Remembering Professor Fatiu Akesode (2) – Prof. Siyan Oyeweso

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Remembering Professor Fatiu Akesode (1) - Prof. Siyan Oyeweso

Prof. Akesode served as the Provost/Chief Medical Director at Ogun State University until his appointment as the Vice Chancellor of the Lagos State University on February 25, 1997.

He assumed duties as the Vice-Chancellor of the Lagos State University on the March, 7th 1997. Upon his assumption of officer, the university was faced with serious academic and administrative challenges. There was need to improve the quality of teaching and research and provide more facilities to aid learning.

Akesode`s administration immediately provided the enabling environment for creative, intellectual and scientific engagements. Within a short span of too time, the administration also embarked on behavioral modification of students and staff.

LASU thus became a family and a commonwealth to be proud of. As the OLORIEBI- Head of the Family- Akesode got the vast majority of students and staff to his side in the struggle against cultism and other anti-social behaviour in the university.

The Akesode`s era also witnessed increase in students population. While Akesode inherited a student population of about 7,000 when he assumed office, by the time of his departure in March 2001 the population was about N12,000.

This expansion was followed side by side with an increase in the curricula and programmes of the university. From six faculties on assumption of office, Akesode increased the number to eight with the establishment of new faculties, departments and disciplines.

With the support of Senate members and other staff, his administration pioneered the establishment of professional Management courses like Banking and Finance, Business Administration, Accounting, Industrial Relations and Personnel Management, Technology Management, Insurance and Actuarial Science.

In mounting these new programmes, Akesode’s vision was that LASU should be able to provide qualitative and skilled manpower for Lagos State and the nation as a whole.

Again, the Akesode administration was able to establish the LASU School of Communication. Earlier, he had judged, quite accurately, that the number of Nigerian Universities offering courses in Mass Communication was few.

Therefore with the support of his bosom friend and doyen of photo-journalism, Alhaji Bola Adegunwa, he secured a prime property worth over ₦200 million at Nathan Street, Yaba, for the take-off of the School. In fact, Alhaji Bola Adegunwa of Fototek fame had given the prime property to Fatiu Akesode personally so he could use it as private clinic on completion of his tenure as Vice-Chancellor in LASU.

But out great love for Lagos State and the Lagos State University, Akesode gave the property to LASU. And, since his demise, a number of people have wondered why he did not acquire the property for himself and his family, more so when he did not have a self-built house. Such is the measure nature of a man like Fatiu Ademola Akesode.

From the inception of the university in 1984, one of the most important projects on its agenda was the establishment of a medical school. That project came to fruition under the administration of Ademola Akesode with the establishment of LASU College of Medicine #LASUCOM .

With his experience as a distinguished medical doctor, Akesode recruited and got the right people for the job of the College. Among these eminent scholars were Prof. Wole Alakija, the pioneer Provost, Prof. Akinrinmisi, Prof. Abba-Sagoe, Prof. Hunponu-Wusu, Prof. Dapo Ashiru, Prof. Hussein Abdul Kareem, and Prof. Henry Adewoye, among others.

Professor Akesode, no doubt, ever gave practical expressions to some of his visionary achievements in LASU. He singled out one event that gave him the greatest joy when he was the Chairman of the Lagos Hospitals Management Board.

According to him, that was; “The day I saw about 53 students registering as medical students of the Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASUCOM)”. For Prof. Akesode, “this is a great achievement. It is a great tribute to the staff of LASU who assisted us and the government of the state;”. He submitted that “the proposal had been on drawing board for many years, but we were able to wrap it up.

It is a wonderful achievement and I am very happy about it”. “I must acknowledge the vision of the first Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Folabi Olumide who set up Medical Advisory Board under Prof. B. O George in March 1978. My teacher and mentor, Prof. Deji Femi who chaired the 1997 Advisory Committee also deserves appreciation and recognition.

Indeed, it was his Committee that mid-wived the establishment of LASU College of Medicine in the 1998/1999 academic session.

Prof Fatiu Akesode also left his imprints on the Faculty of Arts. The curriculum of the Department of History, for instance, was reviewed to accommodate Diplomatic Studies, International Relations and Strategic Studies.

In a similar vein, the former Department of African Languages and Literature got transformed into Department of African Languages and Communication Arts with new window of opportunities for young artistes in Yoruba Communication Arts.

The Department of Theatre Arts and Music was also established with the clear intent that LASU should provide the training ground for would be theatre artists and music practitioners.

