Academics

The Pivotal Role Of Administration In A University – Reflections By Prof. Tolu Odugbemi

Prof. Tolu Odugbemi, OON, NNOM, Hon.DSc., PhD (Sheffield), MD (Lagos),
DFMC, PNMC, FAS, FRCPath. (UK), FMCPath. (Nig.), FWACP (Lab. Med.).

Professor of Medical Microbiology & Parasitology;
Former Vice-Chancellor, Ondo State University Of Science & Technology (OSUSTECH), Okitipupa, Ondo State.
Former Vice-Chancellor, University Of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria;
Former President Of The National Postgraduate Medical College Of Nigeria.

Outlines on Presentation:

Introductory Remarks:
Definitions of key points in the title: Administration, Pivotal & University System.
Objectives
Goals
Mission

University – understanding what it means and the salient role or purpose in a society.

University’s role: – Teaching, Learning, Research and Services
Relevance to the Society and societal needs.
Administration has a pivotal role.
Universities in developing countries: Irrelevance and Irreverence.

Importance of: Teamwork
Integrity
Courage
Sincerity
Contentment
Commitment
Truthfulness
Selflessness
Reliability
Sustainability
Timeliness
Punctuality
Passion
Focus
Faith
Importance of ‘Employability’ of products of a university.

Entrepreneurship and the university system.
Reflections;

“Father of Mankind Forgive our foolish ways”
Age of Globalization
Science and Technology
Curing and Treating failed state mentality,
Caring and sharing
Arrogance of power and impunity
Culture of offering excuses for failing,
No maintenance culture
Uncaring attitude for punctuality
Background checks to prevent pitfalls and misadventures
Lack of knowledge

Conclusion
PROTOCOL:

Chairman,
Heads of Departments/ Units,
Members of University of Lagos Registry,
Staff,
Students,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Press

Introductory Remarks

I thank the Registry of the University of Lagos, in particular, Dr.( Mrs.) Taiwo Ipaye, the Registrar and my numerous friends and ‘Aburos ‘ for creating this ‘home-coming ‘ visit for me today.

My catch-phrase when in University of Lagos was: “Teamwork and divine intervention”. I later modified this to “Teamwork and Divine Guidance”. In this present day, one needs God all the time. The vital roles of other ‘game players’ are equally important in any human endeavour, especially in the university system. Thus the topic- The Pivotal Role of Administration in a University – Reflections, which reflects on the issue of ‘ team spirit’.

Administration has a broad connotation in my usage here as the University administration, Registry, Departmental administration, federal, state and local Authorities can impart positively or negatively on the university system and are critical for the outcome or missions of universities.

The definition of keywords words below is to clarify and limit my presentation as this is time-bound. According to the Advanced English Dictionary
University ~ the body of faculty and students at a university.
~ establishment where a seat of higher learning is housed, including administrative and living quarters as well as facilities for research and teaching.
~ a large and diverse institution of higher learning created to educate for life and for a profession and to grant degrees.

Pivotal: ~ being of crucial importance.

Vital: ~ Critical, urgently needed; absolutely necessary.

Administration: ~ a method of tending to or managing the affairs of a/some group of people (especially the group’s business affairs).
~ governance, governing body, establishment, brass, organization, organization the persons (or committees or departments etc.) who make up a body for the purpose of administering something.

Reflections: ~ contemplation, rumination, musing, thoughtfulness.

I will always show deep appreciation to University of Lagos Administrators for making my visions and missions in ‘Actualizing the University of Lagos of our dream’, in record time. I value and cherish the experience of many of our administrators who could not attain peak of their profession and therefore created avenues to move to directorate cadre. By this bold step, we removed what could have been frustration to fruition in the Registry, and Finance Department.
The strategy here is to show that ‘Administration’ should not be static or stagnant but dynamic; certainly this is part of what university autonomy should be. Leadership in university system must demonstrate courage and sincerity to move forward.
The roles of University are: Teaching, Learning, Research and Service.
The Relevance to the Society and societal needs cannot be understated or ignored. The Administration has a pivotal role.

