Egbewole: 62 hearty cheers to ‘Mr Efficiency’, By Kunle Akogun

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On Boxing Day of the first anniversary of Nigeria’s flag independence, a star was born into the Egbewole family of Ile-Ife, the famed ‘Source’ and cradle of the Yoruba race. For the young Egbewole, his first name, Abdulwahab, which means ‘Servant of the Bestower’, is truly reflective of the fact that he is a great gift to humanity, especially to any organisation, macro or micro, where he has had the opportunity or privilege to serve. Indeed, ‘Mr Efficiency’, as Professor Egbewole is fondly called by his associates and mentees, has been living up to the metaphysical meaning of that name and reflecting its philosophical import. Is it as Acting Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Ilorin, between February 2010 and February 2012? Or as Director of the General Studies Division (GNS), University of Ilorin, between 2015 and 2018? Or as Governing Council member between 2015 and 2022? Or even as Chairman, UNILORIN Chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU)? Or as Chairman, Kwara State Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA)?

In all these and so many other positions of authority he had held at one point or the other, Professor Egbewole always distinguished and discharged himself creditably at the end of each tenure. Which is probably why his ‘bestowal’ on the University in October 2022 was justifiably hailed across all sectors of the institution and even beyond as being that of an undeniable round peg in a round hole!

That 1961 Boxing Day boy, who is now the Vice Chancellor of Nigeria’s most sought-after University, the University of Ilorin, is 62 years old today, Tuesday, 26 December! This renowned Professor of Jurisprudence and International Law is really living his name, as there appears to be a consensus of informed opinions on the campus of the better-by-far University that Professor Wahab Olasupo Egbewole (SAN) is indeed a worthy gift to the University of Ilorin.

Since 16 October 2022 when he mounted the saddle as the 11th Vice Chancellor, a silent revolution has been taking place in UNILORIN, which Professor Egbewole has launched a very ambitious agenda to propel to the topmost rank among its peers in Nigeria, making it one of the 10 most valued universities in Africa and in the league of the 500 top-notch universities in the world. Better couched as Vision 1–10–500, this agenda is well founded on Professor Egbewole’s SMART Mantra.

As a first step towards realising this dream, the Vice Chancellor has, within his first year in office, remarkably succeeded in bringing about substantial attitudinal change among the University’s workforce, with the achievement of a substantial level of positive disposition to work.

One of the earliest manifestations of the efficacy of the Egbewole-inspired new work ethic and staff attitudinal change was the resurgence of national and international honours and awards won in quick succession by UNILORIN lecturers and students within the first few weeks of the Vice Chancellor’s assumption of office. Added to this is the sterling performance of some of the University’s Faculties in global academic performance ranking. The World University Ranking, in a survey conducted by the Times Higher Education (THE) last September, was an exciting instance of this sterling performance by the University of Ilorin within Professor Egbewole’s first 365 days in office. In that survey, our University moved a step ahead, from its previous seventh position, to become the sixth among its peers in the country. 

The University of Ilorin is indeed getting a fresh breath of air with the advent of the Egbewole administration. His humanistic approach to management, especially with regard to the recent reduction of school charges and the 25 per cent rebate thereof given to the children of staff, has been generally hailed by the University’s stakeholders as a veritable testament to responsive management. Also, the re-invention of the University’s administrative superstructure, sustained academic excellence, stellar research breakthroughs, massive infrastructural development, and rigorous internationalisation drive, are some of the high points that are bound to define the essential Egbewole years. 

The Vice Chancellor is definitely a ‘Prophet’ with honours in his home. This accounts for the Ooni of Ife’s frequent lavish encomiums on Dr Egbewole whenever an opportunity presents itself to speak about the consummate professor of Law. On one of such occasions, a civic reception he hosted for the renowned scion of The Source at the  Enuwa Palace Square, Ile-Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi described Professor Egbewole as “a personal pride” to him and the ancient city, saying it is a thing of joy for Ile-Ife to have been blessed with such an intellectual giant.

The prominent royal father pointed out that the position of Vice Chancellor is not the end of appointments for Professor Egbewole, saying that he foresees ministerial, ambassadorial and other top-notch government appointments for him after his tenure at the University of Ilorin.

Oba Ogunwusi prayed fervently for Professor Egbewole’s success in his assignment as Vice Chancellor. Short of formally conferring an Ife title on the erudite Professor of Jurisprudence and International Law, the Ooni, on that occasion, proclaimed Professor Egbewole the ‘Osupa of Ile-Ife’, which literally means “the Shining Light”. 

The Vice Chancellor was trained at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Ile-Ife, where he earned his Bachelor’s degree (LL.B) in 1984. He immediately proceeded to the Nigerian Law School, Lagos, and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1985. He went back to the renamed Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ife in 1988 for his Master’s degree in Law, which he earned in 1989. 

Professor Egbewole capped his brilliant academic credentials with a doctorate degree in Law from the University of Ilorin in 2009.

He had earlier joined the services of the University of Ilorin in 1997 as Lecturer II in the Department of Jurisprudence and International Law. He rose through the ranks and attained the peak of the academic career on 1 October, 2012 when he was elevated to the rank of Professor of Jurisprudence and International Law. 

Professor Egbewole has held several academic, administrative, and even trade union positions in the University, as well as in his professional circle.

The Vice Chancellor, who was conferred with the prestigious legal title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) by the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC) in 2018, is also a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Chartered Arbitrators (NICArb), the Society for Peace Studies and Practice (SPSP), and the Chartered Institute of Management and Leadership (CIML). 

Professor Egbewole, who is the Secretary-General of the Association of West African Universities (AWAU), is happily married to Hajia Muibat Adeola Egbewole and the marriage is blessed with four children.

We join other well wishers to congratulate this iconic, humble and humane leader on his 62nd birthday. Dear boss, I wish you many happy returns of the day in continuous sound health in the service of the University and humanity in general.

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