WORLD PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE VICE CHANCELLOR, ADEKUNLE AJASIN UNIVERSITY, AKUNGBA-AKOKO, ONDO STATE, NIGERIA, PROFESSOR OLUGBENGA E. IGE, FOR THE 10TH & 11TH CONVOCATION CEREMONY ON MONDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2021.
The University Librarian
Gentlemen of the Press.
I am, indeed, happy to welcome you all to this Press Briefing for the 10th and 11th Convocation Ceremony of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko.
For me, this year’s Convocation Ceremony is inimitable in two fronts; foremost is its being the first I am superintending over as the 6th substantive Vice Chancellor, and second is combining two graduating sets of 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 academic sessions. However, no thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic that grounded academic activities on our campus and all over the world with attendant effects among which was the later front.
Aside the conventional ritual of conferment of degrees, diplomas and presentation of prizes that come with convocation ceremony, this consecrated academic rite also provides a unique opportunity to assess and bring to the general public, how we have adhered to our university’s strategic vision and goals.
Convocation is also an occasion for us to charge our graduands as we commission them to go on their next adventure. We do so with the confidence and conviction that they were suitably empowered in most crucial life skills, moral rectitude, and activation of their mental and physical potential while under our guidance, enabling them to hold their own effectively in an increasingly competitive environment.
Activities for this Convocation Ceremony started on Friday, December 3, with Jumat Service, where prayers were offered for the success and development of the University. We had a keep-fit exercise on Saturday. Today’s Press Conference is meant to create further awareness on the 10th and 11th Convocation Ceremony and intimate the general public on the modest achievements we had recorded in the past few months through you, the distinguished gentlemen of the press.
By tomorrow, we will have a fair on our research, development and innovation showcasing our modest contribution to finding solutions to societal issues; the Convocation Lecture, titled, Nature of State, National Ideology and Modelling of Higher Education for Sustaining Development holds on Thursday, December 9, and it will be delivered by a distinguished renowned and a world-class professor, a multiple award winner, Professor Francis Oisaghaede Egbokhare, FNAL, FSOW, FDA, from the Department of Linguistics and African Languages, University of Ibadan.
Professor, Egbokhare, is a celebrated author, editor, writer, academic leader, organizer, teacher, and a visionary of extraordinary grace, talent and accomplishments. He is a Fellow, Linguistic Association of Nigeria, Fellow of Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung University of Hamburg, Germany, Fellow, Institute of Development Administration of Nigeria; Fellow, Institute of Social Work of Nigeria, Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Letters and Member, West African Linguistic Society, among other awards and recognitions. Professor Egbokhare is the current President of the Nigerian Academy of Letters.
On Friday, we shall confer First Degree on graduands in Faculty of Education, Faculty of Social and Management Sciences, Institute of Education and Institute of Part-Time Programmes. The grand-finale comes up on Saturday, December 11 when we shall confer First Degrees on graduands in the Faculties of Agriculture, Arts, Law and Science. There will also be conferment of Higher Degrees and Postgraduate Diplomas; Honorary Degree; and Presentation of Prizes. I, hereby, request your presence in all these programmes and give them a wider publicity.
In the aggregate, distinguished gentlemen of the press, we are presenting 5,145 graduands at this 10th and 11th Convocation, with the Faculty of Education having 1,415, followed by Faculty of Science – 924, Faculty of Social and Management Sciences – 1061, Faculty of Agriculture -156, Faculty of Arts – 748, Faculty of Law -181, Institute of Education – 307, Institute of Part-Time Programmes – 231, and Diploma – 13. There are 356 graduands receiving postgraduate degrees, 25 of whom are in the Ph.D. category, the highest in the history of this University.
Of these 5,145, 53 made First Class; 1,511 earned Second Class (Upper Division), 2861 bagged Second Class (Lower Division), 667 had Third Class, while 40, are in the Pass category.
A distinguished Nigerian will receive our cherished and noble honorary degree. She is a former Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria; a business magnet and entrepreneur; a role model and philanthropist. Mrs. Ibukun AWOSIKA will be conferred with Doctor of Business Administration (Honoris Causa) of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko.
Our Focus and Strategies
Permit me, distinguished audience, to say that we are committed to the vision and mission of this founding fathers of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko. Despite the obvious challenges, we have determined to remain focused. This is not because one is the Vice Chancellor, rather, the passion for advancement of education and the tenacity to take responsive ownership of what belongs to all of us with the aim of bringing out the best in it for the benefit of the society.
