ON one side is a human with a big heart for development. The object of love is an institution that has come to mean more than a source of livelihood to him. It is more than a family to him. It is the Lagos State University (LASU) where he is the Acting Head of Department of the department of Mass Communication.
Associate Professor Tunde Akanni, like a faithful lover, has been looking after LASU’s interests and affairs for over two decades. There is no greater evidence than in his articles where he has been discussing different issues affecting the citadel of learning. A peep into some of the articles will reveal nothing but passion for accelerated progress and development of the Lagos-owned institution.
The articles written over the years on different media platforms bear testimony to his desire to see the institution prosper and become a leading light in the globe. Like most lovers, Akanni sometimes agonises over the challenges facing his beloved institution. At other times, he gloats over its giant strides like a proud lover eager to show off a bride to the envy of others.
Days after the call-off of a long strike by the Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) in 2007, Akanni wrote a piece titled: ‘Ambode’s destiny of distinctions and LASU’.
In it, he pointed out how the appointment of Professor Olanrewaju Fagbohun as Vice-Chancellor by former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode had turned out to be a masterstroke two years after.
Akanni pointed out that Fagbohun democratised governance within the university community with a human face. He recalled how he established 30 committees to address the challenges facing the institution. He was particularly intrigued the Vice-Chancellor restored the foreign training and collaborations which he was denied in the previous administration for uncanny reasons.
He further praised the former Governor for appointing Professor Bayo Ninalowo as the chair of the university council. The appointment, for him, was the right direction that would move the university forward.
As the first chair to hold the revered position, Akanni believed “he should just go for gold.”
According to him: “The reality today is that Lagos State can afford to own two universities but for now makes do with one. Conspicuously, less-resourced Ondo and neighbouring Ogun States have two universities each. It will beat my imagination if this era of the leadership of Professor Ninalowo does not stand out in the history of LASU for a long time with all the benefits of experience and supposed patriotic desire for his dear state.
“Currently, the best state university in the country, LASU can’t afford to be rated lower than the best federal government universities. If it could do better with enhanced facilities, it already parades some of the best scholars in town, deserving only the best possible from the promising profiles of the governor, the university council chair and the vice-chancellor.”
Such optimism was confirmed not to be misplaced in 2020 when Akanni wrote another article titled: ‘How LASUSOC cultivated national leadership for LASU’. The exultant writer gloats on the many firsts of the Lagos State School of Communication (LASUSOC) on its 20th anniversary.
The faculty, he shared, had been attracting eminent sabbatical scholars, including Professor Lai Oso, Prof Ralf Akinfeleye, Professor Femi Sonaike, Professor Anthony Olorunnisola and others. For Akanni, each of them was a big catch that aided the scholastic endeavour of the faculty, which started the unbundling of Mass Communication programmes long before others started embracing it.
The Association for Communication Scholars and Practitioners of Nigeria (ACSPN) pioneered by Oso, who he spoke glowingly off, was another effort of the faculty to bridge the gap between media academics, professionals and practitioners as well as contribute to the body of knowledge.
He decided to beam the searchlight on some products of the faculty doing exploits in their different corners. They litter the academic, public and private sectors, making the faculty more than proud of its transforming impact on knowledge.
Akanni makes a 360-degree turnaround in ‘Community relations agenda for the incoming LASU VC’ where he bemoans the pathetic state of roads leading to the institution. The situation, he believed, was not befitting of a world-class institution of LASU status. Like a bemused lover, Akanni’s heartbreak is easy to decode.
He wrote: "Between Egbeda and Igando, there is no known formally established market to warrant impenetrable road. Let’s traverse that route together here: Coming from Iyana-Ipaja to Egbeda, there’s a layby for commercial buses to make for free flow of traffic. They don’t use it and it seemed to have become an agreed normal between law enforcers and commercial motorists.
"More threateningly, you are on your way to LASU from the nation’s premier and largest international airport via Dopemu to the same Egbeda on your way to LASU, right at Egbeda, commercial motorists routinely throw caution to the wind. They make a U-turn from the two sides of the dual carriage road by GTBank making mess of that junction. Yet, less than 50 metres away by Ilaka Junction, they turn the road into some garage leaving other road users, pedestrians and cyclists, at their hard to come by mercy.
"As you survive Egbeda and head on to Idimu, the bus drivers constantly disrupt your free drive as they disregard the provided layby points to pick passengers arbitrarily. You can’t avoid sudden intermittent stops, which cause accidents often. The most annoying point perhaps is the Idimu Junction right in front of an LCDA secretariat. Bus drivers converge right at the gate of the secretariat to pick passengers even as a properly constructed layby is only one-minute drive beyond it. You wonder, what the CDA officials benefit from this anomie.
"The apogee of the traffic congestion these days is at Igando, where, ironically, there is a distinctly visible bus terminus. Bus drivers shy away from the terminus and instead constrict the road to the barest minimum leaving long stretch of traffic on the road, all day. So, you can’t have any such ambition of hurrying to LASU or returning either.’’
On his 20th anniversary as a lecturer, Akanni decides to take a look at his life as a mentor to many students. He names students who stood out all these years, recalling how his biggest joy has been seeing them accomplishing mighty feats across the globe in different fields. He is happy to show off his many contributions in academia, cutting many fields of endeavour.
But he spares a thought for his mentors as well. A good mentor is a product of good mentors. Akanni recalled how he benefitted from mentors like Najeem Jimoh and Liad Tella who nurtured him as a journalist in his practising years. But for their help and support, Akanni is certain he may not have come off so well.
In all, the articles more than reveal his deep passion and affection for the institution, a lifelong affair with the potential for many more good things.