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An Address Presented by the Vice-Chancellor, Federal University Lokoja, Professor Olayemi Durotimi Akinwumi to Members of the University Congregation on Tuesday, March 23, 2021 at the University Auditorium, Adankolo Campus



1.    Principal Officers

2.    Deans and Directors

3.    Distinguished Professors

4.    Heads of Departments/Units

5.    Members of Staff

Good Morning.

It is a great honour for me to address this august Congregation as the newly appointed Vice-Chancellor of Federal University Lokoja (FUL).I am particularly excited to be back to my home state to contribute my quota to the development of this young but promising University.

Let me start by expressing my profound gratitude to the Pro-Chancellor, Distinguished Senator Chris Adighije, and members of the University Governing Council, for finding me worthy enough, amongst other equally qualified applicants, to be entrusted with the very serious business of leading the University for the next 5 years. I feel immensely honoured and pledge not to disappoint.

I would like also to acknowledge the pioneering efforts and achievements of my predecessors – Professor Abdulmumini Hassan Rafindadi and Professor Angela Freeman Miri. Their legacies are what we see today – a fast growing University that has all the potentials for greatness.

The University community equally deserves my appreciation for the warm reception I was accorded when I arrived the Felele Campus to assume office about 3 weeks ago. I was overwhelmed by the enthusiastic welcome I received from the members of staff, the students, traditional rulers, religious and community leaders, and dozens of other well-wishers. Such display of solidarity and togetherness by the FUL community was very inspiring.

Without a doubt, I am assuming office at a very challenging time, when the world is battling to contain the ravaging coronavirus (COVID-19) and faced with the enormous health, economic, environmental and social challenges it poses to the entire human population. The path, duration, magnitude, and impact of the pandemic – a pandemic that is unprecedented in its global reach and impact – continues to pose serious concerns and challenges to universities worldwide. As a consequence, the Nigerian education sector, the University System in particular, has sunk to its lowest point in decades. Nigerian universities are in deplorable condition and again confronted with the prevailing challenges of poor funding, dwindling internally generated revenues, teaching and learning deficiencies, infrastructure deficit, inadequate academic manpower, stalled international partnerships and collaborative efforts, amongst many others. At the moment, we have to also grapple with the financial burden of funding Virtual Teaching setups, the enforcement of Covid-19 safety protocols and the procurement of essential preventive materials.

Daunting as the challenges that we face are, as a University, we must remain steadfast and think up creative measures and find practical solutions to our problems. As we all know, universities are expected to be repositories and generators of knowledge, development contributors to communities, societies and nations, and sources of expertise and vocational identity. Therefore, we must continue to provide new knowledge to aid society in its development and in meeting new challenges as they emerge.

Over the next 5 years, we will continue to build on our strengths, but also take new directions. We have a strategic priority to position FUL as an institution that believes in and promotes academic excellence, good governance, administrative transparency and financial accountability. In pursuance of this objective, as Vice-Chancellor, I shall run an open door policy, a result-oriented and an all-inclusive administration. There will be no room for divisions or factions in the University under my leadership. We cannot afford to be distracted by sentiments, trivialities and our prejudices; and as such, we must forgive and forget any differences that may have existed before now. The task at hand requires unity, focus and speed, if we are to realize our vision of being the best among the newly established Federal universities in Nigeria and one of the top ten ranking universities in Africa. Happily, our efforts to unify the community and achieve peace have yielded positive results. As part of our peace building strategies, in the past two weeks, I have visited the religious leaders and some stakeholders in the University in their private residences to solicit their prayers and support, engaged with the leaderships of the Labour Unions and passionately appealed to all the concerned parties to reconcile and embrace peace; and they have all made positive commitments accordingly. At this point, it is crucial to emphasize that while I desperately seek peace and unity for our collective good, my simplicity and friendly disposition should not be misinterpreted as weakness. I believe mutual respect for one another and cooperation should be the basis for our relationships as colleagues and as partners in the FUL project. We shall not hesitate to deal decisively with any individual or group of individuals who seek to test our resolve or flout the laws of the University.I urge you all to partner with me to realize the transformation of FUL into an Academic Center of Excellence. And to achieve this feat, we must earnestly and persistently work together.

