By Adegbenro Adebanjo
In the death of Professor Adebiyi Gregory Daramola, former Vice Chancellor, Federal University of Technology Akure, FUTA the academic world has lost an erudite scholar, a pragmatic administrator, bridge builder and a courageous visionary leader. From the beginning to the end of his stint with the academia, he was resolute on the need to make the ivory tower deliver on its core mandates of teaching, research and community service. He did not just espoused this but gave it practical expression through his involvement in consultancy services and engagements with the private sector and industries that yielded practical fruits for the growth of the society.
Professor Daramola was one of the first torchbearers of the need for synergy between town and gown. He was a key defender of the sanctity of academic freedom and one of its best representatives. Professor Daramola gave his all to the development of the University System and by extension the society in his almost 42 year sojourn in the ivory tower and died in active service on March 25, 2022 at the age of 64.
Of course wherever and whenever the story of the Oke-Mesi Ekiti born Professor of Agricultural Economics is told the main chapter would have a lot of bearing on his stint as the sixth substantive Vice Chancellor of FUTA between 2012 and 2017. It was five years of Sterling contributions to the development of FUTA and tertiary education in the country and beyond the shores of his fatherland. He came on board with the mantra of taking FUTA to the market place and he largely succeeded
Under his watch FUTA became a key player in the comity of global universities and a destination of choice for students, captains of industries and leaders of the world academic community.
Under the leadership of Daramola students at all levels were trained to internalize and project the excellence in technology which has now become the hallmark of FUTA. He ensured that the University supported students to realize their full potentials. The ultimate aim, he said then, was to breed a new generation of graduates who could add value to the society through innovations in ICT and other science related endeavors. “Our students are being trained to become ICT whiz kids and innovators, a new generation that will champion the country’s development in technology. We are breeding new Bill Gates and Steve Jobs so that Nigeria will be able to hold its own in the comity of nations in the area of information and communications technology and in other areas of the sciences. This feat is an icing on the cake for us and we will not rest on our oars, we will continue to strengthen our institution’s culture of scholarship and excellence,” Professor Daramola Said.
He also made alumni relations a key aspect of his administration leading to many former students and the alumni association giving back to their Alma Mata and contributing to its development. He always maintained that students should be treated well in the University environment since they would become the alumni of tomorrow.
Under Daramola’s watch FUTA was rebranded and it became an international citadel of academic excellence. He initiated collaboration with the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Tallahassee Florida, USA. Under the FUTA /FAMU programme termed 4-1-1 qualified final year students complete their first degree at FAMU to earn a FUTA Bachelor’s degree and later go for their postgraduate studies in same school. The programme, which is still extant, has produced many beneficiaries with some of them earning their Ph.D. in record time.
The collaboration between FUTA and FAMU was concretized with Professor Oghenekome Onokpise, a distinguished Researcher from FAMU spending a six month sabbatical leave in the School of Agriculture and Agricultural Technology, Forestry and Wood Technology Department of FUTA.
The internationalization drive of Professor Daramola also birthed collaboration with the London South Bank University, (LSBU), United Kingdom and other major Universities around the globe culminating in staff and students exchanges
The collaboration also promoted educational, research and cultural programmes for the mutual benefit of both parties and the development of admission agreements and educational programmes; cooperation on academic, administrative and curriculum matters; collaboration on research projects; exchange academic and administrative staff and students; organization of joint conferences, seminars, symposia, special short-term academic programmes, vacation, cultural, tourism programmes etc.
One of the main gains of the internationalization drive occurred when the Federal University of Technology, Akure, [FUTA], London South Bank University [LSBU] and the De-Montfort University [DMU] Leicester, England jointly organised a conference in Akure with the theme: 21st Century Human Habitat: Issues, Sustainability and Development. Most of the collaboration and internationalization agenda have continued to yield positive impacts for FUTA even after the exit of Professor Daramola as Vice Chancellor. The United Nations World Habitat Programme also collaborated with FUTA in 2016 to launch its Programme in Akure. Officials of INTEL,USA were also in FUTA for International Workshop facilitated by Professor Daramola .
Professor Adebiyi Daramola repositioned the University’s Centre for Space Research and Applications (CESRA) for global recognition. Under his watch, through CESRA, FUTA became the second institutional member of the prestigious International Astronautical Federation (IAF)in Africa, a Federation that has notable Space Agencies like NASA, ESA, ISRO, CSA, and ROSCOSMOS as institutional members. Under his watch as VC, FUTA became the first ever University in Nigeria and second in Africa to launch a cube satellite into outer space, thus making FUTA to have a foot print in space which is by no means a notable achievement.
