Prof Abdul Ganiyu Ambali: Renowned Veterinary Surgeon & 9th VC Unilorin

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Prof Abdul Ganiyu Ambali is a renowned Nigerian academic, astute administrator and distinguished Abusite who is a former vice-chancellor of the University of Ilorin. He is also a former chairman of the Association of West African Universities (AWAU), and a recipient of one of Nigeria’s highest honours, CON

Prof Abdul Ganiyu Ambali was born in Ilorin, Kwara state in 1957 to the family of Mal. Ambali Gidado and Mrs. Husseina Angulu. After his primary education at Pakata Primary School, Ilorin, he proceeded to McBride Secondary School Jalingo, (now Government Secondary School, Jalingo) in Taraba State.

Prof Abdul Ganiyu Ambali
Prof Abdul Ganiyu Ambali

Thereafter, he proceeds to the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria and the University of Liverpool, the UK for his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees respectively. He was awarded the degree of DVM (1981), from ABU, and M.V.Sc, and Ph.D., (1984, and 1989) from the University of Liverpool, UK. He became a Member of the College of Veterinary Surgeons of Nigeria, (MCVSN) in the year 2004.

Prof AbdulGaniyu Ambali’s career

Prof Abdul Ganiyu Ambali started his carrier as a Veterinary Surgeon, with the Ministry of Rural & Community Development, Kano, Nigeria in 1981 as a Youth Corper. He later joined the services of the University of Maiduguri as an Assistant Lecturer in 1982, rose through the ranks and became Professor of Veterinary Medicine in 1995.

He has supervised and graduated many postgraduate students at both Masters and PhD levels many of who are now professors and prominent scholars. He has published more than a hundred articles in local, national and international peer-reviewed journals.

In terms of administrative responsibilities, Prof Abdul Ganiyu Ambali has held a number of academic and administrative positions within and outside the ivory tower. Notable among which are; Head, Dept. of Vet. Medicine Univ. of Maiduguri, (for 5years), Director, Veterinary Teaching Hospital, University of Maiduguri, (for 5years), Ag. Dean and later substantive Dean, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Maiduguri.

He was also a member and/or chairman of various Council and Faculty committees and the Foundation Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Ilorin, Nigeria. In addition to these, he was a one-time member of the University of Maiduguri Governing Council, representing the Senate for 2 terms.

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These responsibilities afforded him the opportunity to serve in various committees including among others, Finance and general purpose committees, Staff recruitment, and promotion committee. He was also one time a member of the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) of the University of Maiduguri.

Prof. Ambali has served the Federal establishments in various capacities, as either member or chairman of visitation panels and/or accreditation teams to monitor academic standards in his discipline at various Universities/Agencies across the country.

These are through the National Universities Commission (NUC), Veterinary Council of Nigeria (VCN) and Department of Livestock Services of the federal Livestock Department, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Nigeria to mention but a few.

As a mark of recognition of his academic excellence, Prof. Ambali has served as an external examiner to several Universities in Nigeria at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. He was also the Coordinator of Bird Flu Surveillance for North East Zone.

Prof Abdul Ganiyu Ambali is a recipient of several Honors and Awards among which are; The Borno State Government Scholarship, tenable at ABU, Zaria, Nigeria; University of Maiduguri Staff Development Scholarship, tenable at University of Liverpool, UK; National Merit Award, Federal Min. of Education, Lagos, Nigeria.

Others include the World Bank Training Fellowship, tenable at Royal Veterinary College, University of London, UK; and Wellcome Trust Fellowship, tenable also at the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, UK.

Prof. Ambali has being acknowledged by a number of associations/communities he has had contact with among which are The McBride Old Students Association, for being the First Professor from the college, Ilorin Descendant Progressive Union, Northern Zone Branch for his services to the community, the Ilorin Emirate Student Union, University of Maiduguri, Branch, and Kwara State Students Union, University of Maiduguri Branch for his contribution to the unions.

He was a Member, University of Maiduguri Governing council; Member University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital Management Board; Member, College of Veterinary Surgeons of Nigeria; Member, Nig. Vet. Med. Ass. Nigeria; Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Sahel Jour. Vet. Sci.; and Member of Editorial Board of Nig. Jour. Exptl. & Appld. Biol,. Consultant Editor, Vom Jour. Vet. Sci. and Member World Poultry Science Association. Member of various committees at Faculty, Senate and University Governing Council levels.

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His research interests include an investigation into the pathogenesis of viral diseases and the development of viral vaccines against poultry diseases; the use of genetic engineering technology for disease diagnosis and control (DNA vaccine development).

