How I ran away from DSS training for lecturing – Prof. Azeez, Unilorin Mass Comm Don

Prof. Adesina Lukman Azeez is an astute administrator and a robust communication scholar. He has taught fundamental courses in communication and has held several administrative portfolios in the University of Ilorin, over the years. Currently, he is the Director, Center for Advancement and Endowment, University of Ilorin. 
Azeez who was recently announced as the pioneer Professor in the Department of Mass Communication, University of Ilorin, In this exclusive interview with Fresh Insights’ Publisher Abdulrasheed Akogun, Editor Ibrahim Sheriff Gold and Ofem Kebesobase Ibiang recently in his office. Excerpts
Outside you being a popular and revered Unilorin Don, can you lead us through your background ?

I am Adesina Lukuman Azeez, people know me as Azeez, even during my days in the Uniiversity, but Azeez is my surname. Many of my lecturers know me as Azeez; at the mention of Azeez, it would conjure certain imaged of a guy who came from a village and became so popular, as a result of what they think he has, which is intelligence. Like I said, I am from a very small village in Oyo State, Kajola Local Government, precisely, Ayetoro Okeho.

This is an area where people struggle to become something because there are no counselors. In my place in those days, when you say you go to school, the highest you can go is Teachers Training College Grade II. So, you see that majority of our people are teachers, and that was the reason why even when I started my life, I became a teacher too, because I went to College of Education as it was the pattern then.

That is the reason why I do tell people that I have a complete metamorphosis as my education; from primary school to modern school, from modern school to secondary school, secondary school to NCE, and then university; two masters and then PhD. And that was because of where I come from; you have to meander like that because there were no counselors to guide and show you a short route.

And most of the time you have to counsel yourself and self-struggle. And that was the reason why I find it hard because my Dad was averagely rich, but at a point in time the money went down the drain when I was entering University. Because he was a Bricklayer, in fact, he was a glorified contractor, he used to construct big bridges even though he didn’t study civil engineering. He constructed one bridge and it was very nice, because of that they gave him a contract to construct another one.

You know, as a contractor, you would have to use your money to do the work, thereafter, they would pay you at the end of the job.
He used all his money to construct the bridge. Unfortunately, the bridge collapsed, and that was how all his money went with the bridge. And that was exactly when I finished my NCE. So he told me, you have to be a teacher so that you have money and take care of your other siblings. So, I accepted because he is my father, and I needed to sympathise with him. But within two years, something told me that I cannot just sit down here. So, I did JAMB and I told him Dad, I have gotten admission into Unilag, and I am leaving this job that you asked me to do. And he said you know that I don’t have any money to sponsor you? And that was how I got to Unilag, and nobody was sponsoring me; I had to do lessons from one place to another to take care of myself because I was popular among students.

They would give me money and some people would buy me beverages, the types I had never taken before while in the village. And in spite of all my struggles I still came out as the best student. I won seven awards, and ever since I left that place, nobody was able to have such number of awards again. So, from there, one of my lecturers said, I should continue, I should not look for job. Ordinarily as a poor person, I should have been looking for jobs, but he said no, I should continue; I did my first masters, second masters and finally got admission for PhD at the prestigious University of Leeds, UK, without any sponsor.

I had to struggle to pay my school fees. In fact, at a point in time, I had to run back home severally. But I have an uncle who believed so much in me, and anytime I ran back to Lagos he would get me ticket money and he would say I have to go back and come back with PhD. At a point in time I realized that I could not continue to run back home, and I decided to stay back in the UK. I told my God to help me and He helped. And then, I got some menial jobs like care work and security, and money was flowing. And that was how I was able to pay my school fees without anybody except God. So that is my story, and I think it is a good story that I can now tell.

You were promoted to enviable Professorial and making record as the pioneer Professor of the Department. To some it is belated, to you, how do you feel?

