Dr. Oshiotse Andrew Okwilagwe: Celebrating An Astute Scholar At 65

By Alaba Abdulrazak
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In the field of impartation of knowledge, some teachers have become a class by themselves. They play significant roles in educating their students, sharpening their intellect and moulding their characters. Such teachers live on in the memories of their students - some as strict disciplinarians, some as scholars, some for their meticulous teaching skills, a few for their loving care, and fewer still for all these and more.

But teachers like Oshiotse Andrew Okwilagwe; whose influence transcends the boundaries of four walls of citadel of learning is an embodiment of all the good attributes that make a good teacher. Since two weeks ago when the social media was awash with congratulatory messages on this erudite scholar; I have been trying to get across to this thorough-bred scholar and professional for an interview to no avail. I later learnt that his PhD students were being examined at various seminars.

This prompted me to further dig into who Oshiotse Andrew Okwilagwe is! In the course of my investigation, I found his website-oshiotseandrewokwilagwe.com, which became my source of information on this humble scholar. Born in Jattu-Uzairue area of Edo State, 65 years ago, Oshiotse Andrew Okwilagwe is today an Associate Professor in the Department of Library, Archival and Information Studies (LARIS), University of Ibadan.

As a scholar and a writer of commendable literary depth, he holds degrees which are uniquely relevant to information resources manufacturing, processing, use of mass media and communication. His website indicates over 70 scholarly publications in high profile journals both home and abroad.

Highly commendable scholarship for a man who holds B.A., M.A. in Communication and Language Arts, MLS in Library, Archival and Information Studies, M.Litt and PhD in Publishing and Copyright Studies. Today, Okwilagwe represents a rare intellectual bridge that runs across the major information communication disciplines.

Having studied at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria and University of Stirling, Scotland, Okwilagwe enrolled and completed course work on the MA degree programme in Africa Studies, University of Ibadan. Okwilagwe is an academic and as well as a professional publisher involved in teaching, research, consultancy and practical scholarly publishing. His researches include Library and Information Studies, Bibliotherapy, Social and Community Informatics, Publishing and Copyright Studies. Along his career path, he served as Sub-Dean (Undergraduate) in the Faculty of Education, University of Ibadan between 1995/96 – 1996/97.

He was a member of some important committees such as Senate Curriculum Committee for six years, University of Ibadan Business School Establishment Committee, University of Ibadan Vision and Mission Committee on Curricula Development and also served on other Faculty of Education curriculum and other various committees. He was Head of the Department of LARIS from 2011 – 2013. It is on record that he sourced and prudently saved over 11million Naira for the department.

He was a member of the Governing Council of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State, Nigeria. He is a resource person to Nigeria Copyright Commission, Nigeria Publishers Association and Library Association, Oyo State chapter. Dr Okwilagwe is a strong advocate of autonomous sustainable publishing capacity in Africa.

He is the founder and president of Nigeria Association of Researchers and Teacher of Publishing (NARTOP) which is the Nigerian Chapter of West African Association of Researchers and Teachers of Publishing (WARTOP) and African Association of Researchers and Teachers of Publishing (AARTOP).

Dr Okwilagwe is also the Director of Stirling-Horden Publishers Ltd which is the publishing arm of NARTOP. NARTOP has in collaboration with Stirling-Horden Publishers Ltd published over 400 scholarly titles on not-for-profit basis, under the NARTOP/Stirling-Horden Scholarly Publishing Action Programme (NARTOP/S.H- SPAP). Dr Okwilagwe has worked with over 450 authors on various publishing projects in Africa.

Dr Okwilagwe has trained many scholars through workshops held under the auspices of NARTOP on the Nigerian Scholarly Authors Empowerment Programme (NSAEP). NSAEP which is aimed at creating a crop of small-scale scholarly publishers who are highly educated and with the right brief for scholarly publishing in Nigeria.

As one of the most noted of his contemporaries, Okwilagwe developed the pedagogical concept, designed the programme contents that led to the establishment of a full-fledged, highly structured and unique academic and professional Modula Master degree and a complimentary PhD degree programme in Publishing and Copyright Studies (MPCS) in the Department.

The Master Degree in Publishing and Copyright Studies (MPCS) is highly subscribed and has produced top-flight publishers who are now holding executive positions in the publishing industry in Nigeria. He has authored 4 books and edited a 4 Volume Encyclopaedia entitled Nigeriana Stirling-Horden Encyclopaedia of Mass Media and Communication and two books on Mass Media and Communication. He has supervised over 70 master degree dissertations and 6 PhD Theses. Dr Okwilagwe’s researches focus on the influence of Publishing, and Library and Information Science on national development.

That is why he focused his research on the methods and processes of using the services of the information professionals in bringing about rapid and sustainable development in Nigeria. In this regard, his research effort has honed new perspectives on the synergy between Library, Archival and Information Science and allied disciplines of publishing, copyright, bibliotherapy and national development.

These perspectives indicate the processes of applying the services of information professionals towards building information systems that can effectively meet users’ needs. Thus, his research thematically and theoretically spans Library, Archival and Information Science, Publishing, Copyright, Bibliotherapy Information Resources Management and Social Librarianship.

This scholar of note has also supervised over 120 first and master degrees projects and 10 PhD theses. Even with this kind of intimidating credentials and catalogue of educational achievements that involve meticulous teaching skills, tons of research and so on; it came as a shock to me that this erudite scholar has not been elevated to professor.

Although I’m a journalist who does not work in the academic environment; I’m not naive to the criteria used to bestow professorship on academics. I’m aware that a professorship is the highest ranking position for a university academic, and people don’t get it unless they actually teach, research and render services on a full-time basis.

Dr Oshiotse Andrew Okwilagwe according to my investigation and information at my disposal is never short of any of the fundamental criteria for bestowing professorship on him by the University of Ibadan. Perhaps the promotion criteria in this university must be extraordinarily stringent or are there other considerations?

If for the past fourteen years, this cerebral scholar has been an Associate Professor without promotion then something is wrong somewhere. The authorities of this great institution must do something urgent to address this anomaly. This kind of incongruity if not urgently addressed is capable of hindering hardwork, creativity and expertise in education field in Nigeria.

Dr Oshiotse Andrew Okwilagwe at 65 is no doubt an achiever. He is an astute scholar who has continued to put premium candour in educational and professional discourse in Nigeria and Africa in general. He possesses a rare quality that is very hard to find among scholars in Nigeria.

At 65, Dr Okwilagwe has no doubt carved a lasting legacy in the field of education in Nigeria. As you look back on yesterday, may your memories be warm ones. And as you celebrate today, may your heart be filled with happiness and joy. And as you look ahead to tomorrow, may your deepest hopes and dreams come true for you.

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