Since his appointment as the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ilorin over four years ago, Prof. Is-haq Olanrewaju Oloyede, has always been in the news due to some innovations he introduced to the University’s administration.
Oloyede has not only maintained unbroken academic calendar, he also pioneered the computer Based Tests (CBTs) in the nation’s University system.
However, the on-going West African Universities Games (WAUG) being hosted by Unilorin has once again brought the quintessential VC to the limelight. The 10-days event commenced on March 27 and would end on April 7, 2012.
About 100 Universities from 12 West African Countries are participating in the sports festival. Three thousand athletes and 1,000 officials are also participating in the event.
Sports journalists from the sub-continent have also arrived Ilorin, the Kwara state capital, in large numbers to cover the event.
Indeed, Prof. Oloyede is a rare gem and has proved to the whole world that the First Class Honour he bagged at the end of his first-degree programme at the same Unilorin was not an happenstance.
Today, he remains the only academic that is functioning effectively in three different capacities. He combines his job as VC with that of the chairman, Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities as well as the co-ordinator, Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC).
Only recently, Oloyede attracted personalities which included President Goodluck Jonathan, Sultan Abubakar Sa’ad of Sokoto and Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN) President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor to the state of harmony for a NIREC meeting. Far-reaching decisions on problems bedevilling the country were taken at the meeting.
Not too long ago, the VC of the ‘Better by Far’ University also led other VCs in the country in arguing for the retention of the post-UTME examinations being conducted by the various Universities for candidates seeking admissions into such universities.
Both the Federal government and the Senate had no choice than to succumb to the superior argument of the VCs that Acts that established the Ivory towers give them the power to screen candidates seeking admission into the Universities.
With Nigeria privileged again to host the 13th edition of the West Africa University Games (WAUG), this year after she hosted it last in 1995, it is significant that what West African youths need at this momentous period is healthy competition, team spirit, friendliness, integration and camaraderie that WAUG symbolises.
Historically, WAUG began five years after the independence of Nigeria and eight years after the independence of Ghana. The competition is a product of the friendly and brotherly competition between Nigeria and Ghana, both of which had their first University Colleges (now Universities of Ibadan and Ghana) established in 1948.
The seed of WAUG was planted in early 1964 when the late Sir Inuwa donated a Golden Cup to be competed for by West African universities. This donation prompted the meeting of West African universities in July 1964 at the University of Ibadan with a view to actualising the dream of regional sporting competition.
Before the meeting, only the University of Ibadan and the University of Ghana had annual Games and WAUG developed from this established platform. Consequent upon the meeting, the University of Ibadan hosted the first WAUG in 1965 and nine West African universities participated, including the University of Ghana.
The two cardinal objectives of WAUG are to promote unity among West African university students and to enhance the development of sports in the sub-region. It is in furtherance of these noble objectives that the University of Ilorin, which occupies a class of its own among West African Universities, hosts the 13th edition of the Games between March 27 and April 6, 2012. The theme of the 13th edition is “Promoting Regional Cooperation Through Effective Sports Participation”.
As the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin and immediate past President of the Association of African Universities (AAU), Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, said while receiving the hosting rights of WAUG at the University of Ghana on March 29 2008, “Sports is a silent but effective means of promoting national integration and international cooperation and the University of Ilorin would leave no stone unturned in making the 13th edition the best and most memorable in the history of WAUG”, the University has lived up to its words.
Towards realising the vision of hosting the Games with excellence, the University has invested about N500 million, with the support of the government and well-meaning Nigerians, in the development of world-class sports infrastructure and facilities.
Some of the facilities in place at the University include synthetic floor and aesthetics equipment (N45million), construction a new pavilion (N71million) and the construction and renovation of a new Handball court, four Tennis courts, two Basketball courts, two Volleyball courts and one Handball court.
The University has also provided a standard eight-lane Tartan tracks and field (N166 million) for the Games just as it has renovated its old pavilion (N24 million) and provided chairs (N16 million) at the pavilion. It has also renovated its indoor sports hall (N33 million) just as it has acquired a 59-seater Marcopolo bus (N52m) to boost the transportation arrangement for the athletes and officials. A visitor to the University of Ilorin today would certainly be amazed by the level of development at the University both generally and specifically at the sports complex and stadium.
The Director of Information of Unilorin, Dr. Mahfous Adedimeji described the 13th edition of WAUG as unique and symbolic for many reasons.
According to him, the competition attracted the highest number of Universities across member countries in the history of WAUG, adding that, “already, Universities from Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Niger, Mali, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo have already strongly indicated their participation while several Nigerian Universities have also registered.
Two, female football will debut at this 13th edition at University of Ilorin. Three, all the Games, except Cricket, will feature male and female athletes during the 10-day programme at the University of Ilorin Stadium and Kwara Stadium, Ilorin.
He added, “though the philosophy of the University of Ilorin lies in hosting to win the Games, the University does not believe in winning at all costs. The aim of the University mainly is to provide a good platform for friendship and academic networking among youths across Nigerian and West African universities so that regional cooperation would be strengthened further across the artificial geographical borders.
The athletes of the University, Team Unilorin, have been in camp for some months now with a view to excelling in the competition. The team is well prepared and motivated to win medals and lift the University and the Games higher.
“The University is aware of the various dimensions of the hosting and is fully prepared to host the best WAUG in history, with the cooperation of government and non-governmental stakeholders as well as all Nigerians.
It is in the interest of all Nigerians to join hands with the University of Ilorin and Nigeria to make the WAUG 2012 holding between March 27 and April 7, 2012 a resounding success. The world is welcome to Nigeria; the world is welcome to the University of Ilorin”.