By Ayo Alonge
My name is Professor Biodun Akinpelu. I am a professor of Educational Technology at Lagos State University (LASU). I am currently the Director of General Nigerian Studies in the university.
I’m in the academia by what I can call a calling. I have always been a teacher since the 70s. I taught at the Advanced Teachers College, Surulere which is now Federal College of Education, Ijanikin. I also attended Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife where I found myself worthy of being called a lecturer. When I was at 400 level in Ife, I was given a letter that I had been retained. That was in 1983. I was given the letter by Dr. Dibu Oderinde, now a professor.
One major thing that’s very tasking about the job of a lecturer is having a conducive environment to work. A professor has no other work than teaching, researching and offering community and development services. For us to carry out meaningful research, the environment has to be conducive. If the environment is not conducive, you feel sad and frustrated as a professor. For now, LASU is changing.
I love this job and I don’t want to believe that I can be caught doing something else, if I was not a lecturer. Fine, everything is not rosy and if I have my way, what I would like to change is the way we groom younger ones. A situation where a Lecturer 2 acts rude towards a professor is deplorable. I would have loved the issue of discipline to be taken more seriously in the university system. I would have loved effective mentoring to be entrenched in the university system.
If I was not a professor today, I could have been a farmer. My parents trained us in the path of farming. My father had hectares of farmland. I would have been a cocoa farmer. Maybe I could equally have been richer. Anyway, a professor is expected to count more of books than money he could say he has in his bank account. The financial reward is not seriously there.
It is not to say that professors are poor but look at this scenario. A professor was here for several years and when he left for the Senate, he came back to say that it is like a curse to be here. Well, I don’t know what happens in the Senate but he later became the governor of a state. Our children often ask us why we took up the job. “Why didn’t you go to where you can be richer?” they ask.
The most embarrassing moment for me on the job was when a vice chancellor wanted to place his friend’s wife on top of everybody in my faculty and I said we don’t do that in academics. And then, he tabled me for dismissal. It was only God that bailed me out. It was the most embarrassing moment of my career but I saw God working out a miracle. I told the VC that he would be disgraced. I did not steal a kobo. I don’t change marks; I don’t have girlfriends. You are the one carrying all of them about in hotels and you now challenge me just because I said no to you imposing your friend’s wife over the rest of us. He wanted to make her a professor over us. She came from another school on sabbatical, and I said you don’t do things that way. We laboured here and we have been on the same position for 14 years without promotion. I told him that we are the owners of the university.
I would love to be remembered for integrity, straightforwardness, bluntness, boldness and godliness. If I collapse today and die, I want to be remembered for labouring on other people’s children and, in fact, God labours on mine.
To be frank, all my children are not ready to be university lecturers, because they know I don’t sleep and I don’t rest. They also know that there is no time for socials.
Seriously, it bothers me. I encourage them. They are well trained and all of them have sound education but unfortunately, they look at the rigours that their father faced before becoming a professor and the financial reward is not there. I laboured too much to pay their school fees.