I must say that I am so happy. So happy because just like you said, many people have been looking towards the appointment long before now. To some people, I would say, it is belated and to me too, probably because of the expectations people have on me, although I would not say that it is coming too late.

I would say that it is God’s time, and God’s time is the best. I also thank God in the sense that I joined the university in 2009, and today I am a Professor. Ordinarily, in any public university, you would have to spend not less than 10 years before you can become a Professor because professorial level is a leadership position. The thinking is that you can only acquire that leadership experience when you have spent not less than 10 years.

So, I would say that it is normal because I have spent only probably 12 years, and within the time I should be a Professor, especially in public University.

If it were to be in private university, probably, I could have gotten it earlier than this. But just like I said, I believe it is God’s time and God has done it in His own time, and I thank God, and I see it as the grace of God; the favour of God. Yes, many people have been calling and saying yes, you deserve it, yes, you are hard-working, yes, you are like this and like that. But I always just smile and say yes, it is God’s grace, because I might be hard-working, I might be intelligent as people do say, but then, it is God that would decide, and he has decided. And I feel so happy.

Growing up, did you ever envisaged you’ll one day become a Professor?

I didn’t know I would become a Professor. But right from the time I was in Secondary School, the way God has been directing me, and my general behaviour was tilted toward, or I was clued to the fact that I might be a Professor. Because I remember when I was in secondary school in my village, I was always writing around; I would just take chalk and be writing on the walls of any building around; writing ‘big, big grammar’.

You know in the village people didn’t really understand what it meant. I, too, didn’t really understand the meaning of what I was doing. The inspiration would just come, and I would pick chalk and then, I would write ‘big, big grammar’. I remember what I used to write then was big words to praise God. But I think when I got to the university, it became very clear to me that is like God was taking me to this area which is academic. Because by the time I was in Unilag, I was so popular as a student.

Popular because people saw me as very intelligent, and because of that people would rally round me to give them guidance, tutorials, advice and to help in assignments. So, then I remember I was very popular, my junior students would be looking for me to do or guide them on their assignments. Then, I was always doing it with happiness and my classmates would tell me why can’t you be charging this people? But I was doing it with happiness. I would do assignment for my co- students; they would bring full projects to me, and I remember they used to call me “GeeKapper”.

They would give me a whole project as a contract, and within 2, 3 days I would finish a whole project for them without collecting kobo. Yes. Some people would give a token, but what was important to me was the happiness doing such give me and the capacity it was also building in me.

Then, my classmates of 97 set would call me and say Azeez, is like you would become a Professor, so when we finish here, you are not going anyway.
Some people were also thinking that as intelligent as this boy is, he is likely to be working in Shell or Chevron. But some people used to say, when you finish you are not going to Shell or Chevron, you will stay back in this department and teach students.

I think I was what I was as a student at Unilag because of the direction given to me by the former minister of Youth and Sports, Malam Bolaji Abdullahi.
So I must also appreciate him for building me and showing me the way to excel as a student. He was in final year when I entered the University. He was then the President of the Students Association. As the President, he was always available to advise the junior ones, especially those that were just being admitted

I cannot remember how I became close to him, but I remember vividly how he called me one day and told me that: to excel in this department, you need to know better than your lecturers. He then instructed me that I should always go to the library to read ahead of my lecturers in order to know better. This was an instruction I took dearly in my heart and followed religiously.

This was one of the reasons why I became a tutor to my classmates and those coming behind me. So Mallam Bolaji is one of the mentors I must dedicate this achievement to. I will ever thank him.

I will also ever be thankful to a colleague in the Department, Dr. Kayode Mustapha. I never worked to be the first Professor of Mass Comm at the University of Ilorin; God used him to make me get the special honour. When I finished my PhD in the UK, he convinced me to come to Ilorin to come and help build the Department that was just growing.

