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April 21, 2024

The Delay, the Relay, the Display: Reflections as Prof Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello clocks 60

The Delay, the Relay, the Display: Reflections as Prof Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello clocks 60

By Ganiu Bamgbose (PhD)

A starting point will be to felicitate our motherly scholar and scholarly mother, the vice chancellor of Lagos State University, LASU, as she joins the league of sexagenarians on Tuesday, 23 April, 2024! The story of the 9th substantive vice chancellor of Lagos State University is one that can be beneficially recounted as a lesson for all and in celebration of her 60th birthday.

In her Facebook post of 27th August 2011, the vice chancellor said “In every disappointment is a new appointment. Never give up”. Frankly, she was speaking to herself. These were the words of an acting vice chancellor who did exceedingly well at the level of human capacity building and academic advancement. With her significant level of impact as the acting vice chancellor after Professor Abdul Lateef A. Hussein (2005-2011), one would assume that the vibrant, virtuous and value-adding professor of physiology would be made the seventh substantive vice chancellor of Lagos State University, but this was not the case. Of course there was a delay. And this delay confirmed the popular saying that “delay is not denial”. Destiny, they say, may be delayed, it will come to reality. But this reality is on the condition that one never relents. Losers do not win and winners never dare to quit. After Professor John Obafunwa emerged in 2011, one would think that Professor Olatunji-Bello would say bye to the office. But no! The strong-willed scholar would dare to try again. So by 2016, the resilient, determined and optimistic vice chancellor ran again for the revered scholarly stool she desired for the purpose of positive change. But guess what? Again, it was the turn of Professor Olanrewaju Adigun Fagbohun (2016-2021). Here is a former acting vice chancellor returning to the race twice. Wouldn’t you have said this is too much to bear if you were in her shoes? But the indefatigable vice chancellor would not give up. After all, we cannot feature in a future whose picture we have not properly captured. The vice chancellor was convinced that delay was not denial so she would rise and try again. And when it was time to get on the race as the 9th substantive academic and administrative head of Lagos State University, Professor Ibiyemi Ibilola Olatunji-Bello was back again in the contest. And because for everyone who strives, there is a winning day, it was finally the turn of Professor Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello as the 9th substantive vice chancellor of Lagos State University. Indeed it was a delay but this relay which was delayed came with many lessons for all to learn. I will present three major lessons for all from the journey of the vice chancellor of Lagos State University, Professor Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello. 

  1. The one-of-its-kind student arcade in Lagos State University was pledged about thirteen (13) years ago when Professor Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello was the acting Vice Chancellor. Even when she could not understand or explain the supposed delay in her emergence as the substantive vice chancellor, it became clear in 2021 that the Lord was keeping her to champion the glory which began with her many years ago. Professor Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello was the substantive vice chancellor when the biggest student arcade in British West Africa built in Lagos State University was opened in 2021. What is the lesson in this for everyone? When the Lord makes you wait, there is always a reason and it is always one which befits you and glorifies your Maker. 
  2. After every past attempt to become the Vice Chancellor of Lagos State University, the 9th Substantive vice chancellor, Professor Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello, cooperated with those that emerged, and discharged whatever duty being assigned to her diligently as a collaborator with any vice chancellor and not a competitor. This attitude from the vice chancellor of Lagos State University calls for a personal reflection: what is your attitude to others’ successes before it is your turn?
  3. The Vice Chancellor had always been a generous and accessible lecturer before she emerged as the 9th Substantive vice chancellor of Lagos State University. This warm disposition has not changed a bit as even students and lecturers are certain of replies when they engage her on different media. This was why I described her as a motherly scholar and a scholarly mother. Of course, this also comes with a lesson: what do you suddenly become when you finally get the position you have always desired?

Moving on, will one not think that the vice chancellor would have been too exhausted to function effectively after finally emerging on the third attempt? But that is not our vice Chancellor. She was and has remained as determined as she had ever been. Despite the delay, the relay has come with highly commendable displays. First, the huge Femi Gbajabiamila Conference Centre which was the first of its kind in Lagos State University became a reality during her tenure. Also, where is the universe in the university that cannot provide for itself? The visionary vice chancellor facilitated three massive legacies for the university: the LASU bakery, the LASU water and the revamped LASU printing press. It is significant to mention that all of these were achieved within the first two years of her five-year single tenure. Also in her inclusivity view to administration, the vice chancellor was also kind enough to facilitate a befitting club house for members of the Lagos State University Senior Staff Club within her first two years. In what is left of her stay as the 9th substantive vice chancellor of the university, Professor Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello will, by God’s grace, facilitate the completion of the huge library of the university.
It is in place to round off this article by saying that the life and living of the vice chancellor of Lagos State University is an example for everyone who wishes to reach the peak of their career. Since vision is a picture of a preferred future, the emergence of the vice chancellor is a testament to the fact that if one can see it, then it can be achieved.

So I close with a prayer:
My VC,
May Heaven make your task easy;
Make your life healthy;
Make your height lofty;
Make your achievements noisy;
And leave everyone in perpetual envy of your achievements!

Happy 60th birthday!

Dr. Bamgbose writes from the Department of English, Lagos State University, LASU.