The Thingification of LASU Don, Prof. Rotimi Olatunji at 60 - THE BUSINESS PACKAGE


Monday, March 2, 2020

The Thingification of LASU Don, Prof. Rotimi Olatunji at 60

By Bakenne Nureni

“Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.” That is a word from the wisest man that ever lived in Bible times. Whatever area of your life you want to move to the next level; the Bible says diligence is inevitable! 

Above scripture aptly captures the life and times of Prof. Rotimi Williams Olatunji as people from all walks of life stormed the campus of the Lagos State University, Ojo to honour a man whose life means different things to different people, hence, his life to many, is worthy of emulation as he's an exemplary teacher, role model, mentor and distinguished Professor of Professors.

At 60 years of age, Prof. Olatunji has been described as an Iroko tree and truly to this description, his life points to every attributes and characteristics of this unique tree; tall with wide branches, sturdy in nature and ability to produce solid woods and by extension, serving as shelter and shade for both humans and animals. Hence, Willy, as fondly called by close friends and associates, is said to have possessed strong and uncompromising characteristics of an Iroko tree by standing tall in his career as a teacher, an educationist and astute professional with exceptional leadership quality of being a mentor to many academics. He has, thus, spread his academic shelter to up and coming academics and researchers. This rare gift of insight of Prof. Olatunji, his astuteness and valour that confounded his ilk manifests in his mentees – all these, he noted, to the Glory of God. “There are still many milestones to cover. In fact, I see myself not just about to begin to positively impact my generation in diverse areas of life – manpower development, mentorship of the younger generation into greatness, getting more and more involved in community development and societal advancement, producing doctorate degree holders and scholars that are greater than me; contributing more to scholasticism through knowledge creation, innovation and development” he pronounced.

In a commemorative lecture titled: "Goodvertising and the Search for a Place Called Country" delivered by Prof. Ayobami Odebode of the Department of Communication and Language Arts, University of Ibadan, connected Nigeria's myriads of problems to filth littering major streets and advertising billboards congesting metropolis in Nigeria, like Lagos.

While trying to elucidate the term goodvertising, he aptly described it as a brand's statement on serious issues that affect the society, with the primary intention of changing the world and human thinking and his immediate application to this coinage, is to call attention to fundamental problems in the society and sometimes, finds a panacea.

In an effort to distinguish between Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and goodvertising, Prof.  Odebode noted that CSR targets a problem, such as poverty, or lack of potable water in the host community while goodvertising targets an attitude or a practice, those fundamental forces behind the problems that we see. While CSR might build a school, goodvertising would talk about corruption and mismanagement which may have led to embezzlement of the constituency projects funds for school construction in the first instance. CSR outputs, according to him, are concrete; the products of goodvertising are intangible.

“The beneficiaries of CSR outputs are limited to the environment in which the outputs are found whereas the beneficiaries of goodvertising are usually not limited in space and time. Good advertising is not the same as good advertising – that is, advertising that is beautifully produced, captivating and irresistible. Pieces of goodvertising may have these qualities, but that is not what made them quality as goodvertising. I sum up that Nigerian’s search for a country and propose that a new species of advertising called goodvertising should be adopted as a response to the problems that bite us”, he added.

Prof. Odebode, who is of the Department of Communication and Language Arts, University of Ibadan, further argued that Nigeria has consistently remained in the zone as partially-free, as there is lack of freedom of expression and that of the press in the country, as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This, he submitted, precipitated the reason why Nigerians leave the country in droves, adding that nearly everyone hold the belief that life in Nigeria is the worst that anybody could imagine. “Besides the geographic search for a place called country, that is, migration, many young Nigerians are searching for a country in some other ways. Non-conforming groups such as the Marlians and the multitude of young men addicted to codeine and tramadol are in search of an escape from this country, into a non-geographical country, a place free from the troubles that besiege Nigeria”, he added.

“There is hardly anyone who would disagree with the desirability of a country like one painted in these words. Yet, the current realities of our nation make it look like we have deliberately and forcefully been moving in a direction that is opposite of free, democratic just, egalitarian, united, strong, self-reliant, great, dynamic and full of bright opportunities. Much as one would not want to turn a birthday lecture to a jeremiad, it is impossible to resist the urge to describe our nation as it is”, he said.

Accolades upon accolades were showered on a man whose life was full of misery; a man whose parents never knew he could stay to live because those who could have been his siblings never lived long and same belief his parents had about him, thinking he would go the way of those children of his parents who came before him. Hurray! He stayed; he was promptly christened Rotimi (literally means: please, stay with me!). 

