Prof Abolade Olusegun Adeniji is the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and has been around for a long time. He has witnessed both the good and bad times. He told The Intellectual that despite its challenges, Lagos State University has recorded many milestones worth celebrating.
What have been the Faculty of Arts’ achievements over the years?
How would you judge the achievements of a faculty? I think what would be of primary importance is what has be achieved by way of the products we have graduated over the years, and I can tell you that when I do a reflection of what we have achieved, I am somehow surprised that this faculty has turned out so much, in terms of manpower development. I see our students everywhere. I see our ex-students in private organizations, government ministries, in non-governmental organisations. Some of them are even successful pastors. And I tell myself, there must have been some good things the faculty members have done to produce the calibre of students we are seeing in the industry.
But in concrete terms, I can tell you this: I know that it is not usually appreciated enough, because of the perception problem that the university has outside, unfortunately, that this university has a lot of issues and that nothing good can come out of Jerusalem. But I know it’s not so. I finished from the University of Lagos and I know that our products can compete with the best anywhere in the country. Like I said, I see them everywhere, proving themselves. It’s not fair to single out names, as I will not be doing justice to others, but believe me when I say that our faculty has done well.
Then, even in terms of staff development, I got here without a PhD. I am amazed now in a pleasant way, to realize that many of the departments are so well studded. By the way, those on ground have improved themselves. And for the good people LASU has been able to recruit from outside, there must be something about this university that brings people here. So, while we choose to engage in self-denigration, we must also look at the bright side, which is that some good things must be going on here, whether we chose to recognize it or not.
There is also this perception that your faculty attracts the highest number of applicants for various degree progammes. What makes it so attractive?
I am not too sure about that. I know we traditionally have a huge number of applicants but I am not sure if we have more than the Management Sciences.
But be that as it may, I can tell you that the subscription level is very high and I have seen that continue over the years. I suspect that this may possibly be as a result of the word that has been passed around and the tales, if you like, by those who finished from here.
There are still those whose experience and disposition towards LASU is still positive and I think this has helped, especially in the junior ranks. We are veterans now, but I can confidently tell you that there are some very brilliant chaps here who raised the act of impacting knowledge to a whole new level.
Are all your programmes fully accredited?
Usually, we hardly have problem of accreditation. The only slight problem we had was with the Language courses and that’s because unfortunately for us, the Language laboratory being built for us by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), has not been completed (then). But about two months ago, we had a grand opening. It’s one of the best in the country, so we are waiting to showcase and parade what we have and I don’t think we would have any problem this time.
The accreditation team made it clear that they were okay with the staffing and all of that, but that you can’t be teaching French, Portuguese, English languages without having a language lab and we took up the challenge.
What has your experience been as a veteran and someone who has lectured in LASU for more than 25 years?
I was briefly in the University of Lagos (UNILAG), then I was in Ogun State University as Lecturer. In UNILAG, I was a graduate assistant. It was Prof Ogunremi, of blessed memory, that said to me, look, I am bringing you to LASU. I don’t know what he saw, but he brought me here and explained some potential advantages to me which didn’t make much sense to me then.
But I have been here since 1990 and I don’t want to go elsewhere. A few years ago, I was a visiting professor somewhere at a Research Institute, with fantastic accommodation, fantastic transport system and all of that, but after a few months, it was like I had left for five years and I couldn’t wait to return.
The Institute was in a very urban centre and the question was, ‘why do you want to return to the forest (LASU)?’ And I told them I don’t how to explain it, but it’s like a bug. This is where I am going to end my career. I am not going anywhere. I know LASU has perception problem and I know it’s inundated with crisis, but I also know that it is a wonderful place.
When you have been in a place for such a while, you treasure the memory. You learn to accept whatever it is and you move on, and then, because we have the advantage of moving about, you will soon realize that your university has some distinct advantages which you won’t appreciate until and unless you go elsewhere.
When I was in these other places and even when I was abroad, because I got one job, the excitement was mounting. I was told it was a one-year contract and I asked, what does that mean? They told me, ‘that’s how we do here, after four years, we renew until you are tenured’ and I said no, they are waiting for me in LASU. I cannot keep renewing appointment every year when I have a stable appointment elsewhere.
LASU is home and I have not regretted any moment. I am glad I came here and I have so far enjoyed my career.