He processed my coming in conjunction with the late Doyin Mahmoud who was then the Head of Department. At this juncture, I must also ever be grateful to Professor Ishiaq Oloyede. He was the Vice- Chancellor then. He was impressed when my case was presented to him, and with great enthusiasm and vision, he appointed me, and gave me great opportunities to grow.

So I really owe the successive leaderships of the University of Ilorin a lot of gratitude because each of them gave me limitless opportunity to grow in the University. My aspiration right from the beginning has always been to be a lecturer at the University of Lagos, but Dr. Mustapha convinced me with visionary reasons why it would be for me at Unilorin. And I must admit that it is really better with the grace of God.

25 years down the line as the best graduating Student, how do you measure your success monetarily ?

We are all human beings, sometimes, you sit down and look back and you begin to ask yourself why couldn’t I have done it this way? But just like I told you, before I finished my first degree, people have been telling me that you don’t need to go and look for job; this is where you belong. I know of many of my lecturers who loved me so much, and one of them that I will never forget is Prof. Uyo. He took me under his tutelage, because he saw that I will become a Professor; I will become an academic. The same thing applies to late Uche, Akinfeleye and so many of them.

These were my lecturers. And I remember one Professor who was our level adviser when I was finishing my first degree in the Department of Mass Communication. He called Uyo and said this Azeez is likely to become a Professor. And Uyo said this is what I know about this guy. So, what I am saying is that the direction and the spirit has been pushing me toward this line. And that is the reason why I have never in my life applied for any position or any work, except when I was employed into the Oyo State civil service and for this job that took me to this level. Because immediately I finished my first degree, one of my lecturers said, you are not coming to mass comm. I want you to go to another department because I see you as a Professor, and I want you to become a Professor of wider horizon.

“Go to another department and have a master there before you come back to Mass comm”. When I was thinking that what is this man saying? He threatened me; “Look, if you don’t listen to me and you come back here, I would not make it easy for you”. At the end of the day, I went to International Law and Diplomacy for my first master. And immediately I finished that master programme, he called and said yes, you have done what I asked you to do. He gave me money to pick another master form in mass communication. So, what I am saying is that I have never gotten opportunity or any motivation to say, let me look for a big job.

Even when the job I would have taken and I say, yes, I have taken this job, is the DSS job. Because when I did my Master in International Law and Diplomacy, one Professor, Uchegbu, appreciated my intelligence and said no, this one, you must be in DSS.

He went to Abuja and processed the job for me, and I could have taken the job, but what really made me not to take the job was because of the training. The training was so tough for me. Because the director said, yes, this job was given to you on a strong recommendation from your highly revered Professor but you have to go for training; you cannot avoid it. So, at the end of the day I went to the training and I realized that this is something I could not cope with, although sometimes I sit back and say if I have been in the DSS, probably I would have made so much money. Or, if I had worked in Chevron or Shell when I finished my first degree like people were saying, probably, I would have made so much money and become richer.

But like I said, if at all I was thinking about that, the spirit that was directing me was so enormous on me that I could not have dodged. Even when I finished my PhD in the UK, my thinking was that I was coming to look for big jobs that would fetch me big money. The reason was because I struggled so much on my own to do my PhD in the UK. I didn’t have any sponsorship, so I struggled. I spent more than eighty million to do my PhD in the UK, all alone doing security, care work and all kinds of menial jobs. So, when I finished, I felt that I should recoup my money, I should become rich because I had suffered. So, by the time I got home, the jobs that were coming to me were not Chevron jobs, they were not Shell jobs. What was coming to me were academic jobs.

So, even though one of my uncle took me to one man to get a job in Chevron, and the man said yes, this guy is intelligent and he will be useful to us in Chevron, but I will advise him not to come. He should go to academic where his intelligence would be useful to humanity. So, that could have been an opportunity to get me a good job that could have made me richer. But like I said, the spirit that was directing me was so forceful and enormous, maybe that was the reason the man was able to say, yes, you are intelligent, but we can’t take you in Chevron; even though I have the power to take you, but if I take you, I will be doing disservice to humanity.

