Another commemoration is due. Doing it comes with its own hitches. It sprouts conflicting mental pictures, just as in this case. Pictures of what have been, what should be or shall be; past and future events, not blending, yet mixing as they surged on the mind. The climax being that in one year from today, the tone of leadership at Adekunle Ajasin University will change. On this date, next year, Professor Igbekele Ajibefun would complete his 5- year tenure as the fifth Vice Chancellor of AAUA. He would cease to sit atop the University’s Senate. And even now, the clock ticks fast!
Like incredible eclipse, the show is closing. What began with a curious ‘road show ‘on that warm afternoon with teeming members of two institutions merging into one, giving and receiving the gift of a person, who, freshly out of one leadership rung, was stepping onto another with a felt sense of purpose, is going to end in a jiffy. Four years have gone and now the curtain is fast falling.
Professor Ajibefun must be taking stock by now. He came, armed with a sterling plan to wrought developmental strides. Though hampered by scorching economic downturn, he has carried with him the resolve to impact, develop and to make the University happy. Making the University better and the workforce happy were the same purposes he had expressed on arriving the University in January 2015, the avowal that would set the tone for the tenure and sundry administrative endeavours.
In reviewing the mileage the University has covered under the incumbent Vice Chancellor, the recent ranking of Nigerian universities as conducted by the National Universities Commission, NUC, and released in the near past presents a profound picture. The result (Released in August, 2017) brought AAUA from its 46th position in 2014 to 31st in 2016.
The University, in the meantime, had jumped sixteen (16) rungs to be ranked AAUA 31st and the 3rd best state University in Nigeria in the latest reports out of the 164 universities. This, by any reasonable dipstick, speaks sturdy success.
And the successes must have resulted from the onerous but deliberate efforts of the leadership of the University to consolidate on the past achievements and to emplace the institution on a consequential pedestal.
Though it has a history of distinctions, AAUA is making meteoric accomplishments because it has continued to invest heavily in the training and exposure of its members. The University, between year 2016 and now, has sponsored over two hundred (200) of its academic and administrative staff on local and international trainings and conferences. The last one year, especially, has seen it sponsor twenty (20) of its young academics have benefitted from TETFund postgraduate trainings in different universities across the world.
AAUA is also gaining weight by widening its reach through partnership with leading institutions around the globe so that its reach of influence can be enhanced and exposed its members to best practices. The yielding from these efforts is the fact that the University now enjoys active collaboration with a number of foreign institutions, such as the American Medical Foundation, Delaware University, University of Maryland, Eastern Shore; Auburn University, Alabama State University, Troy University and Morgan State University.
This regime has maximized the meager resources of the University and has since kept the University afloat in the face of dwindling financial fortunes. In 2016, for instance, the University did not receive monthly subventions from the state government for seven (7) months, yet the University paid, through Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), the staff salaries covering these months, adding up to N1.48 billion at the rate of N212 million per month. Up to this time, the University has not received the subventions covering the month of July 2016 to January 2017. This is in addition to the humongous overhead cost on electricity provision, maintenance of University assets, purchase of drugs and allied materials for the University Health Centre, Examination materials.
Despite the shattering economy and marked shortfall in the subventions received from 2017, staff salaries are paid regularly while the welfare matters of the workforce receive prompt attention. Even now, the first and second tranches of Earned Allowances for Academic Staff have been paid.
The leadership, against all odds, made commendable progress in infrastructure. By partnering with Government Agencies such as the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFUND, the Federal Government Needs Assessment and the University’s Alumni Association, the University has received significant projects, which include the construction of gigantic projects, namely, Laboratory Block, Faculties of Arts and Education Buildings. Others include the construction of the Faculty of Agriculture Building, 500-Capacity Lecture Theatre, construction of 300-Capacity Lecture Theatre and construction of Student Hostels.
The University’s dream of birthing own Community Radio was achieved. Today, Radio AAUA 90.3 FM, which was commissioned by the governor of Ondo State, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, in December 2017 and has been enhancing the programmes of the University as well as the socioeconomic life of the host communities.
The University is presently working on establishing 4 Megawatt solar power project on Campus, which, upon completion, will bring enduring cure to the challenges associated with the supply of electricity in the University. This, project, when delivered, will invigorate research efforts and safe the University’s purse from the huge amount of money which the University expends on diesel, purchase and maintenance of generating sets.
Within a short period, AAUA’s Centre for Bio-Computing and Drug Development (CBDD), one of the newly established centres for innovative research in the University, took off in 2015 with the purpose of addressing medical and health challenges in Nigeria and other parts Africa, through drug development and using the instruments of computation and molecular biology techniques. This Centre has succeeded in establishing partnership with the University of Nagasaki in Japan, National Biotechnology Agency (NABDA), Nigeria, National Agency for Food and Drugs Control, (NAFDAC) and the Korean Research Institute of Bioscience & Biotechnology (KRIBB).
These are profound indicia of growth, and there is no telling the fine managerial skills that have processed and produced these landmark achievements. The towering results tell the quality of leadership commitment to growing a University of comparable status. They speak of an academe reaching for heights.
As AAUA continues to rise in altitude, we wish Prof. Ajibefun, whose tenure now draws towards a close, the strength to finish strong.