LUKUMAN ADESHINA AZEEZ
For every good leader, the major aspiration is to build and leave a good legacy for which they will ever be remembered and celebrated. Such aspiration is usually borne out of the purposefulness and vision that drive their leadership. For such a leader, they want to leave indelible footprints on the sand of time; they want to make unforgettable marks that can transform their society and organisations. No wonder the business philosopher and author, Jim Rohn, averred that “The legacy we leave is part of the ongoing foundations of life. Those who came before left us the world we live in. Those who will come after will have only what we leave them. We are stewards of this world, and we have a calling in our lives to leave it better than how we found it, even if it seems like such a small part.”
Professor Badmas ‘Lanre Yusuf is, undoubtedly , such a transformative leader whose tenure as the Dean of the Postgraduate School, University of Ilorin, driven by purposefulness, will go down into record and history as the most thrilling, outstanding and successful. As he is stepping aside this month, it can be said, with all sense of modesty, that his stewardship could be adjudged, arguably, as the best so far. He came, saw and conquered. Professor Badmas Yusuf has undeniably left the Postgraduate School better than he met it.
Benjamin Franklin once said that “If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” As the Dean of the Postgraduate School, Professor Yusuf has definitely done a lot that will be written on, read and remain in many discerning and progressive minds; even those that are yet unborn.
What are the legacies Yusuf is leaving as he is stepping out of the Postgraduate School meritoriously after an outstanding two-year tenure? They are, indeed, so innumerable to list exhaustibly in this small space. Nevertheless, notably, Professor Yusuf will ever be remembered for his purposefulness in the institutionalisation of the interactive sessions between the Postgraduate School and stakeholders, institutionalisation of the annual lecture, publication of Book of Abstract as well as the PG Prospectus, which has been elusive and unachievable for many of his predecessors, and introduction of Postgraduate Newsletter. He will also be remembered for his doggedness in stamping out unnecessary delays in processing results and graduation of students, which had resulted in a record high turn-out of students. Of course, there are many other achievements recorded during the exciting tenure of Professor Yusuf for which he will ever be remembered. But the most outstanding legacy for which the staff, students an Board of Postgraduate will remember him every minute for many years to come is his push for or selfless facilitation of the actualisation of the dream to have a befitting Postgraduate School Building, the construction of which will be completed in the next 32 weeks. He used all his energy and goodwill to get approval for a building he knew he would not use or occupy. That is the highest level of selflessness!
Indeed, Professor Yusuf has transformed Unilorin Postgraduate School into the cynosure of all eyes and the Centre of Excellence to which many universities in Nigeria scamper in droves in order to understudy it and learn its best practices of running a PG School.
The question that would have been agitating the minds of many of us is: how did Professor Yusuf exceptionally achieve this much within a very short time? Indeed, he is most resourceful, ingenious and visionary, but there must also be an additional rare and special leadership touch in him, which has enabled him to achieve and beat the records of the successful Deans of our Postgraduate School. Evidence reveals that the special leadership touch that has made Professor Yusuf arguably the most successful Dean of our time is his humility and respect for individual capacity. Professor Yusuf’s humility is extraordinary. As a veteran Postgraduate Board member, he knows a lot about the Postgraduate School. But even then, he seeks, listens and considers suggestions from anybody ranging from the most junior staff of the school to the most senior staff. He gives everybody ample spaces to operate and contribute to the growth of the school.
The way and manner Professor Yusuf chairs the monthly meetings of the Board of the School will ever remain an indelible reflection and manifestation of the highest order of humility with which he is endowed. He never stamps his feet arrogantly on issues that require broad discussion and views, even when he never shows any sign of weakness. His humours drive the meetings in a way that members sit for more than eleven hours sometimes without fatigue and demoralisation. He delegates without fear of defeat when it comes to robust discussions of issues; rather he is always ready to learn, adjust to and accept superior arguments. More importantly, he supports decisions unanimously agreed upon with all the resources the decision requires coming to fruition and exceptional accomplishments. Professor Yusuf is an embodiment of integrity. He has resisted all temptations to overturn elder’s arrangement that the Deans of the Postgraduate School should serve two-year terms, rather than four year terms, in order to give young and vibrant growing Professors the chance to run the School. According to him, he borrows the leaf of this level of integrity from his mentor, Professor Quadri, who, in his deep contentment and uprightness, laid the foundation of a two-year term rule for the Deans at the Faculty of Arts.
Honestly, we can never say enough about the uniqueness of character and leadership qualities that have made Professor Yusuf a legend in the history of the Postgraduate School, University of Ilorin. He has done so much that we will continue to write and read about him. As he humbly put it himself, he will be remembered as the 11th Dean of Postgraduate School who has come, seen and conquered and has made a big difference.
Leaving a legacy is like passing a baton in a relay race. There is no doubt that Professor Yusuf is already ahead and is poised to successfully pass the golden baton to the next Dean that will emerge. The relay race continues, but he has stupendously done this part. With his clean and genuine mind, he said that “My expectation is that the incoming Dean will forge ahead with the developmental strives on ground. When I look back I want to see the PG School in an environment that is very serene and that is conducive for studies for all the PG students. I want to see a PG School where there will be facilities for students for cross-faculty interactions, which will help them to rub minds together and to share ideas” But more than that, I think he will want the sustainability of the tempo and rapidity with which students’ results are processed for timely graduation. Congratulation! We all wish you success in your next and future endeavours.
Dr. Azeez, is the Chairman, Editorial Board, University of Ilorin Bulletin