I think it was the most challenging time of my life, in terms of doing something you had wished for and trying to make a difference in the way universities are run in the country.
It was really challenging in terms of managing the unions because at the time, they were quite volatile. The demands on the system were too much and there was no money in the university; in terms of developing the university to the right
standard. So, managing the union, trying to find a solution to the myriads of problems, trying to create a conducive environment for learning; bridging the gap between the ‘town and gown’ (non-academic population and university community) in those days was also a challenge because the people in the town were not comfortable with us.
I tried to strengthen the relationship between the school and the indigenes of the town and also see how they could contribute to the school. The essence of a university in a place is to contribute to the community apart from advancing knowledge.
They should be able to use the knowledge to influence what is around them positively. I thank God that I was able to manage and achieve, to some extent, what I thought I should do as a VC.
You left the University of Lagos to become FUTA VC; at the beginning of your career as an academic, did you nurse an ambition to become a vice-chancellor someday or it happened by happenstance?
Nothing happens without a reason; the reason may not have to do with me but God. To be honest, I had it in mind and I prayed silently that if God would give me an opportunity to become a VC, I would do certain things.
I was already at the UNILAG Consult as managing director for six years. When I was there, I paid my own salary and it was because the place was set up as a consultancy unit of the school, which was meant to make money for the institution.
My understanding was that if I could not pay my salary and that of the staff and I had to rely on the university to pay, then what was the essence of the office? That was the reason I applied when I saw their advertisement.
Initially, the school was paying my salary but I convinced the board to stop doing that. The only thing that would have made me work harder was having the mindset that I would pay my salary, the salaries of my members of staff and also generate money for the university.
Was it in the middle of that you applied to be the VC of another institution?
I did not even apply to become the VC of the UNILAG let alone that of FUTA. (Prof) Akin Oyebode, who was the VC of the University of Ado-Ekiti was having his first convocation as a VC.
And since we are from the same town, I felt I should go and support him. When I got there, I met some staff members of FUTA who were also from my town and they were the ones that asked me if I had seen the advert for the position of VC of FUTA.
I told them that I had not seen it; then they asked if I was interested and I asked if I was a material for the post of the VC? I enjoyed the freedom of being a university staff member, as a teacher.
I told them that I did not know if I was the kind of person that they wanted for the job and the matter died there. After a week, two professors from FUTA came with a letter from the search team, saying that they had come to ‘search’ for me.
I laughed and then, I looked at the letter. Sometimes, when you pray for something and it is about to happen, you become jittery. They told me that if I would accept their proposal, I had to submit my CV and my vision for the university and they gave me a deadline for that.
Shortly after they left, I forgot about the letter, mainly because I had a lot of projects on my neck at the time. A day to the deadline, I got a call from the registrar telling me that they had not seen my CV and vision for the school.
So I got my CV and I quickly put my thoughts together and came up with how to advance the school.
What did you put down as your vision for the school?
I had the opportunity to visit National University