By Ofem Kebesobase
Who really is Dr Lukman Adesina Azeez and what does he stands for in character and learning as the motto of the University of Ilorin goes. Well, for the uninitiated who may not be conversant about the activities of the Better by Far University, the name may just be another character. But not so for folks within and around ivory towers in the country and at renowned academic campuses across the globe.
For Dr Azeez, the present Head of Department of Mass Communication, University of Ilorin, the frontiers of human ignorance has successfully been conquered and one would not expect anything short of a person who prefers a quiet life to a flamboyant lifestyle devoid of any trace of arrogance, executive misdemeanour, recklessness and unnecessary display of showmanship in the discharge of one’s duties. Although privileged, Azeez has demonstrated great contentment in his altitude to life.
For inquisitors who may want to probe deeper about his personality, a quick reminder of his modest portfolios in his service capacity in the University of Ilorin would suffice. Dr. Azeez, as I was told, joined the services of the University of Ilorin, almost a decade ago. And it is on record that he had meticulously served the University in various capacities in the past; a service tempo he is keeping up till date. He currently doubles as the Head of Department of Mass Communication, and Acting Director, Advancement and Endowment Centre of the University, two very demanding offices. Albeit, he is also the chairman of the Board of Editors, Unilorin Bulletin and is also the Faculty of Communication and Information Sciences representative in Postgraduate School, among others, too numerous to list here. Apart from his duties as a staff of University of Ilorin, Dr Azeez is the founder and the pioneer Coordinator of International Institute of Journalism (IIJ); an institute that qualifies students from other disciplines to take up PGD programme in Mass Communication. A seasoned administrator and lecturer of no mean repute, he would never allow anything that would rubbish the hard-earned reputation of the university to pass through him as a “gatekeeper” of the University.
Most importantly, it is worthy of note that, as demanding as his engagements are, he has never been found wanting, when it comes to discharging them. He is an international scholar, not only by vocation, but in character and in his groundswell of the Western culture, which has reflected in his conduct as an administrator. His passion for merit and his desire to see his students refined for excellence remains his heartbeat. He can never for any reason, or on any account, compromise standard, not even for his pleasure or personal gain. This is a rare feat more unlikely of international scholars, who by virtue of their academic adventures, placed themselves on ivory towers of academic arrogance, becoming small gods over others, with little regard to the popular saying that “when you are riding on a horse, remember those that cannot ride on the donkey.” He is not a “Negroid” as one can hardly trace any ‘trait of Africanism’ which as though, is embedded in the DNAs of Africans in him, in his sense of reason, conduct and thinking. He is one teacher who has gained mastery of his craft.
As a man of proven integrity and reputation, Azeez has firm belief in what nature (karma) will offer to everyone in due time. He is also a God-fearing leader, who revered God at every point in time. Just like Apostle Paul said in one of his epistles to the Churches in Corinth “godliness with contentment, is great gain.” Dr. Azeez, has chosen the path of godliness and contentment which is why his reputation is soaring high.
In my little sojourn with him, I have perceived him to be a man God has given to the service of mankind. A time like this demands strong minds, great hearts, true faith, and ready hands: he is a man whom the lust of office does not have the power to kill; whom spoil of office does not buy and who possesses opinions and a will with honour that will not make him lie but can stand before a demagogue, and damn his treacherous flatteries without winking! He is a bit tall, sun crowned and living above the fog in public duty and in private thinking. He has great mien and candour for public service and has set eternity in his heart, he has let truth to be his fadeless Day Star. In his life of service, sacrifice, courage, cheerfulness, patience, kindness and love, has being his most available tools in his quest to deliver excellent service and add value to humanity. No wonder a prophetess once saw the diligence with which he discharges his duties and prophesized that he will one day become a Vice Chancellor. I am so glued to this prophesy and very optimistic that it will come to pass, because the Holy Book is very clear when it says; “a man who is diligent in his work shall sit before kings and not mere men.” That higher crown is ever imminent for the deserving one.
Despite his exploits, it is very unfortunate and most worrisome how society holds back good deeds or worst still, reserve the tribute of a man to the day of his death. I consider this as one of the most illogical practice of all times, because it goes contrary to the Abraham Maslow’s needs and job motivation theory. And the question I ask is; why eulogize the dead that is not even aware you are doing so? Can our words really move God to change his initial judgement towards the dead? Why can’t we instead, identify and encourage hardworking people while still alive in order to spur them up or rekindle that zeal in them to serve humanity more?
As a realist, who shares in the school of thought of Maslow, I have decided to stir up the sterling performance of Dr. Azeez, into public glare, which is my own little way of motivating him to doing more in his oars to seeing that the society becomes better and that public office regains public trust. His towering leadership qualities and his administrative acumen are what have drawn admirations from all and sundry to him. As a teacher with the herculean task of two demanding offices, he has never missed any of his meetings with the students. He is a “caterpillar,” with the abilities of a “robot,” owing to his untiring commitment to duty. He is a man of many paths; just like Paul in the Bible says, “he can do all things through God who strengthens him.” As an astute administrator, he has eschewed the leadership of highhandedness; he respects the rights of people and seeks for the opinion of his subjects whenever he wants to make decisions.
In spite of his tight daily routines, as a postgraduate and undergraduate project supervisor, he still creates and spends quality time to discuss with his supervisees. Where he is not chanced to do so, he goes into rigorous scrutiny of their work, no matter the number, with the eye of an eagle, pointing out their pitfalls as well as penning down for them how it should be done.
Call him a workaholic, you could be right, call him a proactive leader, you may not be far from the truth, because he works ahead of time. Whenever he is set for an assignment, he pursues it to the finish, no matter the cost implication. As the chairman of Unilorin Bulletin, he has never given that task to the second hand, except on rare occasions where other urgent assignments calls. How he does all of that, is still magical in the eyes of many.
Franklin said, “mankind are very superficial and dastardly: they begin upon a thing, but, meeting with a difficulty, they fly from it discouraged: but they have capacities, if they would employ them.” Therefore, by this very fact, Dr. Azeez, has broken that jinx of man’s superficial metaphor, because just like the poor washer-woman said “the more trouble, the more lion;” he has never declined the duties that fall to him, regardless of its attendant challenges. It is the tax which his abilities pay.
Howbeit, to say that, I am alone on this, would amount to a testimonial injustice because testimonies abounds on the personality of Dr. Azeez from the students who he usually ask to sincerely evaluate him. Their remarks which space will not allow me to capture here brought tears to my eyes.
Relatively, although God has endowed us with peculiar abilities in our walks, it would be a great gain to the University, if we would all imitate the Azeez’s factor and develop his kind of mindset towards our assignments and calls to duty. Even though he is not perfect or infallible, as a human, he has his flaws; he seldom allows his nature to affect his job. The rules of engagements and the vision and mission statements of the University has been his guiding principle. He is one great asset to the University, and if I were the Vice-Chancellor, I would recommend him for a greater responsibility.
May God grant him the grace to keep the fire burning….
Kebesobase is a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member, serving in Mass Communication Department, University of Ilorin.