To this end, my agenda encompasses a range of development strategies and institutional reforms encapsulated in the following areas:

(1)   Governance and Administration


i.              My administration will work in harmony with the University Governing Council for the smooth running of the University.

ii.            We would restructure and strengthen the various administrative departments/units and ensure proper delegation of responsibilities for effective and efficient service delivery. In particular, the Registry would be restructured into 5 divisions, namely: Establishment, Council Affairs, Senate Affairs, Exams & Records, and Admissions. Similarly, the Bursary would be restructured into 5 divisions, namely: Finance & Treasury, Budget Control & Management, Business & Auxiliaries, Final Accounts & Reports, and Supply & Stores. Also, as part of our reforms, we would upgrade the Sport, Procurement, Legal Services and Information & Protocol Units to Directorates.

iii.           For maximum institutional efficiency, we shall ensure that no staff occupies a post for more than four years. I have directed that in the coming weeks any such staff should be immediately posted to new units or posts for more challenges and impact. This also applies to academic units and departments. Deans and Heads of Departments who have been in office for up to four years will be given other responsibilities as the need arises.

iv.           We would ensure that the University Management is not only proactive, but alive to its responsibilities and responds promptly and adequately to the demands and concerns of members of the University community at all levels.

v.            We would institutionalize the Committee System in the University. This is because Committees not only facilitate the decision making process, they serve as avenues for expressing, communicating and recommending views and ideas for policy development at various levels. I would like to report to you that since  my assumption of office, I have constituted a number of strategic committees. More of such committees would still be constituted in order to involve the greater number of the members of the FUL community in driving our development agenda.

vi.           This administration's commitment to move to the Felele Campus is on course. To this end, all non-teaching staff should be ready to move to the Felele Campus before the end of the current session. A committee to ensure the seamless movement of staff and their furniture has already been constituted and would submit its report in April.

vii.          We would strengthen the Internal Conflict Resolution Mechanisms of the University, so that there is less rancor and the University is not distracted by avoidable crisis and/or multiple court cases.


(2)       Academic Matters


i.              Senate meetings would be calendarized, held regularly and as scheduled on every last Thursday of each month.

ii.            We would set high academic standards and ensure zero tolerance for exam misconduct and any form of harassment in the University.

iii.           Research and Innovation would be promoted and incentivized to play an important role in constructing new knowledge.

iv.           We would institutionalize academic traditions and ceremonies such as doctoral conferment, inauguration of new professors, inaugural lectures, etc., and ensure that Conferences, Seminars and Workshops are encouraged and held regularly.

v.            We would establish new academic Directorates, Schools, Centers, and programmes, in line with the provisions of the Academic Brief and based on needs, relevance and international visibility, as well as strengthen existing programmes and secure full regulatory approval for the recently introduced programmes.

vi.           Concrete steps are being taken already to establish three new faculties: Medicine, Engineering and Law. Similarly, the Faculty of Arts is being strengthened with the introduction of more departments and degree programmes.

vii.          I am also pleased to inform you that an Institute of Education is being established to provide services and academic programmes to the catchment area and the nation at large.

viii.        We would internationalize the University by forming global partnerships with foreign universities, donor agencies, non-governmental organizations and multilateral institutions. To this end, a directorate for Linkages and Advancement has been established to drive our external relations and linkages.


(3)       Human Resource


i.            Within the available resources, we would prioritize the welfare of staff members so as to motivate them and raise productivity levels. They would be provided with the right tools and equipment so they can perform their duties effectively and efficiently. Also, we would institute a better organized training system that promotes fairness and gives each member of staff a sense of belonging, so that they can acquire new learnings, skills and knowledge.

ii.        We would ensure that the TETFund-sponsored Academic Staff Training and Development programme is better managed by promptly processing applications and ensuring timely release of funds, so as to enhance excellence across the range of academic practice by developing individuals and championing development provision across the institution.

iii.       Under my leadership, all members of staff would be adequately engaged and given a schedule of duty. We would not tolerate the practice of assigning multiple duties to a favoured few while other equally competent and willing members of staff idle away. We would discourage and discontinue the culture of favoritism and exclusion.

viii.        Staff members would be encouraged to cultivate a culture of continuous learning and upskilling under a scheduled system. A policy would be put in place to absorb junior members of staff who have acquired additional qualifications into the senior staff cadre, subject to the availability of vacancies.

ix.           As a Management, we would communicate effectively with the Labour Unions in the University: ASUU, SSANU, NASU and NAAT, as a way of enhancing labour management relations and promoting industrial harmony.


