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RAB: Walking the vision of service to humanity

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RAB: Walking the vision of service to humanity

Book title:                    WALKING THE VISION
                                     Rahamon Adisa Bello

Authors:                      Lucian Obinna Chukwu, Taiwo Folasade Ipaye, Chimdi Maduagwu, Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika, and Obi Iwuagwu

Publisher:                    Unilag Press and Bookshop Ltd

Year of Publication:     2017

Pages:                          320

Reviewer:                     Prof. Nimi Briggs

 

Walking the Vision is a book produced, essentially, as a narrative of what transpired at the University of Lagos, 2012 -2017 when Professor Rahamon Adisa Bello, popularly called RAB, served as the vice-chancellor of the institution.

The book is written by five persons who held sufficiently high offices in the university at the time, including the incumbent registrar. Since these persons have worked closely with the vice-chancellor, they can be regarded as being able to give an honest and credible account of events during the period.

The burden of the book is a narration of the inclusive administrative style of RAB; his unassuming and self-effacing mien; his quick grasp of fundamentals and how he evoked these sterling attributes to enable him to walk the vision of the university. Written in prose and free largely of irritating spelling and grammatical errors, the book is easy to read.

It has an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) and is copiously adorned with expertly snapped beautiful photographs that enhance the veracity of its content and douse the tension created by the passion of its writers. Each of the eight chapters, spread over 320 pages of the book commences with a quotation from global literature and international affairs. However, the chapters are strongly enriched by the frequent recourse that was made to direct oral contributions by the vice-chancellor and other principal officers of the university to the various issues under consideration.

The introductory chapter describes the early life of Rahamon: how the destiny that was his to lead by example as the first son of his parents placed him on a trajectory and how providence and fate led him through a tortuous path to his ultimate destination.

Going through an Ordinary National Diploma (OND) from a polytechnic in Ibadan and without A ‘levels from a Higher Secondary School, could not have been regarded by many as the pathway to a First Class Honours Degree in Chemical Engineer ing, followed by a Master’s and then a Doctorate all in the same branch of engineering. But that was the story of RAB; indeed, how it all began.

The magic was his tenacity, coupled with brilliance and love for mathematics and physics in which he always excelled. It was not surprising that with his level of brilliance, diligence and discipline, he became the target for many invitations for professional advice, technical work and commissioned projects in the public and private sectors, including serving as the Commissioner of Special Duties in Ogun State and as alternate chairman of the energy and transportation sub-section of the central working committee of Vision 20-2020 at various times.

The authorities of the University of Lagos who were quick to recognise the ability of this young man, especially when he served as the Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering eventually got him into the main administrative stream as deputy vicechancellor (management services).

That decision paid off as RAB became the undisputed choice for the post of vice-chancellor when the university found itself grappling with two serious situations – the loss of the then incumbent vice-chancellor, Professor Adetokumbo Sofoluwe and the announcement of a change of name for the institution from the University of Lagos to Moshood Abiola University.

In electing him in 2012 as the 11th vicechancellor of the university, the year of the institution’s 50th anniversary, most people in the university were of the view that he had the discipline, level-headedness and administrative sagacity to lead the university through those challenging times.

Chapter two contains information on the contribution of the vicechancellor in the area of academics and research and records that this is probably RAB’s greatest achievement. Chapter Three is on administration, as it describes how the vicechancellor, using his wisdom and understanding as the chief executive, could weld the many sections of the management of the institution to function as a coherent unit without friction.

Reference is also made in this chapter to The UNILAG Golden Strategic Plan which was midwifed by RAB as deputy vicechancellor and members of council under the pro-chancellorship of the late Deacon Gamaliel Onosode. In the fourth chapter of the book, the attention of the authors sifts to Physical Planning and Infrastructure within the university. The fifth chapter is on health, safety and the environment and it describes a system by which annual medical checkups are conducted for all staff about the time of their birthdays.

Safety and environmental issues are also highlighted… In the sixth chapter of the book, the very important issue of welfare of students and members of the university community is addressed. From the lifting of the proscription of the Students Union that was in force at the time, to the renovation of students’ hostels down to the implementation of on campus staff house ownership scheme, the chapter describes how RAB paid particular attention to welfare issues of staff and students to the admiration of the unions.

Chapter seven describes the many bridges that were built across borders, across nations by the RAB administration in its determination to establish external relations and linkages with many institutions of higher learning. In chapter eight, the writers rightly eulogized RAB and reminisced positively on his years at the helm of the affairs in the university.

They ended by indicating that it was not all smooth sailing and recounted some of the challenges that RAB faced and how he tactfully overcame them. Reviewing this book has been a pleasure and I thank the authors for giving me the privilege.

Because universities possess immense potentials for influencing human and national development, rich and powerful nations of the world regard their universities as strategic national assets on which they rely, to a considerable extent, for vital contributions to policy formulation and execution in the areas of food security, national defense, health and many others, including international diplomacy.

For this same reason of habouring the potential to direct the course of a nation, even the smallest, poorest and weakest countries aspire to establish universities. However, to carry out such pivotal functions, universities must have the right leadership, usually provided by a team, led by a trailblazer.

In recommending this book to all and sundry, especially those with interest in higher education, I do so because I know that at the end of the reading of this book, a deep breath will spontaneously impose itself on the reader making him or her to come away with the conviction that RAB, the 11th vice-chancellor to occupy the 11th floor of the senate building of the University of Lagos is a remarkable man. He is one that should have the nation’s tab constantly placed on him.

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