By Kunle Akogun
Nigeria’s most sought-after university, the University of Ilorin, has continued to elevate its national standing with its latest award of “Outstanding Nigerian University of the Year 2023” conferred on it in Lagos penultimate Friday (February 2, 2024) by the New Telegraph, Nigeria’s most authoritative newspaper in Politics and Business reporting.
According to the frontline national newspaper, the University won the prestigious award because of its “exceptional contributions in governance and other areas of life”.
The recognition of UNILORIN’s outstanding performance over the years, especially in 2023, under its new Vice Chancellor, Prof. Wahab Olasupo Egbewole, SAN, has reaffirmed its status as a big player in the nation’s education sector with groundbreaking contributions to quality teaching, cutting-edge research outputs, and unmatchable community service endeavours.
The University was among the 28 corporate organisations, public officials and private individuals, as well as leading brands that were honoured by the newspaper outfit with one award or the other at a grand event, which held at the exquisite Balmoral Convention Centre, Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Remarkably, UNILORIN stood out of the pack as the only educational institution that was recognised among the awardees that included six governors, one minister, two bank CEOs, a legal luminary, four bank brands, as well as top professionals and 11 top corporate brands, among others.
Other awardees at the glitzy event included the Governors of Lagos, Enugu, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Kebbi, and Gombe States; the Minister of Internal Affairs, the CEOs of Zenith and WEMA Banks; legal icon, Mike Ozekhome; as well as the founder of Innoson Motors, Chief Innocent Chukwuma. It was indeed a star-studded parade of giants in the various sectors of the nation’s socio-economic and political milieu.
As the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Wahab Olasupo Egbewole, SAN, mounted the podium to receive the award, the entire Hall erupted in a paroxysm of ovation, with some side comments attesting to the worthiness of the University of Ilorin for the prestigious award. “I have heard and read so much about several landmark achievements of this university”, one guest said, adding, “UNILORIN really deserves this recognition”! To say yours truly momentarily blushed with pride on hearing this complementary remark from a total stranger who did not suspect he was saying it to the hearing of a Unilorite, would be an understatement. Needless to add that I actually grinned with delight on hearing this!
Presenting the Award plaque to Prof. Egbewole, who was joined on the podium by the University Registrar, Mr Mansur Adeleke Alfanla, FCMIL; the University Librarian, Dr Kamaldeen Tunde Omopupa; the Director of Corporate Affairs, Mr Kunle Akogun; and other excited Unilorites on hand, the Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Telegraph Publishing Company Limited, Mr Ayodele Aminu, said that the University of Ilorin won the award because of its commitment to academic excellence. He expressed the belief that the award would galvanise the University and other awardees towards greater productivity and excellence in their chosen fields.
Mr Aminu said, “The New Telegraph Award was created to distinguish the best in every sector across the nation”, adding that the award winners are “those who have done extraordinary things in an extraordinary way”.
In his response after receiving the Award plaque, the Vice Chancellor, who instantly dedicated the award to the “hardworking staff of the University”, said it would spur the institution to do more towards achieving its tripartite mandate of teaching, research and community service.
Prof. Egbewole said, “We are determined to go to the next level by ensuring that our Vision 1 – 10 – 500 becomes a reality”.
Indeed, the University of Ilorin made remarkable strides in the Year 2023, which marked the first anniversary of Prof. Egbewole’s VCshipoffice, the legal luminary and consummate Law teacher, who assumed office as the 11th Vice Chancellor of the University on October 16, 2022, left no one in doubt about his messianic mission and transformative leadership. By words and action, he had shown to everybody that he meant business, serious business.
In his maiden address to the University community on the occasion of his formal assumption of office at the University Auditorium, on Monday, October 17, 2022, Prof. Egbewole clearly set out his agenda in unmistakable terms and he has been vigorously pursuing it with single-minded commitment, breaking new grounds in all areas of the University’s three-prong core mandate of teaching, research and community service.
With his SMART Agenda, encapsulated in the Vision 1 – 10 – 500, it is clear to everyone that the University is well-prepared to ‘shuttle to the space’ of global academic advancement.
One of the early signs that this ambitious vision will not be a fluke was the resurgence of national and international honours and awards won in quick succession by UNILORIN lecturers and students within the first few weeks of Prof. Egbewole’s assumption of office. Added to this is the sterling performance of some of the University’s Faculties in global academic performance ranking. Also recently, the University moved a step ahead in World University Ranking in a survey conducted by the Time Higher Education (THE). In that ranking, the University of Ilorin moved from its previous seventh position to sixth among its peers in the country.
The first year of Prof. Egbewole’s leadership was indeed very eventful as several landmark achievements were recorded in all spheres of the University’s core mandates of teaching, research, and community service.
The University, in 2023, sustained its winning streak of over 10 years back-to-back as the preferred choice of admission seekers, making it the nation’s most subscribed university, according to the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board’s yearly admission statistics since 2013.
Also in 2023, UNILORIN was rated 3rd Best University in Nigeria based on the quality and quantity of scholarly outputs of its academic staff members in the last three years on Elsevier/Scopus – SciVal.
In addition to these, four of the University’s Faculties and 11 of the courses offered at the institution were ranked among the world’s best by the Times Higher Education (THE) in the same 2023.
In the same vein, a recent ranking published by Study Abroad Aide, a leading platform for international students’ mobility, rated the University of Ilorin as the 9th Best Value University for International Students among the 149 universities in Nigeria. The University was also rated among the top 21% Best Value Universities globally in a survey that polled 8,060 institutions across 69 countries.
It’s kudos to the nation’s educational brand leader for an award well deserved! And, since it takes excellence to recognise excellence, it is necessary to also give a big Gbosa!!! to the New Telegraph Newspaper for its well-reasoned choice!
Akogun is the Director, Corporate Affairs, University of Ilorin