No doubt, my experiences at the period of my Acting Vice Chancellorship (6th January, 2020 – 6th July, 2021) had particularly availed me the opportunity to have a better understanding of the system and the various challenges being faced by the University.
I recall on the occasion of the welcome ceremony as the 6th substantive Vice Chancellor held in the Senate Chamber on Wednesday, July 7, 2021, saying that the Management team will administer AAUA within its laws and ensure that the vision and mission of the founding fathers are upheld at all times. I affirmed that we were going to relentlessly work towards positioning the University as the best University and attract more meaningful goodwill to it. Our specific focus and priorities were on improving on staff and students welfare; deepening academic activities and integrity through purposeful teaching and societal-problem-solving research; ensuring the security of our students and staff, and fostering healthy industrial relations with relevant staff unions.
Others were continuous upgrading of academic support facilities and stimulating sustainable development; improving on the level of our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) through relevant innovations, alumni relations, partnerships, collaborations and internationalization; advancing meaningful community relations through community service and engagements; re-branding and promoting the image of the University towards local and global relevance.
Because we were not unmindful that all of these are time-compelled, we further strategically arranged them into short-term and long-term achievable projects. The good news is that, with very wiry resources, we have been able to have some touches of good scores on all of our efforts.
Without a question, a university’s most important currency is its intellectual integrity. As a complement, we have continued to rejig all of our academic programmes, making them more relevant and valuable to our audiences, using the University’s existing structure. For optimal delivery of pedagogies, we had to recently demerge our Faculty of Social and Management Sciences into two Faculty of the Social Sciences and Faculty of Administration and Management Science. Cutting-edge research, merit-driven admission, merit-driven staff appointment, sending young academics for higher degrees in prestigious universities at home and abroad, and training and re-training of academic and non-teaching staff for optimal performance are all five kernels that the University has put in place to deliver sustainable academic integrity.
We usually make deliberate efforts to ensure that our programmes have quality assurance status and as such all our academic programmes are steadily pulling through various accreditation exercises by the National Universities Commission, NUC, and other professional bodies. As at today, 61 of our academic programmes have been fully accredited by the National Universities Commission. One of the upshots of this is that no fewer than six credible higher institutions in Nigeria have subscribed to our programmes through affiliation. We are also in contact with a number of local and international institutions in order to explore possible areas of collaboration.
Because we have improved on our presence on the Web, especially in terms of the quality of our academic programmes and research, AAUA has been rated the Best State University in Nigeria in last three years consecutively in the annual Webometrics Ranking. Of course, there is no el-dorado in this for us as we are in a hurry to be the best in Nigeria and take a prominent position globally.
Staff Training and Development
In terms of staff training and development, the University has remained committed to training and retraining of its workers in order to produce a highly motivated, responsible, and successful workforce. Internal, local, and international trainings and conferences are encouraged and supported at all levels of our workforce. In addition, between 2019 till date, 20 of our academics have benefitted from TETFund postgraduate sponsorships in various universities across the world and over 33 from Research Grants and Conference Attendance.
Please allow me to use this opportunity to express the University’s gratitude to the Federal Government for the admirable endeavour represented by the TETfund, an organization that, arguably, has had the largest impact on the overall tenor of higher education in Nigeria since its inception. I can only think how squalid our infrastructure development would have been if it hadn’t been for TETFund’s massive involvement. Just in the last four months, we took delivery of no fewer than five projects sponsored by TETFund.
Research and Development
Our research and development activities have taken a progressive dimension. Apart from our Centre for Infectious Diseases Control and Drugs Development which is at the forefront of human capacity development through workshop and training programmes and has consistently been conducting training on Application of Bioinformatics Tools in Drug Design, Discovery and Development, among others, several academic staff have stepped up their games in research as some of them recently won grants that will enable them to proffer solutions to societal problems. As a corollary of our research efforts, just recently an assemblage of researchers at AAUA was reported to have reached an advanced stage in producing disease and drought-resistant beans and tomatoes, while another group of researchers is on the verge of producing a potent anti-termite solution from a common local plant.
