Let me start by first congratulating you on a well deserved position. You became a transitional leader when you least expected it. Precisely on May 12, 2012, we all woke up at the University of Lagos to be told that our beloved Prof. Adetokunbo Babatunde Sofoluwe, was no more.
Your appointment, now through dueprocess, is pleasing to the generalityof UNILAG community. The courage with which you have handled the assignment since May 2012, has been wonderful and impressive. You have kept yourself low, dressing neatly as ever to meet the dictates of the new unsolicited position into which destiny has just let you into. I have sat in at few inaugural lectures since you took office.
You have impressed me with your humour of speech delivery almost similar to that of the late Prof. Akin Adesola, who often then gave a wise-crack within his speech with a little smile to the side of his mouth to a huge laughter by all.
Let me come back to the body of thisletter to you, Prof. Rahamon Bello.
The University of Lagos is unique in several ways. It has been a ‘FIRST’ inalmost all facets of educational institutions in this country. The academic standard must be maintained. Unilag is not a university for second grade professors. Our senior lecturers are often recruited into professorial cadre in other universities because of their qualities.
You will note Prof. Bello that the core academic staff of new universities comprise mainly those that have left the University of Lagos after some years of meritorious service. Within the shortperiod of your stewardship in the institution, you have set in place theprocess of appointing new ones soon, which is good. But I need to advise you sir, that the criteria for these awards into this elegant position must be closely watched and monitored. The Council cannot dictate to you in this regard, rather, you are to advice Council on such matters. Thank God you have a ‘no nonsense’ Chairman of Council a man of noble character, Mr. Gamaliel Onosode, a man of God and businessman.
The process of admission into the University this year was quite good. It was almost error free. Applicants who failed to get admitted knew the quality they are made of is not of the standard required of an undergraduate of UNILAG. I felt impressed by the way your admission team worked. You may need to retain your ‘Margaret Thatcher Lady of Law’ to assist you for some time more.
However, I am somehow worried about the condition of the campus. In years past we used to have the GREENS with the trees all over the whole place. You inherited the present look from previous administrations. Wouldn’t it have been better to demolish the over 40 year-old wooden block of the Confucius Centre by replacing it witha larger structure that could have accommodated The Professor Clark and the Confucius Centres?
Why construct buildings within small spaces that could go for relaxation for the students and staff? I will advise, sir, that you get the university lawyers to work on how to re-claim the encroached land of UNILAG at Akoka, Abule-Jesaand the Lagoon area. The late Prof. Jelili Omotola did quite a lot on this during his tenure.
As a land-law lawyer, he knew the exact position of UNILAG beacons.
The men and women who worked with Prof. Omotola on the land problem then, are still on ground.
Look for them and use them. If you could achieve this, you would have left a legacy behind at the end of your tenure. Reclaim land like the Christian and Muslim organisations on campus have done to put up tall structures like they have done.
UNILAG is close to the Lagoon, you can explore the possibility of sand filling the swamp behind the entire Arts Block far into Akoka end.
Don’t forget Prof. Bello, that the Unilag Auditorium and current Senate House are products of Prof Festus Ade-Ajayi’s tenure before they passed on to Prof. Akin Adesola, who added the Commercial/Access roads and the International School.
The UBA Park must be regularly cleared and cleaned. Prof. NurudeenAlao was a quiet one. It was during his tenure that our Magodo University Estate came into being. Prof. Jelili Omotola –a workerholic added several building structures, most at no cost to the University.
Prof. Ibidapo Obe added a few morebuildings of note and in particular his wife started the new structure ofthe Unilag Women Society School. Ibidapo Obe was equally out for excellence in academic programmes. He left on ground the revered five year academic programme for the development and the training of new staff that will replace the retiring ones. Prof. F.A. Fajemirokun, who was Chairman of The AKODO Project and others are still here in Lagos. Seek their advice if need be.
Prof. Tolu Odugbemi, who because of his grey hair and the manner withwhich he handled issues was referred to as Baba, pursued staff and student discipline and always then did not want to be told that “it is being done.” He would go there tosee things by himself, what is being done. He provided visionary leadership with veritable projects, eye-mark as against ear-mark.
The Ibidapo-Obe and Sofoluwe style of staff/student relationship is worth studying and adopting. You are a benefactor of the tenure of Prof. Sofoluwe. Both of you were close friends who knew to what height UNILAG need be placed. Tap from the experience you gained, through working with him and which made him a “man of the people”. The ball is in your court, kindly play it to the admiration of all. Don’t get carried away by sychophants.
Written by Aroloye, a former Director of Centre for Educational Technology at the University of Lagos. He wrote in vide email@example.com
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