The Professor Osayuki Oshodin administration has continued to attract commendation for its vision and tremendous transformation in the delivery of world-class academic services within a few years in the University of Benin
It is not unusual to find one’s office a comfort zone shortly after appointment by government. Nor is it surprising to curry the favour of some godfathers while sitting idly and in the end hire a horde of sycophants to herald as feats some imaginary plans. What is however a rarity is to dare to be different, thinking out of the box and essaying to notch up more than one’s predecessors. These are no doubt salient qualities that define the administration of Professor Osayuki Godwin Oshodin (JP) in the University of Benin, UNIBEN, Benin City, Edo State.
Professor Oshodin no doubt has taken UNIBEN to new heights through vision, industry and team spirit to the ideals upon which UNIBEN was founded in 1970. Professor Oshodin has a pride of place in the history of the institution, which he has transformed into a leading citadel of learning among Nigeria’s burgeoning population of universities. From the Ugbowo campus to the Ekenwan campus, it is the same story of transformation and innovation for the overall benefit of the average UNIBEN student in preparation for life after school.
Edoba Omoregie is an associate professor who has been lecturing in UNIBEN for the past 16 years. As an alumnus of the same institution, he certainly has sound knowledge of how the academic body is run. According to him, the administration of Oshodin is one of the best things to have happened to the university. “He has demonstrated uncommon administrative ability and capacity. Also, he has been able to form a beautiful mosaic in the sense that the university has been very peaceful, bringing everyone together; academic activities have been very smooth in every facet. If you want to do the analysis of all available indices, Professor Oshodin has demonstrated that his appointment as VC is a glorious thing to have happened since the university was created in 1970. For one, staff welfare is uppermost on his mind. That is why you find out that before the end of every month, by 24th or 25th, staff would have had their salaries paid. That is unprecedented.”
It is not only in the area of staff welfare that the academician-cum-administrator has proved his mettle. “He has ensured adequate security for staff and students. Early in his administration, we had this Boko Haram scare and what he did was to beef up the security network in the campus. You cannot just enter the University of Benin anyhow without undergoing security screening. That tells you he is doing exceedingly well in that regard. Since Professor Oshodin took over as VC, we’ve not had the problems of student restiveness, cultism and attacks and so on. Cult activities have been eradicated from UNIBEN,” Omoregie maintained.
The associate professor also observed that another area of Professor Oshodin’s giant strides is the area of results. “When I joined, he mentioned that results would be taken once over a period of one week and many felt it was not possible and he insisted he was going to do it and whoever was not ready would have to explain himself to the university senate on why he or she was not presenting the students’ results and the person responsible must be identified and appropriate sanctions will be taken against such persons with queries and whatever. He did it. In one week he took all the results of the university, it has never happened before in the history of this great university. I think that is really commendable,” revealed Obehi Okojie, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academics.
Victor Omozuwa, Dean of Students’ Affairs, is someone who knows UNIBEN like the back of his hand. “I have been here first as a student and I started (working) from the beginning here as an assistant lecturer and I have seen VCs come and go but I can tell you, without fear of contradictions, that it has been such a wonderful administration with Professor Oshodin. After a good number of years, suddenly you see changes all over the place. It has never happened (before in) this institution,” he told the magazine. Describing Ekenwan campus, which he oversees, he has this to say: “Ekenwan campus was referred to as Siberia (before Oshodin’s tenure) because the people felt neglected. In the old USSR, when they say people are sent to Siberia, it is like you are condemned to death. So our colleagues in Ekenwan campus used to say they were living in Siberia. This shows the extent of neglect of that campus at that time. (But) when he came on board he said he was going to transform Ekenwan campus… There is a big difference now compared to before.”
These visible changes on the Ekenwan campus cut across the establishment of a communication house, a water factory, resuscitation of the printing press in Ekenwan, renovation and expansion of the health centre as well as massive renovation in all the hostels. The Professor Oshodin-led administration has also remained focused in the pursuit of public-private partnership to complement the efforts of the federal government. Such partnership includes an MoU with Shell Petroleum Development Company for the establishment of Geosciences Centre of Excellence in the university; establishment of West African Regional Centre of Excellence in Water Sciences and Technology by New Partnership on African Development, NEPAD; donation of a one-storey building to the Bursary Department of the university by Zenith Bank Plc; MoU with a security company for a 24-hour surveillance of the campuses; and linkages with other Institutions
The administration of Professor Oshodin has also forged working relationship with numerous institutions within and outside Nigeria for the benefit of students. Prominent among them are relationship between the school and Luhansk Tara Shevchenko National University, Luhansk, Ukraine; affiliation with Federal College of Education (Technical), Asaba, Delta State; MoU between the university and University of Spain, Oviedo; establishment of a research unit in UNIBEN by Academy of Sciences for the Developing World, TWAS; MoU between Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Agriculture and Institute of Subtropical Agriculture, Chinese Academy of Science, China; and ongoing working relationship between the university and Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan.
No doubt, Professor Oshodin’s administration has been purpose-driven in its pursuit of excellent delivery of services to staff and students of the institution. Whenever the history of UNIBEN is written, Oshodin will occupy a pride of place for his focus, commitment, uncommon strides and sustainable programmes that continue to attract commendation and spawn collateral benefits for the university community as a whole.