This feat was achieved through collaboration with Kyushu Institute of Technology Japan and Nigeria’s Space Agency ( NASRDA). Prof. Daramola also promoted joint academic programmes with UN-affiliated institutions such as the African Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in English (ARCSSTE) and AFRIGIST both located inside the OAU campus.
Professor Daramola also increased the pace and firmed up the University’s town and gown engagements. The University worked with engineers from the Nigeria Air Force in determining and solving some challenges with some of its aircrafts while the University’s Centre for Entrepreneurship CENT trained ex-militants from the Niger Delta regions in various vocational and entrepreneurial skills and Cocoa Pruners for the Ondo State Government.
The Daramola tenure also recorded significant gains in the stock of critical infrastructure in the university. The New Auditorium, Now Obafemi Awolowo Auditorium, whose inviting ambience hosted the 28th annual conference of the Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities in October 2013 and the New Senate Building initiated by his predecessors in office, was completed under his leadership of FUTA. New students Hostels, the new International Scholars lodge, lecture theatres, extension and full digitalization of the University Library, the new University bookshop, Massive renovation, upgrading and rehabilitation of the institution’s road network and other critical infrastructure which have changed the landscape of FUTA positively are some of the imprimatur of Daramola’s tenure as Vice Chancellor. He ensured the completion of projects started by his predecessors while also jumpstarting new ones.
Professor Adebiyi Daramola administration maintained and improved on FUTA’s high-calibre scholarship, professionalism and manpower development in science, technical and engineering education. He consolidated FUTA’s status as a Centre for Technological Excellence as well as an academic destination of choice for students, scholars and researchers. Fittingly he was appointed the Chairman of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors (CVC) of Nigerian Federal Universities and by extension, the Chairman of the Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (AVCNU) for a period of two years between 2015 and 2017.
Professor Daramola was born on 2nd March 1958. He attended Anglican Grammar School, Ile-Ife between January 1969 and December 1971 and St. Charles College, Osogbo between January 1972 and June 1974 for his secondary education. He attended The Polytechnic, Ibadan between September 1975 and June 1976 and proceeded to University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) Ile-Ife in October, 1976 and obtained his first degree in June 1980. He thereafter proceeded to the University of Ibadan where he obtained the M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Agricultural Economics between 1981 and September, 1987 respectively.
Professor Daramola started his lectureship career at the University of Ibadan as a Teaching/Tutorial Assistant in the Department of Agricultural Economics in 1982.
He later joined the services of the Federal University of Technology, Akure as an Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension on September 1, 1986. He rose to the grade of Professor on October 1, 1999. Before becoming Vice Chancellor on May 22, 2012 he held many strategic positions. He was at various times, Examinations Officer in the Department of Agricultural Economics (September, 1987 – August, 1990), Coordinator of Students’ Industrial Works Experience Scheme (SIWES) in his Department, Agricultural Economics, (September, 1992 – August, 1995), Acting Head, Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension; (August 1 – July 31, 2005), Head, Department of Agricultural Economics, August 1 — July 31, 2005) and Chairman, University Ceremonials Committee, 2004-2011.
Professor Daramola won many scholarships and awards among which are the Federal Government of Nigeria Postgraduate Scholarship Award (1982); University of Ibadan Scholarship for Postgraduate Study (1982); and Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of New England, Armidale NSW2351, Australia (1990). He was a fellow of the Nigerian Association of Agricultural Economists (NAAE) and a member of several professional bodies. Some of these are the American Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE); International Association of Agricultural Economists (IAAE); Executive Committee Member, African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE).
Professor Daramola served as the Chief Editor and Chairman of Editorial Board of African Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics (AfJARE), Pretoria, South Africa (January 1, 2010 to 2013).He was also a Consultant to several national and international organizations such as the World Bank, Ford Foundation, USAID, DFID, African Development Bank (ADB), Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN) and Community Development Foundation, Lagos, Nigeria among others. He published several papers in both local and international journals and conference proceedings.
Professor Daramola was a consummate family man and firm believer in the Catholic faith. He built relationships at different stations of his life and leveraged on them to the best of advantage of FUTA and those who needed his interventions. If he had any fault, it was his dogged commitment to causes he believed in and his resolute determination to ensure that those who worked with him deliver on assigned mandates.
The likes of Dr Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, Oba Adedokun Abolarin, the Orangun of Oke Ila, Osun State and other friends from his younger days would rue the loss of this personable individual with infectious camaraderie while FUTA Community mourns the exit of a colossus with legendary contributions to its development.
It is also obvious that his beloved wife, children and family members would be inconsolable on the loss of their patriarch. They can and should take solace in the worthy legacies he left behind.
May the good Lord grant him eternal repose and give all deeply affected by his exit the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.
Adieu, Professor Adebiyi Gregory Daramola, an academic giant, international scholar of repute and quintessential administrator.
Adebanjo sent this piece via email@example.com