Working to Make KWASU a World Class University

Hammed Shittu

Provision of qualitative education in an institution rests on the kind of leadership that is in charge. Good leadership usually plays a vital role in creating the conditions for success at all levels of education and training. It was no surprise then that on April 1st 2020, theadministration of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq took the bull by the horn by appointing a seasoned administrator, versatile and brilliant legal luminary, Prof. Muhammed Mustapha Akanbi (SAN) as the Vice Chancellor of Kwara State University (KWASU), Malete, so as to provide qualitative and standard education to the students of the institution.

The appointment of Prof. Akanbi by Governor AbdulRazaq then was described by pundits in the state as a round peg in a round hole in view of the past exposures of the legal luminary. He was one time former chairman of Ilorin branch of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), where he distinguished himself as a manager of human resources.

Apart from this, Akanbi gathered sound parental exposure from his late father, Justice Mustapha Akanbi, a former chairman of ICPC. A meeting of Council members of the institution was convened by Akanbi to brief them on the work agenda of the new administration.

The Vice Chancellor said he believes in participatory governance so as to add value to the educational growth of the students and to have a good relationship with the host community of Malete, adding that the decision had assisted him in advancing the course of greatness of the institution.

In doing this, he said, “I set up community relations committee and meet from time to time with the people of the host town, Malete to discuss their interest.

“Kwara State University is a community university. It is a university for community development. I have not joked with it because it revolves on three tripods; teaching, research and community development and we have been having a robust relationship since assumption of office.

“The population of students at Malete outnumbers the people of Malete and we must be able to handle the people of Malete so as to avoid tension and friction.”

Apart from this, he said the factionalised Academic Staff Union of the university had been reconciled to form one-united union in the institution.“I want to tell you that the primary school at Malete has been taken over by the university and we have deployed our lecturers in education to be teaching the students of this host town.

“Apart from this, the management has constructed boreholes, solar and the likes, for the town while security had been beefed up to maintain peace and order in order not to put our students as risk. All these have boosted our relationship with the host town since I came into office.”
The vice chancellor noted that the new administration had taken a giant stride in the accreditation of more courses for the institution so as to advance academic learning.

He said, “Most of the academic programmes of the KWASU currently have full accreditation. This feat is due to the commitment and sacrifice of our staff who continue to give their best to the system and the support of the state government during the accreditation periods.

“Specially, eight programmes earned full accreditation status in 2020. These are Accounting, Banking and Finance, Business Administration, Computer Science, English, Linguistics and African Languages, Performing Arts and Microbiology. “Additionally, nine programmes went through resource visitation by the National Universities Commission during the 2020/2021 session, while 16 new programmes are awaiting resource visitation by the NUC

“Kwara State University is blessed with highly talented, experienced and committed academic staff who have continued to give their best and not only that, the university has maintained a stable academic calendar and it has continued to soar in academic excellence.”

On the plan to introduce campus shuttle-transport in the university, Prof Akanbi said the move “is to regulate the public transportation in the institution.”

He stressed: “The security reports available to us show that most of the incoming vehicles are involved in the movement of illicit drugs into the campus and that this had resulted in the antisocial behaviour of some students.

“If we cannot control transportation outside the campus, we must be able to control the one coming into our campus because we want to produce future leaders and we want to work towards making our university a world class institution and the products from the university must be trained to have good etiquette and good behaviour.

“We don’t want a situation whereby our first class students will be mired in illicit drugs and we must be able to control and regulate their behaviour, and that is why the idea of having our own campus shuttle comes in. We will also use it to expose our students to a well-modeled form of transportation.

On the plan to have Students Smart-city in the university, Prof Akanbi said the move was to ensure that the students were kept in the campus instead outside the campus.
According to him, “When I came on board, I discovered that out of over 20,000 students of the University, only 1000 are residing on the campus and this is not good at all.

“There are about 15 -16 communities in Malete, the students are spread across these affected areas and if anything happens, it is always difficult to quickly know the situation and sometimes, by the time we even know, it may be late.

“These students are under our care and we now plan to have a Smart-city, a mega hostel of a thing that will accommodate our students and we know the government does not have such money to undertake it but we will reach out to the private investors to build such mega hostel for us.
“A students’ Smart-city is not only a place to sleep, it will be a building that is functional, that is energised, with security, Internet facilities and it will also attend to the needs of the students.

“We have a report now that over 5,000 students of the university always go to Ilorin to visit various shopping malls like Shoprite for their recreational activities, hence by the time this is put in place it will reduce the travelling of our students to Ilorin for such needs because university is for learning, research and tourism and this will go a long way to address the needs of the students.

“And I just want to use this platform to appeal to the NUC to make it mandatory for the students to be residing on campus so as to boost their academic pursuits and to produce good leaders of tomorrow.