So, go to academic and go and serve humanity with your intelligence. So, when I look back and I see that yes, I am not rich, but I have served humanity. Immediately I got to the University of Ilorin, my aspiration was to serve humanity; it was to build minds; and to the best of my capacity, I did that with all commitment and dedication. Yes as a Lecturer, I am very strict and I stand for excellence.

Talking about building minds, there is this notion that you are always happy when students fail your course.

(cuts in) That is an erroneous and wrong notion. I will say it is a fallacy, it is not right. There is no lecturer or any academic that will be happy when his students fail his course. Yes. I studied in the UK, and I know that the way they train minds in the UK is different from the way we train minds here. There is flexibility in the UK or US, and students hardly fail exam because before exam, they have already given them exam questions to study. And that is one of the reasons why they will not fail. You see, most times, I look at it and even when I got there, that was one of the culture shocks I had. That – why should lecturers give questions to students before writing exam?

It would be very denigrating to say that they are more intelligent than us here, but I would say that it is more mature so to say. So, in Nigeria or Africa, we believe that we have to train our minds with all strictness. And that is the reason why when you see a Nigerian that finishes his/her first degree here and goes to the UK or America to do his/her master, you see that he excels or leads because he has been trained and baked very well here. So in essence, what I am saying is that I am not always happy when my students fail my course.

But like I said, what I don’t compromise is excellence. And that is the reason why some people would say I am always very happy, but that is not true. I also feel sad, I always feel bad. And that is the reason why in every exam before the final result would come out, I might have edited it a lot; there is no exam my students write that I will not give them at least 15 marks extra, just to make sure that they don’t fail. But you see, I cannot compromise excellence; I go to class, I teach my students in the best way possible; that if at all you are a dullard, there is no how you would not know what I am teaching you. God has given me that capacity. He has given me that capacity to know how to train and mold students. That is why I often tell my students that I teach students to know. I expect them to know and prove to me that they know.

It is God’s grace. And that is the reason why I don’t always shy away from that. And that is why in spite of my busy schedules in the University, I don’t always play with my teaching; I go to class and I impact effectively. So my expectation is that if I teach very well, you should be able to show that you have understood what I taught you. I want my students to be students that can think; and that is the reason why students fail my courses because my questions are always about thinking; it is not about memorization or remote learning; it is about application.

How do you juxtapose academic standard with politicking, because there is this general notion that the kind of politics going on in the academic environment is even way more than societal politics. That all actions and inactions in the university system often times, comes with political considerations, favouritism and all sorts in the areas of appointment, elevation and even sharing of courses. So, how do you think that has affected the standard of education in the country?

Yes. It has affected the standard of education. And I must tell you that it is very unfortunate because University system should not have degenerated to that level. But people would say that a University is a micro system within a macro society. And so what is happening in the macro society is likely to infiltrate in the micro system within the larger macro system. But like I said, it is very unfortunate. I cannot say that it doesn’t happen, but it varies from one university to another. Probably because Nigeria has degenerated to that level where we have to consider primordial interest in everything we do. I remember people used to say it that hitherto, it was not like that; anybody can be a Vice-Chancellor of a Federal University in Kano at a point in time.

Now, I don’t think that is possible because those factors I have talked about must have to come into play. Take for instance University of Ibadan that was regarded as a University that has grown beyond all this primordial considerations, but now with the aborted process of appointing a new VC, you can now see that it has also gone to that low level we are so sorry about.

So these are the issues, and I really don’t know how we can stop it. Probably until when Nigeria grows above all these primordial interests, then university system would go back to what it used to be. For instance I was listening to one Professor who wrote a book about “my days in court”. I think he was in the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, where he suffered a lot of discrimination because he was not from that place. He was a Yoruba man, and unfortunately, he found himself there.

