Barnabas Obasaju holds a PhD in Economics. At about 37 years of age and as a Senior Lecturer, getting the mantle of departmental leadership on his head is a rare privilege. He spoke with AC on his plans for the Department of Economics at Landmark University, Omu Aran, Kwara State, Nigeria and on other career issues. Here are the excerpts…
AC: Congratulations on your recent appointment as Head of Department of your Department. Please, could you introduce yourself to us?
Thank you. I am Barnabas O. OBASAJU. I am a lecturer in the department of Economics, Landmark University, Omu-Aran, Nigeria. I hold a PhD in Economics. I am married and blessed with three children. I am from Kabba in Kogi State, Nigeria.
AC: What does it mean to you rising to such level of responsibility in your department at this point of your career?
BOB: Becoming the Head of Department at an age much below 40 (As a Senior Lecturer, equivalent to an Assistant Professor in other settings) calls for gratitude to God. At any rate, to whom much is given, much is expected; it behoves me to put in my best and move my department forward.
AC: What are your plans for the department?
Obasaju: I have planned a number of programmes for the department. First, I will embark on Self-discovery and development programmes that will cover bringing in professionals from both the academia and industry mainly to help students identify their areas of strength so they know what to venture into upon graduation. Second, I also want to focus on timely completion of postgraduate programmes. This will ensure that I see to it that those on their Masters programme complete it within the 18-month window and those on PhD complete it within the 3-year window. I also equally plan to see to Pathfinders’ career progression. By this, I want to monitor the progress of Pathfinders (Landmark University graduates) in their career, and integrate them into the department as Graduate Assistants or Assistant Lecturers. Lastly, I want to venture into sports competitions organising football competitions, track and field events, etc. for staff and students because all work without play makes Jack a dull boy. And as God helps us, other important things, although not included in this list, will be achieved as well.
AC: You have been on the employ of Landmark University, Omu Aran in the last nine years. What has been the experience so far?
Obasaju: Landmark University has afforded me the privilege and environment to really build my career. When I was employed as an Assistant Lecturer, I knew I needed to start my PhD immediately. It was quite challenging combining my lecturing here in Landmark University with running my PhD at Covenant University. Then, I also had to write articles in order to gain promotion to the next level. Though quite demanding, all these events and experiences have helped my career progression up to this point.
AC: Your profile on LinkedIn shows that you passed through public funded universities for both first and second degree while your third degree was obtained from a private institution. How could you describe the two systems?
Obasaju: Each system has its pros and cons. Being subsidised by the Nigerian government, the public-funded universities are way cheaper than their private counterparts. But, in terms of early completion of programmes, on the average, private Universities are much faster owing partly to the fact that administrative bureaucracies and bottlenecks are less pronounced, as compared to public Universities. In terms of per capita infrastructure (e.g., internet network per student, hostel per student, etc.), private universities tend to fare better. However, public University students, in my own opinion, on the average, are more competitive. This is because the requirements for gaining admission into public schools in Nigeria, coupled with the ceiling on the number of students that can be admitted, makes it more difficult to enter a public-funded school.
AC: A look at your Google Scholars profile indicates that you collaborate a lot. What roles do you think collaboration plays in the career of a university teacher?
Obasaju: Collaboration helps to have profitable ‘mind mingling’ with others. An African proverb says that ‘if you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together.’ There are things we think we know that we don’t really know; others help to audit our knowledge. In addition, collaboration brings varieties that enrich articles.
AC: By the time, you are done with your tenure, where do you see your department?
Obasaju: My department should have had more exposure; Staff and students should have had experiences that will aid their careers. Our department should have served as an example to other departments within and outside Landmark University, in terms of how to make University programmes more transparent and interesting. In addition, I see my department being able to attract more students within and outside the country.
AC: Thank you for your time.
Obasaju: You are welcome.