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Prof. G. O. Olatunde: Footprints of a Quintessential VC

It was a renowned American author, John Maxwell, who famously stated that “a leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.” This time-tested maxim about leadership succinctly captures the success story of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, (OOU) under the leadership of Prof. Ganiyu Olatunji Olatunde.

A distinguished entomologist and seasoned administrator, Prof.  Olatunde initially assumed duties in the University in May 2017 upon his appointment as the acting Vice-Chancellor by the then Visitor to OOU and Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun. By October, 2017, the Governing Council of the University approved his appointment as the 8th substantive Vice-Chancellor for a period of five years.

By all standards, the five-year tenure of Prof. Olatunde proved to be eventful as it witnessed various activities and interventions that resulted in substantial growth and academic development of OOU.

In line with the University’s mission to provide the best educational experience for students, the Management under the leadership of Prof Olatunde restructured and reorganized the institution into a true and working citadel of learning.  As a result, the University experienced sustained and unprecedented development during his five-year tenure.

The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ganiyu Olatunji Olatunde

To ensure that OOU becomes globally relevant and competitive, the Vice-Chancellor adopted the policy of driving the University electronically from the onset. The novel achievements in this area led to significant reforms in the issuance of transcripts and certificates.

Specifically, the transcript office of the University was revamped through the setting up of the E-Transcript Request System. This enabled the graduates of the University to apply for and process their transcripts from any location in the world without having to pass through agents or physically visiting the University. Similarly, the Certificate Issuance and Tracking System was placed online to ensure that certificates issued by the University can be easily tracked and authenticated seamlessly within the shortest period of time.

Also, the hitherto challenges that students encountered during registration exercises and the problems of processing results after examination are now things of the past. This was as a result of the introduction and  Integration of the Results Processing and Management System into all the various programmes of the University. This new automated system has made registration most efficient and the process of examination results computation seamless and transparent to both lecturers and students. In effect, this shortened the turnaround time for the generation of examination results.

Another gain of the automation was the ability of the students to track their academic progress from their respective portals without having to see any lecturer. In like manner, parents are equally happy to monitor their wards’ results from their homes.

The deployment of ICT by the Prof. Olatunde’s administration also dovetailed into automation of the undergraduate and postgraduate admission processes through online screening of O’ Level results and verification of certificates. Also on record is the fact that OOU became the first State-owned University to give online lectures. This gained prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Vice-Chancellor created ICT Units in all campuses of the University and directed that all students and staff should be given open access to the internet to enhance teaching and learning. In addition to this, Microsoft Teams was deployed to power teaching and learning for students remotely, thereby, reducing the risk of students and lecturers being exposed to coronavirus.

Most importantly, for the first time in the history of the University, the 2020 PUTME was conducted online. This gave access to many candidates to participate in the examinations, especially, those that were outside the country.

In line with its policy of driving the University electronically, the administration of Prof. Olatunde made it mandatory that all the statutory meetings of the University are conducted online. The Registry now makes use of less papers while conducting its activities. Thus, the entire activities of the University are almost run virtually and paperless. Apart facilitating quick decision making processes, the resort to virtual and paperless meetings saves funds for the University and the time of personnel.

The adoption of technological self-sufficiency by the administration of Prof. Olatunde has improved the webometric ratings and accreditation status of the University. Upon his assumption of office, the University accreditation status stood at 76%. However, through purposeful leadership and great commitment to proper consolidation, more programmes were accredited for OOU by the National Universities Commission (NUC), thereby bringing the institution’s accreditation status to an impressive 97.2%.

Olatunde’s administration initiated several building projects with due cognizance given to the critical needs of the various Faculties of the University. In all, 38 infrastructural projects were initiated, with 23 of them already completed and the remaining ongoing. These projects were spread across the four campuses of the University namely Ago-Iwoye, Sagamu, Ayetoro and Ibogun.

Notable among the completed projects are the 750-seater auditorium and Faculty Building for the Faculty of Social Sciences; renovation of Faculty of Law Modern Moot Court; Modern Bakery Building; completion of a befitting Central  Administrative Building; re-roofing of the University Radio Station, renovation of 12 University buildings and Director-General’s residence of Oba S. K. Adetona Institute of Governance Studies.