But because he was a Yoruba man, he had to suffer a lot of discrimination and he was denied a lot of privileges. And he documented his sufferings in a book, and that is to show you that the university system in Nigeria has gone so bad, because all these politics would have to come into place in taking decisions. It is unfortunate, even when you want to get admission for PhD now, such considerations would come in. PhD which is supposed to be the highest level of academic degree that must be obtained with some level of integrity and standard, but this time around we consider other things to the extent that even when people call external examiners to examine PhD, you see all those considerations.

Were you once a victim of academic politics?

I would not say I have being a victim of academic politics. The reason I would say I am not a victim is probably because of the way God created me. I am able to flow with everybody; I am able to deal with everybody. And I have always prayed for one thing since I was very young which is humility; and I think God answered my prayer. I pray that he will not take it from me. Humility is key; if you have humility, people would love you; they would not see you as not being part of them. Even when people are saying all kinds of things about you, what they would be seeing is humility.

So, I would say that I have not, to the best of my knowledge, you know, one cannot know everything, probably there are some people who might be working against you that you don’t know. But to the best of my knowledge, I would say that I have not seen where I have clearly suffered any form of discrimination or deprivation because I don’t belong to a particular group. And like I said, the reason might be because many people love me- perhaps because of my humility or perhaps I know my limit.

The media has been seriously accused of being unprofessional, promoting division and what have you. Especially when it comes to the reportage of farmers/herders crisis and so many others. And now this takes us to the ethics of the profession where the media is expected to be objective, un-bias, ensure equity and balance reportage. So talking about the Nigeria media of today, how will you juxtapose the inability of the media to detach its interest from that of the society, particularly when it comes to reportage and journalistic ethics?

Thank you very much. I want to firstly clear one thing about the ethics of journalism. And one of the principles of objectivity; that journalists must be very objective, fair and balance in their reportage. As a scholar of mass communication, I know that objectivity we are always talking about is not something that is absolutely attainable; it is a very complex concept in journalism because it cannot be attained absolutely. And the reason is because journalists are also human beings. We are just saying that you must detach yourself from what you are reporting, but it is difficult, and scholars of mass communication know that. Only that we are always taking it as a normative principle; what it should be and how it should be.

But generally, it is not absolutely attainable. So having made that clarifications, I will now go back to your question. Yes, as much as it is not attainable, it is something we must aspire for in our practice. And that is the reason why journalists must be responsible; journalists must work for the growth of the society. And that is why during war, they are expected to practice what is called peace journalism, rather than war or conflict, they must be conflict-sensitive.

All these require that you must work for the stability of the society, and that is why we cannot be totally objective.
The problem now is that we don’t have a common purpose anymore, and that is why a journalist would misinterpret objectivity, fairness and all the principles. And those were the days when journalism was functional to the stability of the society; journalists pursued a common purpose of gaining independence during colonial time; getting ourselves away from the colonial masters. And then, immediately after independence we began to have discordant voices and that is the reason journalism at that time began to sectionalize; we began to differentiate; this is an Igbo newspaper that must serve Igbo’s interest; this is an Hausa newspaper that must serve the interest of the Hausa. Media began to serve the tribal interest of which they belonged to, rather than national interest.

So, our common purpose was compromised then, and now it has degenerated to the worst level. And that is the reason why people are calling on journalists to sit back and try to refocus themselves for a common purpose. The common purpose is to save our nation because as we are now, we don’t have a common purpose; journalists don’t have the common purpose of saving Nigeria at heart. We are now fighting for our regions and for our tribes. And that is why journalism is not tilted to peace journalism; it is now being tilted towards war journalism, where we are taking sides.

As a journalist, during conflicts, you are not supposed to take side. Even though I say that objectivity is not something you can attain, the priority must be to save the nation.

Last week, Daily Trust conducted an exclusive interview with one of the leading bandits in the country. And it was the first time in recent times that people would have an insight into what drives banditry. The exposure for bandits didn’t go down well with a section of the political elite and indeed the public, what’s your take ? 