In the Faculty of Social Sciences, the Akesode era also witnessed the birth of such programmes as Masters in Refugee Studies, Social Work, Planning Studies and Maritime Studies.

The Akesode administration also secured international grant from The Ford Foundation to establish the Centre for Development and Democratic Studies (CDDS).

It also succeeded in establishing academic linkages with some overseas universities such as Central Connecticut State University (CCSU), Michigan State University, University of Singapore, University of Nottingham and University of Sydney, Australia.

In Nigeria, a technical linkage was established with the Ogun State University (now Olabisi Onabanjo University) under the LASU – OSU Linkage Programme.

The excellent academic record which the law graduates of LASU enjoyed at the Nigerian Law School, Abuja, was also vigorously sustained throughout the Akesode years (1997-2001).

More fundamentally but with a clear objective of expanding the revenue base of the University and ensuring proper accountability of self-generating programmes, Akesode proposed the establishment of a School of Part Time Studies for LASU. In the process of establishing this school, three separate position papers were submitted by Prof. B. B. Oderinde, Dr. Kunle Lawal and Dr. Siyan Oyeweso, while the law and organogram of the school were still awaiting Senate approval at the time of Akesode’s death.

The Akesode`s administration also provided conducive environment for learning and academic activities to flourish. He insisted that Graduate Assistants and Assistant Lecturers must pursue Doctoral programmes with vigour and consequently awarded them Ph.D research grants.

It was indeed during his tenure that an academic staff of LASU, Mr. E.O. Lawson of Fisheries Department, emerged the first alumnus of LASU to bag a Ph.D degree. Many other staff were also sponsored to overseas universities, It was indeed an era of self actualization.

A good number of university officials who started their career in LASU between 1984 and 1987 reached the peak of their professional and academic attainments.

For many years before Akesode, several principal officers of the university were serving in acting capacities. Prof. Akesode therefore ensured that many of them became substantive office holders.

Some of these principal officers included Gladstone Oluwatoyin Oshun as the Registrar, Mrs. O. O. Bajomo as the Bursar and the late Engr. S. A. Raji as the Director of Works and Services. In addition, Dr. A. O. Shodeinde was appointed the first substantive Director of the Educational Technology Centre.

In a similar vein, a number of academic staff attained professorial chairs during his tenure. Prominent in this category were Dr. Abisogun Olubode Leigh, Dr. Tunde S. Samuel, Dr. Martins Agenuma Anetekhai, Dr. S. Ademola Onifade, Dr. Funso Adaramola, Dr. O. O. Matanmi, Dr. T. A. Bolarin and Dr A. P. Agbonjimi.

It is also on record that not less than twenty academic staff became Associate Professors during Akesode’s tenure: Dr. E.A.Akinade Dr. C.N. Nwaboku, Dr. Sena Bak’re, Dr. O.B. Borrofice, Dr. A.C. Ariri-Chidomere, Dr. Tudonu Amosun, Dr. Kunle Lawal, Dr. M.A. Muhibbudin, Dr. A. Olukayode Ojo, Dr. M.M. Faseke, Dr. Dapo Asaju, Dr. Iyabo Olojede, Dr. Charles Alade, Dr. S.O. Olaniyonu, Dr. Amidu Sanni, Dr. Yinka Folorunso, Dr. O. Olagunju, Dr. A.O. Oyesakin and Dr. Siyan Oyeweso.

During Akesode’s era too, a number of Senior Academic and Administrative Staff had spectacular career advancements. The success of LASU was mostly outstanding as a result of which the university began to loan some of its staff to head other tertiary institutions across the country.

To all these staff, Professor Akesode was a major pillar of support and advice.

He was also priviledged to play very crucial role in their final selection, appointment or re-appointment. Prominent in this category were Dr. A. O. K. Noah, former Provost Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Professor Tunde Samuel, former Provost, Lagos State College of Primary Education, Prof. Ajaja, former Rector, Ondo State Polytechnic and Mr. Olojede, former Registrar, Lagos State College of Primary Education, Noforija.

It was also Akesode’s special privilege to release Prof Segun Matanmi and Ambassador Esan on National assignments.

Prof. O.O. Matanmi later served as the Senior Special Assistant to the erstwhile Minister for Solid Minerals, Mrs. Dupe Adelaja while Ambassador Esan served as the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.

During Akesode’s tenure, too, window of opportunities was also opened for junior administrative staff to embark on training and development through LASU’s several Part-Time Programmes where they also enjoyed academic rebate. A good number of Clerical Officers, Executive Officers and Higher Executive Officers are now proud holders of First Degrees of the Lagos State University.

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