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Varsity Celebrates Foundation Registrar

Twenty-five years after exiting the services of the University, the pioneer Registrar, Chief Nathaniel Olatunji Sotoyinbo, was recently treated to a grand reception as staff and members of the University Community gathered to celebrate his exploits and exemplary contributions to the flagship institution in Ogun State.

It was at an epochal programme tagged “An afternoon with Chief N. O. Sotoyinbo,” which was organised by the Registry of the University and held on March 17, 2021 at the Senate Chamber, Main Campus, Ago-Iwoye.

Sotoyinbo, now 82 years old, was the Foundation Registrar and Secretary to Council of the Ogun State University (now Olabisi Onabanjo University), Ago-Iwoye. The accomplished administrator, who was appointed in 1982 upon the establishment of the University, voluntarily retired from the state-owned institution in 1995.

The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ganiyu O. Olatunde (1st left), while receiving Chief Sotoyinbo and his entourage in his office

Widely acclaimed as the brain behind the setting up of the administrative machinery of the institution, the highly respected Sotoyinbo, who also shared the credit for drawing up the University Edict, is a happy man with profound legacy to behold. The octogenarian, accompanied by his wife, Chief (Mrs) Victoria Bolanle Sotoyinbo, became a celebrated figure at the homecoming event in the University where he regaled his audience with the stories of how a solid foundation was given to the University to reach its present enviable heights.

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ganiyu Olatunji Olatunde, and the current Registrar, Mr. Femi Ogunwomoju, among other Principal Officers of the University, welcomed Chief Sotoyinbo to the institution he nurtured at birth.

The august visitor first paid a courtesy call on the Vice-Chancellor, who revealed that the idea of hosting him was brought up by the University Registrar and he immediately approved it. Prof. Olatunde reeled out some of the achievements and improvements in the University to Chief Sotoyinbo, stressing that “We cannot do all these without referring to the foundation you have laid down.”

The Vice-Chancellor, who was subsequently presented with Sotoyinbo’s autobiography entitled, “He leadeth me,” told the author that the University would buy copies of the book for its Library and relevant Departments. He also prayed for the foundation Registrar by wishing him a healthy and fulfilled life.

Delighted at the warm reception accorded him at the Vice-Chancellor’s Office, Chief Sotoyinbo commended Prof. Olatunde for his strides in the development of the University. He disclosed that he was fascinated by the prevailing ambience and serene environment of the institution, a feature, he remarked, was absent while he was working at the school.

Chief Sotoyinbo presenting a copy of his autobiography entitled, “He Leadeth Me” to the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ganiyu Olatunde

“There were times when news about the University were bad, I used to be very sad. But I must tell you that today I’m happy. These days, the news I receive about the University are the news that gladden my heart,” Chief Sotoyinbo stated.

After the courtesy visit to the Vice-Chancellor, Chief Sotoyinbo was led on a facility tour of the University Campus. Chauffeured around to see some landmark buildings and projects in the institution, an elated Sotoyinbo could not hide his joy seeing the tremendous transformation that had taken place in the University after his voluntary retirement.

With the brief tour over, the pioneer Registrar was ushered to the OOU Radio 92.1FM Station. At the station reputed for redefining campus broadcasting, Sotoyinbo was honoured with the job of a broadcaster and he did perform to the admiration of all as he read the news bulletin almost effortlessly on air. He was subsequently interviewed by two radio hosts, one in English language and the other in native Yoruba language, which elicited rich responses about his service years and past experiences.

Shortly after, the radio staff and some students of the Mass Communication Department presented Chief Sotoyinbo with some souvenirs, including recent in-house publications, and also posed with him for photographs. The stage was then set    proper    for the homecoming programme which was limited to selected members of the University Community due to the COVID-19 protocols.

Chief Sotoyinbo, flanked by his wife Chief (Mrs) Victoria Sotoyinbo (right), at the studio of OOU Radio

In his address on the occasion, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ganiyu Olatunji Olatunde, said the unique contributions of Chief Sotoyinbo to the growth and development of the University are well appreciated, adding that the programme was conceived primarily to showcase and celebrate him.

Describing Sotoyinbo as an administrator par excellence and a trail blazer whom posterity will keep remembering, the Vice-Chancellor noted that he (Sotoyinbo) went through a herculean task to build a virile University Registry from scratch. He added that the Foundation Registrar, with others, braced the odds to surmount myriads of challenges and provided the platform upon which aspiring University administrators
were able to build successful careers.

Prof. Olatunde further posited that, “There is no doubt that the founding fathers of this University did a very good job by laying a foundation that is solid through the appointment of very capable hands as foundation members of the University Management then.”

“No doubt, it was herculean task that you went through to build a virile University Registry from scratch. Are we to talk about the creation of the repository of the University records, recruitment, training and retraining of the Registry staff to key into the vision and mission of the University? Or are we to mention the heavy responsibilities of administering the entire University through the pursuit of the various objectives within the ambit of our laws, statutes, edicts under the leadership of the Vice-Chancellor then.”

“These, among others, were the challenges that the pioneer Registrar faced. But the good news is that you surmounted all these challenges and provided the platform upon which aspiring University administrators were able to build a successful career. I must tell you that all the Principal Officers of this University, except myself, are one-time alumnus of this University. And that’s an attestation to the fact that you built a very good foundation.

