresh on the current level of progress as a way of raising the University higher,” he said.
In furtherance of the agenda of stimulating institutional excellence, the University under Vice-Chancellor Ambali set to work and using one criterion as a case study here, it soon became the first: the first choice of admission applicants. In other words, while the University has maintained a steady progression in the list of the most of admired universities by parents and candidates over the years, it became the second most preferred University in 2013, a year after Prof. Ambali assumed office. Since 2014 till date, or four consecutive years, the University of Ilorin has remained the most admired University or number one choice of admission applicants in West Africa.
Today, the University occupies the Presidency of the Association of West Africa Universities (AWAU). Besides, the University, through its Centre for Peace and Strategic Studies, is also the only institution in West Africa that is represented in the Governing Council of the International Peace Research Association (IPRA), an affiliate of the United Nations (UN), just as it hosts the Secretariat of the Africa Peace Research and Education Association (AFPREA). These are incontrovertible indicators of the heights the University has attained not only in Africa but also in the world as a citadel of academic excellence, sustainable peace, institutional stability and development during the tenure of the amiable Ambali.
Meanwhile, in clinically dissecting the Ambali years, one can identify five major areas of impact with a focus on his administrative philosophy of sustainable development. These are sustainable human development, sustainable infrastructural development, sustainable academic development, sustainable environmental development and sustainable institutional partnerships. While digging one’s teeth into the nitty-gritty of these dimensions of impact is beyond the scope of this essay, glossing over them is still not presumptuous.
As far as human development is concerned, this Administration will be remembered for investing heavily in staff and student training. A large number of both teaching and non-teaching staff were given opportunities for self-development through sponsorship for higher degrees, and to seminars and workshops while students were equally given student exchange opportunities that allowed some of them to learn in other African universities. The various training programmes organised by the redoubtable Registrar, Mr Emmanuel D. Obafemi, the Centre for Research Development and In-house Training (CREDIT), the annual Capacity Building Retreats of the Centre for Peace and Strategic Studies and others all fall within this rubric. Staff and students of the University have therefore become highly competitive with both categories winning competitive fellowships, debates, research grants and sponsorships nationally and internationally.
Infrastructurally, it is part of Ambali’s success that the University of Ilorin was turned to a huge construction site where different projects are going on simultaneously. The ultra-modern NLNG Engineering Research Laboratory, the Researcher’s Lodge, the ongoing Postgraduate School complex and many others like hostels that have been documented by Mr Kunle Akogun are landmark legacies that will continue to outlive the current Administration.
At the level of sustainable academic development, this Administration has added more to the academic programmes of the University such that the University is a one-stop shop for quality training in diverse areas of human endeavour. That the University boasts of fifteen Faculties today from the twelve he inherited from his illustrious predecessor is a further attestation to the academic legacy of Prof. Ambali. While the institutional accreditation of the University remains primus inter pares, virtually all the programmes of the University are fully accredited.
Meanwhile, the University has recorded major gains at the level of sustainable environmental development such that its beauty is always a sight to behold. Apart from other physical landmarks that add to the aesthetic quality of the University as one of the most beautiful campuses in the country, the Ambali administration was able to attract the date palms plantation intended to cover some 1,000 hectares to the University.
Finally, the University has been able to forge sustainable partnerships with additional institutions and bodies. With sustained membership of the Boards of the Association of African Universities (AAU), the International Association of Universities (IAU) and more partnerships with scores of world universities, the University has developed robust linkage and collaborative systems such that it magnetises easily international students and staff to its serene academic environment.
As no success is sustainable without a successful successor, the pick of the pack of the Vice-Chancellor’s success is the quality of his successor, Prof. Sulyman A. Abdulkareem, a former Vice-Chancellor, cerebral scholar, well-garlanded researcher, thorough-bred academic and versatile administrator. Without doubt, it is Prof. Ambali’s success that the better by far legacy continues to be better by far with Prof. Abdulkareem’s succession!
The Alma Mater congratulates the Vice-Chancellor-designate and wishes him an awesome tenure.