I will answer the question based on the debate among scholars on the way terrorism is being reported. The controversy among scholars at a point in time is that media should not avail themselves to terrorists. Because terrorists, when they strike, they have a purpose, and the purpose is to gain publicity in order to enhance their effect on the society and create fear in the mind of people. So the perception about terrorists would now be that these people are very dangerous and so on. So, at a point in time, scholars were debating whether or not the media should avail themselves to terrorism.

I also remember one Minister of Information in Nigeria also reechoed that debate when he said that the media should not report terrorist attacks again. And as a matter of fact, when you report terrorists attack, terrorists are happy because that is exactly what they want.
Not in the killing itself, they are interested in putting fear in the mind of people. And it is only when their attack is reported that they would create fear in the mind of people. And so, that is the controversy among scholars. And now coming back to your question, I would say that responsibility is an important yardstick for judging good or bad journalism.
Yes. We talk about balance and fairness. Probably that is why there is a need to also hear from the bandits in order to adequately inform people. Don’t forget the essence of the media is to inform us in order to make rational decisions. Yes, Daily Trust might be motivated by that reason, when they inform us and present all sides of the story and present it to the public, we might be able to take rational decisions. But when you look at it from the other angle, you will also want to sympathise with the APC and government by their own stand, and say why are you giving the platform to this people.

So in essence, responsibility should be the watchword. For me, Daily Trust has not done anything bad, but for people, who want to judge, might use different levels of responsibility to judge whether what they did was unethical or not. But for me, there is nothing unethical about it. But the only thing is that, can you say they are responsible in terms of the extent to which they promote banditry and put fear in the minds of people by giving bandits their platform. But on a normal situation, and on face value, what Daily Trust had done is not bad at all.

They only promoted the principle of fairness and balance. But if we look deeper and apply critical perspective to what the newspaper had done, our judgement should be different.

Few weeks ago, a celebrated  award-winning Investigative Journalist (Fisayo Soyombo). Postulated that more than 95% of media contents in Nigeria today are about commercial and promotional. That the media has wittingly/unwittingly joined the establishments to push out a favourable narrative about the establishments, leaving other important things unreported. Now juxtaposing that assertion with the opinion of scholars about investigative reportage, which is dying, if not dead in the country.  Don’t you think to a large extent, the media has been failing in informing the general public, especially by deviating from informing and reporting for public relations than important issues?

Critical scholars of mass communication know that when you talk about the media, the media are nothing but the instruments of ideologies; instruments for promoting status quo; instruments for promoting the selfish interest of the capitalists.

Critical scholars know that. But it might not be known to other people, and that is why you hear people say the media supposed to do this and that. But critical scholars of communication know that the media are not just there to inform people. Yes, that is their obvious function, but behind that function, they do more than that. As a matter of fact they are created to do more than that; they are not created to give us information alone. They are created as instrument of ideologies and instruments in the hands of the capitalists and ruling elites.

So I am not surprised that Soyombo said what he said, because critical theorists have also known that for a very long time. So, investigative journalism you are talking about in Nigeria cannot flourish because the owners of media have their agenda, and there is no way media owners would not influence the content of their media.

Investigative journalism can only flourish in Nigeria when we have what we call editorial independence; when journalists are independent, when editors are independent and are not made by the owners to use the platforms to promote the interest of the owners.

Don’t forget I also said status quo; that is one of the hidden function of the mass media; they are to sustain the status quo. That is the reason why we talk about the functional roles of the mass media. These are the roles that are desirable, that are meant to stabilise the society.

So whether we like it or not, the media are institutions created to promote the interest of those who own the means of production to give us the information they want us to have; because it is about ideology and discourse; the idea they want us to have to influence our thinking. So it will remain a problem unless we have a new structure of ownership of the media or a complete new media business model that will be ready to threaten the status quo.