(4)       Work Ethics

In order to achieve the FUL of our collective dream, every staff must be seen to be contributing their quota appropriately. In this respect, the following should be noted and upheld:

                     i.        In our desire to ensure punctuality and prevent the prevailing care-free attitude of absenteeism and truancy among some staff, an attendance register will be opened in each department and unit. It is mandatory for every staff to sign in and out daily.

                    ii.        Every form of merchandising at work is hereby prohibited. Heads of Departments/Units and the Security personnel are to take proper note and enforce this directive forthwith.

                   iii.        In order to enhance security vigilance, the wearing of staff/student Identity Card is now mandatory on the two campuses of our University. The wearing of ID card will henceforth be a requirement for entrance into the campuses and into some major offices, including the office of the Vice Chancellor.


(5)       Students’ Affairs


i.          We would provide students with a conducive learning environment that is friendly and result oriented, and actively engage them, through the Dean of Students and their representatives, to listen to their complaints, concerns and challenges.

ii.         We shall explore Academic Exchange Programmes as a means of propelling our students towards acceptance and understanding an array of different cultural and community perspectives.

iii.        Recreational and relaxation sport centers would be provided in the University for students, and they would be encouraged to partake in National sport programmes. There would be zero tolerance for drug abuse, cultism and other vices.

iv.        The Management would consider adopting a policy of retaining our students who graduate with 1st Class degree whenever vacancies are available, and support them to continue their academic development.


(6)       Finance


i.          We shall, in consultation with the University Governing Council, develop a robust financial plan that promotes innovation, so as to improve the revenue base of the University.

ii.         Viable businesses that would serve as key revenue generating centers to improve the University’s financial standing, would be established.

iii.        We shall promote prudence, transparency, accountability and the institution of best practices in the utilization of University funds, and ensure that, within the available resources, administrative units and academic departments receive the necessary funding to run their offices/programmes.

iv.        We shall ensure that funds are spent in line with Council approvals, the provisions of the Financial Regulations, extant government Circulars and the University Budget.


(7)       Infrastructure Development


i.          We shall accelerate infrastructure development at the Felele Campus of the University, to allow for further expansion of academic programmes and to provide befitting office accommodation for members of staff and hostel accommodation for our students. Already, we have been receiving overwhelming support in this regard. Just last week, some of my friends have agreed to donate a fully built and equipped Entrepreneurship Development Centre to the University. Similarly, several local and foreign developers have indicated their desire to provide high stake infrastructures, including hostels and roads at the Felele Campus. Also last week, one of us, Mr. Empire Iweha donated a package of CCTV equipment which otherwise would have cost the University enormous resources to mount. We are grateful to Mr. Empire Iweha for this gesture and encourage others to follow suit. They can also do this by talking to their affluent and public spirited contacts for their support.

ii.       The Management shall explore the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model, more precisely the Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) model, and other flexible arrangements to provide infrastructure at the Felele Campus.

iii.      Direct Labour would also be considered as means of providing the much needed infrastructure, as it has proved to be a more cost effective approach.

iv.      We would liaise with the various security agencies to ensure 24 hours’ surveillance in and around the University Campuses, and ensure the safety of the staff and the students, and the safeguarding of the University’s properties.


(8)       Information & Communications Technology (ICT)


i.          We shall ensure full computerization of the University Senate;our financial, personnel and students’ records, by migrating from the manual based and analogue approaches to a digitalized system, in conformity with the advanced standards expected of a 21st Century University.

ii.       Broad Band internet technology would be installed on the 2 campuses; and ICT-enabled teaching/learning, which encompasses a variety of techniques, tools, content and resources aimed at improving the quality and efficiency of the learning process, would also be implemented.

iii.      We shall restructure and strengthen the University’s Center for ICT and position it to offer flexible and broader learning access and as a key revenue earner for the University.

iv.      The libraries would be fully automated and their resources virtually available campus-wide.


In conclusion, a more detailed Strategic Plan to guide the next phase of the University’s development that captures the input of all the critical segments and stakeholders of the University; short, medium and long-term goals; tangible outcomes, measurable results and immediate deliverables, would be produced in due course.

Let me also mention that these institutional reforms are meant to reposition the University for optimal results and should, therefore, be seen strictly in that light. Already, we have held some strategic meetings, made a few appointments, constituted a number of committees and initiated some policy reviews. In a short while, we shall announce further changes, approve more appointments and effect a major staff reshuffle – so as to ensure appropriate manning of job posts.

I am excited about the University’s limitless potential and the team of qualified, competent and willing academic and non-academic staff members that I am privileged to have as partners on this journey. Together, we can achieve great things!

Thank you for listening.

Professor Olayemi Akinwumi