TASUED: X-raying Prof Oyesiku’s example in leadership, academics

John Maxwell once said that everything rises and falls on leadership. Therefore, when Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED), was proclaimed into being as the nation’s premier university of education, the decision of who could be at the helm of affairs of this fledging tertiary institution was not one to be taken in a hurry.

Thankfully, time and results have proven that the choice of Professor Olukayode Oyekanmi Oyesiku as TASUED’s first ever vice-chancellor was not a wrong one.

TASUED was proclaimed by the Ogun State Government on January 29, 2005, and approved by the National Universities Commission (NUC) on November 28, 2005, as the first specialised University of Education in Nigeria, and the second of such on the entire African continent, and the eighth in the world.

The vision of the university is “to be the preferred university of education which will excel in preparing educators who will be leaders in all spheres of the discipline”, while its mission is “to enhance the quality of teaching and learning and continuously update the method and skills of knowledge providers by equipping them with modern technology and services delivered by skilled and motivated members of staff to meet the contemporary and future needs of Nigeria with the capability to compete globally.”

Recall that TASUED used to be Tai Solarin College of Education (TASCE) that was also formerly Ogun State College of Education established in 1978 as the first tertiary institution to be established by the Ogun State Government after its creation in 1976.

Professor Oyesiku, as the pioneer vice-chancellor, did not have the option of failing to deliver the mandate for the establishment of this university. He was the vice-chancellor from April 1, 2005 to March 31, 2010. As a professional Urban and Regional Planner, he set the pace for the rapid physical development of the university.

Professor Oyesiku set to work immediately, guiding the unviversity safely through uncharted waters of TASUED as a university in those early years. As a professor who specialises in Strategic Development Planning; Urban & Regional Development Policy; Human Capacity Development; Transport Systems Policy & Planning; Sustainable Development Goals Implementation & Research, certain milestones were recorded and recognised by organisations within and outside Nigeria.

For instance, the All Africa Students’ Union (AASU) in August 2008, all the way in Accra, Ghana, recognised Professor Oyesiku’s efforts and granted TASUED the Most Outstanding University of Education in Africa.

Earlier that year, TAUED under Professor Oyesiku’s leadership was recognised as number one in the Best Individual Researcher Development Arts Category, at the third Nigerian Universities Research and Development Fair, held at the University of Lagos, in March 2008.

Corporate Award for Excellence by Renaissance Group for Cultural Rebirth was presented to Tai Solarin University of Education, in recognition of its distinguished support for culture as a vehicle of Soci-Economic Development, April 2007, under Profess Oyesiku’s leadership.

He initiated through a Private Public Participation (PPP) arrangement involving individuals and corporate organisations, a combined package of over N1.8 billion physical assets.

It was no longer a mystery that in his five years of leadership, 19 major physical development projects were in place in TASUED, with strong linkages with banks and corporate organisations for donations of physical buildings, computers and supporting services.

Academically speaking TASUED excelled under his watch. The university had 100 percent accreditation with no denied accredited programme by the National University Commission (NUC) in its first accreditation exercise just within three years of existence.

TASUED was eventually rated 14th best among all Nigerian universities in Webonic Ranking and first among the state universities in the country in 2010.

An achiever within and outside the Ivory Tower, Professor Oyesiku was appointed member of the Federal Government’s Vision 2020:20 Human Capital Development Thematic Group in 2009.

He has been chairman, Human Capital Development Programme, Ogun State, since 2006.

He was a member of the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities from 2005 to 2010, and member of the Committee of Vice Chancellor of Nigerian State Universities from 2005 to 2010.

Within the university, his achievements are known and recognised.

Professor Oyesiku received on November 2021 an Award of Honour by the Tai Solarin University of Education Foundation, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the university as the pioneer vice chancellor (2005-2010), who laid the solid foundation to the development and growth of the university.

He received a Distinguished Merit Award of Service from the management of Tai Solarin University of Education Secondary School, in recognition of his contributions to the establishment and growth of Tai Solarin University of Education Secondary School, having served as former Proprietor, on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the College in October 2016.

Professor Oyesiku was recognised as the Doyen of Professional Administration by the Registry of Federal College of Education, Abeokuta, in recognition of exemplary leadership and distinguished contributions towards advancing the frontier of professional administration in Nigeria and the College of Education Sector in September, 2016.

He was received a Distinguished Award of Excellence by the National Association of Academic Technologists, as pioneer Vice Chancellor of Tai Solarin University of Education in March 2010.

That same month of March 2010, Professor Oyesiku got the TASUED Distinguished Leader’s Award from the Governing Council of Tai Solarin University of Education, in recognition of his selfless service, commitment and good initiative for the growth and development of TASUED.

He received the Best Serving Vice Chancellor of the Year 2009 award by National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Joint Campus Committee (JCC), Ogun State Axis, in recognition of contributions towards Educational Development and Youth Empowerment in Ogun State.

Professor Oyesiku also received a Merit Award for the Administrator of the Most Peaceful Campus in Ogun State 2007, by Rotary Club of Oke-Ona Egba, District 9110 Nigeria.

Indeed, TASUED is the better for it till date having Professor Oyesiku as its pioneer VC. Those who came after him are indeed grateful for the solid foundation he laid; a foundation on which they are building a greater TASUED that the country and continent will be proud of.

Professor Oyesiku had his Grade One School Certificate from Baptist Boys’ High School Abeokuta in 1975.

He obtained a Higher School Certificate/Advanced Level in Geography, Mathematics and Chemistry from The Polytechnic, Ibadan in 1977.

He graduated from the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria in 1980 with a BSC in Geography.

He went further for a master in the same university and finished his master of Urban and Regional Planning in 1983.

Not satisfied, he did a master of Arts in Development Studies (Regional Development and Planning) in 1991 at the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague in The Netherlands.

He obtained his PhD from the University of Benin in 1989.

Professor Oyesiku’s recent academic position was Provost, College of Engineering and Environmental Sciences at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, a position he will be retiring from shortly.

Having had the privilege of heading certain professional bodies including the Association of Nigerian Geographers as president, and the Chartered Institute of Transport and Logistics Nigeria national deputy president, and a representative of the president of the Nigerian Institute of Town planners, he told Nigerian Tribune about the challenge such professional bodies face.

He said, “The government and their agencies do not feel warm to associations’ and professional bodies’ comments about the challenges that government and its agencies have. Professional bodies have ethics and conducts and are established according to government laws. Professional bodies should be seen as partners with government at all levels. But government see professional bodies as a threat. We are not union, but we seek the betterment of society.

“Government at all levels should seek the input of professional bodies into their policy formulation, programmes and budgets. Government should support professional bodies, not necessarily financially. They can send officers to our programmes for them to participate and take away meaningful things.

“The bottom line is that government at all level should see professional bodies as being of relevance to the development of their policies and programmes.”

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