Legendary Aare Afe Babalola amazes many of us newsmen on each occasion he tells us the story of his selfless service leading to the timeless legacies God used him to achieve when he served Nigeria and humanity as the Pro-Chancellor of the prestigious University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos. Indeed, those legacies of a man such as Afe Babalola will forever dot the beautiful landscape of the enviable Ivory Tower in Lagos same way Professor Kayode Soremekun's legacies of administrative prowess and patriotic service will dot the adorable landscape of the twin campuses of the Federal University Oye-Ekiti i.e Oye and Ikole campuses in both Oye and Ikole Local Government areas of Ekiti State.
Soremekun, a humanist of much younger breed when compared to Babalola has immensely convinced humanity that so much could be achieved within a short time given the desire for a purpose driven, selflessly determined patriotic leadership. He displayed this rare feat with his laudable and highly commendable achievements as Vice-Chancellor, FUOYE for five years and seven months now.
For the records, FUOYE had five faculties of five offering 30 academic programmes in 2016 when Soremekun came on board. But by the time the school had her 20/21 Virtual matriculation ceremony for fresh students on July 28, 2020, the University had her faculties shot up to 11 with 75 academic programmes!. Not only that all these programmes are fully accredited, those recent additions are not mere academic courses, they included programmes in faculties of Law, Pharmacy, Basic Sciences, and Environmental Studies amonfg others.
Prof. Soremekun has not just succeeded in ensuring a rapid growth in terms of academic programmes, he is perfecting the amazing success with proportional growth in infrastructural development. Since 2016 till date, Soremekun's administration has completed 74 infrastructural projects that included the utra-modern faculty of Pharmacy building, ultra-modern faculty of Agriculture, the well equipped media studio facility for students of Mass Communication, the ultra-modern faculty of Basic sciences, faculty of Management sciences complex and academic building for the faculty of Environmental Studies amount others.
Indeed, the enviable University administrator's achievements in the aforementioned areas has engendered further commendable achievements in other relevant areas and these include the number of students which has risen from 6000 in 2016 to well over 24,000 currently!
Of course as well all know, more faculties translates to more departments which in turn mean more learning facilities as well as more students, Lecturers and administration staff. So, the positive multiple effects is that Soremekun has provided more jobs for Nigerians with a admirable performance as FUOYE VC.
As the Vice Chancellor recalled, there were 74 projects already completed, of which some were inherited as abandoned projects of his predecessors, while many others were started and already completed by the current administration.
When members of the FUOYE Governing Council went with the VC on an inspection of projects last February, they were awed with such outstanding projects as the new roads network which now serve as links for places hitherto inaccessible for students on the twin campuses. Such roads include the central road linking the phases one, two and three parts of the Oye campus which was tarred recently.
The abandoned projects now completed by the Soremekun administration included the Central Administration Building, the Library and some others.
Determined to do more, the VC listed some other projects he would be embarking on and which would be completed before the end of his five-year tenure on February, 2021. They include the on going road construction sheduled to be completed by end of February, 2020, and a new Faculty of Arts complex among others.
Flashback to five years ago, FUOYE didn’t have the number of students’ population, (almost 20,000) she now has, the University could not boast of having the peaceful academic environment, smooth running and stable academic calendar she now enjoys as it was almost a one-week, one trouble saga where angry staff unions used to stage weekly protests and disrupt academic and business activities on the twin campuses. It could not also boast of having up to seven faculties which it now has with the recent addition of faculties of Pharmacy, Management sciences, Basic sciences, Law and Environmental studies, all of which were made possible by the current administration.
Almost five ago, FUOYE could not boast of having 50 percent of the infrastructural and learning facilities she now enjoys in terms of well constructed classrooms, offices, faculty buildings, sports complex, power supply, hostel accommodation and other social amenities. The University didn’t have her own independent Information and Technology (ICT) unit and could not operate an independent website until Soremekun came on board, neither was the University connected to the national grid for adequate supply of electricity on the twin campuses until the current administration came on board.
