A STANDING OVATION FOR PROF. KEHINDE OKELEYE
A standing ovation or applause as it is often referred to at public functions is a rare gesture displayed to honour only few wo(men) even in academic communities where knowledge reigns supreme.This is because many are called but few are chosen. Only people of sterling qualities bag such an honour. In educational environment, only the first-class people get it. In business arena, only the consumate professionals bag it. In political clime, only leaders of exception make it. Yet, within the family circuits, only personalities of substance achieve it.In the university of life, only the exlusively gifted clinch it.It is indeed a rare honour.
They stand stall among men. They are humbled by their exceptional performance as they have chosen to be uniquely different. They have their targets and are not deterred to reach them. They always aim to transcend the sky because they do not limit their success to it. They write their success story in gold on the invisible wall of history.They do not outshine their principals whilst their breed is not ubiquitous.
One of such men for whom rising and rousing ovation is meant is none other than the energetic Prof. Hassan Kehinde Okeleye, the outgoing Vice Chancellor of Crescent University, Abeokuta who saw, came and conquered. During his four-year stint, he invested his energy proactively in the projects of the institution.His actions were in concord with the saying that if you want a job done well, do it yourself.He supervised every assignment of the university actively through reliable superintendents. He loathes procrastination and people associated with it, so as he assigned duties,he would give accompanying deadlines while also suggesting the easy way to accomplish such tasks.
Professor Okeleye presented himself as a gentleman, team leader, relationship manager, lucid speaker and academic negotiator whose vast wealth of experience has now come to bear on our academic front.
He came in with determination to make an indelible mark by contributing largely to the vision and mission of the founder of the Pioneer Islamic University in Nigeria, Judge Bola Ajibola. He had consulted every unit, department and college of the academic community when he clinched the appointment as the vice chancellor in December 2010. By doing this he had got a useful feedback to work on. Thenceforth, he held various interactive meetings with virtually all members of staff of the university to get acquainted with them on the one hand and to grasp their face-to-face reservation on the other hand.He succeeded in matching these interactions with action.This is because his belief in speaking the language of action more than mere rhetorics,in accomplishing a mission than vain razzmatazz and trudging on the path of success actually paid off.
Professor Hassan Kehinde Okeleye would smile orders to handshake success; he would lead projects to set laudable examples; he would arbitrate congress, troubleshoot crisis, project progress and midwive lofty accomplishments. He speaks lesser than he listens simply as he believes in the Creator's endowment of humans with 'two ears and one mouth' for the purpose of being more attentive to others. Little wonder then that this is a good strength of his as an excellent two-way communicator and manager of human and material resources. He gathers over 50% of solutions to problems from his subordinates' feedbacks letting them realise that their voices count in the scheme of things, although he wielded his own antidotes at hand. He had demonstrated this at different fora of the university activities.
At different interactions with Crescent University publics, both in the North and Southern parts of the country, he led his team as though the institution was his. A man of his words, Professor Okeleye never bullied his subordinates. When in doubt, he found out; when there was a decision to make, he did so democratically; when there was friction among subordinates,he used wisdom, consultation,justice and fairness to settle the rift. Such are instrinsic qualities of a good leader. He was accessible to all. He pursued organisational goals energetically. He did not underestimate any of his members of staff in idea contribution and productivity.He motivated with commensurate rewards and allocated responsibilities judiciously and efficiently. Professor Okeleye would also give instructions with smiles and soft-spoken utterances. Despite his busy schedule, he welcomed students' complaints even on interpersonal note.
When likened to a father of many children, he does not favour one over or above others. By him, all staff members are treated based on their peculiarity. He compensated based on merit not favouritism. His romance with the National Universities Commission (NUC), Conference of Proprietors of Private Universities in Nigeria (CPPUN) and Committee of Vice Chancellors constituted a fillip to the steady growth in the development of Crescent University, Abeokuta within his stint. After all, his knowledge of academic planning, given his backgrounds, paved way for a resounding success in accreditation of more courses. In the face of challenges, he neither faltered nor wobbles but kept his head steadily, working plans and strategies for success ahead.In his few years virtually all the university programmes were accredited by regulatory bodies. He would also appreciate good work and say 'thank you' even to the lowest of the staff. This particular sterling quality is lacking in many of today's leaders. Prof. Okeleye does not mince words, he is a straight forward leader of leaders!
When he joined the team of the university, within one year, he had separated the shaft from the grains in the academic community. To achieve his set goals, he dropped the toga of his academic zenith as though he were in the rank and file of The Crescent. He would never leave the academic warfront until resource verification and programme accreditation battles were favourably won so much so that laurels of National Universities Commission (NUC) programme accreditation spoils were counted in his favour.
As he bows out with a loud ovation, we wish his more success and the best in life.
* Katib is the Public Relations Officer, Crescent University, Abeokuta.