Tasks before Obafemi

The news of the announcement of the Registrar, Mr. Emmanuel Dada Obafemi, as successor to the immediate past Registrar, Mrs. Olufolake O. Oyeyemi, on February 9, 2013 was greeted with approbation and acclaim among the staff of the University. This is because of his well-known pedigree as a highly professional and well experienced University administrator.

There is no doubt the University has made another wise choice, as it did last year, as the new Registrar is known to be an epitome of hard work, diligence and humility. My knowledge derives from the travel we had together in 2010 as the rapport that opportunity provided gave me an insight into why he is very popular. The same affableness was displayed in full measure while we served on the same Local Organising Committee of the West Africa University Games (WAUG) last year, another platform that afforded one a good knowledge of the Obafemi phenomenon.

An alumnus of the University of Ibadan and a product of such notable institutes as National Institute of Public Information, Kaduna, the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria, Badagry and Digital Bridge Institute, Abuja, Mr. Obafemi is a through-bred professional with eclectic administrative acumen. Apart from many awards trailing his career, he is a member of the Association of Nigerian University Professional Administrators (ANUPA), the Chattered Institute of Personnel Management in Nigeria (CIPMN), the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) and Fellow of the Institute of Human and Natural Resources (IHNR). Such combinations are hard to beat.

A man of many parts, including being a public relations practitioner and distinguished FIFA-referee, which made him at a time a globe-trotter, Mr. Obafemi assumed office on a glorious note on Friday, April 26, 2013.  One of his first remarks, when prodded on what he had in stock for the University, was that he was mainly concerned about keying into the Vice-Chancellor’s vision and supporting him in actualising it, a statement that is thoughtful and profound.

As the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. AbdulGaniyu Ambali, has articulated his agenda as essentially bordering on the actualisation of the University mandate of teaching, research and community service through a number of strategies, the service delivery component is deemed a typical example of an area where the Registrar should do more. He had told the staff at a maiden meeting that he would expect them “to turn a new leaf” and I think this is relevant to service delivery.

While the University has done much in recent years in the area of transcript for instance, it should be stressed that much is still expected to be done on attitude. I remember some years ago when I applied for my transcript by proxy, being not physically present, what my proxy was told could make someone else have high blood pressure. After submitting the application for a few days, she went back to be given a verdict: he did not graduate from the University! “What?” the person exclaimed, “a lecturer in the University did not graduate?” That was when the person beat a retreat and said she should have been told that fact earlier. The problem with that is obvious: no one needs to be a staff member of an institution for his/her application to be taken seriously. The transcript was never sent to the desired destination.

Moreover, as the University is already paying high premium on training and re-training, there is no doubt that more exposure would make the secretaries better as there are a few people whose knowledge of a mouse is not more than a rodent and to whom an application is just a type of letter and a monitor a class prefect. Yet, as the Vice-Chancellor remarked last week at a forum, the illiteracy of the 21st century is not to be “computerate”, not just the traditional inability to read or write.

Many staff also expect that with a football aficionado like Mr. Obafemi in the saddle, the Registrar’s Cup will be brought back while others expect him to take the fight against indecent dressing ably championed by the former Registrar a notch higher. It is the African practice to do so. Sample: according to the Ugandan Minister for Ethics and Integrity, Simon Lokodo, recently, “Any attire which exposes intimate parts of the human body, especially areas that are of erotic function, is outlawed. Anything above the knee is outlawed. If a woman wears a miniskirt, we will arrest her.” Well, that’s in Uganda! Nevertheless, no country should be a country of anything goes.