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Why Entrepreneurship Training Is Compulsory At KWASU – VC


Kwara
State University (KWASU), Malete is one institution that prioritises
entrepreneurship training for its students in a determined effort to
make them wealth creators upon graduation. In this interview with
ABDULLAHI OLESIN, the vice chancellor, Prof AbduRasheed Na’Allah throws
more light on this and the achievements of the young university so far.

You’re running a second term of another 5 years, how has it been so far?
A
very good question. First, let me welcome you to Kwara State University
and for your interest in this university and for paying attention to
what is going on so much so that you know that I am running a second
term. The truth is that the first term was entirely a laudable starting
and entirely about recruiting, about developing, all these are really
parts of starting something. And we thank God that the first five years
we were able to graduate two sets of students which shows that what we
built, especially in the various academic departments, some of the
vision we put in place, some of the goals that we set, we were able to
realise them at the end of the term.

When
you look at what we were able to achieve, you would see that part of
the achievements is that people throughout Nigeria began to understand
that there is a new university that is about entrepreneurship, about
community development which was also serious in terms of her commitment
to research. It was a kind of humble achievements and all the same, we
thank God Almighty. It was an achievement that our community in Kwara
State clearly recognised and the government recognised.
Therefore,
they asked me to stay on for another second term. It was not an easy
task realising that the first five- years itself was quite a lot on its
own and to take another five years again.
But I must also say that
the first five years was also based on the kind of financial support
which enabled us to do some of the things that we did. As you know our
economy in Nigeria then was very buoyant, money was coming into KWASU on
70:30 ratio.
That is 70 from the state and 30 from the local
governments and KWASU is also getting support from TETFund and we had
the opportunity to collaborate with several of these organisations. For
example, by 2010, KWASU already had a UNESCO share, it was a
collaboration with UNESCO in energy. That is why KWASU has researched
intensively in energy. As you know, If you ask Nigerians what was our
number one problem, they will tell you it is irregular power supply. So
KWASU on its own sought to resolve that.
So throughout the first
five years we had scholars, students who continued to do research on
this. We established a company called Rana Power. Rana Power is an
energy company that is developing solar power that will serve as an
alternative source of solving the energy problem in Nigeria.
So
the initial first five years, we were able to get investors from China
to establish an independent company in Nigeria and already, we have
appointed a CEO, he is a Chinese- American and he has resumed duty.
So
we also ended that first five years establishing a film village which
is also in response to the Nollywood development in Nigeria and in 2009
when we started it was the third largest, by 2011 it was the second
largest in the world and KWASU thought it wise to respond to this. We
recruited Joke Silva as the MD and we also swung into action, we
identified the former Tate and Lyle, Ilorin as the site for the campus
which government also gave us. So the first five years were all of these
and more.
The second term?
The second five years is a term
which we seek to consolidate on the achievements of first five years as a
university that is research industry, as a university that is
aggressive in identifying Nigeria’s problems and solving them, bringing
cutting edge research in solving these problems, as a university where
students and scholars are working together  to bring out new
innovations, new products, new equipment, new ideas, all of them
directed at solving problems of Nigeria and problems of humanity.
Apparently,
this started very well and we will continue to do well. In KWASU we
have developed a strategy that we will never look back. If you ask me
what is the major problem we have had, I will say the major problem is
the crash in Nigeria’s economy which found KWASU that is going
aggressively in addressing all these in the middle of the crisis. If you
ask me also I will tell you may be there is probably no any other
institution that has felt this hardship greater than KWASU, is at the
heart of what we are doing and probably we are the first and greater
university that survived it.
It’s like a child that is on its own
that needs a lot of protein, we need a lot of resources to grow and
suddenly, the economic crisis just came just when we are six years, you
can imagine, it’s like a major crisis that will disorganise us and keep
us in disarray. We thank God Almighty. Unknown to us, our goal was not
to depend 100 percent on government, our goal all along was to develop a
university that will continue to find resources all over the world to
sustain itself in addition to what government and the public is able to
give to them.
We have always known that at the end of the day, the
kind of resources that we need government cannot provide all but
whatever government is giving, let it be regular, whether it is 30
percent of our budget, let them continue doing it and let it be regular,
let it be constant while the university goes all over the world to
mobilise resources for itself. So that philosophy from the beginning is
what really helped us. So the major problem I will say of my second term
is funding in which the state government practically for close to a
year now has not been able to give us funds. The story has always been
Mr Vice Chancellor, this is what we have been getting, this is what we
got now, less than half of what they have been getting.
So how are you surviving?
Thank
you, we just went back into the structures we have put in place. As a
university we have different entrepreneurship centres that are doing
some work, we went back to these centres. The initial investments we
have made, we are doing them at growing levels, some of these centres
are offering programmes that are serving our communities, they were
self-sufficient and the university was able to get something from them,
now we just capitalise on all of these.
Initially we were thinking
of strengthening these centres to generate more revenues than what we
are generating. So what government stopped giving us, we began to get it
from these centres; so we collapsed virtually all the funds that we
have to the centres, so we were able to pay salaries and some overhead
costs.
But we’re also working obviously with some banks because
you will remember that as we were doing this, the issue of TSA came so
we had to resort to banks, we now began to work with them and the banks
are also working with us but I am happy to tell you that as at today,
KWASU is not owing any single kobo to any academic staff, we pay
regularly.
We have developed our budget for the next year, though
it has not been approved, it was a budget developed by KWASU staff, and
our strategy also is to align our staff with whatever we are doing for
this university, we have think tank, we have different groups, they
always come together to say where are we going, what do we need to do?
So it is the KWASU staff that are making it possible for us to survive,
that is where we are, that is how we are able to survive it and we will
continue to survive it. This budget year ends in September, the council
will meet to approve the budget but the bulk of the funds to finance the
budget will come from what we generate.
And do you know what this
crisis has done to us? It has assured us that by the time Nigeria
survives this crisis KWASU will be supper strong because then the state
will not stop some of the things it’s doing and KWASU would have
developed wider areas.
Do you really need subvention still from government?
We
will forever, it is important because this is a public university, we
need money for so many things, research itself requires lot of money and
KWASU is eager. There is no way a university will not need a lot of
resources to carry out activities because there are multi-disciplinary
areas. We have undergraduate research as one of our strength in KWASU.
In fact, we have an under- graduate research centre in KWASU, this
centre allows our undergraduates to compete for money, research grants,
they write excellent proposals, the university looks at these proposals
and decide on who to give grants and several of them have been given
grants; this contributes to development. So if we give N2 million this
year, it could be N5 million next year. So you can see the need for
money will continue as long as we have ambition to develop and to help
Africa and humanity. It’s a public university and not about profit
making. So we will continue to need money.

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