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When UNILAG held Special Senate meeting for Odugbemi

By Emmanuel Edukugho
When Senate meeting is constituted, it is either ordinary or special. There is an enabling Act as regards to the order of proceedings.

The registrar and secretary to Senate, Mr. Olu Shodimu drew attention to “section 2 of the standing order of senate as adopted in resolution 344 of Senate of 31st October, 1972 defined meeting as either ordinary or special meeting of senate.

The latter when it is convened for a particular issue, to commemorate an event or honour a person named.

This power is derived from Section 24(1) (7) of the University Act of 1962 Act on Admission to meeting which specifies that except upon the invitation of the chairman, the Vice Chancellor, no other person other than a member of the senate or of a committee or a University staff in attendance on duty shall be present at any meeting of the senate.”

He went further to say, “Mr. Vice Chancellor, based on the foregoing, the meeting is properly constituted with senate members, principal officers, and other invited guests.

I hereby invite you to declare this meeting open for the purpose of according respect and honour to an accomplished professor of Medical Microbiology, Tolulope Oluwakayode Odugbemi OON, NNOM, FAS, Vice Chancellor April 2007-January 2010.”

Immediately after, the current Vice Chancellor, Professor Tokunbo Babatunde Sofoluwe, declared the gathering as a special senate meeting in honour of Professor Tolu Odugbemi, former Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos.

Sofoluwe then read his address, eulogising his predecessor, mentioning his accomplishments, academic background, highlighting all that he achieved, challenges and successes recorded during his term in office as Vice Chancellor; honours bestowed on him, both academic and traditional.

Apart from being honoured by the Federal Government with the National Award of the officer order of the Niger (OON) and also honoured with the most prestigious and highest academic award in Nigeria, the Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM), Odugbemi was also conferred with three traditional titles.

These are Fiwajoye of Oke-Ayedun, Atunluse of Oke-Igbo and Gbekoniyi of Ondo Kingdom.

“Senate of the University of Lagos has resolved to do justice as well as honour the distinguished former Vice-Chancellor today in the light of the definition of plato that justice is acknowledging and honouring members of any society that deserve them.”

Sofoluwe recalled the green book which articulated the vision of mission of Odugbemi titled — “Actualising the University of Lagos of our Dream,” saying “by the time he left office on January 30, 2010, he had implemented over 90% of his agenda.”

According to him, “there was no single student unrest, neither was there internal labour unrest during the period under reference. Again, the brief but eventful tenure witnessed academic excellence powered by a research driven process.”

After his address, other deans of faculties took their turns to something about Odugbemi.

The provost, College of Medicine, University of Lagos (CMUL), Idiaraba, Prof. Atoyebi said Odugbemi, himself a former provost, made CMUL an integral part of UNILAG, in truth and in deed. Salaries were paid promptly, not even one day later than Akoka. He was hard working, and has published 230 articles in learned journals. As VC, he brought  back the lost glory of CMUL as the first college of medicine in Nigeria. His beautification of the campus, ICT, laptops for all.

He came, saw, fought and conquered. A worthy ambassador, seasoned administrator and academician.

Prof. Toyin Ogundipe, Dean of postgraduate school: He fought tirelessly and won, a leader by example, carrying the followers along, not afraid to do new things. I want to give him a part on the back for job well done. He will not be forgotten for ever.

Prof. Duro Oni (Dean Faculty of Arts) I have great cause to be grateful to him. Staff welfare enhanced, salaries paid promptly. Beautiful campus with flowers. Providing greater visibility for the university.

Renovation of Arts Theatre, establishment of a Visual Arts Gallery for the faculty, a creative arts block, gave support and attained full accreditation status. His good naturedness often exploited by those who come first to make complaint. Gave us an N8 million bus. He set up the confucious institute.

He was very close to nature, has academic humility, humane.

Dean of Faculty of Business Administration. He is an erudite scholar, motivator, humane gentleman, one of a very few in a million who can achieve what he has achieved. Prudent. He rides on a motorcycle (okada) to search for medicinal plants.

He is both a mentor and formentor. He mentored me and made me Dean. Prof Ninalowo (Social Science) He came, didn’t fight, but he accomplished. Kind to people.

High standard of infrastructural and architectural attainment. Architectural nightmare mitigated. He smiles most of the time, making him a man at peace with himself. He is full of contentment.

Prof. Victor Owhotu  Distance Learning Institute: He has proved that not how long you live and serve, but how well. Merit and focus are his attributes. He approved all our demands. A mentor, highly disciplined. He gave me leverage to deal with people that are undisciplined.

He gave me that support, Prof. Omilabu (Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences: He made modest accomplishment. Transformation to full fledge faculty. Prompt salary payment. Made possible integration of the College of Medicine with the Akoka main campus. Promotion galore. Staff became ICT compliant, promotion for academic and non-academic.

