Prof Faraday Orumwense, Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin, Edo State is not a man of many words. Rather, he is one who likes his works to speak for him.
The professor of mechanical engineering is the ninth substantive VC of UNIBEN and was appointed by the Governing Council in 2014 with his tenure billed to lapse in December 2019.
Prior to his appointment as VC of UNIBEN, he had over two decades of experience in university administration in various capacities, the climax being his appointment by the Edo State Government as pioneer Rector of the state owned Institute of Management and Technology, Usen.
The Education Report spoke with him recently on the occasion of the formal signing ceremony of the 25-year lease agreement that saw the UNIBEN Guest House handed over to Royal Choice Inn and he admits that the terrain has not been easy but insists that he will not be intimidated in achieving his set goals.
The journey so far
I would say that so far, it’s not been easy but we’re weathering the storm. The ship has been sailing very well. My principal staff officers have been wonderful and I thank them for all their support.
The enthronement of peace and tranquility remains a cardinal objective of this administration. On this note, permit me to score this administration high in the attainment of peace on our campuses we have been enjoying relative peace in the University. Added to this is an uninterrupted calendar.
My appreciation goes to all members of the University Community for their understanding and support. The modest achievement of this administration at ensuring peace in our campuses is borne out of the belief that nothing can be achieved in an atmosphere of rancour.
State of UNIBEN when appointed VC
I inherited a good university but we have also worked to improve on it in terms of peace and tranquility. The issue of cultism has reduced to its barest minimum. I am happy to inform you that students now sleep with their two eyes closed and are also not afraid to go about their lawful academic and extra-curricular activities without fear of molestation. Additionally, strikes have not happened since I was appointed Vice Chancellor of UNIBEN and it gladdens my heart.
I was appointed as Vice Chancellor of UNIBEN in 2014 and by 2015 the Treasury Single Account (TSA) came into force. It was proposed by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 2012 under the Jonathan Administration and was fully implemented by the Buhari administration to consolidate all inflows from all agencies of government into a single account at the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Funds to take care of many things were not available and we had to manage ourselves to get things going with the internally generated revenue (IGR).
Keeping UNIBEN going
Survival brings ingenuity and for us, we have some outfits like the UNIBEN water factory throw which we have been generating funds, the rentals, the UNIBEN Guest House and some others with which we’re increasing the IGR.
Lease of UNIBEN Guest House
Money is the bottom line. We entered into the lease agreement with Royal Choice Inn because I was not satisfied with the revenue we were generating from the UNIBEN Guest House. We needed to increase our IGR and at the same time get to give quality hospitality to our different class of guests.
Already, we have been told by Royal Choice Inn that in September, a 20 bedroom block would be commissioned. That means a lot to the university.
Aside from the UNIBEN Guest House now under the management of Royal Choice Inn, we expect them to give it a new look that would attract higher income to the university. I have seen and experienced luxury in his facilities and it would go a long way give our environment the facelift that we desire.
Staff and Students welfare
This administration places huge premium on the welfare of staff and students. To this end, this administration remains committed to regular promotion of staff as at when due with their entitlement paid. Our pensioners are not left out as we remain committed to their welfare. This administration is also leaving no stone unturned to create a befitting environment for learning by student. In pursuance of this, my administration has put in place an up to-date routine maintenance of existing public utilities on campus. This administration in an effort to strengthened the committee system of University administration and more importantly evolve an all inclusive system of administration successfully conducted the 2015 congregation election, where members of staff were elected into various committees for the smooth running of the University. The ugly incidence of cultism and other associated vices have been reduced to the barest minimum with the increase level of security surveillance made possible through the procurement of six patrol vehicles by this administration. I am happy to inform you that students now sleep with their two eyes closed. They are also not afraid to go about their lawful academic and extra circular activities without fear of molestation.
Incessant strikes in Nigerian university system
Strikes affect the university system negatively. You find that where you have a stable system, things go well but there are strikes, things don’t go well and that means we don’t see anything going in the right direction.
May I state with every sense of humility that since the inception of this administration academic activities here in the University of Benin have taken a giant leap. Our academic programmes, both undergraduate and post-graduate have run smoothly, placing the University of Benin on second position in the National Universities Commission accreditation.
The tempo of academic culture of the University has been sustained with regular hosting of inaugural lectures. We have so far had two eminent lectures delivered by the former American Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency,
Ambassador Walter Carrington and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele and several faculty lectures. It is pertinent to note that our academic staff strength has improved tremendously both in number and stature. Eight professors of this University have brought honour to our institution by their appointments. Professor Akii Ibhadode of the Faculty of Engineering has been appointed Vice-chancellor of the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun Delta State by the Federal Government. Also appointed is Professor Sunny Onoheabi also of the Faculty of Engineering as pioneer Rector of the Institute of Building Technology, Uromi. Also by the Federal Government, Professors Friday Okonofua and Emmanuel Ojeme of the School of Medicine and Faculty of Education as Vice-Chancellor, University of Medical Sciences, Ondo and Provost, Delta State College of Physical Education, Mosogar, respectively. Professor Austin Asagba of the Faculty of Arts was also appointed Vice-Chancellor, Western Delta University, Oghara, Prof Aluyor of the faculty of Engineering was appointed Vice Chancellor Edo University, Iyamo, Auchi, Professor S.E.O Aduwa Ogiegbaen of Faculty of Education and Deputy Vice Chancellor Ekehuan campus has been appointed as Vice Chancellor Tayo Apkata University,Ekiadolor,Benin and Professor Frank Otunta was appointed Vice Chancellor Federal University of Agriculture,Umudike.
Also not left out are our students who have earned one form of recognition or the other. One of our students emerged 2nd best in the forum of Agriculture Research in Africa (FARA) in the FAEA Agriculture student Essay competition. Similarly, another of our student Imafidon Ehiwelen of the Department of Soil Science emerged one of the winners of the 2014 President’s National Youth Service Corps National Honour Award. I feel highly elated to enjoin you that he was decorated 2nd March, 2015 by the then President Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
Phasing out of pass grade
The idea is to ensure that students face their studies properly.
Legacy after your tenure
The legacy I want to leave is to that which will see UNIBEN recognised as one of the best universities in the world because we’re known as UNIBEST.
Also worthy of note is the state of ICT platforms in the University which has improved to International Standard following series of upgrades.
Infrastructural development and renewal remain a cardinal goal of the strategic vision of my administration as it is a crucial issue in universities ranking. Among the projects we have commissioned during the period are constructed and furnished female hostel; Centre for Excellence in Reproductive Health Innovation office building; lecture halls/seminar rooms and teaching laboratory for Faculty of Pharmacy; the Faculty of Environmental Sciences Studio; the Faculty of Veterinary Laboratory and the newly completed and furnished library complex at Ekehuan Campus.
Our Public Private Partnership engagements have also yielded some dividends, just like the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU and agreements that it have entered with some bodies.
In recognition of the pivotal role of research and development on the stimulation of national growth and development. The University under my tenure has kick started the University of Benin Annual Research Day (UBARD), which is an annual event.
The day is devoted to highlighting as well as, showcasing researches conducted by member of academic staff of all categories as well as students.
I try to relax by playing tennis, table tennis but I have had to deny myself all of that since I became vice chancellor because even when I get home, take my supper, watch the news, I end up returning to my files to ensure that nothing is left undone.