By Mubarak Oladosu
Professor Sulyman Age AbdulKareem is a Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Ilorin, where he has taught, researched and mentored young scholars and students for over two decades since he returned to Nigeria, his country of birth, at the end of his education and training in the United States of America and Saudi Arabia between 1975 and 1996.
Professor AbdulKareem had his Secondary School Education at Government Secondary School, Ilorin, Kwara State after which he left the shores of Nigeria and set out on his career path by pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering which he obtained at the University of Detroit in 1980. He underwent his postgraduate studies which culminated in a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Louisville in 1988. At Louisville, he specialised in Heterogeneous Catalysis and Reaction Engineering.
The Vice-Chancellor started his career as a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the University of Detroit in 1979 where he was in charge of setting up the Chemical Engineering Laboratory and supervising laboratory activities, among other responsibilities. In the course of his career, he was an Industrial Engineer at the Nigerian Steel Development Company, Ajaokuta, where he designed a filtration system for plant feed water supply, among other responsibilities. He was also a Senior Development Engineer responsible for Hydrophyllic Web Formulation at the 3M Company at Minnesota, USA. Similarly, he was a Research Engineer/Assistant Professor at the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Saudi Arabia where he engaged in a variety of classroom and laboratory activities including catalytic liquefaction.
Since Professor Abdulkareem’s return to Nigeria in 1994, his research activities have been inspired, driven and guided by his philosophy of creating technologies that would engender sustainable development in Africa. To this end, his research focus has largely revolved around Polymer Engineering and Industrial Chemical Process and Technology. This has resulted into him converting filth into fortune and he stands tall among his intellectual peers with five patents to his credit which was earned by his innovations that literally creates wealth in form of fuel and spilled oil absorbers and other products, from discarded wastes such as plastic bottles and water sachets which litter the streets and drains of the most populated African nation, Nigeria.
Apart from preventing and mitigating flood and creating products with unfathomed economic value and huge implications for poverty reduction and mitigating social inequalities within and beyond the shores of Nigeria, Abdulkreem’s oil spill clearing product being produced at various hubs in South West Nigeria is potentially a huge foreign exchange earner and it is highly strategic to the territorial integrity of the Nigerian nation. As an example, Abdulkareem’s oil spill antidote is an answer to the historic violent agitation in the Niger Delta region for a cleaner environment. This agitation has claimed the lives of many Nigerians including the life of the famous poet, writer, and activist, Ken Saro Wiwa, who was hanged along with eight other agitators for a clean Niger Delta by the General Sanni Abacha Regime on the 10th of November 1995.
In recognition of the multi-dimensional implications of the anti-oil Spill products to the Nigerian nation, and particularly its implications for the security and integrity of Nigeria’s corporate existence, the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration has shown a lot of interest in the don’s oil spill antidote as part of the government’s commitment to the evolution of a clean and secure Niger Delta region.
Professor AbdulKareem’s penchant for distinction and excellence manifested early in his life as evident in the many Scholarships and prizes which he won between 1975 – 1988 during his days of Secondary and University Education. The tittle of Abdulkareem’s inaugural lecture delivered on Thursday, May 10, 2007 summarises his philosophy as a scientist with a mission to impart on humanity and on the destiny of the Nigerian nation. He titled the Inaugural Lecture “Making Stuffs, Hot Stuffs: The Power of Mind Over Matter”.
In addition to his research and academic activities over the decades, he also rendered administrative services at the University of Ilorin such as serving as the Director of the Student Industrial Working Experience and Services (SIWES) Unit; Chairing the University’s Admissions Committee and serving as the Dean of Student Affairs Unit. He is also the pioneer Director of the University of Ilorin Laboratory to Products Centre and he headed the team that produced the famed Unilorin Drone.
Born on Thursday, the 21st day of January, 1954, in Oro, Kwara State, Abdulkareem was appointed as a Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Ilorin in 2005 and he is the immediate past Vice-Chancellor of Al-Hikmah University, Ilorin.
The widely travelled Scholar is an African who cherishes communal cooperation, traditional family values, work ethics and he is married and blessed with children.
When the subject combines the themes of technology, environmental preservation, innovation, sustainable development, entrepreneurship, community service, ethics and human values, you would be talking of Professor Sulyman Age Abdulkareem the new Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin .
It is therefore unsurprising that this elite intellectual, front-line innovator and erudite scholar emerged as the 10th Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin out of 32 of the brightest minds in Nigeria, who vied to lead the University of Ilorin, fondly referred to as the Better by Far University, for the next five years.