For instance, you established your platform, not because any politician gave you money and say go and establish this thing for me. So because you established your platform, you have a purpose, and so anybody cannot come and say this is how I want you to do it. If at all anybody wants to influence you, it would be that you are ready to be influenced.

That notwithstanding, the power of discourse is so forceful; this is what is acceptable or not acceptable in our society. So you will not report what is not acceptable in our society.

Talking about the structures, what  is your take on the divergent opinions about censorship and regulation of the media space. 

Well, if we consider the new trend especially in relation to social media or the new media in general, I would say that Nigerian media environment is loosely regulated as compared to China, or other communist societies. Even in the developed countries like the West that we talk about, you know what recently happened to Trump, when his Twitter account and other social media platforms had to be withdrawn from him. And that is the highest level of regulation, so I would say that in Nigeria, it is loosely regulated especially with the new trend of social media, because now everybody is a gatekeeper of themselves; everybody is now a producer of news.

But if you look at the mainstream media exclusively, I would say that it is highly or discreetly regulated. We are not in the military era where we have Decree 4 and all kind of laws. Because “he who pays the piper dictates the tune”.

Talking about he who pays the piper dictating the tune, the agency saddled with the responsibility of regulating the media space in the country, especially for the broadcast media, is directly under the Presidency. And with the kind of politics we play in Nigeria, now if by tomorrow I want to establish a radio station, I would need the approval of the government. So if peradventure I am an undisguised critic of the government, I may likely be denied that approval. So, is that not unnecessary control of the media space to suit the interest of the establishment? 

Yes. That is the reason why I would agree with you to some extent because that control is also necessary. This is because we are talking about mainstream media where you will have to allocate spectrums or frequencies to transmit. So it has to be regulated, otherwise everybody will just wake up and say they want to establish a radio station and there would be a lot of jam and all kind of un-regulated transmission. So, we need that kind of regulation.

Even in advanced countries they have it too. The only thing we need to ask is that, will the President be sincere in using the power, because it must be regulated. So I would see it as a straight regulation, even though it can be misused just like you said. But like I said, it is still better here, because the President still approves the establishment of radio stations irrespective of different political affiliations- at least to the best of my knowledge. Of course, for everything in Nigeria, you will need to lobby.

Stakeholders are of the opinion that NBC should be completely detached from the President and politics. And the managerial sector should be of media owners and critical stakeholders so that they will be able to regulate and protect it from politics. So do you support this debate?

I will support it. But the problem is where you would have to take the power from the President and then give it to another set of people. So what is the assurance that they will not misuse it as well? But the idea is generally better because everybody will now know that it is not with the president again.

So we can now say that we are the stakeholders, we would now decide who would own frequency to start a TV or a radio station. But then, we are taking the power from one person to another person. What is more important is the common purpose, and then we make sure we follow our communication policy. What is our communication policy?

Nigeria has a robust communication policy which we are not even following. So the suggestion they are making is good because that would give us a facial detachment or what we can call independence from the politics or president. But for me, as long as we have a common purpose, whether it resides with the president or any other person, I don’t have any problem. But like I said, the most important thing is the sincerity of purpose and then our communication policy. What we lack in Nigeria is sincerity of purpose and that is why everything is not working for us. People would say Presidential system of government is not working for us, yes because of the wastage and all of that, people point out so many things as to why it is not working. But for me I always say it is because we are not sincere.

Even if we go back to Parliamentary system of government, it will still not work. What makes other countries work is sincerity of purpose, and to go back to what I have said earlier, they are not influenced by primordial factors. As long as Nigeria is being influenced by primordial interest, we are not going anywhere. You know, when we started, those factors were not so strong to the extent of influencing our decisions.

