Obafemi’s Hardware: The Academic and Leadership Nexus, By Toyin Falola

What is needed anywhere in the world to promote an individual is his/her receipt of excellence in positions where s/he has been tested. For Obafemi, the evidence of success in the positions where he has been chosen are substantial. In a country like Nigeria, one earns the opportunity to be nationally known if one contributes immensely to the advancement of activities for which one is elected or selected. The name of Obafemi became a domestic affair because he represented well in union positions he has served at different times. This brought him some level of popularity, which eventually helped his upward mobility and career trajectory. He became actively involved in shaping the country’s education system in his position as the headship of department, deanship, and then in the school generally. But this would be surpassed by the positions allocated to him subsequently. Having realised how important he was in the various positions where he served, he was called to function in greater places where he would be of national importance to the country generally. In the year 2000, he was appointed as Chairman of the Governing Board of the National Commission for Museums and Monument.

This position was meant to corroborate the belief that he was exceptional and fruitful in the different capacities he has functioned in. From the experience of Obafemi, one would understand that a close connection lies between being determined and successful because a determined person would always look for opportunities to make an impact. Meanwhile, making an impact is the cornerstone of success because it would open the individual to a broader range of greater options. He became successful as a teacher because he was offered a chance to serve at a higher capacity, from where he once again demonstrated an uncommon level of control. The academic community where he functioned felt his presence and always celebrated his intellect. He became an invaluable addition to them with his highly innovative ways of handling leadership responsibilities. One of such skills is the ability to manage different people and harness their thoughts and ideas for the academic community’s common good. While he was a member of the union, he did not compromise the standards, and also when he found himself in administrative office, he was active and productive.

Before being appointed as the chairman of the Governing Board, he served in several positions with outstanding records of enviable achievements. When he served on the Board of Governors of the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, he brought his leadership experience to bear on the Board, which he made notable contributions towards the enhancement of its success. However, one thing that stands out is that he was never distracted by these positions as to waiver in his commitment. Despite being bombarded with responsibilities, Obafemi found no difficulty in managing his business with respectable performance. He was highly successful because moving between his career work and newspaper column, to which he has dedicated most of his time, was more manageable. He admitted that every form of progress he made during his journey was his background as an academic. He has mastered the very act of giving priority to things that are considered very important. He managed his time very well as a seasoned academic and a successful administrator because he was raised in a generation where delivery and impact are the two most important things that are emphasised. In essence, there is a close relationship between being an academic and a leader because the two are mutually helpful.

Toyin Falola, a professor of History and University Distinguished Teaching Professor, is Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at The University of Texas at Austin.

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