Achievements of Prof Abdul Ganiyu Ambalias VC UNILORIN [2012 – 2017]

Prof Abdul Ganiyu Ambali was the Vice-Chancellor University of Ilorin from 2012 – 2017. As the vice-chancellor of the University of Ilorin, on assumption of office, he declared that his target for the university is for it to be the number one varsity in Africa.

Through his giant strides in the five-year period, Professor Ambali stamped his feet solidly in the sands of time and wrote his name boldly in gold in the annals of the University of Ilorin, thus ensuring that the history of the University would be incomplete without a copious reference to the glorious “Ambali Years”. Here is a brief rundown:

Professor AbdulGaniyu Ambali’s assumption of office on October 16, 2012, brought with it an admixture of great expectations and arrant cynicism, depending on whether one is his admirer or detractor.

To his genuine admirers and well-wishers, especially those who had followed his career history even from his student days at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, he would have no problem discharging himself creditably at the end of his tenure.

On the other hand, the detractors, quite a handful of them of course, we’re not interested in the impressive credentials of unmistakable professional attainments and service trajectory the Professor of Veterinary Medicine parades.

However, while Professor Ambali was able to make the former group proud, he pleasantly disappointed the pessimists in the latter group, most of whom have since seen the folly in their cynicism.

While his tenure lasted, Professor Ambali not only sustained the legacy of excellence bequeathed to him by his predecessors, he also greatly improved on it, bringing on new innovations that have invariably ingrained the University’s name in the minds of many Nigerians and indeed foreigners who desire quality and uninterrupted education.

Professor Ambali is a perfect example of a silent achiever, a fair but firm leader, a veritable team player and a visionary team leader, a man with the proverbial Midas touch, who has greatly turned the fortunes of the University around.

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His five-year tenure was very eventful as several landmark achievements were recorded in all spheres of the University’s core mandates of teaching, research and community service.

  • Staff Welfare/ Development

It is often said that a university is as good as the quality of its staff (teaching and non-teaching) and students. It is, therefore, not out of place to expect any helmsman to make the well being of these two most important stakeholders in the university community his top priority.

Indeed, any forward-looking administration must ensure that workers are properly motivated and made reasonably comfortable if it wants them to perform optimally. And as such, Professor Ambali ensured that lecturers’ capacity to teach the students well was greatly enhanced while security challenges on the campus were frontally tackled.

Not only was staff salary never delayed, but those who were due for promotion annually also were never denied this privilege. In this regard, no fewer than 2, 376 staff members, academic and non-academic, junior and senior, were promoted during the five-year tenure of this humane administrator. A breakdown of this number shows that 271 were promoted in 2012; 430 in 2013; 482 in 2014; 518 in 2015; and 675 in 2016.

Also, no fewer than 2,698 staff members, academic and non-academic, junior and senior, benefited from the various staff development training between 2012 and 2017.

  • Students’ Welfare

The Ambali Administration consistently pursued matters relating to students’ welfare with the vigor they deserve. As a matter of deliberate policy, the Administration worked very hard to ensure that the students, who the Vice-Chancellor often describes as the raison d’être of the University, receive the best education in the most conducive environment.

To make sure that students are academically sound and morally upright, the Ambali Administration sustained the policy of zero tolerance for cultism and other anti-social behavior.

The administration also substantially reduced the accommodation problems facing the students through the innovative initiative of bringing in reputable private developers to provide hostel facilities on a massive scale on campus. 

This strategy worked tremendously as it has led to massive hostel development. When he took over in 2012, a little above 3,000 students had on-campus accommodation but as of 2016/2017 session, about 8,000 students had been accommodated on campus.

Professor Ambali’s Midas impact was also felt in the area of transportation, where a realistic partnership was struck with commercial transport service providers to reduce the transportation challenges facing the students.

In its avowed bid to distinguish Unilorin students from most of their peers in the country, the Prof Abdul Ganiyu Ambali administration initiated the one-student-one-Ipad project. From the 2013/2014 academic session, every 100 Level student got an I-Pad each.

On May 15, 2014, the University authority distributed the first set of I-Pads to the students at a grand ceremony presided over by the former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

This I-Pad initiative, according to Professor Ambali, was aimed at boosting the University’s ICT drive and enhance e-communication between the students and their lecturers, as the PC tablet would be a virtual classroom with all the curriculum and courseware pre-uploaded on it.

  • Teaching and Research

A major hallmark of the Prof Abdul Ganiyu Ambali-led Administration was its unrelenting pursuit of excellence in teaching and research.

