The administration of Profession Osayuki Oshodin has revolutionised learning at the University of Benin, in the process bringing human capital development to global standards to the admiration of many stakeholders
More than ever before, the world is shrinking into a global arena of sorts, broadening opportunities for nations and institutions of learning the world over and eliminating barriers that once stifled growth and development. Regrettably, every giant step taken by man is greeted by a litany of new challenges that call for innovation and enterprise to address.
The administration of Professor Osayuki Godwin Oshodin is not unaware of this. Since November 30, 2009, when he was appointed Vice Chancellor, VC, University of Benin, UNIBEN, Benin City, Edo State, he has remained focused and committed to the dream of bringing human capital to global standard, away from the vicissitudes and blight of yesteryears. Five years after, he cuts the image of a man who likes to take a proprietary walk round his property, though not with an air of complacency. “I want to say with every sense of responsibility that the quest to add value to the quality of teaching and learning has continued to attract the attention of the incumbent administration of the university since its inception on 30th November, 2009,” Professor Oshodin told the staff and students of the institution in 2013.
In January 2013, the National Universities Commission, NUC, which is the apex regulatory body of all universities in Nigeria, selected the University of Benin as the institution with the best Guidance and Human Development Centres amongst all the universities in the South-South geo-political zone, and for which it got a prize. The Oshodin administration’s quest to maintain a positive presence in public domain through forging of partnerships has continued to yield visible and laudable results.
It is worthy of note that between 2013 and 2014, the institution has successfully established linkages with 10 reputable local, national and international institutions. These institutions are the University of Reading and University of Lancaster, both in the United Kingdom; University of Boras, Sweden; University of Rostock, Germany; Siemens (a multinational company); Mercer University, Atlanta, Georgia, United States; National Centre for Remote Sensing, Jos, Plateau State; and Regional Centre for Training in Aerospace Surveys, Ile-Ife, Osun State; while discussions are ongoing with the Nigerian Air Force, World Council of Optometry and York University, Toronto, Canada.
The results of Professor Oshodin’s painstaking management of the institution and synergy are remarkable and visible to all. Shortly before being ranked number one university in the West African sub-region in 2013, the University of Benin was ranked number one amongst all tertiary institutions in Nigeria by the Webometric ranking of world universities. Of all the 19 doctoral theses from Nigerian universities that received awards in the year 2012 from the NUC, three of them emanated from UNIBEN while the fourth thesis that won the award was the work of a staff member of the Oshodin-led institution. His transformation has equally impacted on the student population immensely, and this is evident in the output of students.
A total of nine students of the University of Benin won the highly competitive 2011 Federal Government Scholarship award tenable in Nigerian tertiary institutions. Also, 10 of its students were selected to participate in the 2012 Shell Petroleum Engineering Summer School along with students from other universities. In addition, the 2012 scholarship award for outstanding academic performance at the Nigeria French Language Village was won by a 300 level student of the University of Benin. The first stage of the World Bank assisted step-B project which was in limbo for many years before the ascendancy of the present administration of the university has eventually been concluded.
Professor Oshodin’s achievements have endeared the University of Benin to corporate bodies and individuals who have lent their names to the institution through the construction of buildings, establishment of prizes and awards for outstanding students in specific areas, as well as making donations to enhance learning and improving human capacity.
Three of these bodies are the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFUND; the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN; and the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC. At the 2012 convocation ceremony, six new projects were commissioned – 1,000 capacity lecture theatre for the Faculty of Engineering, Indoor Sports Hall, Clinical Therapeutic Complex, Pro-Chancellor’s Lodge, Geo-Sciences building, as well as the X-Ray building. Outside these six projects, other major projects embarked upon recently include the construction of a media centre for Mass Communication Department; procurement of library books and journals; extension of existing animal house building for the Faculty of Pharmacy; construction of the Faculty of Education workshop; construction of lkpoba Bridge and access road project; construction of Clinical Hostel; supply of electrical materials and installation works for Step-B Foundry Building Extension at the Faculty of Engineering.
Others are supply of X-ray equipment; construction of Foundry Building Extension at Faculty of Engineering; renovation of lecture hall for MBA class; provision of Bisrod Classmate Millennium Range composite chairs and tables in lecture halls; purchase of new Toyota Corolla 1.334Li for the Department of Business Administration; supply and installation of chemical and ophthalmic equipment at the Department of Optometry; renovation of the Akin Deko Main Auditorium; repair of leaking roofs in the library and main auditorium; furnishing of Middle Hall in Erstwhile Central Cafeteria building; renovation of the Assembly Hall and the two office blocks at Ekenwan campus; renovation of six blocks of the university guesthouses; supply and installation of 575 seats at the Faculty of Engineering, Physical Sciences and Social Sciences; rehabilitation and asphalting of all access roads and car parks on Ugbowo and Ekenwan campuses; as well as massive renovation of Faculties of Physical and Life Sciences buildings.
“I will say that members of staff, both academic and non-academic, are all happy and when people are happy they put in their very best…he is doing well and it is obvious for everyone to see,” says Victor Omozuwa, a professor of Linguistics, University of Benin. And his is not a lone voice. Professor Obehi Okojie is even more vociferous in citing instances of gains from Oshodin’s landmark strides. The Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academics, insists that “now the Tertiary Education Trust Fund came on board and government is increasing allocation and people are becoming more involved in research. Recently, there was a research exhibition in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, and University of Benin was one of those that made presentation and won three prizes for three different innovations.”
Like a proud father of outstanding children, Professor Oshodin is certainly happy to point to many fronts where members of his institution have excelled since he came on board. “A year ago or so, one of our professors was a recipient of the Nigerian Academy of Science (award). Recently, we went for an exhibition at the Federal University of Technology, Minna, and we came top in some areas; we also came second in some other areas. These are as a result of various discoveries by our professionals here in the University of Benin. For example, you know it’s difficult to solder aluminium together. A lecturer in UNIBEN has discovered a way of putting aluminium together through soldering; another one is working on HIV and has discovered something in respect of HIV. We have a drug manufacturing unit here, we have also beefed it up,” he revealed.
All these gains have not only improved the academic learning environment in the university but have also revolutionised academic activities so profoundly to the delight of both students and staff of the institution on both campuses that an average student of the institution is proud to associate with the school which was hitherto a den of cultists who made learning difficult with its attendant security challenges. The result is an outstanding academic performance by students on several fronts which has brought human capital to global standard.