By AbdulRauf Toyin Kuranga
A university, first and foremost, is a place of learning that supports students to achieve professional knowledge, skills and understanding while management is the ability to cope with complexity, to devise structures and systems that produce order and harmony. Meanwhile, leadership is the ability to cope with change, to establish a new direction, and to get institutions and individuals to move in that direction.
However, a Vice-Chancellor’s job involves both management and leadership, but the latter is more important than the former. A Vice-Chancellor (VC) does not successfully run a university primarily by crunching the numbers, redrawing organizational charts or applying the latest business school concepts and techniques. The key function of a Vice-Chancellor is to lead the university: to harness the social forces within it, to shape and guide its values, to build a management team, and to inspire it and others working in the university to take initiatives around a shared vision and a strategy to implement it. In short, a Vice-Chancellor should be an enabler rather than a controller.
Management and leadership in Universities are as important as the need to have Universities at all; a society or nation with ill-managed Universities has no advantage over one without any, especially in the face of heightened universal conventions in standards and expectations. It follows, therefore, that the government and society at large cannot earn the full reward of putting University systems in place unless optimized management and leadership are ensured. The quality of leadership and management provided by a University can only be ascertained by how well an institution or body fulfills its roles and objectives. Succinctly put, Nigerian Universities, like all its foreign counterparts are established to teach, research, build capacity and provide community services to engender dynamic social, technological and economic development.
Therefore, with the vision of becoming a center of excellence in quality teaching, research, innovation and community development, Kwara State University, Malete, a state government-owned tertiary institution in Moro Local Government of Kwara State, has indeed become a household name as far as quality tertiary education is concerned. Recently, due to its excellent and outstanding performance, the University was rated one of the Best State-Owned Universities in Nigeria by NUC in its OER Ranking of Universities in the country.
Kwara State University, KWASU, under the leadership of Professor Muhammad Mustapha Akanbi SAN, is a university that prides itself in its world-class teaching, research and learning facilities, quality staff, serene and conducive learning environment as well as a stable academic calendar. In the last two years, the University has enjoyed an uninterrupted calendar and industrial harmony, all thanks to a focused leadership and committed school management.
Adjudged as one of the fastest growing Universities in Nigeria, Kwara State University, Malete, is blessed with highly talented, experienced and committed academic staff who have continued to give their best to the system. The unique human resource of this University is her greatest gift, which has enabled her to weather storms and overcome many teething challenges. The University emphasizes innovative teaching and quality mentoring of students. Not only has the University maintained a stable academic calendar, it has continued to soar in academic excellence. Most of the academic programmes of the University currently enjoy full accreditation. This feat is due to the dedication and sacrifice of the staff and the unwavering support of the state government, which has remained faithful to bailing the University out during accreditation exercises. The management under Prof. Mustapha counts on this continued support in more ways than one, especially as they are more determined to move Kwara State University to enviable heights within the comity of Universities.
Prof. Muhammad Mustapha Akanbi has made KWASU a cynosure of all eyes and a reference as the fastest growing State University in Nigeria. He is making the University reputed for strategically providing avenues for the production of human resources in critical areas of our nations needs. The University recently inducted the first and second batches of Medical Laboratory Scientists who graduated from KWASUs B. MLS in 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 academic sessions respectively. This is a significant achievement because KWASU is the first tertiary institution in the whole of North Central Nigeria to mount the B.MLS programme and graduate sixty seven (67) Medical Lab. Scientists, thus contributing to solving the problem of shortage of qualified Medical Lab. Scientists in the country.
During the period under reference, eight B.Sc programmes and Nine Postgraduates in the University earned resource verification and full accreditation status.
As part of the Universitys commitment to an enviable town and gown relationship, Prof. Akanbi has continued to making positive impact on the Malete community and beyond through provision of boreholes to solve water challenges in various communities, Centre for Sustainable Energy also installed solar-powered water pumps for rural communities around the University. KWASU’s Centre for Community Development coordinates the University’s community outreaches and all academic staff and many students engage in regular community outreaches that are of significant benefit to different communities.
One of Prof. Akanbi’s Visions for KWASU Centre for Technical, Vocational, and Entrepreneurship Studies CTVET (first of its kind in any Nigerian University) is to produce a crop of successful entrepreneurs and leaders driven by intense commitment and determined perseverance, innovation, integrity and competitive desire to excel, by seeking opportunities and making a difference in the final outcomes of their ventures and lives in the global environment. To-date with his undying efforts, the Centre has made tremendous impact in producing graduates with marketable skills who are self-reliant and job creators. It is important to note that the National Universities Commission has endorsed this innovative training for 21st century Nigerian students and many universities across Nigeria are imbibing this tradition pioneered by our University.
