When the American astronaut, Neil Armstrong, first stepped on the Moon on July 20, 1969, he made a statement that was deep and profound: “That’s one small step by for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Forty years after, a related scenario, even if by analogy, played out in Ilorin as a step was taken by Prof. Is-haq O. Oloyede as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin through the establishment of the University radio station, UNILORIN 89.3 FM – that’s one small step by a Vice-Chancellor but one giant leap for the University!
It was in commemoration of what has turned out to be a giant leap that the University of Ilorin became a Mecca last Tuesday (August 20, 2019) as UNILORIN 89.3 FM rolled out the drums and the whole campus was electrified with the colourful and successful 10th anniversary of the better by far radio station. There, eminent Nigerians from all walks of life converged on the University to savour the glorious moment which was a combo of an anniversary lecture, ably delivered by the Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Mallam Ishaq Modibo Kawu, a presentation of awards to select dignitaries and the launch of a book, UNILORIN 89.3 FM @ 10: A Decade of Broadcasting Excellence.
For the better by far radio station, the journey of 10 years so far started in 2009 when the University unveiled its plan to deepen education, boost information, build capacity, nurture talents and re-invent entertainment through the instrument of the radio, given that today is the Information Age. After stabilising Unilorin Bulletin a year earlier to be a weekly newsletter offering a wide range of educative, informative and entertaining contents, including but not limited to “Fast Facts File”, “Quotes of the Week”, “Unilorin in the News”, “Laugh Lines” and so on then, the attention of the University shifted to radio, given its vast merits.
The sole aim of establishing the radio station was to advance the mandate of the university regarding teaching, research and community service. But embedded in this aim were objectives bordering on those stated in the previous paragraph apart from deepening openness and transparency as well as projecting and promoting the University of Ilorin as an international centre of excellence in learning, research, probity and service to humanity, which it has remained. In achieving the aim and objectives, a 15-man “Campus Radio Implementation Committee” was constituted under the chairmanship of Prof. Lenrie Aina, currently Chief Executive of the National Library of Nigeria.
The project started earlier than initially conceived with the successful fabrication of a mini-transmitter by Dr Abdulkareem Oloyede of the Faculty of Communication and Information Sciences, who was then a young graduate of Engineering, and presentation of same to the University. The radio then began in April 2009 as “Unilorin FM hits air waves”, as reported by The Nation newspaper of April 23, 2009 (p.23) even if it was on test transmission. By August 2009 and the recruitment of full-time staff, starting with Mr Olusegun Alabi, the University community began to experience excellent broadcasting with such memorable programmes as “Mr and Mrs Ajanlekoko”, “Flavo”, “Health Tips”, “Today in History”, apart from other educational contents and news bulletins.
By the time the modern equipment of the radio station were procured and the actual station in its current location was commissioned on October 22, 2011, with the immediate commencement of 24-hour broadcasting service in tow, UNILORIN 89.3 FM had carved a niche for itself as a favourite station of many people within and outside the University community. As the Head of Corporate Affairs then, it was delightful for me to see the eaglet fly with remarkable energy, infectious enthusiasm and keen focus on excellence.
Within 10 years, the radio station under the astute leaderships of Mr Abdulganiyu Durudola and Mr Ibrahim Akintola Idris (Alooma) has won several awards both locally and (inter)nationally. It has defined and shaped the career paths of scores of former students and volunteers who are now successful broadcasters in Kwara State and across Nigeria and beyond. As an eagle, it has soared to the heavens and traversed uncharted horizons through quality broadcasting and high impact contents anchored by seasoned professionals who can compete favourably with their counterparts anywhere in the world.
Given the milestones the station has recorded within the past 10 years, it is therefore pertinent to congratulate the radio station, the Directorate of Corporate Affairs under the Directorship of Mr Kunle Akogun and the University of Ilorin under the Vice Chancellorship of Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem on the tin anniversary of UNILORIN 89.3 FM. There is no doubt that the past of the radio station was glorious, the present is good and the future is great especially if the abundant talents of the personnel are fully harnessed and the tradition of excellence passionately sustained.
It is also delightful that as the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Abdulkareem, indicated on the occasion of the anniversary last week, the University is at the verge of starting the campus television station, which has been in the pipeline for some time now. The Vice-Chancellor noted that as the radio station has been a huge success, the University can blaze the trail and add more value to the totality of the experiences of the students and the community. This means that the soaring eagle at 10 is inspiring and encouraging as it can also lead to the establishment of a community newspaper for the society in future.
For the better by far radio station, life beings at 10 and the sky is just the starting point.