‘Our commitment to academic excellence remains unwavering’
Professor Farraday Osasere Orumwense is the Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin (UNIBEN). In this interview with Michael Egbejule, he speaks on the milestones of the university and other issues affecting the institution. Excerpts:
How were you able to surmount the challenges of strikes as well as achieve a stable/uninterrupted academic calendar with the attendant peace recorded on campus?
On my watch, the University of Benin has recorded giants strides in so many areas. From having recorded a stable academic calender to the peace in our campuses. The uninterrupted academic calendar is the relative peace we have been enjoying in our two campuses. It is instructive to note that this modest achievement of my administration at ensuring peace in our campuses is borne out of the belief that nothing can be achieved in an atmosphere of rancor. It may also interest you to know that our academic activities in the University of Benin have taken a giant leap. Our academic programmes, both undergraduate and post-graduate have run smoothly, placing the University of Benin on second position in the National Universities Commission accreditation.A significant part of the intellectual foot-prints of my administration is the attraction of the following centres of Excellence to the University, as well as the award of Scholarships/Research grants to staff and students of the University.
How did you tackle the issue of cultism and other social vices rampant in most higher institutions in the country?
The ugly incidence of cultism and other associated vices have been reduced to the barest minimum with the increase level of security surveillance made possible through the procurement of six patrol vehicles by my administration. I am happy to tell you that students now sleep with their two eyes closed and are also not afraid to go about their lawful academic and extra curicular activities without fear of molestation.
UNIBEN has recorded low cases of protests over issues bothering on staff and students welfare. How did you manage this malady?
I place very huge premium on the welfare of staff and students. To this end, my administration remains committed to regular promotion of staff as at when due, conversion and proper placement of staff. It is also to the credit of this administration under my leadership that three (3) years promotion gap of staff has been approved in place of the long standing four (4) years gap. Also, for the first time since the inception of the University of Benin, the career progression for Porter’s cadre which hitherto ended in Grade level seven (7) was elevated to Grade level thirteen (13). Our pensioners are not left out as we remain committed to their welfare. My administration is also leaving no stone unturned to create a befitting learning environment for learning by student.
UNIBEN was recently ranked as taking the lead in the area of ICT Platforms in universities in the country. How did you achieve this feat?
The improvement on the State of ICT Platforms in University of Benin was made possible with the support of my team. We have cutting edge technology and experts managing our systems. Most importantly, when you are determined to achieve anything good. You must put in your best. I have ensured that the Information Communication Technology/Central Records Processing Unit (ICT/CRPU) of the University of Benin has the best by putting so much in place, which include the deployment of E-learning Multimedia platform,deployment of E-Senate meetings/Result presentation. I have also successfully linked Facilities, Units, and Hostels with fiber optics.
And again, if you visit our Ekehuan campus, you find out we have also been linked with Network operation Centre room to improve internet services in the environment.It is noteworthy that recently Uniben bagged the prestigious Hiana’s Approval. I am proud to inform you that the University of Benin recorded this feat on my watch.For Uniben winning an approval as a certified Huawei Information and Network Academy centre with the academy ID: ANGACZO180828AC is not a small feat. The approval was a follow up to a one week training programme organized by Huawei at the company’s headquarters in Lagos. During the training programme, University of Benin ICT Instructors came top with exceptional performance in the examination proctored from China online out of the eighteen (18) attendees from six other Universities in Nigeria.
In demonstration of the confidence Huawei has in the competency of the certified instructors, the University of Benin was granted express acceptance into the Regional Huawei’s ICT Competition Southern Africa 2018-2019 billed to hold in South Africa this year. While the grand finale will take place in China in 2019. With these achievements, the University of Benin was given approval as a host institution on the global map of Huawei’s prestigious Information and Network Academy (HAINA) training centre. The academy will among others, serves as an ICT Talent Development Hub and delivers global leading training and competence as well as building an ICT Talent Ecosystem, to encourage students and staff to get Huawei’s certification for relevant practice skills in the industry and the University community.
UNIBEN is fondly called UNIBEST by many home and abroad. Why the branding as UNIBEST?
It is based on our commitment to a culture of academic excellence which remains unwavering. University of Benin has continued to attain commendable strides in its academic development efforts.
While aggressive effort were made to develop new Faculties and Departments, the trend in recent years has been that of consolidation and deliberate efforts at improving operational and organizational efficiency of the system and importantly, Under my watch a total of Sixty-two (as at 210th) inaugural lectures have been delivered since December, 2014 to date.
Recently, UNIBEN recorded the Award of Excellence in Pharm. D Project?
This is another major feat for us. At the 2018 Nigeria Association of Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientist in the Americas (NAPPSA) incorporated conference, held in Charlotte U.S.A from 20th-23rd September 2018 an Award of Excellence was given to the University of Benin in recognition of the tremendous contribution of the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Benin in piloting and setting the pace for the Pharm. D programme in Nigeria and indeed the whole of Africa. Furthermore, students of the University of Benin also won Academic scholarships across various faculties and departments as well as secured for themselves placements in international trainings and conferences. Again, the image of the University of Benin recently soar when one of her academic staff, Dr. Joseph Igetei of the Department of Animal and Environmental Biology, Faculty of Life Sciences joined a four-man research team to discover a molecular mechanism that could explain why allergies are less common in developing countries. This breakthrough could be the first stop to developing new immunotherapy’s to prevent allergies. Others lecturers have also brought us fame.
Particularly worthy of note is the two professors of University of Benin who have brought honour to the University by their recent appointments as Vice Chancellor and Rector respectively of Igbinedion University, Okada, and Edo State Institute of Management, Usen. They are Professor Lawrence Ikechukwu Ezemonye and Professor Abiodun Falodun, respectively.
UNIBEN has entered into several Public-Private-Partnerships. What have the partnership arrangements yielded for the University ?
Our Public-Private-Partnership engagements have yielded the following dividends:The Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission(NERC) has just granted the University a license to operate under the Public Private Partnership arrangement a 15 mega watt photo voltaic solar power project and this is being driven by the United Kingdom branch of the University Alumni body.
The University is also currently negotiating with various local and international organizations in the area of Hostel development and staff housing projects. It is hope that when this is completed it will provide more opportunity in residency for staff and students for improve security.
How has the university’s alumni association attracted development to their alma mater?
The university has always maintained a cordial and fruitful relationship with her alumni body worldwide and this we have tried to sustain since the start of the my administration. The University of Benin is indeed blessed to have eminent and distinguished alumnus who are doing the university proud in all walks of life. Let me at this point acknowledge the enviable consistency of our Alumni to the overall progress and development of the university individually and collectively. we have benefited from the alumni body in terms of alumni making donations to the institution.
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