For the Vice Chancellor of the Lagos State University, Prof. Olanrewaju Fagboun, he described Prof. Olatunji as an exemplary team player and amiable personality, who has distinguished and created a niche for himself in the field of corporate communication, Public Relations and Advertising while advancing the course of media study in Nigeria. “On behalf of the Senate, Faculty members and students of the School of Communication, Lagos State University, I wish Prof. Rotimi Olatunji a memorable and fulfilling birthday celebrations” while the Chairman of the occasion, the Olota of Ota, Oba (Prof.) Abdul-Kabeer Obalanlege portrayed Prof. Olatunji as a consummate academic, thoroughbred professional, humanist and a man of God who never compromised on the course of his job. “His contributions to knowledge will go a long way in making our country a better place”, he added. He, however, charged those in attendance, especially his students, to emulate the sterling qualities of a man with super-abundance.

In his own depiction of the celebrant, the former President of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, Dr. Rotimi Oladele pertinently captured Prof. Olatunji as an enigma, entity, dogged fighter, academic extraordinaire and a man of God.

Encomiums from both his academic and professional colleagues could not go unnoticed. Their wishes for him were not only cast in gold but will etch for a very long time in his memory. From his academic constituency, LASUSOC, his colleague, friend, brother and immediate past Dean, Lagos State University School of Communication and President, Association of Communication Scholars and Professionals of Nigeria (ACSPN), Prof. Lai Oso painted Prof. Olatunji as a man of warmth and humility while his respect for others is second to none. “I testify to the fact that you are always ready to accommodate others and share with them whatever you have. Above all, you are a very good team player. I wish you more fruitful years ahead”, he enthused.

 For Prof. A.I. Lawal, former Acting Dean, LASU School of Communication, succinctly prayed, “We thank Allah for being merciful to us, we praise Him, we appreciate Him, we adore Him and we celebrate Him as we celebrated your 60th birthday”. 

The Vice Chancellor of Caleb University, Imota Lagos and Secretary-General, Association of Communication Scholars and Professionals of Nigeria (ACSPN), Prof. Nosa Owens-Ibie on his own did not mince words when he described the celebrant as a man whose capacity for more work and selflessness resonates in him at all times while the Provost of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Mr. Gbemiga Ogunleye added that Prof. Rotimi Olatunji is a typical archetypal academic: brilliant, knowledgeable, studious but humble. “Prof. Rotimi Olatunji finds joy in encouraging younger colleagues to climb the academic ladder and on this occasion of your diamond birthday anniversary, I wish you good health, long life and many years of service to humanity”, he retorted.

But for Femi Aborisade, it was an encyclopedic encomium on a man whom he described as a rare personality with a unique purity of heart and an inspiration to people around him. He gave an architectural description of Prof. Olatunji as a humanist who goes to any length to assist and project others in positive light without expecting anything in return. His, according to the foremost human rights activist, is not an instrumentalist relationship. “While many others are infected with the virus of seeking material-wealth accumulation at all cost and by all means, regardless of ethical implication, you are infected with the virus of seeking and impacting knowledge and accumulating academic degrees and registering your footprints on the sand of history, nationally and internationally. I appreciate my relationship with you because you are not just a socialist and Pastor, you are a humanist in your day-to-day practical relationship with others”, he enthused.

In his well-wishing message, the Head of Department of Mass Communication, Crescent University, Abeokuta, Dr. Kola Adesina sees Prof. Olatunji as an epitome of character and intelligence, disciplined and generous individual, coupled with a God-given humility. “Prof., may your birthday and every day of your life be filled with the warmth of sunshine, the happiness of smiles, the sounds of laughter and feelings of love. You are, indeed a shining light to many of us”. 

Having said these, one special message stood out, which could be described as evergreen and that came from his better half; his wife, who saw it all. To Mrs. Mary Olatunji, it was not only a birthday anniversary but a celebration of love. To quote her word-for-word, she says “My love, congratulations on your 60th birthday celebration. I thank God for His abundance of grace upon your life and for bringing us together as husband and wife. My love, I have no cause whatsoever to regret my marriage to you. Thank you for always being there for me. You are a man of great perseverance, tolerance, hard work, God-fearing, humility, contentment, dedication, selflessness and integrity; a man of the people and man worthy of emulation. I pray that the mercy of God will never leave us from all evils and satisfy us with long life. I love you most sincerely, my darling husband!”

We say happy birthday to a distinguished Professor, mentor and torch bearer, who inspires his students to read beyond journals and look beyond classroom walls, to reach heights that were beyond their expectations.

Prof. Olatunji, Bon Anniversaire!


Bakenne Nureni wrote from Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun, Ogun State and member of the Association of Communication Scholars and Professionals of Nigeria (ACSPN).

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