The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. G.O. Olatunde, delivering his address at “An Afternoon
With Chief N.O. Sotoyinbo” while the Registrar, Mr. Femi Ogunwomoju, looks on

Many that were under your tutelage, while blazing the trail, were the ones currently in charge of the Registry. No doubt, posterity will keep remembering your excellent service and celebrate you as we do today.”

The Vice-Chancellor, who declared that the University had grown in leaps and bounds in almost four decades of existence and currently stands shoulder-to-shoulder with even the first generation Universities in the country, assured that the institution’s Management will not rest on its oars. “For we believe that only the best is good enough for this rising sun and pride of our fatherland,” he stated.

His words: “The University Management, in line with the vision of the current Council to reposition the University for the utmost aim of attaining the status of a 21st Century citadel of learning, has left no stone unturned in ensuring that the entire University staff get the right orientation that will position them for the desired increase in the overall efficiency of service delivery.

Many capacity workshops have been held, organised within and outside the country for both teaching and non-teaching staff, and we are constantly improving on the provision of teaching and learning facilities to keep pace with the global trend. Adequate attention is also being given to the ambience and aesthetics of our learning environment to mention but a few.

This is one of the best Universities in terms of attraction. Since some couple of years back, for a 7,000 space that we have for admitting our new students, we normally clock about 21,000 applicants trying to be students of this University, an indication that the University has grown to be a University of choice.”

Prof. Olatunde, who commended the Registrar, Mr Femi Ogunwomoju, and the organising team for putting up the homecoming programme, explained that the event was “in consonance with our roadmap towards re-engineering our entire workforce for a more effective and efficient service delivery.” He expressed optimism that the wealth of experience and insights bound to be shared by the pioneer Registrar would allay the fears of many administrators and academic staff, adding that the timely interaction with Chief Sotoyinbo would also enable the University workforce to better appreciate “where we are coming from, how we have fared and what lessons are there to learn to help us navigate more easily into a desired future.”

Earlier in his welcome address, the Registrar extolled the virtues of Chief Sotoyinbo, describing him as diligent, smart, resourceful and hardworking. He revealed that his first contact with Chief Sotoyinbo was in 1990 when he was invited for an interview as Administrative Officer after an offer of appointment in the University.

Although the Registrar stated that he was admitted into the University as a student in 1985 and graduated in 1989, he later succeeded in joining its services as a staff in 1991. He recalled that during his service years, Chief Sotoyinbo was always impeccably dressed, urging administrative officers in the University to emulate him. According to him, the life of the octogenarian is full of lessons for people to learn.

Ogunwomoju said, “As an administrator, you have to be well dressed almost all the time. Throughout the years the Registrar used before retiring, he was always impeccably dressed. So, if anybody was wondering about how I dress, I think I took that from Chief Sotoyinbo.

If you are not on top of your game, you dare not go and see Chief Sotoyinbo because he does not tolerate sloppiness. In this job, you have to be smart and knowledgeable. If you are not, you won’t get anywhere.”

But Chief Sotoyinbo, while fielding questions from his interviewer, who also doubled as the Chairman, Planning Committee of the homecoming programme, Mr Niyi Oduwole, thanked the University Management and staff profusely for celebrating him. He reminisced on his years at the institution, how very meagre resources were available for the pioneer members to run the University and how the limited resources were judiciously expended to lay a solid foundation.

Chief Sotoyinbo had fond memories. He recalled: “When I arrived Ago-Iwoye December 1, 1982, I came with the company of Mr Ogundare and the late Lawrence Aderounmu. The University at the beginning, as you would expect, it was not easy in those days.

We were called to come and establish a University. The late Chief Bisi Onabanjo who established this University was so committed to the idea of a University but from time to time, he kept telling us he didn’t have money. In those days, resources were limited and yet, we had a task to perform and because of the dedication of the staff who were with us then, we were able to start a model University in the Mini Campus.”

The Foundation Registrar pointed out that he was lucky to have worked with the pioneer Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, Prof. Akin Mabogunje, and the then Vice-Chancellor, late Prof. Olubi Sodipo, whom he described as “outstanding people.” Looking back at his service years, he said he never had any regrets with all the decisions he took.

A cross-section of participants at “An Afternoon With Chief N.O. Sotoyinbo” at the Senate Chamber

Sotoyinbo, who flayed unnecessary rivalry between academic and non teaching staff in many tertiary institutions, advocated collaboration and cooperation among all staff, stressing that everyone should take his job as a privilege to serve humanity.

He added: “There are still many areas where the administrative staff function and we should do all that is allotted to us effectively and satisfactorily.

Those of you who are here are privileged. Many of you would remember when you were being interviewed, how many of you applied before you were appointed. So, please, take this assignment that you have as a privilege to serve humanity. And always remember that you would be accountable to God for the use of the resources that you have been given. Take your assignment as a call, give all your best to this University and when you leave, you’ll be happy.”

Members of the audience also had the opportunity to ask questions to which Chief Sotoyinbo provided answers, after which the event was rounded off with a vote of thanks by Mr Jide Soaga, a member of the Planning Committee, and it remarkably ended with sumptuous refreshment and elegant poses for photographs.

The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. G.O. Olatunde (7th from left), Chief N.O. Sotoyinbo; his wife, Chief (Mrs) Victoria Sotoyinbo, the Registrar, Mr. Femi Ogunwomoju, the University Librarian, Dr. Adebambo Oduwole, and other dignitaries in a group photograph at the event
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