TASUED VC – On 14th November 1958, a little baby joined the fold of womenfolk in Nigeria, crying, smiling, sucking and doing all the regular things that female babies do. But little did the world know that a star was born! No, she would not grow to become a Jennifer Lopez or a Jackie Kennedy/Onassis; she was not cut out to thrive on the make-believe that acting evokes. She was not even birthed in an environment famous for producing stars, but like with the birth of Jesus Christ in lowly Bethlehem, little Oluyemisi Oluremi Obilade (Nee Ajao) was born in the sleepy little town of Ile Ogbo in Osun state.
After a traumatic childhood due to an inclement traditional conception of the position, potentials and role of the girl-child, she attended Mayflower School, Ikenne in Ogun State, perhaps a divine and early rehearsal for the future schedule with destiny. This move was apparently facilitated by the occupation of her father (Baba Agric) as a teacher in the school, but it proved to be fortuitous engender of her commitment to agriculture as the vocation, while the tutelage of a business-inclined grandmother honed her entrepreneurial inclination. She later proceeds to the then the University of Ile (now known as Obafemi Awolowo University) where she bagged the Bachelor of Education Degree (History/English) in 1980, the Master of Arts Degree in Adult Education (1984) and Ph.D in Adult Education in 1992.
In 2005/2006, she was awarded the International Women’s Federal (IWF) Leadership Foundation Fellowship as well as the HERS-SA Grant Fellowship. In 2008, she was awarded a Fellowship grant of the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) which gave her the opportunity to complete a certificate course in Resource Mobilization at the Ghana Institute for Management and Public Administration (GIMPA).
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, as the chequered path of “Aunty Yemisi” unfolds, do you begin to see the extra-terrestrial design of her make-up? Do you begin to fathom why she is who and what she is? Indeed, ninu Ikoko dudu ni eko funfun ti njade!
She chose for career an academic space around Adult Education, Gender and Development, with focus on contextual critical appreciation of the interface of difference matrices of domination with gender in development within the Nigerian patriarchal culture and in this sphere she has distinguished herself as a veritable scholar.
It takes a lot of focus and hard work to be a scholar, rising to the level of professor, but Aunty Yemisi is not being celebrated today as just your run-of-the-mill professor, no! As a famously convivial teamwork, she was a member of three-person consultancy team to UNIFEM/Nigeria Police for the development of a Gender Policy for the Nigeria Police Force. She has also been a consultant to the UNFPA/WARDC project on Root Causes of Gender-Based Violence in South-Western Nigeria. She is an active founding member of an NGO, Women Against Rape, Sexual Harassment and Sexual Exploitation (WARSHE, Nigeria).
She holds membership of the following professional bodies/associations- the Nigeria National Council of Adult Education (NNCAE); International Sociological Association (ISA); Adult Education and Poverty Reduction Network, (CRANDALL), UK; Fellow, International Women’s Forum Leadership Foundation, Washington DC, USA; Fellow, HERS Academy, Cape Town, South Africa; and the Association of Women’s Right in Development (AWRID), Canada among others. She has over publications in reputable books and journals where she has addressed issues like gender and development, women’s reproductive health and HIV/AIDS, gender mainstreaming, girl-child education, as well as monitoring and evaluation of projects.
She is also a seasoned trainer/consultant/researcher for several national/international organisations and women’s right group in the areas of the gender empowerment, gender justice and gender equity. As a collaboration in an inter-university academic network, she is external examiner to other institutions like the University of Ghana, Legion, Accra, Ghana; the University of Ibadan, the University of Lagos and the University of Benin in Nigeria.
She has attended and participated in over conferences and workshops at national and international levels and has been Keynote Speaker in several of them. Prof. Oluyemisi Obilade is a committed Human Rights activist and co-founder of an NGO which is committed to providing holistic support for supervisor of sexual abuse and violence and their families.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, take look at this impression-laden background and perhaps gain some insight into the unusual commitment and chutzpah of an obinrin bi okunrin who does not cringe from treading uncharted paths, or breaking eggs when the need to make omelette arises. No wonder when, by divine machination and against the run of play, she assumed office as the third and first female Vice-Chancellor of Tai Solarin University of Education, a fledgling university then in the throes of impending morbidity, her immediate game-plan was to seal all bottlenecks, reduce spending and read the riot act to erring students and staff. Little wonders then that such energy was invested in the emancipation of the female-folk from the hegemony of a male-dominated academic landscape.
Now we can fully come to terms with why a Vice Chancellor can choose to live outside the comfort zone of the perks of office and swing so effortlessly, albeit glamorously, between the hostile cattle market in Ilesha-Ibaruba in search of academic and administration nurture for TASUED staff! Now we know why TASUED not only doggedly survived a prolonged season of inpecuniarity, but actually thrived and experienced a lifting when similar institution were bemoaning of casting down!
Chairman, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, five years sacrificial but massively beneficial leadership is winding down.
I present to you the key dramatis personal, the beautiful wife of a dutiful professor of statistics, the mother of wonderful and successful biological children but mother, aunty sister, friend, leader of more, I present Aunty Yemisi; Professor Oluyemisi Oluremi Obilade, outgoing Vice Chancellor of Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun.