Bowen VC Recounts Administration’s Giant Strides

With few months to the expiration of his five-year tenure, the Vice-Chancellor of Bowen University, Iwo, Osun, Prof Joshua Olalekan Ogunwole, highlighted his efforts at transforming the institution. Uchechukwu Nnaike reports

Upon assuming office in August 2018, the Vice-Chancellor of Bowen University, Iwo, Professor Joshua Olalekan Ogunwole, pledged to position the institution to be outstanding in all directions.

About nine months to the end of his tenure, it is safe to say that Ogunwole, who prefers to be called ‘Team Leader’, made good the repositioning and rebranding agenda of his administration.

For instance, its Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) is the only equatorial-low latitude SuperDARN in the world today.

Inaugurated last month by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the landmark scientific project, a collaboration with Virginia Tech (United States) and the Nigerian government (through its Centre for Atmospheric Research), is the 36th SuperDARN in the world and the first and only one in Africa.
Nigeria is the 12th country participating in this international scientific collaboration.

According to Dr Olumide Ajani, Head of the VT-NigerBEAR (Virginia-Tech, Nigeria Bowen Equatorial Aeronomy Radar), the facility, to be fully deployed by January/February 2023, will help in the enhancement of space weather research and understanding of the equatorial ionosphere.

It will help with communication (telephony), surveying and oil exploration, navigation (aircraft piloting, ship navigation), equipment designs, geo-mapping, and study of atmospheric currents (weather forecasts and other weather dynamics, thus helping in agricultural planning), etc.​

According to him, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET) has already signed a memorandum of understanding with Bowen.

Ajani encouraged other government agencies, affiliates and multinationals that rely on HF and satellite communication in the equatorial and low latitude regions for their day-to-day activities and businesses, including the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), telecommunication, banking, agricultural, surveying, oil companies, among others to join Bowen University, Virginia Tech. USA and National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) to support cutting-edge scientific solutions to HF (high-frequency) and GPS signal degradation in the equatorial-low latitude of Africa.

On the reason for constructing the project at Bowen, Ajani said the university secured the international partners’ trust because of its leadership’s demonstrable commitment, transparency, stability, and accountability.

“The VT-NigerBEAR is the first and currently the only deployment of an equatorial low-latitude SuperDARN anywhere in the world. I am very proud of Nigeria and, in particular, Bowen University and the team that has worked on this project, placing Nigeria on the SuperDARN global map and in the network of nations that play host to the international scientific radar network,” Osinbajo, excited about the project, said at the inauguration. He congratulated Bowen for the laudable achievement.

He added, “We need to pay attention to VT-NigerBEAR, not just because of its potential, but because of the ways in which it can change the quality of our communications using telecommunications devices, global positioning systems, satellite communications, military communications, aerial surveillance etc., and because its success will serve as a template for other high-level research and scientific collaborations between Nigerian and international partner institutions, connecting results to industry and converting data to useful information for commercial and social good projects.

As part of efforts to enhance the welfare of staff and students, the university, under Prof Ogunwole, has also achieved a near-24-hour power supply by installing and connecting a 33/KVA Power Station to the national grid.

There is currently a minimum of 20-hour uninterrupted supply of power on campus, which, according to the Director of Students, Dr Aderibigbe Adebola, has saved the university millions of naira since its inauguration on February 21, 2020.

The university has a paddock and milk collection centre, facilities not only for teaching and research purposes but also to advance town and gown relationships and assist dairy farmers and herders in the host communities.

At the paddock, the agric officer, Mr Oluwagbenga Ajibade, said there were currently 33 cattle. He said the animals are fed in situ (not grazed) and artificially inseminated with semen from species from Brazil, Holland or other foreign countries. This is because local breeds have limited milk production capacities.
According to him, the milk is collected at the centre and taken and sold to Friesland Campina.

Shedding more light on the facilities, a professor of Animal Science at the university and supervisor of the project, Tunde Lawal, said the project was the idea of Professor Ogunwole, who felt there was a need to transition from extensive to intensive dairy animal management.

“You would have also noticed that we have a Milk Collection Centre; that shows the presence of Friesland Campina in the university. We have an MoU with them, and the intention is to extend the CSR to Iwo and its environs. This means that dairy farmers in Iwo, Olupona, Ile Ogbo, and others can, instead of going into wara (pasteurized milk delicacy) production can just bring their raw milk to that place, and they will be paid immediately,” Lawal explained.

He also confirmed that the cattle at the paddock have all been artificially inseminated with semen from animals procured either from Holland, Israel or Brazil.
Lawal added, “Our own animals here reared by the Fulanis at most would give us one litre or two litres (of milk) per day, but the calves from those animals that you have seen will be giving us at least 15 litres per day.”

He also said as an extension of the university’s CSR, the hybrid male animals are routinely released to the dairy farmers in Iwo and environs to mate with their local breed, towards ensuring an increase in milk production and, subsequently, their income.

Under the leadership of Ogunwole, Bowen University has introduced several new programmes, including (undergraduate) Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science (B.MLS); Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSc. Public Health); Bachelor of Engineering, Electrical and Electronics Engineering; Bachelor of Engineering, Mechatronics Engineering; Bachelor of Science, Politics and Law, etc.

The university also achieved another first by securing the approval of the National Universities Commission (NUC) to run the Politics and Law degree programme, thus becoming the first university in Nigeria to offer the programme.

On infrastructure development, two projects that will keep Ogunwole’s tenure in the consciousness of those that know Bowen University include the imposing Senate Building and the New Heritage International Scholars’ Hostel.

Others are the College of Health Science Building, donated by the Bowen University Parents Forum (BUPAF), for which the university advanced a loan to BUPAF to aid its speedy completion, the 288-bed smart hostel and the College Building for the Computing and Communication Studies, and the 190-bed hostel facility at the Bowen University Teaching Hospital (BUTH), Ogbomoso.

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