We have deliberately reinvigorated our Centre for Entrepreneurship Development. The Centre is now more focused on the practical aspect of entrepreneurship. Our students and interested members of the public are being trained on production of various domestic needs, including shoe and belt making, fabrics sewing, nylon and soap production and pastry production. This effort has also increased our IGR drive. This is in addition to the business arm of the University that is just being bolstered and expanded to be able to provide some goods and services for the consumption of members of the University Community.
As part of our IGR drive, the University recently launched the first Agro Shop where selling of animal and crop products from the University Farms are being taken place at considerably lesser prices for members of the University and the Akungba Community.
In many areas, such as e-student registration, e-payment, e-transcript administration, e-clearance, and e-voting for students’ union elections, we have continued to deepen our ICT-driven administration. This technologically-driven programme has improved the Varsity’s service delivery in many ways. The latest is our e-learning platform. To drive effective academic contacts between lecturers, we have innovatively created the e-learning platform which will enhance the teaching and learning process. The e-learning platform is now accessible to students since the beginning of the 2020/2021 Academic Session.
Linkages and Alumni Relations
Our University Advancement Office is another major arm of the University that is central to our uplift as a university. We have given support to the office to be able to function maximally; and we are beginning to see results of its activities in terms of linking the University with necessary stakeholders that could contribute meaningfully to the University. We are confident that the Office would attract more developments to our university.
Already, we have a very robust relationship with our alumni. The association, which was inaugurated on December 14th, 2014, has consistently been given back to the University, notwithstanding its limited resources and fledgling status. Just last year at the peak of our resumption after the COVID-19 lockdown, the association donated some solar lightening gadgets to the University. And in October this year, the association donated a multifunctional photocopier machine to the Exams and Records Unit of the University. We are thankful to our alumni, while we are also asking for more. Our old students are our strength and we are relying on them to bring more developments to the University.
Students Support Programmes and Activities
The University has not abandoned its promises to support students through the Students’ Support Centre, which administers and oversees scholarships and financial aid to a variety of students, including gifted, indigent, and physically challenged students. Under the terms of the agreement, the University will cover half of the school expenses for all physically challenged students, while the best students in each Department with a CGPA in the first-class range will get a scholarship at the end of the academic year. Indigent students who are unable to pay their school fees can get a loan for around a third of their expenses. The institutions Governing Council members made a donation of about five million naira to cater for the students in this category. We have also recently reintroduced and engaged students for our Student Work-Study Scheme. The programme permits willing students to work for two hours each day on campus while studying and be paid at the conclusion of each semester.
Yet, we have encouraged our students to hone their skills in all ramifications, especially in the areas of innovation, sports, entertainment and artistic performances. We are happy that our efforts are yielding good results. Just two months ago, the University Football team, known as the AAUA Luminaries, finished first runners-up nationally in the maiden Higher Institutions Football League. There were also individual wins for our students, including Best Goalkeeper Award and Best Goal of the Competition Award. Just recently, Oluwadamilola Akintewe, a female student in the Faculty of Law, was named among the top 10 finalists for the Cheggord Global Student Prize, 2021: a $100,000 award to be given to one exceptional student that has made a real impact on learning and the society. The latest innovation by some of our students is the invention of a robotic dog, which is the first of its kind in the entire country. These kind of lofty feats have earned Adekunle Ajasin University the rating of Primus Inter Pares among her peers in Nigeria. Today, the University is among the top 10 in Nigeria and one of the best 45 in Africa.
Distinguished audience, it is our desire to bring all students to campus as over 90 per cent of them live off campus. Thus, we have reviewed our Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) policy and made it flexible for individuals, corporate bodies and philanthropists to come build student hostels on our campus. Permit me to use this medium to invite the well-to-do individuals and corporate organisations to join us in this developmental project.
On industrial relationship with staff and students unions, let me state indisputably that the University Management has a fortified and credible relationship with all the unions. And I use this medium to appreciate the leaderships of our unions and their members for showing necessary understanding and support even in the face of acute financial constraints. On our part as a responsive Management, we prioritize the welfares of members of our four staff unions in the University i.e., the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU; the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU; the Non-Academic Staff Union, NASU, National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT and the Students Union. The staff have continued to enjoy regular promotions, while conversion will be done for qualified staff in due course.
As a university and a new administration, we are repositioning our university, having our eyes on the future. We have a staunch commitment to the vision and mission of our founding fathers.
I thank you all for being here.
Professor Olugbenga E. IGE
Vice Chancellor, Adekunle Ajasin University,
Akungba Akoko, Ondo State, Nigeria.