Ilorin is the capital and largest city of Kwara State, in west central Nigeria. It is about a one hour plane flight from Lagos (Nigeria’s and Africa’s largest city) and a one hour plane flight from Abuja, the federal capital.
The University of Ilorin was founded in 1976, and is a federal university, funded directly by the government in Abuja. The current Vice Chancellor is Professor Is-haq Oloyede.
There has been a Mathematics department at Ilorin from the very beginning. See the picture top right for the main maths building. At various points separate departments of Statistics and Computer Science have been formed from the Mathematics faculty. The current faculty of the department number some five Professors, four Senior Lecturers and eight Lecturers, with a mixture of Pure and Applied research areas.
My first visit was for two weeks at the beginning of October 2009. This was just before the start of the Autumn term at York, and at the beginning of the Ilorin term. The main formal activity was a series of six lectures called Symmetry and Partial Symmetry, and the audience numbered roughly 30-40 people: mainly final year undergraduates, Masters and Doctoral students and staff. At the end of the final lecture the Vice Chancellor and Dean of Science made a surprise appearance, and both spoke briefly.
More importantly I met with all the final year undergraduates, Masters and Doctoral students (in small groups) and individually interviewed all the lecturing staff. I also met with the heads of the Statistics and Computer Science departments and the senior staff of the university: the Vice-Chancellor, Pro-Vice Chancellors and Registrar. Around Ilorin I also met with Professor Abdulrasheed Na`Allah, the Vice-Chancellor of the newly founded Kwara State University, and the Head of the Mathematics department of the local Teachers College.
A non-mathematical highlight was meeting High Chief Simeon Kayode Olayemi Olayioye, otherwise known as Professor Adeniran's nephew (see picture second from top at right).
Out of all of this arose almost universal agreement on the obstacles facing mathematics research in Ilorin:
• Lack of research materials: books, journals, etc.
• Isolation from mainstream modern mathematics.
• Heavy teaching loads involving a large amount of time spent with students.
Efforts are now focused on helping with the first two, and providing temporary relief from the third.
One initiative is to organise short research visits to the UK by "younger" members of the department, in particular those pictured at right. Each visitor will spend a few days with a number of hosts with whom they have common research interests. They will discuss problems in their area and give a research seminar.
The first of these visits took place in September 2010. Dr Kamilu Rauf visited Dr Joel Fienstein at the University of Nottingham and Dr Simon Eveson at the University of York. Their common interest is in Functional Analysis and Dr Rauf gave seminars in both places. The visit was funded partly by LMS scheme 5 and partly by MARM.
The next visitor was Dr Kunle Babalola in October-November 2010. He visited Dr Tom Caroll (Cork) and Dr Zaq Coelho (York).Their common interests are in Analysis and Dynamics and again, funding came via LMS scheme 5 and MARM. Dr Babalola gave seminars at both Cork and York.
Dr Fadipe-Joeseph spent three months as a research fellow at the African Institute of Mathematics in Capetown, South Africa, in the early part of 2010. While there she collaborated with Professor Alan Beardon (Cambridge). In particular he introduced her to his work on the interplay between Diophantine approximation and hyperbolic geometry.
Department of Mathematics, University of York, Heslington, York, UK. YO10 5DD