Also, two blocks of classrooms at the University Primary School, three lavatory buildings, pedestrian walkways and foot bridge, lawn beautification projects, modern garage/park, link road between the University Staff Quarters and the institution’s primary and secondary schools, solar-powered street lights from  the Main Gate to the heart of campus and CCTV coverage of the University are part of the landmark projects of the Vice-Chancellor.

Many of the completed and ongoing infrastructural development efforts were largely due to the assistance of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Needs Assessment, Ogun State Government and different development partners as well as friends of the University. Indeed, members of the University Community are excited that some of the projects provided the much-needed space for academic activities in the institution while others enhanced the aesthetics of the University as well as improved its security surveillance.

Another interesting leadership quality of the Vice-Chancellor is his immense capacity for sticking to rules and regulations when decisions are being taken during statutory meetings. To put it simply, Prof. Olatunde is a stickler to the University’s Blue Book which contains the edict, rules and regulations governing the operational activities of the University. Also, the Vice-Chancellor believes in consulting widely with his Management staff on issues that appear intractable. Hardly has he ever forced his opinion on members during Management or Senate meetings. He believes in accepting superior arguments during meetings. Equity and fairness are his mantra for decision making process.

Above all, Prof. Olatunde’s administration gave priority to welfare of staff and students of this University. Since assumption of office, the Vice-Chancellor has ensured prompt and regular payment of salaries to boost staff morale and improve their welfare. Promotion of staff was  also undertaken as and when  due.  Moreover, staff training and retraining were undertaken as part of efforts to improve the administrative skills of staff and maximize their productivity. During Prof. Olatunde’s tenure as the Vice-Chancellor, over 260 staff were sponsored to various workshops and conferences in Nigeria and overseas mainly with funds from internally generated revenue of the University. On student’s welfare, huge sums were expended by the Prof. Olatunde-led administration on scholarships. In the last four sessions, over N20m was spent on scholarship for 446 indigent students.

The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. G. O. Olatunde third right in a group photograph with Principal
Officers of the University

A Student Welfare and Hostel Management Committee (SWEHOMAC) was constituted to interface with hostel providers and ensure that students have value for their money. There are no fewer than 3,000 students now resident in the University hostels from the moderate  figure of 150 that Prof. Olatunde met at the inception of his administration Perhaps, most of these achievements might not have been made possible if the security situation on campus is unstable. It is on record that the episodic cult attacks and associated violent unrest were not recorded during the tenure of the Vice-Chancellor. A novel idea was introduced by the Vice-Chancellor with the employment of young retired soldiers who were categorized as Special Marshalls. Their impact was immediately noticed on deployment for foot patrolling and use of motorbikes on the campus. They were professional in dealing with students. To further enhance the security architecture on the campus, a close-circuit electronic monitoring system was installed. With the numerous cameras placed at strategic locations, the entire University campus could be remotely monitored on screens. The peace and serenity enjoyed on campus are attributed to the proactive and robust security arrangements and collaborations with relevant security agencies and stakeholders by the University Management.

Among other significant initiatives of the Vice-Chancellor are the landscaping and beautification of the campuses. This accounted for the pedestrian walkways and footbridge as well as lawn beautification projects in the University. Traversing the campus, several modest walkways constructed and aligned to satisfy pedestrian movement are visible all over. Apart from beautifying the University environment, these well-paved walkways help staff and students to seamlessly navigate the landscape without trampling upon the lawns. Invariably, many buildings are now easily accessible through well-defined entry and exit routes. Several enthusiasts have also applauded the walkways pattern, which is characteristically safe to tread in all weather conditions and broad enough to accommodate occasional surges of high volume of foot traffic. Without mincing words, the emergence of Prof. Olatunde  accelerated the pace of development in the University in all ramifications. G.O., as he is fondly called by his admirers, is a rare welfarist, seasoned administrator and a distinguished academic, whose tenure as the Vice-Chancellor of this great University will continue to resonate in the minds of all stakeholders.

The Visitor to the University and incumbent Governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun, MFR, recently praised the Vice-Chancellor for maintaining a stable academic calendar in Olabisi Onabanjo University. Governor Abiodun, who extolled the leadership qualities of Prof. Olatunde, noted that he would always be remembered for his meritorious service and contributions to the development of the University as well as education sector of Ogun State.

As he wraps up his tenure as the Vice-Chancellor, the classical Latin phrase of Roman Statesman, Julius Caesar, veni, vidi, vici readily comes to mind. With unprecedented achievements and a successful time in the saddle, one can safely conclude that G.O. came, he saw and he conquered.

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