Driving round the University of Benin has become a quite unique experience for first time visitors. The simple reason is that, from the entrance, there is a refreshing feeling that drives one into enthusiasm for the institution. With a screening process handled by well-trained security men who are equipped with modern facilities, gone are the days when one would just enter the university without proper identification. Indeed, one can feel the changes from the gate which provides ample insight into what obtains on the campus. Really, a hitherto regular visitor of Uniben or a former student or worker at the institution could, today, easily mistake it for another place. But it is actually Uniben!
Welcome to the world of Professor Oshodin, the administrator the university had wished to have for ages.
Within the first year, Oshodin had shown that the sky is the limit with better planning. In one of his speeches at the 5th meeting of convocation assembly, he emphasised prudence of resources as the platform through which he was able to transform Uniben into a world-class university. The Oshodin administration has remained focused in the pursuit of public/private partnership initiatives to complement the efforts of the federal government in taking Uniben to the heights which it has attained in recent times. Without doubt, Professor Oshodin has demonstrated, with much conviction, that it is possible to have properly run tertiary institutions in Nigeria if resources, however scarce they might be, are well harnessed and prudently as well.
Oshodin has always taken note of the importance of adequate funding in running great institutions like Uniben. So, when he assumed office, he rightly acknowledged that shoring up the internal revenue of the university was his major challenge. He was quite surprised that the university was generating so little prior to his assumption of office. So, he set out on a mission to succeed in this regard. And, he really did. In certain instances where paltry amount was being collected as internally generated revenue, the institution began to record quantum leap.
Oshodin not only kept to his promise to deliver new infrastructure through internally generated funds, contracts were awarded and completed on time. While the Pro-chancellor’s lodge was constructed through this means, for instance, the Oshodin administration took bold step further by engaging corporate bodies to partner with the institution to finance some projects. A good example is the eLibrary where a eLearning centre of world class standard was built in partnership with MTN Nigeria Foundation. Although the idea of the eLibrary for Uniben had been mooted since 2004, it was only when Oshodin took charge of the administration of the university that it came to fruition when Uniben became a beneficiary of the fourth phase of the MTN universityconnect project. The eLibrary was commissioned on March 14, 2011. It has 128 network computers amongst others. It has also two 16 horsepower standing air conditioners and 15 split unit air conditioners. For safety and security, the library has smoke detectors, fire alarms, several fire extinguishers, and a motion detection system. The eLibrary is linked to world class digital library across the world and has access to electronic books and databases that have subscribed to digital libraries globally. In addition, generators and inverters were procured to provide alternative sources of power for the facility.
Apart from the eLibrary, there are now departmental libraries for each department. And, in the library, the binding department is now generating funds for the university. Knowing the importance of the library and in view of the growing population attracted to the library, Oshodin undertook the library extension phase project with the main aim to decongest the main library.
Oshodin is quite appreciative of the support of corporate bodies. For instance, the Central Bank provided the financial support for Site B of the Ugbowo Campus of the university. Similarly, Shell Petroleum Development Company donated the Geoscience centre to enhance the practical learning aspect of educational pursuit.
Another laudable project was the new senate chambers which was undertaken within a short time thus providing a conducive atmosphere for the highest organ of the institution to deliberate and take decisions.
It is also noteworthy that the Tertiary Education Trust Fund [TETFUND] gave commendable support to the plan and programmes of the Oshodin Administration. Oshodin alluded to this in an interview with TELL in 2012. It needs be mentioned that Oshodin made judicious use of the funds which the institution received from TETFUND.
The sports hall was also one of the projects that the vice chancellor undertook. The hall has a 5,500 capacity and has gone a long way to boost sports development in the campus. Indeed, the sports-loving vice chancellor, who has once served as President of the National Universities Games Association [NUGA] is an avowed promoter of sports as a veritable tool for youth development and national unity. It is in this respect that he has contributed much to sports development in Uniben.
As a former student of the university, Oshodin understands the essence of comfort for students as a vital step for academic development. Thus, he expended much time and energy on new classrooms and lecture theatres. With the fear of congestion staring the Oshodin administration in the face, it undertook a massive construction of classrooms and lecture theatres. And, it needs be said that these projects were of high standard.
Some of these were the construction of 1000 capacity lecture theatre for faculty of engineering, the 500 capacity lecture hall for faculty of management sciences and the 500 capacity lecture hall for Ekewan campus, the new studio in the mass communication department. With a 24-hour electricity provision and the renovation of the road network within the campus, Uniben has never had it so good!
Furthermore, the university is breaking new grounds. For instance, the Digital Advanced Centre was created by Oshodin to provide advance research to post graduate students, with world class digital equipment.
Many other projects undertaken by the Oshodin administration include: Construction of college of medical sciences block 24
Water supply to ugbowo campus
Faculty of agriculture Phase 1
Construction of media centre for mass communication department
Construction of ikpoba bridge and accesss road.
Rehabilitation and asphalting of all access roads
Renovation of Akin Deko auditorium.
Construction of parking lot for entrepreneurship centre
Re- modelling of capitol (the chancellors lodge )
Completion of engineering block 6
Procurement of student lecture seat and table for 1000 capacity lecture hall for faculty of engeenering and 500 lecture hall for faculty of life sciences
Procurement of 760 various textbooks
Procurement of assorted volumes of textbooks
Central biomedical laboratories.
500 capacity lecture hall for faculty of management sciences
Construction of faculty of management science.(academic block one)
Construction of 500 capacity hall for Ekenwan campus
Construction of center for gender studies building
Construction of main library extension phase 11
Construction of 500 bed space clinical student hotel by NNDC
Construction of book shops
Construction of parking lot for social science lecture theartre
Supply and installation of equipment to central biomedical laboratries
That is why he continues to impress those who knew what the Vice chancellor met when he took over in the university. For instance, when the governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, an alumnus, commissioned the clinical students hostel [with 500 bed space], he was very pleased with the development he saw in the campus. Although Oshodin admitted it has not been easy, he quickly added that he would ensure that every project is completed before handing over to his successor.
For all these and more, encomiums continue to pour on Oshodin as one of the greatest Vice Chancellors Uniben has had!