This is a broad outline of the corporate strategic plan of Igbinedion University Okada, Nigeria's first and leading private university, for the period 2007-2017. The plan highlights the university's mission, vision, objectives and areas of strategic focus in the period as well as modalities for actualizing them.
In the first seven years (1999-2006), IUO's focus was on building physical and academic infrastructure and capacities. A large part of this was devoted to developing and strengthening the academic programmes
offered in the various colleges to meet international standards and preparing them for accreditation by the National Universities Commission (NUC), the federal agency that has responsibility for quality assurance and maintenance of standards,
and the relevant national regulatory professional bodies. The latter bodies include the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, MDCN (Medicine), Council of Legal Education (Law), Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria, COREN (Engineering),
Computer Professional Council of Nigeria (Computer Science), and Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, ICAN (Accounting). The accreditation of all the programmes including medicine, law, engineering and accounting by these bodies confirms the success
of these efforts and the high quality of academic offerings. The university is particularly proud of the accreditation of its medical school by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, making it the first private university in Nigeria to be accredited
to produce medical doctors. The accreditation came in a record time of seven years, which compared to the far longer periods it took medical programmes in government-owned institutions to get accredited (up to 15-25 years in some cases), is an unparalleled feat.
This is more so that the first medical doctors to be graduated in 2007 would be the very first to be produced by a private university in the whole of Africa. IUO has produced four sets of graduates in various disciplines, with the first set of Engineering graduates to be produced in 2007.
The period also saw the growing of academic and administrative staff capacities, which included efforts to attract, retain and develop high caliber staff from different parts of the world. To cater for the staff development needs of junior and intermediate staff whose
positions demand committed training, the university introduced postgraduate programmes in some departments with the requisite facilities and experienced senior academics. The first crop of postgraduate students in Accounting passed out in 2005. From 2004, the university also embarked on
massive development of its ICT infrastructure. A major vehicle for this was the strategic technical partnership forged with Socketworks, a private ICT service provider. One of the concrete benefits of this partnership was the establishment of IUO Digitech, a limited liability company jointly
owned by IUO and Socketworks. The company has set up digital centres in various parts of the university and provides affordable internet access to staff and students as well as the Okada community at large. The university also installed a state-of-the-art telemedicine and teleconferencing
facility with technical support by Howard University.
IUO expanded tremendously in other areas in accordance with its approved academic brief and strategic plan. With a teaching staff of 400 and non-teaching/support staff of 200, the student population rose from 111 in 1999 to 5200 in 2006. As is usually the case with young and growing universities,
the university's staff was â€˜bottom heavy', a situation that posed serious challenges for staff development, which unfortunately, the university's resources could not adequately deal with. Hostel facilities, delivery of municipal services, laboratories, library facilities, lecture rooms, teaching
aids and technologies, and research capacities were continuously expanded and upgraded. In the area of research and publications, the university maintained a commendable profile. In addition to several publications in books and reputable international journals, which the university encouraged by
instituting monetary rewards for publications in approved journals, academic staff of the university engaged in individual and team researches the Colleges of Law, Business and Management Studies, and Arts and Social Sciences established high quality academic journals Perhaps the most remarkable
aspect of these developments was not only that they were in accordance with the university's strategic master plan at inception, but that they occurred within a stable and peaceful framework. Given the frequent interruptions to academic calendars and prolonged closures that have characterized the
higher education sector in Nigeria over the last two decades, the uninterrupted calendars recorded by the private universities in general have justified their introduction and become a reference point for higher education sector reforms in the country.
Quite early in its life, and in line with its vision of being an internationally competitive university, IUO identified external linkages and networking with (older and mentoring-capable) universities and development partners as strategic to the realization of its goals. By March 2007,
the university had established linkages with the University of Westminster (UK) in the areas of staff development, diplomatic studies and ICT and Howard University, USA (telemedicine and teleconferencing), and was finalizing an exchange programme with East Carolina University (USA)
in the area of global development. The university was admitted into full membership of the Global University Network for Innovation, GUNI, based in Barcelona, Spain, the European Association for International Education, EAIE, and the Network Towards Unity for Health (Maastricht, the Netherlands)
amongst other external affiliations. It was also part of the Consortium of Development Partnerships, CDP, a conglomerate of universities, research institutions, governments and development partners in North America, Europe and West Africa. IUO's Centre for Presidential Studies coordinated
and continues to coordinate Module 8 of the CDP's project on Local Contexts of Conflict and Peace-building in West Africa that involves researchers from Ghana, Mali, Cote d'Ivoire, Senegal, the Netherlands and Nigeria.
All this was in addition to the strong international affiliations and networks of individual professors and other academics in the university. Some senior academics in Medicine are WHO consultants, while the Vice Chancellor is a leading African political scientist who serves on the
committees of several research networks. To further increase its international profile and strengthen capacity for external affiliations and support, IUO employs the institution of honorary graduates and in January 2007, IUO introduced a scheme for the appointment of outstanding academics
and technocrats to Distinguished Chairs. Some of the honorary graduates of the university include Dr Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, former Nigerian Head of State, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Vice President of Nigeria, King Goodwill Zweletini of Zululand
and Dr John Kennedy, an international oil and gas expert. The first appointment under the Distinguished Chair scheme was that of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Vice President of the World Bank and former Nigerian Minister of Finance and Foreign Affairs, as Distinguished Professor of Economics.
In the period under review, the major source of funding was the Proprietor/Board of Regents, which accounted for approximately 80 per cent of total funding. Receipts from school fees formed a substantial part of this source. Internally generated funds from such sources as IUO Digitech,
a jointly-owned limited liability company, ground rents of university premises, and agricultural ventures, accounted for the remainder 20 per cent. Given the focus on infrastructural development and capacity building, the bulk of the proprietor's funds (up to 70 per cent) went into capital expenditure,
while only 30 per cent went into recurrent expenditure. Although the ratio of capital-recurrent expenditure is commendable in a country like Nigeria where public good spending is generally skewed in favour of recurrent expenditure, dependence on internal funding greatly limited the expansion
and development efforts especially in capital intensive areas like ICT, laboratory facilities, library and delivery of municipal services. With the exception of a research grant by the USAID for a project on HIV/AIDS control ($18,000) and donations by local benefactors and philanthropists, external funding
was virtually non-existent. A major reason for this situation is the wrong and misleading perception common to policy makers and international donors and development partners that private universities being private are not deserving of support. But IUO is a not-for-profit institution that
complements government's (limited) efforts at providing quality public good in the higher education sector. Hopefully, the perception will become more supportive and favourable in the period of the new strategic plan, now that IUO and other private universities have started turning out
high quality graduates in Medicine, Law, Engineering, Accounting and other strategic disciplines.
The period 1999-2006 was essentially one of infrastructural and capacity building and development of physical and academic facilities. Although set targets were generally met and outstanding achievements recorded in some areas, funding was severely limited and greatly constrained overall performance.
The strategic plan for 2007-2017 is premised on the expansion, completion and consolidation of the developmental initiatives of the earlier period while taking cognizance of the lessons learnt; initiation and pursuit of new programmes and proactive interventions that would improve funding and enhance
quality assurance; and the transformation of IUO into a truly competitive and global centre of excellence.
The University has been working in collaboration with