In one of his first major interviews with newsmen at the inception of his administration, the Vice-Chancellor underscored his passion about ensuring “efficient use of the facilities that we have, to promote and improve the teaching and learning environment”, adding that this would “make it possible for everyone to put in his/her best in whatever he/she is doing to take this University to greater heights.”

He then pledged to improve the University’s teaching and research capabilities “by ensuring adequate training for staff such that in the next five years the University would become a greater participant in solving global problems.”

Towards this end, he sustained the tradition of heavy investment in human capital development through the massive sponsorship of deserving academic staff members to learned conferences within and outside the country. More staff members were sponsored or encouraged and supported to acquire higher degrees between 2012 and 2017.

While this was going on, the administration never lost sight of the need to create a conducive environment for the well trained staff members to ply their primary trade of teaching and research. As a result, it embarked on a massive rehabilitation of staff offices.

Added to this is the judicious use of the various research grants by the University researchers, under the efficient supervision of the Vice-Chancellor. This resulted in various research breakthroughs, among which are the discovery of a new anti-malaria compounds by a Professor of Inorganic Chemistry, Joshua Ayoola Obaleye, the invention of speed limiter device and the development of a prototype device that is capable of forestalling power theft by dubious electricity consumers.

  • Unprecedented expansion of academic programmes

In his sustained quest for excellence and to liberalize career choice for admission seekers, Prof Abdul Ganiyu Ambali, with the approval of the University Senate, introduced new academic programs with the establishment of three new Faculties and the unbundling of some ‘unwieldy’ Departments.

A brand new Faculty of Environmental Sciences, with the full complement of Departments (Architecture, Estate Management, Quantity Surveying, Surveying and Geoinformatics, as well as Urban and Regional Planning), was established. Two other Faculties, Life Sciences and Management Sciences, were excised from the old Faculties of Sciences and Business and Social Sciences respectively.

Also, some Departments in the Faculty of Education were unbundled to widen their academic programmes. In this regard, the Department of Arts and Social Sciences Education was split into the Department of Arts Education and the Department of Social Sciences Education. The Department of Science Education has also been split into the Department of Science Education and the Department of Educational Technology.

In the same vein, the Department of Human Kinetics and Health Education was split into the Department of Human Kinetic Education and the Department of Health Promotion and Environmental Health Education while the former Department of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Microbiology was split into the Department of Pharmaceutics and Industrial Pharmacy and the Department of Pharmaceutical Microbiology and Biotechnology.

Also, the following new programmes were established: Business Education, Social Studies Education, Adult Education, Computer Science Education, and Technology Education, in the Faculty of Education; Marketing, Social Works, Psychology, Industrial Relations and Personnel Management, Public Administration.

Criminology and Security Studies, in the Faculty of Management Sciences; Aquaculture and Fisheries, as well as Optometry and Vision Science, in the Faculty of Life Sciences; Applied Geophysics in the Faculty of  Physical Science; as well as Computer Engineering and Water Resources Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering and Technology.

  • Library digitization and automation

In keeping with the emerging status of the University as a world-class institution, Prof Abdul Ganiyu Ambali made the digitization and automation of the University Library one of his cardinal priorities.

The current trend in library practice the world over is ICT, and as such the Ambali administration embarked on massive procurement of computers to help in automating the services of the University Library, ensuring that the cataloguing facilities are online, and improving the electronic library services.

Most of the current book stocks in the Library were converted to soft copies to ensure easy accessibility and safety of the documents. With the installation of the Integrated Management System, materials in the Unilorin library can now be accessed more easily by students and researchers from any part of the world.                                    

Other landmark achievements of this enigma include the completion of the 6.5 kilometre College of Health Sciences Link Road; the completion of the University Ring Road; the completion of the Bank Road; the initiation and completion of the new Abuja Liaison Office/Guest House complex, e.t.c.

Honours and awards

Prof Abdul Ganiyu Ambali is a recipient of several awards some of which includes

  • Distinguished Veterinarian Award, 2013, by the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA)
  • Fellow of Science Association of Nigeria (SAN)
  • Fellow of the Institute of Corporate Administration of Nigeria
  • Fellow of the Solar Energy Society of Nigeria
  • National Merit Award of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) by the Federal Government of Nigeria. 

Personal life

Prof Abdul Ganiyu Ambali is married with children, and his hobbies are playing football, watching wildlife films and listening to music

Credit to Kunle Akogun, of Corporate Affairs, Unilorin 


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Chila Andrew Aondofa

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