Importance of Education

Education is meant to serve as a tool to improve our towns, local government areas, states, country and even our continent Africa. Honestly, as at today, we have not moved forward. We now have culture riots thus degrading our useful traditional African values of respect, integrity, honesty, fair-play and justice. Education is a tool for development if properly handled from childhood to adulthood through various systems – primary, secondary and tertiary levels. The ideas and ways of nation building are known by many Nigerians. The implementation of noble ideas often fails, hence chaos in our societies. We should pay attention to the implementation of good ideas if they are to be useful for positive change in Nigeria. Character building must accompany any form of learning for products of such institutions to be relevant to society development. We Nigerians must re-assure ourselves that we can rebuild our societies by refocusing our values on positive and virtuous traits.

Discipline and Responsibility of Government, Councils, Administration:

The Nigerian education sector has numerous challenges. Discipline is very important in attaining any significant achievement in society. Nigeria is at cross-roads. Instead of our present educational system helping to propel us forward in development, we face a gloomy state of decay because of wrong ideas and teachings that made “self” instead of the “society” the centre of development. The over-development of “self” in positive ways would not have harmed the nation but the greed attached to “self-development” has. There are supervisory bodies (School Boards, Governing Councils, Committees on education, science, health, technology etc.) set up to monitor growth and development of education in our schools and institutions of higher education. Some members of such supervisory bodies are generally uninformed about their duties, and responsibilities attached to their offices. While some work very hard for excellence others see membership of such bodies as opportunities to ‘make it’. Projects to be supervised by supervisory bodies become personal ‘projects’ of self-aggrandizement they execute with nothing to show at the end of the day. Even the funds for execution of necessary projects are usually taken to be ‘for sharing’. Deceit, insincerity and abuse of office are rampant. Harassment of ‘those not playing ball’ is the order of the day.

Manipulation of admission, promotion and appointments processes is reaching unacceptable and intolerable level. The various bodies, communities, individuals and judiciary system (know of injustices but appear to be in a state of ‘hopelessness ‘ and / or impunity.
I quote from the Leadership newspaper of 14th May, 2016:
“But LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered reliably that the presidency is more disposed to picking Arese’s successor based on professionalism, competence and integrity, which is different from the old ways of mere favouritism, ethnicity and religious considerations.”

As university administrators, we must lead the way and have the courage and integrity to get ourselves out of this state of ‘hopelessness ‘.

Funding, Fairplay and Welfare:

I like to emphasize that funding of our institutions should be devoid of obstacles. Subventions should be released on regular basis while prompt payment of salaries and entitlements to all workers will undoubtedly increase their morale and penchant to work more. Welfare of students and faculty that constitute a university is vital for the survival of university.

The decay in our university and general school system is everywhere as evident in: dilapidated schools buildings, many without roofs, walls, doors and windows, no books, no library equipment even in tertiary institutions. Across the country, pupils attending public primary schools are being subjected to formal instruction in dehumanizing circumstances.

The foundation of any viable education system is the primary school level. Successful nations appreciate this and go to considerable lengths to build it as the launch pad for human capital development. A Quality Assurance Agency put in place to ensure strict compliance with standard and quality at the Primary and Secondary levels. Education is a tool for development if properly handled from childhood to adulthood through various systems – primary, secondary and tertiary levels. We should pay attention to the implementation of good ideas if they are to be useful for positive change in Nigeria. Character building must accompany any form of learning for graduates of such institutions to be relevant to societal development. We Nigerians must re-assure ourselves that we can rebuild our societies by refocusing our values on positive and virtuous traits.

