By Erasmus Ikhide
Prof. Faraday Osasere Orumwense, on November 30, 2014, assumed office as the 9th Vice-Chancellor of UNIBEN. Prior to his appointment, he had over two decades of experience in university administration, the last being his appointment as pioneer Rector of Efo State owned Institute of Management and Technology, Usen.
Since his stewardship as VC started in the last three and a half years, there has been rapid development across the university. The enthronement of peace remains a cardinal objective of this administration. Added to this is an uninterrupted academic calendar.
Orumwense was very clear on staff and students’ welfare in his first appearance as the university VC, saying it was a major factor to improve upon after his predecessor’s prompt payment of workers’ entitlements.
A former Dean of Students, Prof Francis Osagiede, harped on Orumwense’s visionary leadership thus: “Orumwense has matched words with action as the administration placed huge premium on the welfare of staff and students. To this end, the administration remains committed to regular promotion of staff as at when due with their entitlements paid”.
The administration, in its effort to strengthen 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 UNIBEN.
Cultism and associated vices have been reduced with increased security surveillance made possible through the procurement of six patrol vehicles by this administration.
ICT platforms in the university have been upgraded with the Ekehuan campus linked with the network operation centre room to improve internet services in the environment.
Orumwense also saw to the provision of Methylated Spirit and Hydrogen Peroxide production unit which is awaiting approval to commence production but has successfully undergone a mandatory pre-assessment by the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC.
An astroturf football pitch was provided, just as the university embarked on the construction of a 500-capacity female hostel, a golf course building, the safety & environmental education building, an ultramodern library in college of medicine, botanical gardens research building and re-grassing of the main bowl football pitch, among others.
That the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) licensed the UNIBEN to operate a 7.5 megawatt Independent Power Plant (IPP) is also a testimony to the dynamism of the top academician. He also initiated awards for outstanding lecturers like the ‘Distinguished Research and Innovative Achievement Award’ (DRIAA).
The academic programmes, both undergraduate and post-graduate, have run smoothly, placing the university in the second position in the National Universities Commission accreditation.
The successful launching of the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation, done by UNIBEN in collaboration with Lancaster University, attracted participants from African Union Scientific Technical Research Commission, Nigerian Air Force and Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, among others
Under Orumwense, the university also, in partnership with Lancaster University and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (Ghana), won a Global Challenge Research Fund (GCRF) grant. The grant, which is part of a new 225 million pounds rate of investment, aims to grow research capability to meet the challenges faced by the developing world.
In recognition of the pivotal role of research and development on national growth and development, the university kick started the Annual Research Day (UBARD).
The administration’s efforts at positioning UNIBEN to produce graduates for industrial work has started yielding dividends with the successful hosting of the UNIBEN Academia-Industry Interface in collaboration with Lancaster University..
To build the capacity of the teaching staff, the university recently organized workshops for the academic staff, tagged, “Workshop on Pedagogue for Young/ Intermediate Lecturer in the University of Benin”. The university administration has been able to attract over six million dollars donation to the Geo Science Centre of Excellence from Schlumbeger.
Shell Petroleum Development Company is working with UNIBEN for greater development. The Managing Director, Mr Okunbor, is a worthy alumnus. The company has expressed interest in constructing an ICT Building for the university. Lately, the company has been involved in upgrading of facilities in the Sports Complex.
The institution is indeed blessed with more distinguished alumni. They include Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, Senator Abaribe, Hon. A. Adeyemi of the House of Representatives, Engr. Olotu, Managing Director, Chevron, and Mr Austine Alighe, current President of the Nigeria Bar Association. To harness the potentials of the old students, the Alumni Relations Division has been upgraded a Directorate and a Director appointed to oversee its affairs.
With the feats achieved under Orumwense, UNIBEN is set to soar higher.