FOR anyone who knows her well, the truth is that you can hardly afford to look elsewhere when Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello, Professor of Physiology and Vice-Chancellor of the Lagos State University is within the same social or official space with you. She is as energetic as delectable.
Sampler: Duty beckoned recently and my dutiful VC had to go to England for a programme that involved some other Nigerian Vice-Chancellors, including University of Lagos’ Prof Ogunshola and Federal University of Akure’s Professor Oladiji (OLADIJI AS THE FRESH FERVOUR FOR FUTA | The Nation Newspaper (thenationonlineng.net). What, however, has turned out to be earning the utmost mileage, to date, deriving from the London programme is a photograph of the three female academic icons.
The image has remained the reference for prayer points on Facebook and several homes. You don’t have to be a stakeholder in any of the three institutions to get glued to the photograph either for the reason of the aesthetics of the poise of the characters or for inspiration for some of us who have ambitious daughters.
Indomitable Ibiyemi was, sometime in March 2023, again in Abuja at the instance of the then Ministry of Communication Technology and Digital Culture to formally take delivery of facilities for broadband internet for select universities in Nigeria. She was prompt and yet related with panache with her fellow VCs and others. The compere of the event and Head of Online Media for Nigeria Communication Commission, NCC, Dr Omoniyi Ibietan could not hold back her admiration for “the faithful and respectable VC. I’m sure she is doing well for your institution”, he later mentioned to me in some exchange.
VC Olatunji-Bello’s accomplishments have taken LASU to great heights in what may be reckoned as the trendiest version and one fully supportive of the proclaimed preference of the owner-government. Prior to Olatunji-Bello’s assumption of office, the Lagos State Government had announced that it was resorting to e-governance for a lot of transactions that citizens might want to do with it, thus relieving citizens of avoidable travels and troubles of preponderant louts. Olatunji-Bello took charge of LASU and made conscious efforts to ensure LASU became the model LASG needed to properly run its e-governance system. How?
Even as she may be susceptible to the comfort of her towering duty post, VC Olatunji-Bello never leaves anyone in doubt about her dynamic disposition to both domestic and official matters, which, incidentally attracts a lot of benefits to the LASU she loves. Promptly, she inspired optimal functionality for Nigeria’s first-ever university online safety application called LASU Monitor. Globally available online on the Google Play store, the app, once downloaded and activated, helps distressed device owners to alert LASU DICT centre to detect the location and other details for possible rescue of the concerned. According to the Director of LASU DICT, effervescent Prof Enikuomehin, the motherly VC as a perfectionist inspired additional reporting tools for the app as, according to him, “VC is keen on making LASU West Africa’s best university with zero record of tragedy of any form, let alone kidnapping plaguing the nation at the time of her assumption of office.”
In what seemed like breathing life into the maxim that the ICT world is one endowed with infinite possibilities, there’s no stopping the motherly VC’s ingenious deployment of IT. Under her, the university went ahead to digitalize virtually all key operations and processes such that students may not have physical interaction with any officer from the point of admission to graduation. According to the information unit of the VC’s office, “LASU, in an unprecedented stride in Nigeria, has upgraded its certificate to one embedded with an instant Verification Feature, with which individuals and organisations can verify the authenticity of a LASU certificate immediately, from anywhere in the world.
“In addition, we have also undertaken the installation of a plagiarism detector in the University; installation of a Remote Lecture room, lecture recording studios and smart classroom in the Postgraduate Schools; installation of a thesis repository management centre in the Postgraduate School; commencement of automation of issuance of matriculation number in the Postgraduate School; commencement of online clearance and result uploading portal in the Postgraduate School; introduction of digital forensic training with participants from multinationals and other sectors; introduction of a course in cyber policing; introduction of LASU Senate decision extracts management system; introduction of e-Senate and Senate file management with access for all members; automation of all diploma programmes with result portal in the University; digitalization of all University's records from 1985 – 2015”. So much in the realm of ICT, you would probably say.
Alongside this level of Digitech surefootedness has been physical development across all the campuses of the Great LASU. The main campus at Ojo is literally one vast construction site now even as this Olatunji-Bello administration is ensuring even distribution of the new facilities. Although Madam VC is of LASUCOM, beneficiaries range from the pioneering Arts Faculty to others, including the Communication and Media Studies Faculty now ensconced in a new block befitting its planned commemoration of two decades of inception in September 2023.
For Olatunji-Bello however, the physical development of the campuses has been such a guided one smacking of environmental impact assessment as advocated by environmentalists. No wonder, LASU deservedly bagged the 2022 edition of Best Green/Environmentally Friendly University, not only in Nigeria but the entire West Africa. The parameters for the award according to the promoters included Setting and Infrastructure; Energy and Climate Change; Transportation and Education.
Such are the overlapping phases of development that LASU has emerged as the toast of the chief executives of educational agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria. After a series of commendations from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund, for instance, as recently as June 2023, the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, NUC, Prof Abdul Rasheed, offered to come and commission the new TETFund-supported building of FCMS. The NUC boss was unsparing in his celebration of the efforts of LASU’s Amazon, which has transformed into a Dynamo on account of her relentlessness and matching achievements.
Earlier, the nation’s integrity icon in the public service who is the registrar and Chief Executive of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, Prof Is-haq Oloyede, had paid VC Olatunji-Bello a courtesy call. On that occasion, Oloyede commended the LASU leader on her commitment to development especially with her trajectory as a former Deputy Vice-Chancellor.
No LASUITE, staff or student, however, could forget Prof Olatunji-Bello’s inimitable records as the Director of the Lagos State University’s Directorate of Advancement, LASUDA. It is therefore not for nothing that the VC’s averted expectation of a continually supportive LASUDA occasioned by the sudden death of its immediate past Director, Prof Yinka Okubena, registered most impactfully on all.
Beyond technological and physical developments is the primacy of psychological wellness of LASUITES even as the university unmistakably subscribes to global values and best practices. The university today has well-resourced counselling centres on all the campuses complemented by a well-orchestrated campaign against Gender Based Violence, GBV. Most commendably too, LASU’s Centre for the Actualisation of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, LASU-SDG, is also at the forefront of the advocacy for Agenda 2030 component of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, SDG. Indeed, the Centre has just concluded a well-attended conference where no fewer than 109 academic papers were presented.
Two years after mounting the saddle of LASU’s numero uno officer, Madam VC’s posturing of one with rolled-up sleeves is tellingly revealing even as the ground covered is unmistakably impressive. The march towards the leadership of West African universities looks promising. This situation will however be more reassuring if cadres of LASUITES across staff and students pledge to subscribe to the vision of the institution’s number one Martriach.