Leadership, Courage, Good Values and Mentorship:
The issue of leadership needs to be reassessed and reappraised in Nigeria. Our leaders over the years have failed woefully in providing good and effective leadership and appropriate policy directions for the relevant sectors, education inclusive. Corruption in my view is responsible for intolerance we now witness in crises emanating from differences in political persuasions, religious bigotry and ethnic backgrounds. We all need to live together in peace and harmony for development to occur.
I like to quote Al Mustapha cited in Vanguard newspapers of Saturday 14th May, 2016:
“When you came into power, you had nothing but soon after assuming office, you become a super billionaire and people look at it as normal. Certainly something is wrong with the leaders and the led. Such environment will create ground for insurgency. The insurgency in Maiduguri started like this when a group of learned young men came to the fore and said we are being confronted with hopelessness.” Read more at:

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Honesty, hard work and expression of all good values that we used to honour in the old days and even taught as Civics should be brought back as attributes of good citizens, not the acquisition of wealth by any means that are not decent and honourable. There is unbridled and reckless display of wealth, which should have been directed to productive ventures in health, education and agriculture. There should also be a workable code of conduct amongst various professional groups – teachers, judges, doctors, civil servants etc. Monies are recklessly spent in public places to show off. This behaviour is not good for the nation as it sends wrong signals to our youths. Our Administration has pivotal role to get us out of the ‘hopelessness ‘ and ignorance/ misconceptions. I quote from correspondences exchanges between an unknown applicant making a request for me to write a recommendation for him.

Unknown Applicant: “Well done sir. I waps one of msc stds at d collage of med unilag. I want 2 inform u dat ipublished my msc ”

Me: “Who is the writer? Your full names. Is the text meant for me?
I cannot understand the message. -Tolu Odugbemi ”

Unknown Applicant: “Im ***. I applied to unimed as an ass lecturer in d dep of med lab sci, puttn urname as a referee i just want 2 inform u sir. I was told u are a mem of d governing council of unimed ondo”

Me: “I do not know you and we have never worked in the same institute as former colleagues. Good luck.”

Unknown Applicant: “I know if u see me u might recognise me as one of ur formal stds with my project dat u signed evidential thank u 4 given ur attention”

Our youths need guidance, honestly I cannot understand how I can give a recommendation or a reference for someone whom I have never met nor worked with. Our youths do not have right values and information. We need to emphasize, “mentorship” in our institutions.

Conclusion:

I desire to see a Nigeria that is in the forefront of scientific and technological achievements that will advance the standard of living of Nigerians. A country with proud and cohesive people and where appropriate values and attention are placed on key sectors such as education, health, human rights and security by government. The investment in these key areas and in particular, the educational sector, will go a long way in bringing a future and a hope for this generation and future generations.

Reflections and ways forward

A University must be original and be enabled to initiate its academic programmes relevant to society needs.
It is strange reading news that some universities are to be assigned to produce “only PhD”. University system is about evolution and not based on revolution, commands and orders.
Research is vital and critically important for producing PhD degrees. Research goes with Passion: Spirit of Adventure and community service.

Are our universities equipped to carry out meaningful research?
Are our university environments peaceful, orderly and conducive to thinking, learning and teaching?

Poverty marked by inequality, inequity and impunity is creating misplacement and misadventures of personnel and materials. Putting the right personnel at right places for right output. The dramatists, artists (Nollywood) have done us proud and contributed immensely to our economy.
What is the point asking such stars to be placed in laboratories as “rocket scientists” vice versa?
We all have abilities if guided right instead of dumping personnel meant to serve as ‘cheer leaders’ in our higher institutions because they are desperate for jobs and have “connections”

The ‘Administration’ in a University has a pivotal role to coordinate purposeful and courageous ideas to move us forward.

“Father of Mankind Forgive our foolish ways”

Age of Globalization
Science and Technology
Curing and Treating failed state mentality,
Caring and sharing
Arrogance of power and impunity
Culture of offering excuses for failing,
No maintenance culture
Uncaring attitude for punctuality
Background checks to prevent pitfalls and misadventures
Lack of knowledge

May God support us, guide and guard us in building a better society.

Thank you for listening.

Prof Tolu Odugbemi, OON, NNOM, FAS

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