By Dayo Adesulu
WALKING The Vi-sion, a bookdetailing the achievements of the 11th Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, UNILAG, Professor Rahmon Bello, as he prepares to bow out next month, has been presented to the public. Dignitaries at the launch which took place at the J.F Ade-Ajayi Auditorium, University of Lagos, took time to chronicle the achievements of his five years in office.
The book, written by five authors from the institution, showcased the narrative of what transpired at UNILAG between 2012 and 2017 under the vice chancellorship of Professor Rahmon Bello. At the public presentation, the reviewer, Professor Nimi Briggs, described the book as unique, adding that he would freely recommend it for those interested in higher education and future leaders.
Research and records
He said the book written in prose and largely free of irritating spelling and grammatical errors, has eight chapters, spread over 320 pages as each chapter of the book commences with a quotation from global literature and international affairs. According to him, while chapter one talks about the early life of Rahmon, his early education in polytechnics and rise in academia, chapter two contains information on the contribution of the vice-chancellor in the area of academics and research and records.
Chapter three, he noted,describes how the vice-chancellor, using his wisdom and understanding as the chief executive, could weld the many sections of the management of the institution to function as a coherent unit without friction. He said: “In the fourth chapter of the book, the attention of the authors shifts to physical planning and infrastructure within the university. The chapter reports that in reaction to the age-related infrastructural decay in the institution, the university decided to provide adequate and well-equipped building infrastructure for use in classrooms, offices, laboratories, lecture theatres, libraries, hostels and staff quarters.
“The fifth chapter is on health, safety and the environment and it describes a system by which annual medical check-ups are conducted for all staff about the time of their birthdays. Safety and environmental issues are also highlighted with a description of a UNILAG Conservation Zone where animals, especially monkeys, are encouraged to live in their natural habitat.
While the sixth chapter deals with the issue of welfare of students on campus and how the vice-chancellor lifted the proscription of the Students Union among other things, the seventh chapter describes the many bridges that were built across borders and nations by the Professor Bello administration in its determination to establish external relations and linkages with many institutions of higher learning.
It ended the book with chapter eight by quoting Shakespeare’s All is well that ends well. The five authors eulogized Bello and reminisced positively on his years at the helm of affairs in the university. They ended by indicating that it was not all smooth sailing and recounted some of the challenges that he faced and how he tactfully overcame them. In his critique, Professor Briggs pointed out that the writers should have ended the chapter on the future for the incoming vice-chancellor, adding that they would have advised on the way forward and recommend a continuation from where Professor Rahmon Bello stopped as vice-chancellor.
Meanwhile, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council, UNILAG, Dr Wale Babalakin in his opening remarks lauded the vice-chancellor for his commitment to duties. According to him, the best way to celebrate people like Professor Rahmon Bello was for his colleagues to put up something like this for him.
While lamenting that there was no Nigerian university ranked among 800 universities globally, he urged stakeholders’ participation in the sector to ensure it’s well funded, adding that gone were the days when government had money to fund education. “We have been authorised by the Federal Government to create means of funding education,” he said. Babalakin who described our education sector as being at crossroads, appealed to stakeholders for joint partnership with the government to stop the present downward trend.
He said: “There was a time when the University of Ibadan Medical School was ranked 4th in the Commonwealth of nations. When you talk about Commonwealth nations, England is also inclusive.”
Also, in his remarks, Professor Jerry Gana who was the immediate past Pro-chancellor of UNILAG described Professor Bello as a man of vision. Represented by Dr Isua Dogo, Gana said: “Professor Rahmon Bello represents one of the best brains in UNILAG, adding, his vision, mission have brought him the achievement.”
In his remarks, Professor Bello who lauded the honour bestowed on him, dedicated the book to the three councils he had worked with. He noted that the councils did contribute to the success of his administration. He said that UNILAG has what it takes to excel in the world. ‘’I am still in UNILAG, I remain UNILAG and continues to be its alumnus,’’ he said.