Professor (Mrs) Olusola O. Odeyemi is a Fellow of the Entomological Society of Nigeria (FESN) and the Pioneer Vice-Chancellor of Chrisland University, Abeokuta. In this interview with BUNMI ISHOLA, she shares her thoughts on various issues as an Educationist looking forward to retirement.
What was growing up like?
I am an Ekiti woman from a third generation of educated family. I grew up in a privileged environment where I attended primary school as the daughter of a teacher and later a school proprietress and a cocoa cooperative manager father, who were salary earners. I attended one of the prestigious secondary schools in Ondo state: St. Louis Secondary School, before proceeding to the University of Ibadan for my Bachelor of Science, Master of Science and later, Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Zoology. Getting admitted into the University in the seventies through concessional entrance examination was not as it obtains today. You would take the examination and wait for admission letter because there was no lobbying, no corruption then. I got admission on my third attempt into the University of Ibadan to study Zoology. In my second year, I got married to my heartthrob, late Professor Idowu B. Odeyemi, who was a lecturer in Geology Department of the University of Ibadan after a long courtship of six years. I was happily married for 45 years.
The platinum jubilee is a privilege for many. How does it feel like to be 70?
I believe that attaining the platinum jubilee age is divine. It is not easy to reach this age without having one or two health challenges to solve. However, I see myself as being blessed with good health. I read and follow tips on health and fitness for the elderly. It feels great to have crossed the line.
A lot of young people are leaving the country for greener pastures to other countries even in the academic field. ‘Ja pa’ they call it. What do you think this portends for the development of higher education in Nigeria?
The ‘Ja pa’ syndrome has led to shortage of qualified lecturers to man our higher institutions which continue to increase in number yearly. A lot of young people also seek greener pastures in other countries either for studies or jobs. This poses danger to the development of higher education in Africa especially in Nigeria and it exposes lackadaisical attitude of the leadership to education
Many lecturers have been in the news for the wrong reasons over the years especially in the aspect of sexual misconduct. What are your views on the issue?
The higher institution environment is a microcosm of the larger society. It shouldn’t be taken in isolation. The law of the land is clear on this issue. It takes two to tango. Students need to be constantly reminded that they have to study hard and dress appropriately. The lecturers too should be constantly reminded of their responsibility towards these students. Each institution has its own rules and regulations, especially as regards this issue, and they must not relent in educating all stakeholders regularly
Are female lecturers treated fairly in the country in your opinion?
Female lecturers are a part of the larger society. Whatever affects males in the society also affects them. However, being a lecturer instils discipline in their behaviour and day-to-day activities. Within the academia, there are rules and regulations that assist females to reach the top. These views about women in the larger society cannot easily go away. So, a lot still needs to be done in changing positively the views of society about females.
People like you have proven that women aren’t mere cheerleaders or sex objects. What advice do you have for girls in this time and age so they can up their games and be great achievers like you?
Girls should be focused and have a vision of what they want from life. They should work hard at their studies without hoping to gain favours from their superiors. Being disciplined will also assist them in achieving their goals in life.
What advice do you have for young female lecturers on how to effectively combine their dreams and aspirations with home making?
Female lecturers should strive to ensure that they don’t allow their aspirations to conflict with the home. You have to put the home first. Most young women go into marriage without knowing that it needs a lot of commitment to make it successful. Sometimes, you may be lucky to have an understanding partner. However, not all females in the academia are that lucky. At whatever level you find yourself, remember that the home comes first, most especially if children are involved
What do you think Nigeria can do to experience the true change it yearns for?
We live in a great country. Laws, rules and regulations have been made for the land. If we have people with the right conscience at the helm of affairs, we can reduce human discretion and use technology to achieve the desired change.
Can you share your plans after retirement with us?
After retirement, I will spend quality time with my children, grandchildren, family and friends. Due to the demise of my husband, I will as MD/CEO oversee the continuous success of our enterprise. I will also continue to travel to see sights and places of monumental interest both locally and internationally.
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