Floor II was demystified as people moved freely. He was a father to the core. I am one of his sons. He was our ambassador to Akoka. I’m very proud of all he was able to do for the University of Lagos. I congratulate Mama (his wife).

Prof. Adefule Ositelu (Faculty of Clinical Sciences). He recorded a lot of successes and achievements. Attracted grants. Three schools were upgraded to faculties. Salaries paid promptly. Promotions and new appointments made during his tenure.

No industrial crisis.

Prof. Kofo Savage (Dean of Dental Science). We are the first dental school in Africa and trained a lot, but not yet a faculty. He gave us a faculty status. He was involved in all our activities. Transparency, your greatness will multiply through you to all your generations.

The Registrar: I represent non-teaching staff. It’s a thing of joy to be here. This event is very important. For the first time, a formal ceremony of this nature is being held. We’ve learnt tolerance, patience, maturity. We are grateful.

Prof. Amund. He is hard working calls a spade, a spade. A great family man, scientist, a legend not just an erudite scholar. He is Emeritus vice chancellor.

Prof. H.O.D.  Longe, (Dean, Student Affairs): He brought new orientation endowed all students. A father, mentor, grandfather. God will bless you. Tolu is a typical Ondo State person – stubborn, blunt, straight toward, principled. Pure in heart. Incorruptible person. Nobody can say that this man is corrupt. He will never go to court as some lecturers will do. He is a unique person. There is time for everything in life. He came in at God’s time. Tolu did not make at  first attempt.

He inherited me. He ignored me on my first visit to him. I was shocked. But later he said I should go and do your job well and I will support you. He came and left a number of legacies. He came with some standard and benchmarks. No. VC will go below this. He believes in timeliness, cleaniness, trust.

He listened to me – Even at critical moment. Will then say yes, you’re right.

Prof. Salawu (Dean of Engineering)– During his tenure, the University had constant supply of electricity. We had light always. Salary came on, time, peace in the faculty of engineering.

A hungry man is an angry man. He encouraged promotion, quest to get Ph.D, and liked research efforts by academic staff. He ensured that the environment was always green.

(Salawu, at the end of his presentation, gave a plaque to Tolu Odugbemi).
Prof. Ikulayo (Education)– He did very well to ensure that the University of Lagos excels. His welfare programme is the best ever – as salary was paid promptly. This great icon ensured that the University of Lagos moved forward – to be among 200 in the world. He worked on the Botanical Gardeny Lagoon Parks and the car park.

He was a “Babalawo” because of his interest in medicinal plants. (She presented him with a plaque).

Dean, Faculty of Law: He is a man who will be recognised in history because of his energy. Vision and reforms. He brought the virtues of punctuality, integrity and change. The faculty of law blossomed, flourished and attained international repute during his time.

He supported the Moot Court in 2009, granting his resources for the conference in collaboration with Lagos State Government. We were able to rebrand Nigeria in words and truth through hosting of the Moot Court.

There were increase in the works and activities of the faculty, including holding of lecture series. He properly managed the FGN-ASUU face-off, made the environment aesthetic.

He was found of sending text messages and e-mails. Prof. Odugbemi left an indelible mark on this faculty and citadel of knowledge. (A plaque was presented to him).

Prof. O.B. Familoni Dean of Science) – He was a strong supporter of science, with passion for natural  science.

He restored the Botanical Garden for teaching and learning. Both teachers and students were able to relax well. Fish protection tanks were provided, and now sale of fish. Other departments such as Biology, Physics, Chemistry, etc, will be eternally grateful, including Botany, Microbiology. Geosciences created by him.

Those overdue for promotion were given, professors made and several of them promoted. God will continue to give him strength.

In his response to all the presentations made by the deans of different faculties, outgone vice chancellor, Professor Tolu Odugbemi said he was very close to the new VC, Prof. Sofoluwe, since 40 years in their days in Christ School, Ado-Ekiti.

He talked about the legendry Fagunwa who  inspired to go to the forest.
“In the University of Lagos, we worked as a team. It was collective work, without which I can’t go anywhere. Also without divine intervention, can  never make it.
Have faith in God. Any disappointment is another appointment.

This University is totally tolerant. Nobody has the monopoly of knowledge. Junior staff also should be respected. A lot can be got from them. It’s an overwhelming day for me. I don’t know what to say. It’s very emotional for me hearing all that had been said today about me. Three times, I tried to wipe out tears from my face.”

Odugbemi went further:

“This is emotional, the extent to which you’ve touched me. I wish the new vice chancellor successful years to come. I thank the Senate.  It’s a mature senate. People can say what they want to say. We use to get honest assessment of the situation. This shows the strength of democracy in the University of Lagos.

We have transparency and honesty.

All I have to say is thank you Lord.” The Registrar then gave a vote of thanks, called on the VC to make closing remarks and to declare the ceremony closed.


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