Oludayo Breaks Rank, Becomes Registrar At 32
In an environment where the educational system does not permit pupils to graduate as at when due, mostly as a result of incessant strikes, some people such as Olumuyiwa Oludayo has not only graduated as at when due but has quickly moved up the ladder of success as the youngest registrar in Africa, at age 32. He would have been the youngest in the world but the record was first made by a man from Australia who was registrar at 35 years old, and another American lady who first became registrar at age 24 in the 18century.
His journey to achieving such height at this young age didn’t just happen and contrary to what many would imagine, he wrote JAMB five times before entering the Covenant University as a pioneer student in 2002. He narrates his journey to one of the highest offices in the academic sector in this interview with Florence Utor.
Can you tell me how your journey to becoming the registrar of the Covenant University began?
I got admission as a pioneer student in 2002 at the Covenant University and like any other university that would want a student body, I was appointed the first student council chairman of the Covenant University, here we call it student’s council as at against SUG in other Universities. That gave me the opportunity to learn leadership practically. I had the opportunity to work with the Chancellor Dr. David Oyedepo and other professors and to see how you could plan strategically because we were the first set and I was seen as the voice of the students and also the link between the students and the university.
That responsibility was very engaging and the university have a very unique approach to the things it does, covenant is not regular regarding rules and regulations, we want to raise a new generation of leaders so many things that are not by the norm so many of the things and approaches were strange, I also had the responsibility of ensuring that people accepted what was different from the norm like having my colleagues accept to wearing ties, wearing their identity cards on the necks instead of their pockets, showing them the vision of tomorrow and other things. All of these experiences enabled me to develop my leadership acumen.” I graduated in industrial relationship and human resource management. I went ahead to have to have a masters degree in human resource management from this same university as well as my PhD in human resource management.” I served with debunked spring bank turned enterprise bank now heritage bank. We were managing the north east region and it also gave me an opportunity to see how receive reports, manage vision for the entire organization, how to break down corporate vision to the people on the floor and see how they can run with it.”
Before I became registrar I was a dean of students, that ushered me into the highest academic decision making body which is the senate, I was 29 years old then and the youngest. I served for one year and then went back to complete my PhD in the same university while I was working as a lecturer, and in 2013, I became the registrar I lecture here in human resources generally, I facilitate course in center for human development, I am also the outgoing president of the alumni association and a couple of other engagements here and there.
Was your coming back to covenant as a result of not having an alternative?
Not at all, After all my degrees I got job offers from many organizations like Price Water House, KPMG, Spring bank but I declined all of these because I wanted to come back to Covenant to work. For me it was about Gods plan, I just wanted to follow what God was telling me to do. It is important that every young person should know that it is about what God designs for you to do, and I yielded to that though it was not economically advantageous but like I use to tell my colleagues that I didn’t come to covenant university to work for the economic advantage but for the destiny advantage, if it was for economic advantage, I would have gone to a KPMG or found myself in a Price Water House because those organizations had prospects for bigger things that I knew Covenant would not give me but I returned here and became the university first chair of the alumni association. Today it has eleven thousand graduates spread across the world and in all the 36 states in Nigeria.
How do you get all these responsibilities going?
Many at times, we feel that what God give us is the best but Gods gift for us is just a potential, what we do with it is what matters. A man once said someone told a farmer your farm is very beautiful and luscious and the famer answered, yes, but you would have seen it when God gave it to me, if God gives you the gift of eloquence, it does not mean at all that you have the world at your feet, no, it is by doing something with what God give us by engaging it in efforts. What I have been doing is ensuring that, every opportunity to serve, lead or make a contribution, I don’t shy away from it. I may not have all the best competence but you see a man who makes a mistake is one that is doing something, there is something good at stake, if you are not making a mistake then it means you are not trying anything at all and I have made a couple of mistakes too but I also learnt from them. Currently I am the chairman of the university strategic business unit, all of the commercial ventures of the university, I sit on the board, I mean from the filling station, the guest houses cafeteria, shuttle busses, I over see all of these you may wonder at this young age but I am older than mike zukerberg and he is controlling the world.
What are the challenges of working with older people, how do they accept you as a head?
I think God prepared me ahead of time. In 2007 I designed a series of principles and one of it was the challenge of acceptance. I never knew I was going to be the youngest anything ever but I came across some readings and I designed a couple of articles, one was overcoming the challenges of acceptance, I just found out, then that when you find yourself on an assignment as a young person, one of the challenges is people accepting you for cultural reasons, religious or demographic reason, for one reason of another people may not accept you but for me particularly, what has worked is what I call the peace principle- hold your peace when you are on assignment and the second one is the predecessors principle, the people who have been ahead of me I lean on them to help me gain access to the people who are more influential. It is not just sufficient to come to the board and be chairman, someone was possibly doing that before you so lean on him and ask him how you can go ahead and then find out who are the other people who can enable you push ahead and who are the people you should look out for that will cause you a lot of trouble not because I want to continue with the relationships that he has made but to know who and who are on the team and for me I don’t think anybody has any stupid thing to offer, anything anybody brings on the table is worth it, it is how we put it together that makes it worthwhile. There is a Yoruba proverb that says, the elder one is wise and the younger one is also wise, it is the combined wisdom of these two that makes ile-Ife stable. It is at the point where the elderly did not want to listen to the younger ones and vise versa that they had a crisis there will be no leadership crisis if you allow the wisdom deposited in the young and old to find expression in any engagement, so for me, I allow both to thrive and I say this is where we are going how do you think we can arrive there, we review and come to a good place.
What is the thinking of the average youth at Covenant are they all about hitting it big without working hard at it like most youths are today?
Well it is not our fault if they think that way, we live in a very fast paced world, things are changing by the day and we don’t want to be caught playing the catch up game and so am not going to blame any young person for wanting to get things fast and on time because today if you buy say a phone or ipad, in the next two months, it has reached end of life and so someone who is pursuing a standard symbol or someone who is pursuing a goal that need to be engaged with technology, the movement you get to a device that has reached the end of life for you to be relevant you have to keep up so sometimes it is not about wanting to acquire but it is the world we have found ourselves. But how we as young people manage ourselves in such a world without promoting ourselves to a level of incompetence, you don’t want to get to a new level and realize you don’t have the capacity for it, which is the case with many young people.
We should know that the future is secured whatever would mature will take a long time. If you are running a journey of ten years ensure that the foundation in character building, intellectual prowess, skill development is strong enough which many people do not have. You don’t need to know all the programming language but knowing a bit of it can enable you to build on it but many of us as young people are very shallow so we jump at things and we are not able to sustain but that is a different ball game here there is a system that enables that you are tested at every interval all of the vocations that we do enables you to process and re process your mind their thought parterns are harness and you find them engaging in discussions that help them to dissect this thigs, but generally our young are just in a fast paced world which is not an advantage but with the challenge of managing themselves in it.