OSHODIN: A Study In University Administration
Immediate past Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin, Prof. Osayuki Godwin Oshodin was recently hosted to a grand reception by the Chairman of Precious Palm Royal Hotel, Benin City, Barr. Jude Ezemwenghian Nosagie, where a book, New Frontiers in University Administration: The Amazing Works of Prof. O. G. Oshosdin JP was also presented to the public. The event, one of the many honours that have come the way of Oshodin since the end of his tenure at UNIBEN, testifies to his loftyachievements in office, writes ONYEDIKA AGBEDO.
BETWEEN November 30, 2014, when his tenure expired as the Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin, Benin City, and now, Prof. Osayuki Godwin Oshodin, has witnessed the presentation of two books that were written in his honour as a testimony of his excellent services to the university while on the saddle. One of the books, Prof. O.G. Oshodin: The Quintessential Pathfinder, written by Mr. Emmanuel Egharevba was presented to the public on December 20, last year, while the second book, New Frontiers in University Administration: The Amazing Works of Prof. O. G. Oshosdin JP, written by Prof. Union Edebiri was recently launched at a reception organised in honour of Oshodin by the Chairman of Precious Palm Royal Hotel, Benin City, Barr. Jude Ezemwenghian Nosagie.
The event, according to the organiser, was meant to draw public attention to Oshodin’s achievements while serving as the Vice Chancellor of UNIBEN and to encourage upcoming Nigerians to always give their best whenever they have the opportunity to serve.
According to Nosagie, “it is known that there is no other Vice Chancellor in the history of UNIBEN that has done so much to develop the institution’s manpower and physical infrastructure as Oshodin has done.”
Nosagie added: “In fact, we are neighbours and it is heart-warning that a man served as VC for five years and there was no single strike. I met a young man recently who told me that he is a graduate of UNIBEN. In fact, he looked so young that I questioned his claim. But he told me that he graduated so quickly because there was no strike during the time he was there. So, the man is an achiever; we are very proud of him.”
He continued: “Also, I wanted to use an opportunity like this to show the powers that be that a man like this who retires from office should not be allowed to get tired. So, he should be given a higher assignment.
“Again, we want people to see that benefits from giving good service should not be reserved until one gets to heaven. We believe that we should celebrate our heroes and achievers while they are still alive. And we are hoping that this will tell people that are wondering whether there is still respect for good work that very soon they might be the next to be celebrated. So, they should never give up in the service they are giving because people are watching and they might just be the next person. So, we are using this to encourage others that they should try and do good works. For the youths especially, this is also a way of telling them that there is honour in good leadership.”
Chairman of the occasion, former Head of Service to the Federation, Stephen Osagiede Oronsaye, while speaking with The Guardian, attributed Oshodin’s success on the seat to his trust in God. He said: “Let me say this: Listening to his remarks at the end shows how much he trusts in God. The fact that he places God first in what he does summarises everything. This means that if you have an activity to do and you trust God Almighty you would succeed. From the testimonies given by those who have spoken, we have heard that during his tenure, infrastructural development was very high on the agenda. He was also quite sensitive to the mix of employees gender-wise. To that extent, I am quite happy that he was able to address issues that were on the front burner that were taken to him. It is not many people that are celebrated in their lifetime. So, I am quite happy that those colleagues of his have come out to testify to all his achievements in office.”
On the lessons that could be learnt from Oshosin’s legacies at UNIBEN, Oronsaye said: “The truth is again to fear God. And if you are a change agent, provided you do not have any ulterior motive, if you are put in a position of authority, go ahead and do that. Many people may not agree with you but at the end of your term, you would find that those who really appreciate what you have done would appreciate it. So, be courageous, just do what you believe is right.”
A staff of the university and former Rector of Akanu Ibiam Federal Polytechnic, Unwana, Ebonyi State, Prof. Francis Ogbonnaya Otunta, who also spoke with The Guardian on the sidelines of the event said that Oshodin’s tenure at UNIBEN is a model that should be replicated in other universities across the country.
“His five years in the university was eventful. This is one man who came, identified evil and called a spade a spade. After that, he created jobs and that is exactly what we need in this country. Now, there is unemployment everywhere in the country. If you have the opportunity of holding any position, and you do not fill the vacancies that exist in that office for which there is money meant for, what would you do with that money — embezzle it. So, the man came and did the right thing,” Otunta said.
He added: “I have seen six VC’s in UNIBEN. He has done well and this is the kind of Vice Chancellor UNIBEN and any other university in the country should yearn for.
“When you move around the university, you will see very modern buildings. So, there was infrastructural development under his tenure. Secondly, he trained people. Up to 166 people got PhDs under him. He trained people just like we were trained in those days. At a point, it was as if there was no money again to train people just like we were trained in those days but he brought it back. We are celebrating him now because he did what is right.
“Thirdly, it was during his time that we have had the highest number of professorial harvest. Oshodin did not bother about where you come from. If your professorial assessment comes, it goes through and he announced it immediately.”
Oshodin, who spoke with The Guardian at the end of the event, said he felt great as speaker after speaker eulogised him.
“I feel very great. I didn’t expect that people were observing my little contributions to the development of the university system. But I now know that Nigerians appreciate people’s efforts in their little corners,” he said.
Oshodin, who was the first Bini man to head the institution after over 40 years, believes that much of the opposition his administration suffered was as a result of his place of origin. “That was why they were fighting me. They did not expect that I will do well and I did extremely well as people have said here to your hearing,” he noted.
On his feeling about his achievements in office, Oshodin said: “I feel very satisfied. There were a lot of things I did and you know people resist change. But I didn’t really pay any attention to their grumblings. On many occasions I called them and said ‘tell me what I am doing wrong so that I can make amendments’ but they couldn’t come up with any issue. Some of the people that quarreled with me told me ‘how can you spend five years and there would be no demonstration against you.’
“All the allegations about lopsided appointments by my administration were all falsehood. Was there no place I was not sent to? I went to the Federal Character Commission, ICPC and to EFCC. But those people were very objective. They looked at it and said ‘what are these people talking about’. I did my work properly and was going by the rules and regulations. So, all those were just foul cries.”
Asked whether his Bini nativity influenced his administrative style, Oshodin replied: “No, it didn’t. I have been in the university system for almost 34 years now and I knew all the things that were not done right. So, I tried to correct those ills I had observed. So, the observations that I made in the course of my career in the university influenced my decisions in office. I grew from the lowest level of lecturer to become Vice Chancellor. So, I understand the system.”
On the legacies he has left behind at UNIBEN, Oshodin explained that his administration focused on both infrastructural and academic development of the university. “I established over 20 new programmes that were not here before. For example, we now have a School of Veterinary Medicine. This is the first school of veterinary medicine in the whole of South-South. No other university in the South-South has a School of Veterinary Medicine,” he affirmed.
He advised his successor to be decisive if he must succeed in the office. “He must be decisive. That is just it. He has to look at the rules and regulations and take a decision. Whether it favours you or not, it does not matter. So, he must be decisive and firm. Secondly, you must carry everybody along. That is one of the reasons the Union did not demonstrate against me. Whatever I did, the union people were involved. Even in matters involving the institution’s finances, I actively involved them. So, they knew what was coming in and how they were being spent. So, when you attack me, they defend me with facts and figures. So, I ran a participatory administration and I expect my successor to also do that.”