Prof. Muhammed Mustapha Akanbi (SAN), is the Vice Chancellor of Kwara State University (KWASU), Malete. In this interview with APPOLOS CHRISTIAN and FELIX KHANOBA, the erudite scholar and terrific Professor of Law pours out his heart on some of his cutting-edge plans aimed at positioning the fast growing university for greater academic exploits.
On some of his noble plans for KWASU, the highly- cerebral young Vice Chancellor, who assumed office 1st April, 2020, said ensuring effective learning/research, improved staff/students’ welfare and robust Internally- Generated Revenue (IGR) for seamless running of the institution formed parts of his priorities.
His words: “My plan is to move Kwara State University to a loftier height better than I found it and to achieve this broad mandate, I intend to one; ensure a conducive learning environment. I also intend to pursue quality based research.
One of the things we want to encourage is that research should not just be for research sake, we don’t want our research work to end up on the shelves. Our research would be geared towards finding solutions to contemporary challenges.
“Another thing I intend to pursue is improving on the welfare of staff and students. I’m also looking at transforming KWASU into a financially sustainable university. You know that the university is not funded by the government and with the COVID-19 challenge it has not been easy. We depend on school fees and IGR, and it is difficult running a university just on this.
“Our plan is to increase the volume of IGR portfolio and that is why we also came up with a couple of centres that would be revenue yielding.
Our university is a university of community development and entrepreneurship and I like the fact that you appreciate what we are doing with entrepreneurship; that entrepreneurship centre is being rejuvenated it is now called the centre for vocational, technical and entrepreneurship because we don’t want to teach entrepreneurship just in theory. We get our students involved in vocational things and the technical aspects.”
Asked on KWASU’s contribution towards tackling the present food security challenges in the country, Prof. Akanbi has this to say: “You all know that even before COVID-19, food insecurity was on the increase, now with COVID-19 and long period of lock down, farmers didn’t have the opportunity to go to farm because of the total lock down so it is clear that we are going to have a food challenge.
“KWASU intends to play a big role in the agricultural sector which we have started; we have started moving, talking to people, we were at Ilesha Baoba the other day where we intend to establish a ranch on a commercial basis. So investment in agriculture is a major focus for us.
“We are looking at agriculture from three points of view; one in terms of research and demonstration. The faculty of agriculture we are going to push them to do what they were set up to do; teaching, aiding our research in agriculture and also demonstration farms.
“Number two, we are looking at agriculture strictly from the point of view of business, agro allied business. We are looking at cashing into the processing line. Like I told you, we were at Ilesha Baoba in Kwara State which has one of the largest markets when it comes to cattle in the whole of West Africa and we would be visiting some large farms to see how we can collaborate with them.
“We have sent a proposal to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on how they can help intervene in providing some food crops. We also want to add value to some of these food crops like maize.
“We are also looking at agriculture from the third level which is community development. Our university sits on a large expanse of land so we are encouraging people who want to go into farming to come to the university. We will provide security and extension services to them; the faculty of agriculture will be doing that.”
On what he will be remembered for at the end of his five-year tenure, the VC said: “My focus is that at the end of my five years tenure as VC of KWASU, we would have a university that has evolved. As it is now KWASU is a fast growing university, in fact I dare to say it is the fastest growing state university in Nigeria and it is a university that has a brand. If you compare it to other universities that were conceived the same time, you can see that KWASU is towering over and above them.
“So our plan is to ensure that the academic tradition is sustained and if you have been to KWASU in the last three or four months we have ensured that all our offices, VC, DVC, Directors, Dean, HODs, now have tenure. You cannot be there for life or for a long time because where I am coming from, the University of Ilorin, already has all these as part of its culture. So I intend also to ensure that the university culture or tradition is well ingrained or enshrined in our system.”