It was a joyful exit on Friday for Obafemi Omokungbe who completed his five-year tenure as the Rector of Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH), Nigeria’s first higher educational institution.
Omokungbe, the first alumnus of the 75-year-old institution to be appointed rector, succeeded Dr Margaret Ladipo and served the College from March 2018 to January 2023.
Activities organised by the Management of the College in honour of Omokungbe, held at Yusuf Grillo Auditorium YABATECH, attracted families, friends, colleagues as well as representative of Ondo State Governor.
Pouring encomiums on the Ondo-State born Engineer, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) who is the Chairman of YABATECH Governing Board, said that Omokungbe had impacted positively on the lives and infrastructure within and outside the institution.
Fagbemi pointed out that the College under Omokungbe recorded interrupted academic calendar, being the first higher institution that went online during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“We had physical development of the renovation of two campuses and renovation of the Yusuf Grillo Auditorium and cases of examination malpractices were addressed where the rector chaired the sittings.
“For the first time, we have an alumnus of the College mount the saddle and we saw the need to appoint someone who has proven capability to perform in the person of Engr. Omokungbe,” he added.
Also, Olufemi Agagu, Ondo State Commissioner of Education, Science and Technology, representative of the state Governor, described Omokungbe as one of its best sons.
“We are very happy. It is on that note that our state governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, has sent me to represent him; we have given one of our best to Nigeria,” Agagu added.
Speaking, Omokungbe who expressed delight for the day, thanked God for giving him the opportunity to serve the college and attributed the source of his strength to God Almighty.
On his achievements, he said, “I came in about five years ago.
“And when I came in, to move from WAEC gate to the college gate will take you at least 40 minutes, the roads were bad and most of the buildings were dilapidated with no improvement.
“In my first one month, I was almost calling it quits but God made me courageous to face and tackle those challenges, as I had a strategic plan when I came into the college.
“God also gave me colleagues who were loyal and were there to support because it was not what one could do alone.
“It’s a team work and they all cooperated; today I am very proud of them,” he added.
Omokungbe stated that the college, during his administration, did not witness any strike, adding that it had a stable academic calendar in spite of COVID-19 pandemic.
He proudly said that the college was the first public institution to go online to complete its academic session.
He expressed optimism that with the strategic plan he had put in place, the next administration should be able to complement on it.
Asked what next after his tenure, the rector said, “I am going to rest. In the last five years, I have not gone on leave, so I intend to go on the accumulated leave.
“I will go on sabbatical for another one year and then come back to the school system because I have not reached the retirement age,” he added.
On what inspired him to write the book, titled “Beginning from the end”, he said: “My experience in 2008 when I was sacked in the college because I was the Chairman of Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic ( ASUP).
“We went on genuine strike that year and the management decided that they needed to keep me quiet so that we will not ask for our rights.
“So, they decided to throw me out and I went to court.
“I spent five years getting to ensure the litigation sorted out and I won. My rights and privileges including outstanding salaries and position were given back to me.
“The court made a pronouncement and I see it as nothing happened and went back to the system.
“If not for God, I would have become something else. This was what inspired me to write the book,” Omokungbe explained.
He noted that the N50 billion endowment fund launched in 2022 was brought to the drawing board as a seed planted to germinate and continue to produce.
Omokungbe in his farewell message advised the youths to be serious, hardworking and courageous.
“Without some of these virtues, one cannot manage an institution like YABATECH” Omokungbe said.