I wish to convey my very best wishes and sincere thanks to my dear students and staff members of the University as we conclude an eventful 2016 and shift our attention with confidence to 2017.
The past 12 months have, undoubtedly, been marked by noteworthy achievements and positive changes. We give God the glory! As we reflect on the Year 2016, we have many reasons to thank God for our accomplishments and look forward with enthusiasm and hope to achieving more in the years ahead.
In this new year, we shall continue the synergy with the Akwa Ibom State Government on changes that can enhance the growth of the University. We are all united on the premium being placed on teaching and research and remain as focused as ever on world-class teaching delivery and the expansion of the excellence and diversity of our research across disciplines. We believe that this integration of teaching and research must be maintained if students are to ultimately benefit from the constant exposure to the constantly expanding frontiers of knowledge. We have so much to look forward to in the New Year.
I look forward to the year 2017 where we would not only excel in our academic endeavours, but also in our cultural and sporting pursuits. The University, in the course of the year 2016, acquired more sporting facilities for Football, Basketball, Volley ball, Badminton and other sports. The development of pitches for several field events is presently on-going and will be completed this year. In 2016, our contingent successfully attended the West African University Games (WAUG) which was hosted by the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN). We also hosted the first-ever Students Sports Fiesta. The University, in 2017, looks forward to participating and winning medals in the National University Games Association (NUGA) and the West African University Games Competitions (WAUG) scheduled for Makurdi and Port Harcourt respectively.
In furtherance of my commitment to deepening the use of the ICT in the University, we are progressing with the transformation of the ICT infrastructure on both campuses of the University. In 2016, broadband internet access was extended to fully cover the Faculties of Education, Engineering, Natural and Applied Science, Arts, Social and Management Sciences, Agriculture, and other units of the University. Furthermore, the deployment of fiber optics cables has begun and buildings are being connected in our push towards having a robust intranet/internet connectivity.
We are also working assiduously towards deploying ICT to enhance productivity, transparency and probity in all affairs of the University. To this end, some software applications have been developed by our ICT team and are being deployed. Work is also in progress on the development of an Integrated Accounting and Human Resources Management System, among other innovations, in our bid to accelerate the growth of our young University.
It is also pertinent for me to inform the Community that some key building projects (Classrooms, Offices, ultra-modern Theater Arts Studio and state-of-the-art English Language Laboratory ) have been completed. The construction of a multi-storey Senate Building has commenced in earnest and we are determined to complete and commission this edifice in 2017.
The welfare of staff and students will continue to be our utmost priority. As you all know, many members of staff (academic, administrative and technical) have been promoted in the recent past. This has put paid to the problem of stagnation, as the backlog of promotions, regularization and confirmation of appointments inherited by my administration, have been cleared and we are currently up-to-date with respect to these issues.
Although the national and international economic outlook have remained largely uncertain and gloomy, we have tried to steer a prudent course through the effects of the prevailing recession by maintaining sound fiscal discipline. There are still headwinds to come, so our spending plans have to remain cautious and we must of necessity ensure value for funds expended on projects. We are, however, confident in our financial future.
One key area we will give unwavering attention to, is commercial agriculture. We will collaborate with the Akwa Ibom State government and cultivate the vast expanse of land owned by the University and also diversify into areas such as commercial oil palm production, fish farming, rubber, tomatoes, among others. Effective from this year, we expect the State as a whole to start feeling the impact of agricultural activities in the University.
We will continue to be proactive in meeting the demands of a growing, dynamic and changing community of staff and students, as well as other stakeholders. There are still needs to be met in the provision of classrooms, offices, laboratory spaces, equipment in our engineering workshops and also commencement of initial work at the permanent site of the University. It is heart-warming that, while we continue to judiciously expend Government Subventions and Capital Appropriation, this administration will continue to vigorously network, solicit and encourage men and women of goodwill, corporate organizations and public-spirited individuals to contribute to the development the University.
Let me at this point welcome both the returning and fresh students to the serene and student-friendly campuses of Akwa Ibom State University for the new academic session and congratulate the returning students on the successful completion of last session’s examinations.
I congratulate the fresh students on their admission into the University. You have passed through many phases in your lives and are transiting into another phase where you will be held accountable for your actions. Therefore, what you will acquire here are veritable tools that will surely help to project you to the zenith of your life. I assure you that the quality of education in Akwa Ibom State University is comparable with the best anywhere. You are warmly welcome!
Fresh students are expected to attend an orientation exercise that will soon be conducted by the University. This exercise will afford you the opportunity of formally meeting with the Vice Chancellor, Principal Officers, Deans, Directors, Heads of Department, Lecturers and other staff of the University. It is also at this gathering that you will get acquainted with University General Rules and Regulations, lecture venues, libraries and other facilities of the university.
Once again, I extend my profound gratitude to all staff and students and the entire University community for their immense contributions towards the achievements we have recorded so far. Thank you so much for your support and for making Year 2016 a memorable one. I urge you to remain steadfast in the enormous task of building a University we can proudly call our own.
Welcome to a rewarding 2017. God Bless you all.
Professor Eno J. Ibanga, fnip