“Students are also vulnerably exposed to antisocial influences which are inimical to their health and academic career. Exposure to negative influence outside the university campus is majorly responsible for the involvement of some students in internet fraud, substance abuse and other untoward crimes.”

He explained further that the private investors would partner with them while the government would support them. “We have name, land and population and that would help us. The funding of the project will not be a task and we will not lose at the end of the day. The government should also initiate policies that would assist the private investor to work with us.”

Speaking on the war against examination malpractice in the university, Akanbi said it had in the last two sessions, expelled no less than 87 students for antisocial behaviour.
He added that the students were expelled for involvement in examination malpractice, drug abuse, internet fraud, robbery and others.

He said, “Kwara State University has zero tolerance for indiscipline and misconduct. All cases of indiscipline are investigated and appropriate punitive measures are taken against students found guilty of such offence.

“This is to ensure that the few bad eggs among students do not contaminate the decent ones.
On the sex for marks syndrome in the university, the vice chancellor said a lecturer that was involved had been dismissed from the university.
He, however, said the Nigeria Police Force had taken over the matter and that he is facing charges in the court of law.

Akanbi noted further that “My administration will not spare any official of the institution that is involved in any act that may have adverse effect on the integrity of the university.
“There are rules and regulations guiding the operations of the university and anyone that goes against these rules would be made to face appropriate panels, and if found guilty, would be asked to go without any hindrances.”

On the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 hybrid convocation ceremonies, the Professor of Business Law said, “In total, we are graduating 6,620 this convocation, 3,864 for the 2019/2020 session and 2,756 for the 2020/2021 session.

“In addition, we are graduating 321 students for higher degrees in the 2019/2020 session and 96 in the 2020/2021 session. Among our first degree graduands, 96 made first class.”

On the linkages and collaborations of the University, the legal luminary stated that the University currently has linkage programmes with several universities and research institutes locally and internationally

“Our academic departments and units also engaged in collaborative research with many local and international institutions and organisations and the institution presently hosts the UNESCO chair in Alternative Energy while it is providing mentorship for the Ibrahim Babangida (IBB) University, Lapai, Niger State.”

On research and technological breakthrough in the university, Akanbi stated: “Our university is setting the pace in aircraft engineering in Nigeria. Two students, Abdulzahir Okinobaniyi Usman and Israel Oluwagbemi Adeniyan under the supervision of Professor AbdulGaniyu Alabi designed and constructed a light aircraft.

“The one-sitter turbo propeller engine aircraft is set to attain an altitude of 13,000ft at 220km/hr speed. The light aircraft, which is the first of its kind in the university, will soon be ready for a test flight.”

He added: “Our spectacular achievements include the design and installation of a 5KVA solar inverter for use by Electrical Engineering students for laboratory experiments by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.”

On infrastructural development, Akanbi said, “In order to meet our expanding teaching needs and increase our margin in excellence, we have continued to invest in infrastructure on our campus from our internally generated revenue, support from the state government, TETFUND and the private sector.”

He opined that this development had greatly improved the infrastructure growth of the university and also added to the values of academic excellence of the students.

He also said that the university had achieved a lot on technical, vocational and entrepreneurship as it has remained first of its kind in any Nigerian university.

According to him, “To date, the center has made tremendous impact in producing graduates with marketable skills who are self- reliant and job creators.

“It is important to note that the NUC has endorsed this innovative training for 21st century Nigerian students and many universities across Nigeria are imbibing this tradition pioneered by KWASU.

“I want to let you know that in the last 10 years, the center has trained and certified over 21,000 students in Enterprise Creation while 18,000 students registered their businesses with the Corporate Affairs Commission and over 60 per cent of these businesses are operational while the center has been helping the university to generate funds for its growth.”

On the areas of sports, he said, “We have put in place Vice Chancellor Cup competition among the various Faculties so as to enhance their energy and to discover talented sports men and women in the institution.

“Despite the lean purse of the university, we have been supporting sports development and wellness of the students and we are trying to get private sector involvement in the construction of ultra-modern sports complex so as to make our students stay in the campus instead of engaging in antisocial behaviour in the school.”

On the post UTME for new students, Prof. Akanbi stated: “In this university, we don’t embark on Post UTME for our students and what we do is to add up school certificate results with the JAMB scores and rank them; those that make the grades required are considered for admission in the school.

Speaking on the plan to have radio station to back up the institution’s Mass Communication Department, he said, “We are still keen on doing it but funding and regulations have been our problem because the university is a multi-campus one and the regulator only want us to have it at the main campus. We are looking ahead next year to make it more alive so as to have our own radio station.

“The main challenge facing the university is funding and we are reaching out to the private sector and the government to support the institution so as to meet various tasks.”

He also called for more security personnel at Malete so as to protect the students in view of their larger population.

Akanbi solicited the support of the government at addressing the issue of encroachment on the university’s land so as to protect it from speculators.

He also called for the urgent dualisation of Shao-Malete Road for easy transportation of students and other people to the school.

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