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Encomiums as ASUU Celebrates OOU Ex-VC Olatunde

Torrents of tributes came the way of the immediate past Vice-Chancellor, Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye, Professor Ganiyu Olatunji Olatunde, as members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) converged on the Main Campus of the University on Thursday, 20th October, 2022 to celebrate him in a grand style.

The first-of-its-kind event, which took place at the newly built Secretariat of the ASUU-OOU Branch, was organised in honour of Prof. Olatunde, who recently completed his five-year tenure as Vice-Chancellor of the University. The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ayodeji Agboola, was the Chief Host at the ceremony.

Spiced with beautiful speeches, solidarity songs and spectacular performances, the historic programme also featured the public presentation of a book written in honour of the former University administrator.

Performing the unveiling of the book, the ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, who was also the Chief Launcher at the event, described Prof. Olatunde as a humble personality who managed the University with great dedication, rare commitment and enviable prudence.

Osodeke, who stated that ASUU rarely celebrates University administrators, however, disclosed that Prof. Olatunde was the third Vice-Chancellor to be publicly celebrated in Nigeria as a result of exemplary leadership and outstanding performance.

According to him, Olatunde excelled in office because he acted and related as a non-chief executive officer unlike many other Vice-Chancellors in the country. He saluted the former Vice-Chancellor for the regular payment of salaries and allowances, noting that OOU ranked among the few Universities that paid their staff during the 2020 and 2022 industrial actions. “Out of the state Universities, the only one that we have peace today and everybody is proud of is OOU. It is a thing of pride that we have a Vice-Chancellor who our branch believes we should honour. We pray God to continue to bless you,” Osodeke said.

The ASUU President also used the occasion to admonish Olatunde’s successor to carry everyone along toward

A cross section of guests at the ASUU commemorative programme

attaining success in the University.

Speaking at the event, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of OOU Governing Council, Prof. Toyin Ashiru, eulogised the immediate past Vice-Chancellor, saying he would be greatly missed in the University. He remarked that Prof. Olatunde impacted him positively within the short time they worked together.

Prof. Ashiru said, “Within the time I met him, it was love at first sight. There was hardly any day we don’t talk on the phone, there was hardly any day we don’t come up with something very great about the vision of this University. He is a selfless person. I looked at his vision and it matches my own vision.

“I’ve seen people leave the workplace and they get stoned. It’s rare to see people leaving workplaces and people bid them goodbye. But you are leaving and you are being celebrated. That says a lot about you. A lot of people get to somewhere and they see darkness in a tunnel and turn back.  But you came into the tunnel and showed light and created a clean pathway. I congratulate you that you spent five years without rancour.”

The Pro-Chancellor praised the former Vice-Chancellor for completing many abandoned projects in the University, saying:”I do appreciate what you’ve done in this University. You got in here and found a lot of abandoned projects and completed them. That is a plus for you.”

“A lot of leaders, in trying to get recognition, will start their own afresh. Under your watch, the Senate building construction was finished. Under your watch, the ICT Centre was built. Several other projects were delivered. We thank you for your efforts,” he added.

Similarly, the new Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ayodeji Agboola, extolled the virtues of his predecessor and wished him success in his future endeavours.

Also, the Pro-Chancellor, Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED), Ijagun and former Vice-Chancellor, the University of Lagos, Prof. Rahmon Bello, noted that Prof. Olatunde must have hit the right chords in administering OOU to have deserved the treat from ASUU.

“I congratulate ASUU (OOU Chapter) for this unique stance of organising a send-forth activity for a Vice-Chancellor. It is not normal. This depicts that a healthy relationship had existed in the administration of Professor Ganiyu Olatunde. This is a very good development that is recommended for other institutions to adopt to enable smooth performance in their institutions,” Bello, who was the Guest Lecturer at the event, said.

In his lecture entitled, “The role of Vice-Chancellors in the Evolution and Sustenance of a Viable University System,” Bello pointed out that the University is not immune or walled off the society it is operating in.

The Guest Lecturer said, “There could be positive or negative influences of the society on the University and, hence, on the Vice-Chancellor. The negative societal influences in the Nigerian context stems on corruptive tendencies. This includes financial corruption by officials and staff, pressure for positions by staff and pressure for contracts, admission, favours, etc.”

“Therefore, the Vice-Chancellor must endeavour to play by the rules and establish credible systems for all transactions as this cankerworm can consume the system if not paid adequate attention.”

According to him, Vice-Chancellors are crucial in the governance structure of the University system and they must be non-partisan, astute, firm but humane, incorruptible and goal-oriented. Prof. Bello noted that due to the peculiar situation of Nigeria, Vice-Chancellors are usually confronted with certain challenges which ultimately affect the delivery of the core mandates of teaching, research and service in the Universities.

He said, “What makes the Vice-Chancellor’s jobs quite hectic and unpredictable in the Nigerian University system is not the roles of managing the delivery of the core mandates but the ancillary requirements for getting these done, particularly, for public Universities.

“The provision of public utilities, which would have been taken for granted in other climes, are what usually give Vice-Chancellors the greatest headaches in Nigerian public Universities. Issues involving assured and stable electricity supply, water, internet services, security and transportation, in the cities especially, could sometimes take prominence in executing their roles. This is without mentioning the provision of adequate infrastructure commensurate for getting the core mandates effectively done.”

While contending that most of the challenges faced by the Universities, particularly public ones, are funding-related, Prof. Bello called for a sustainable funding mechanism for Universities to enable them to access due funds without political influence.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Chairman, ASUU-OOU Branch, Dr Joel Okewale, explained that Prof. Olatunde was honoured for his exemplary leadership style in administering the University. He added that the Union also used the event to challenge other Vice-Chancellors to emulate the administrative style of Prof. Olatunde in conducting the affairs of their various institutions. Okewale said, “To us, Professor Ganiyu Olatunde, in his five and a half years as the head of this University, demonstrated the spirit of comradeship as espoused in the principles of our Union in his conduct and relationship with members of the University Community in general and ASUU in particular.”

“His actions as Vice-Chancellor justified his previous assignments as the Chairperson of an ASUU branch and as a former Zonal Coordinator of our Union. As a matter of fact, he refused to be sucked in by the temptations of office as was the case with other comrades who had held similar positions and were later privileged to be appointed as Vice-Chancellors.”

The ASUU leader explained that one unique feature of Prof. Olatunde’s administration was his willingness to engage people, no matter who they are, in fruitful discussions on issues that would bring development to OOU.

At the programme, the book written in honour of the former Vice-Chancellor was reviewed by the Dean, Faculty of Arts, Prof. Samson Dare and subsequently launched. Also, award and gifts were presented to the honoree who, in turn, expressed gratitude to the organisers for showing him great love.

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