But today, they are at the forefront; they are the things we have to firstly consider. And that is the reason why a journalist would say I am a Yoruba man so I have to report Sunday Igboho favourably, without giving what we called generic framing; looking at it from a general perspective rather than from episodic framing. Looking at it and say, the way this guy wanted to pursue this agenda is dangerous to the unity and stability of the whole nation; rather than promoting him for the purpose of ethnic interest.

Haven attained the Academics career peak, where do you see yourself in the next 10 years ?

When the appointment was first announced, people that were sending their felicitations and goodwill messages prayed and predicted a lot, and their messages have been so motivating to me. Some prayed I will become a VC; some prayed I will become a minister. And I think they are good wishes which I am accepting. So, my wish just like any other person is to continue to serve in the area of community service especially in this University. And I would say that I have served the university in so many ways since I got here. As a matter of fact, this promotion came with God’s favour in the sense that it was not easy for me to joggle the expectations together.

In the University you cannot be promoted to the Professorial level if you don’t publish; if you don’t publish, you perish in academics. And since I got to this University, I would say that I have been using not less than 60% of my time to serve the university; or probably let me say, 35% to serve the university and 45% to teach. So these are my core areas, I don’t play with my teaching. The remaining 15% I would say has been for research and for publishing. So it has been so difficult to the extent that I have to thank my wife because she realised that I get home so tired because I would have been teaching from morning till night and running from one meeting to the other.

So at the end of the day, it became very difficult to do something for myself in terms of publication. It got to a time when she said, you cannot continue like this. So, every weekend she would pack food and drinks for me and say get to anywhere, either your office or anywhere in town and and bring something for me. And because she knows promotion system for academics, she was taking stock of my publications, ticking the requirements as I was getting them.

I think not many wives can do this for their husbands. She has been so supportive. So what I am just saying is that I have been serving the University in several ways to the extent that I practically used my life for the university and for the students. And by virtue of having higher elevation, I would want that service to continue and I will always be willing to serve anytime I am called to come and serve at higher level. And I see myself as also serving the country at higher level. Either as a minister or as a director of any institute.

When I finished from the UK, I decided to come back, many people would decide not to come back, especially as I got no sponsorship. I wrote to the government of Nigerian then through the Minister for Education when I was having problem in the UK. And then my supervisor said you can’t be here and be suffering like this when you have a country like Nigeria that is very rich.

And then he wrote a letter by himself to the Minister, but I didn’t get any response. In spite of that, I still felt that Nigeria is my country. So I came back to serve my country because of my love for the country. And I remember my supervisor also told me, don’t think because Nigeria didn’t come to your aid that you would say you will not go back to serve your country. So I came back to serve, and I have served to some extent. But I still want to serve at higher level.

If you were not a lecturer, what would you have being?

If I were not a lecturer, I would have probably been an intelligence officer either in the DSS or any paramilitary organisation. I think that was the closest thing that God has shown me and said yes, that could have been another area I would have loved you to go. So, basically, anything that has to do with intelligence, I like it.

Now at the mention of your name, the first thing that comes to mind is that workaholic and restless man. How do you unwind with your busy schedules always?

The question of how I unwind is a very funny one. Because like I said, I have been serving the University and the question of unwinding is not even there. As a matter of fact, my wife used to abuse me whenever I take a student’s file, because I will sit on it, and then the comments I would make would be more than what the student wrote. And my wife would look at me and say what is your problem? Why can’t you leave these students and make things easy for them? And I would tell her I am not wicked; I am only trying to make it excellent for them.

So in essence, what I am saying is that I don’t really have time to unwind. It is my wife that used to create that for me; sometimes, some weekends, she would say come and travel to Ibadan and meet your friends.

I would travel to Ibadan and Lagos and meet my friends. And just like me, all my friends don’t drink, all we do is just go to beautiful places and just sit down and see beautiful things, because I also love beautiful things. Then, if I don’t travel, my wife would say take us out. So that is how I unwind with the permission of my wife, because I don’t drink.

             Fresh Insight’s crew


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