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Prof G.O Olatunde, our VC, GO, comrade and magician, bows out in glory!

Professor G.O Olatunde was our VeeCee from October 2017 to October 2022. The first time I heard some of my colleagues referring to him as the GO, I was aghast: How can academics community be so pusillanimous as to refer to the VC, as GO, a term used in the Pentecostal world?

For one, OOU is not a religious outfit and secondly, the VC, working within the confines to regulations, and academic culture, and under bumper-to-bumper marking by various groups, including ASUU, cannot do and undo. However, I calmed down when I learnt the GO just happened to be his initials and that because of his personal dispositions, people were glad to call him the GO. By the time I got closer to him, I joined others in calling him the GO… up to this moment.

GO is also a Comrade because he was a one-time zonal coordinator of ASUU, which made him a die-hard ASUUist and that was why throughout his tenor, he never gave us any reason to go into the ‘I-no-go-gree’ mode! That was understandable as he knew the written and unwritten rules of the game because he was fully involved. Another moniker, Magician, was added to his name when he was able to pay our salaries regularly throughout the ‘Covidious’ era and the just concluded eight months ASUU ‘akshon’. So, I used to call him Professor, VC, GO, Comrade and later, Magician.

I was an ordinary member of the university community but he has been my friend since 2019, when I had the first encounter with him. In the second quarter of 2019, there was an avalanche of snipper-induced suicide by teenagers (mostly university students) caused by academic challenges and failed romance. I was worried that it might happen in our campuses and that we needed to have a suicide prevention awareness programme. I considered marketing it as Departmental or Faculty programme.

However, in order to give it a university-wide impact, I decided to discuss the matter with our ‘GO’, whom I had not met before. So one day, after an inaugural lecturer, I accosted him, introduced myself and told him I wanted to have an audience with him to discuss issues of ‘urgent national importance’. He said ‘Dr Muo, I have heard about you and I also want to see you’. We agreed to meet that day and he directed one of his staff to ensure that I had direct access.

At the appointed time, I went to his office where I was warmly welcome, discussed my worries about the rampaging teenage suicide, suggested a university-wide programme and he bought the idea 100 percent. He invited the Dean of Students’ Affairs there and then, asked us to design the programme and get back to him immediately. The programme was designed and executed between July 30th and August 5th in all our campuses with the theme as ‘Suicide is NOT an Option’.

From the way he handled all these issues, his enviable predispositions shone like a thousand stars in a dark night. He was humble, polite, considerate, respectful and friendly

The title of my paper was ‘You are not alone and… It shall come to pass’. Some people still call me ‘suicide is not an option’ today.

Because of his accessibility and openness to advice, I had other encounters with him. One day, I met a hawker in my class and wondered why the hawker was so bold as to still remain in class after I had entered. I was touched when I learnt that the hawker was a student.

I invited the student for a chat, gave her a little handshake and raised the matter with the VC, who granted her audience, gave her a personal and bigger handshake and promised to see how the school would help.

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One day, I picked up a student trekking towards the gate under a very oppressive weather and learnt that he was trekking back to his residence, about 6kms from the school.

I also sent the student to the GO just as I also sent about four distressed students to him in the period BC (Before Coro!). What delighted him most was that the students were in dire stress and were not related to me in any way.

I also recall one day when our students were stranded because the transporters went on strike. I suggested that he released the school busses, and probably acquire more so as to put an end to that type of sabotage.

He responded that while that made sense for the students, he would not like to put the troublesome petty-drivers off the road and thus into the unemployment market and into poverty.

All along the period, I did not make ANY personal request from him. We were discussing issues that would favour the students or the system.

From the way he handled all these issues, his enviable predispositions shone like a thousand stars in a dark night. He was humble, polite, considerate, respectful and friendly.

He was very concerned about the welfare of the students, he values and acts on advice and he is appreciative. During one of the schools congregation, he acknowledged me as one of those who contributed to his successes. Me? I wondered what I had done to merit that but that is the GO for you.

He was also a good team player as he always stressed the support of his team-members in his transformational leadership strides. I also assumed that his high level of emotional intelligence were extended to other citizens of OOU.

Well, there is time for everything (Eccl. 3:1-11) including a time to bow out. And so, at the appointed time, the GO had to leave and he bowed out gloriously. For one, the ASUU-OOU organised a send-forth ceremony for him. If you are not in the system, you will not understand the import of this.

As par tradition, ASUU only releases end-of-tenure report-cards. In some cases, the reports are full of red marks, with ‘Fs all over the place; while some have a lot of Cs, Bs and As.

ASUU-OOU awarded our GO, distinction in all spheres. Why not? Among others, he paid our salaries during the lockdown and the strike. This is important because we are ‘self-employed’; we have to be on duty so as to generate IGRs and pay ourselves and so, whenever the school is closed, the money-tap is closed. But he managed to pay!

On Wednesday, 23/11/22 it was the turn of the entire community to bid him farewell. There were testimonies upon testimonies from OOU citizens whose lives were touched officially and privately by the GO, as well as the Ago-Iwoye community.

The security-men, students, academic and non-academic staff, transporters, business people within OOU, all had something wonderful to say about the GO.

His records in the spheres of process-automation, online-lectures, accommodation for students, compliance with the rule of law, equity and fairness, security, landscaping and beautification, academic development and programme accreditation, staff and students welfare were once more x-rayed and it was all obvious that he came, saw, conquered, and placed OOU on a path that would be very difficult to reverse.

Luckily, he was succeeded by one of our own, Professor Ayodeji Agboola, who had been a chief ASUUist at OOU, the immediate past DVC (Academic) and a part of the current success story.

Here is wishing Professor GO Olatunji, the GO, an inclusive, compassionate, bonhomie and hands-on technocrat, a comrade and a generalising specialist, the best in his future endeavours. I also wish the new VC, Professor Deji Agboola (we will soon get an appropriate sobriquet for him!) the best and pray that OOU can only grow bigger and better as the years go bye.