! By Oyewale Oyelola
When Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki led administration established Kwara State University (KWASU), Malete nine years ago, the idea was to build sound minded and well groomed products (graduates) that would be able to compete in the world, contribute to the all-round development of human race and in particular be of added advantage to the socio-economic and political upliftment of the host community.
Within nine years, the University has surpassed the imagination of not only the founding authority but the general public.
Everyone within and outside Kwara state marvels over KWASU success story and the Ivory Tower’s sterling success in academics, staff development, contributions to both the host community and national progress wonders speaks volume of its quality.
On inception, the Governing Council appointed Prof AbdulRasheed Na’Allah as Pioneer Vice Chancellor to pilot affairs of the University alongside other Principal Officers.
With a central administrative body located in Malete, Kwara State University commenced academic activities with about 20 courses and over 500 staff in November 2009.
Building on Solid Foundation, Governor Abdulfatai Ahmed upon assumption of office in 2011 reduced the tuition fees of the school by 30percent, thereby making the school more affordable and also introduced reforms aimed at creating financial autonomy for the school.
The reforms in state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) allow the institution to retain their revenue for smooth running of their activities.The incumbent administration however built and equipped the ultra-modern Faculty of Engineering.
Likewise, KWASU is also reaping from the Kwara Infrastructure Development Fund (IF-K) with injection of billions of naira into ongoing expansion projects in Ilesa-Baruba, Ekiti LG and Ilorin, the state capital.
Furthermore, the ingenuity, innovations and resilience of Vice Chancellor, Prof Abdulrasheed Na’Allah with support of his team has pushed KWASU to 15th position on Nigeria Universities ranking released in 2017.
The innovations of the school management have also led to introduction of programmes like CREMS, Top-up, Professional Degree Programme and others which have attracted many students to the school.
For instance, Professional Degree Programme under Institute of Professional Studies prepare undergraduate for professional examinations like Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM), Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) and Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) among others. Hence, students running the programme will graduate with degree and professional certificates after passing necessary examinations.
So far, NUC has accredited over 50 courses in seven colleges of the institutions while some courses are currently being on interim accreditation which is the standard rule for new courses. The regulatory body for universities in Nigeria was able to accredit many courses in the institutions due to quality of academic and non-academic staff engaged, and adequate learning/teaching facilities in each department.
For records, the minimum requirement to lecture in KWASU is Masters degree and the school usually support their staff, especially academic staff to attain peak of their learning by acquiring PhD.Apparently, Prof Na’Allah who was Chair of African American Studies Department of Western Illinois University, United States before his appointment has being using his wide connection in academics and business world to attract Visiting Professors and World Class leaders to give lecture at the institution’s events.
The Chairman, Americans Support for KWASU, Harold E. Doloy, British and Canada High Commissioners in Nigeria, Prof Wole Soyinka, United Nations Deputy Secretary General, Hajia Amina Mohammed, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Christopher Kolade and other reputable leaders have visited the school as guest speaker during Public Lectures/Convocations.
Besides, the University has become jewel of admission seekers across the country as a result of smooth running of academic calender. This became possible due to industrial harmony and cordial relationship that exists between the school management and various unions including ASUU, NASU and SSANU among others.
The school has being able to run nine academic sessions without any hitch and produced about 10,000 graduates that are grounded in entrepreneurship training. At KWASU, entrepreneurship is a core course for every student from 100 to 400level.
This is in line with mission of the school: “The aim of KWASU is to provide more opportunities for Nigerians, particularly kwarans desirous to acquire varsity education and to generate high level manpower that were so vital for expanding economy”.
The Directorate of Entrepreneurship Studies at KWASU in 2017 states that they have helped over 3000 students registered their businesses with Corporate Affairs Commission.
Breaking New Grounds
Kwara State University Governing Council under the a leadership of former United Nations Envoy, Prof Gambari has created enabling environment for school management to break new grounds and make the school a force to reckon with in University Education not only in Nigeria but across Africa and the world at large.KWASU has attracted many Tertiary Education Tax Fund (TETFund) projects that are not in some federal universities, TETFund is currently funding gigantic and ICT Library in the school.
The project when completed will be the first of its kind in Nigeria and give students/staff access to millions of books and other academic materials.NUC recently accredited Aeronautical and Astronantical Engineering department, thereby making KWASU the first university offering the course in Nigeria. Two years ago, the University for Community Development commences Advanced Military Studies under School of Business and Governance.Apart from that, National Institute for Policies and Strategic Studies, Kuru-Jos has partnered with the University for Commencement of Policies and Strategic Studies.
It’s apt to say Kwara State University is now a household name in education sector and perhaps the cynosure of other accedemic administrators in the country with a vast improving acceptability of its products.
Evidently, the frequent visit of delegation from federal, state and private universities to KWASU gives credence to the fact that this worthy legacy of the current President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki is a shining light that its illumination must not go dim.
Also, the University currently has collaboration arrangements with over 20 world class institutions including Harvard University, University of Alberta, The University of Mississippi, Georgia Institute of Technology and Universidade Do Estado Da Bania among others.Earlier in the year, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Chairman, KWASU Think Tank, Dr. Henry Sawyer into board of Environmental Health Officers Registration Council of Nigeria (EHORECON). The IITA also recognized Prof. Kazeem Alagbe of Computer Science department for realization of Residue Numbers System Globally.
It’s heartwarming to know that KWASU also chair UNESCO Alternative Energy as one of the two Chair programs in Nigeria (the second being at the National Mathematical Centre).
The students of the school through Centre for Community Development have contributed meaningfully to development of Malete, Ilorin and other neighboring communities by embarking on social works such as advocacy, provision of potable water via boreholes and organizing tutorials secondary school pupils among others.
Indeed, the level of academic excellence attained in the university has remained a pride to all Kwarans home and abroad.