Kwara State University is one of the most peaceful and stable Universities in Nigeria. Prof. Akanbi is making sure that KWASU achieve industrial harmony and promote the spirit of cooperation among the different unions in the University. Prior to his assumption of office as Vice-Chancellor, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) had parallel executive members. Today, the union is united through his effort and a unified executive body of the union is in place. In addition, other unions such as the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), National Association of Academic Technologists (NAATS), and Non-Academic Staff Union of Education and Associated Institutions (NASU) are also functioning well. His management maintains a very cordial relationship with the unions for the progress of our University.
It is also worthy to note that the administration under his watch prioritizes staff welfare and ensures that salaries are paid as at when due. In addition, staff promotion academic staff were promoted to professorial rank, while many other deserving academic and non-teaching staff of other ranks were also promoted. The number of professors in the university is now 37. This is a significant achievement considering the situation in many state-owned universities in Nigeria. Prof. Akanbi values the University staff and appreciates the great contributions they are making to sustain the University. He is therefore, determined to ensure that all eligible and qualified staff earn their promotion as at when due.
On Infrastructure, in order to meet the expanding teaching needs and increase the margin of excellence, he recognized the need for expanded and additional facilities. In view of this, he has continued to invest in infrastructure on KWASU Campus. Some of the University’s Internal generated Revenue and External Funded completed and on-going projects include: Completion of University Fire Station, Construction of Works Department Extension, Completion of School of Pre-Degree Studies at Elemere, Construction of Blocks of Lecture rooms, Offices and Car Park at KWASU International Conference Centre, Ilorin, Installation of 10 kilowatt uninterrupted solar power system for KWASU clinic, Rehabilitation and automation of KWASU campus solar streetlights, Rehabilitation of 300 kilowatt TETFund/NEEDS assessment KWASU solar farm, Construction of KWASU Art Garden, Construction of 200 capacity Lecture Theatre for Faculty of Engineering (TETFund), Construction of Twin-Lecture Theatre (400 capacity) for Faculty of Humanities and Management (TETFund), Construction of Seminar and Training Building for Research Centre for Nigerian Languages (TETFund), Construction of lecture rooms and Library building for Research Centre for Nigerian Languages (TETFund).
Others include; Procurement of agricultural engineering equipment for department of agricultural engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Technology (TETFund), Procurement of Generating set for 200 capacity, Lecture Theatre and Engineering and Technology Workshop (TETFund), Procurement of Mass Communication Equipment for Department of Mass Communication, Faculty of Information and Communication Technology (TETFund), Supply and Installation of Equipment for Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, Physics and Material Sciences Department and Faculty of Agriculture and various equipment (TETFund), and many more.
The University leadership under Prof. Akanbi is committed to managing knowledge production, knowledge impartation and knowledge dissemination and transfer by way of research, teaching and services respectively, as well as the resources and facilities to ensure adequate flow of the University operations. He has also taken it upon himself to strengthen leadership and administration in school by providing platforms for collaborative development among key stakeholders and promoting standards for management and administrative practices based on the achievement of the various universities that are outstanding in a specific area.
The Vice Chancellor’s determination is as strong as ever to continue to make KWASU a positive reference point among universities worldwide. He has been strengthening system components primarily at the local environment and maximizing local factors for the university to adapt itself to the world standards, work and interact with others in an international environment and establish a win-win relation in a globalized world. He is also making it a point of duty to always make sure that training and retraining of staff is a continuous exercise in order for the school to be able to groom the desired first class graduates that the school can be proud of.
He has achieved many feats at a very young age; thus, becoming one of the very few to get to the peak of the two worlds in the legal profession. Perhaps, he tapped his inspiration from his late father, Justice Mustapha Akanbi who as a courageous judge used the bench to dispense justice without fear or favour and rose to be President of Court of Appeal. As chairman of ICPC, he fought corruption to a standstill for which the country is grateful to him. He was truly an erudite jurist and the moral voice of Nigerian nation, whose judicial activism and humanity influence went beyond the shores of his native Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria, and even beyond the country. He lived a humble and almost spartan life style and he was able to survive the albatross of corruption with his high level of contentment which is lacking today in the public sector.
There is no doubt that Prof. Akanbi will also live to his billing as an individual who always craves community development. We will enjoin the Vice-Chancellor not to relent in his oars to attract developments and growth to the University. We will continue to place him on a very high premium and pedestal and pray the Almighty Allah to continue to strengthen him as he moves from glory to glory and grant him the needed wisdom and guidance in the discharge of his responsibilities.
AbdulRauf Toyin Kuranga is from Ilorin. You can reach him on [email protected]