What is more? , there have been tremendous records of academic successes on the part of both FUOYE students and many members of the academic amd administrative staff courtesy of the current tenure of Prof. Soremekun.
For the records, FUOYE has won several national and international awards on academic feats. These included the recent African Drum festival of 2019 where the University’s Department of Theatre and Media Arts clinched the third position with in their maiden participation in the contest, and other contests in Engineering, Food technology, agriculture, soil science, Mechatronics and others.
FUOYE now ranks among the top 200 Universities in Africa according to a recent webometric ranking.
The staff welfare have been well taken care of by the current administration such that staff members no longer have cause to grumble and resolve to incessant militant unionism while performing their duties; a recent subtle move in payment of some token as special allowances testify to this assertion.
The University Management has opened up several windows for academic activities which have further provided huge economic benefits, these included the just commenced Distance Learning programmes, On line educational programmes, and Top Up programmes for the Polytechnics in some parts of the country among others.
FUOYE has emerged the first of its peers to start a Post Graduate School as well as annual inaugural lectures and these were achieved when Prof. Soremekun mounted the saddle of leadership! .
Erudite Professor of Bio-Chemistry, Prof. Akintayo Cecelia gave the first FUOYE inuagural lecture on her ground breaking research work, while another distinguished Professor of Dance and Performance Aesthetics, and Nigeria’s first Professor of Dance, Prof. Rasaki Ojo Bakare gave the second inuagural lecture and Prof. Omotola, current Dean of the faculty of Social Sciences, has been sheduled to give the forthcoming inuagural lecture of our great University.
Having noticed the University Management’s giant strides in the aforementioned areas, the Federal Government and the Ministry of Education poured encomiums on the Prof. Soremekun led Management team and the University Governing Council recently.
Hear what they said: Mr. Sabo Inuwa, a representative of the Federal Government in FUOYE’s Council: “I am satisfied with the level of development in FUOYE. I am very happy with the administration of Prof. Kayode Soremekun. Already, FUOYE has been ranked first among its peers in infrastructural development and academic performance. It is the best. So, ignore all the bad elements spreading bad rumours to spoil the school.”.
Mr. Abdullahi Saliu Jibrin , a representative of the Ministry of Education who stood in for the Minister of Education: “It is a excellent performance that the Prof. Kayode Soremekun team has done in FUOYE. As for the criticism against the management, we have taken that positively. It is natural, no matter how good you are, you will get criticism but we are not distracted.”
Asked what makes him an astute administrator who has been able to achieve so much, Prof. Soremekun told newsmen: “What drives me is the culture of Excellence. If you know about my background, you can call me an authentic part of the Floria’s tradition, that tradition has been responsible for my motivation. Above all, God is involved because with Christ in the vessel, we have smiles at the storm.
” I want to tell you with deep sense of sincerity that most of the facilities we have in FUOYE today were started and completed by our team. "
While proposing virtual teaching and distance learning as measures to surmount challenges posed by Covid 19 pandemic to University education, Professor Soremekun urged managers of Nigerian Universities to embrace the use of digital technology.
He added the best way to go now for tertiary institutions in the country, faced with the challenge of Covid-19, is to devise new ways of doing things which digital technology provides with virtual teaching and learning.
Prof. Soremekun who said that FUOYE has been very proactive in the areas of ICT and distance learning prior to the breakout of Covid-19, added that institution would ensure delivery in the areas of teaching, research and management of statutory meetings.
The University administrator equally added that the Post Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME) screening of candidates has kicked off in FUOYE.
He said: "We have to embrace the new way of learning in the area of digital technology, this is the way to go now and in the nearest future.
"Distance learning through digital technology is our next destination, I must tell you that we have been very proactive in this regard because prior to now, we have put in place distance learning programmes. We have a consultant, Professor Olagbemiro Jegede who has put us ahead in this new normal of learning."
"Covid-19 is the challenge of our times and this university which by the grace of God, I am privilege to lead, will not shirk its responsibilities. Rather, we will brace up to the occasion by deploying technology to deliver university's functions and mandates under this new normal."