The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin and Chairman of the Association of West African Universities (AWAU), Prof. AbdulGaniyu Ambali (OON), is 59 years old today (Tuesday, 29th November, 2016). The birthday is coming barely a month after this cerebral academic and consummate administrator marked his fourth year in office.

Prof. Ambali is a perfect example of a silent achiever, a fair but firm leader, a veritable team player and a visionary team leader, a man with the proverbial Midas touch, who has greatly turned the fortunes of the University around since he mounted the saddle exactly four years and 44 days ago.

Born on November 29, 1957, Prof. Ambali attended Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, from where he graduated with the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree. He was also at the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom, for his Master of Veterinary Science (M.V. Sc.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Veterinary Medicine. The erudite Veterinarian also attended the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, UK for his Animal License Certificates.

A Wellcome Trust Research Fellow, Prof. Ambali joined the services of his alma mater immediately after his national service in 1982 as Assistant Lecturer and by dint of hard work and academic excellence, he became a Professor in 1995. He was two-time Dean, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Maiduguri before transferring his services to the University of Ilorin where he became the pioneer Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in October 2010.

For the University of Ilorin, the last four years of his vice-chancellorship have witnessed unprecedented accomplishments in all spheres of the University’s core mandates of teaching, research and community service. In specific terms, the Vice-Chancellor is taking the welfare of staff and students very seriously; he is vigorously pursuing excellence in teaching and research; infrastructural development is receiving the necessary attention; excellent town and gown relationship is being promoted; internally generated revenue is being visibly enhanced; while fiscal discipline, transparency and accountability are getting the necessary fillip.

The on-going move to build a $2.3 billion, 500 megawatts solar power plant on the campus of the University of Ilorin is arguably one of the best legacies any Vice-Chancellor anywhere in the world could leave for posterity. Initiated by the AbdulGaniyu Ambali administration, the solar plant, on completion, would significantly improve the level of power generation and supply in the country. Another Ambalic feat that has attracted a blaze of commendation to the University was the successful hosting of the Second National Youth Games held at the Unilorin Sports Complex between September 24th and 29th 2016. Such was the excellent organisation and orderly staging of the sporting event that the Federal Government automatically awarded the hosting right of the next edition of the Games to the better by far institution!

Prof. Ambali’s recent election as the new Chairman of the Association of West African Universities (AWAU) is an additional feather to his well-adorned cap, a veritable testament to his administrative acumen. In particular, it is a call to replicate, at a higher sub-regional level, the Midas touch, with which the multiple award-winning Vice-Chancellor is turning the University of Ilorin into a world-class institution. The election was indeed an international recognition of the leadership position of the University of Ilorin among the committee of Nigerian tertiary institutions.

An exhaustive chronicle of Prof. Ambali’s achievements since he took over the leadership of this great institution may not be possible here, given our space constraint but an attempt is being made to document them into a book due for presentation soon. It is however not out of place to recount some major ones in our present endeavour.

Staff training and retraining continue to attract Prof. Ambali’s priority attention while promotions continue to be deservedly earned as at when due. Students too are not doing badly as the Ambali Administration has continued to pursue their welfare with the vigour it deserves.

The Vice-Chancellor is also relentlessy pursuing excellence in teaching and research. He has sustained the tradition of heavy investment in human capital development through the massive sponsorship of deserving academic staff members to learned conferences within and outside the country. More staff members have also been sponsored or supported to acquire higher degrees.

Also, Prof. Ambali’s visible commitment to the rapid development of technological infrastructure in the University is unparalleled such that the strength of internet connectivity in the University community is now more efficient, more reliable and more accessible.

In its sustained quest for excellence and to widen the scope of career choice for admission seekers, the University Senate, presided over by Prof. Ambali, approved the introduction of new academic programmes with the establishment of three new Faculties and the unbundling of some ‘unwieldy’ Departments. The Vice-Chancellor has also sustained the legacy of judicious deployment of available resources for the infrastructural facelift of the University. Such is the passion with which this agenda is being pursued that the entire University campus has been turned to a massive construction site. Every year, since he mounted the saddle, no fewer than 12 newly completed projects were commissioned during each convocation ceremony in the past four years.

It is on record that Prof. Ambali initiated the one-student-one-Ipad revolution in the University. And despite the little hitch the initiative suffered recently as a result of exchange rate fluctuation, the Vice-Chancellor is very passionate to sustain the initiative that is aimed at boosting the University’s ICT drive and enhancing e-communication between the students and their lecturers.

And so, for exemplifying uncommon leadership gifted with a clear vision, administrative acumen, sagacious disposition, erudition, dignity, temperance, fortitude, resilience, and moral rectitude, we celebrate Prof. Ambali as he turns 59 years old.

We wish this uncommon leader a very happy birthday! May the Almighty Allah grant you many more years of good health and continued wisdom with which to continue in your service to the nation and humanity in general.

AKOGUN IS THE HEAD OF CORPORATE AFFAIRS, UNIVERSITY OF ILORIN

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