And we are greatly humbled by what they have entrusted us with. Come August 1, 2012, the change in the saddle of deanship of engineering at Unilag begins a challenge to live up to the promises of this campaign. It is not going to be a picnic in the park but we shall try. We are sufficiently realistic especially considering the numerous challenges that face every effort at doing things right here in Nigeria. A campaign run on Integrity must also beware of the “banana peels” that caught a vaunted “Mr Integrity” – among Baba’s famous “400 Thieves”. We can even dare to fail. Whatever happens, it shall NOT be said of us that we did not try!
Let me begin by complimenting Professor Afolabi Kehinde. As a distinguished fellow member of the Maple-Leaf club and my senior in several ways, I want to thank you for running a dignified race. On several occasions, at the campaign trail, we met and instead of trading insults, we spent time to joke and exchange pleasantries. I am grateful for the sportsmanlike way you took the outcome of the elections. I will make a serious effort to show you that we are in this together and that the respect I have for you has even grown the more.
Professors Sadiq and Falade from Civil and Environmental Engineering are also to be praised. On Saturday, Sadiq and I travelled to Erin-Ijesha to pay our last office of friendship to our late mentor, professor CO Orangun. We argued and talked all the way about how we can make things better. We assured ourselves of cooperation for whoever won the election. Professor Falade always made sure he had a word of brotherliness to say to me every time we met on the trail. Even on the very last day, he was not found wanting. My brothers, I want to thank you for making the race, difficult as it may have been, a worthwhile thing and an example to all that competition can be in a civilized manner and that people can disagree without being disagreeable. Professor Frank Okafor, a distinguished fellow Akokite, has been my neighbor for a while. In the course of time we are even getting to know family members and other mutual friends. Our faculty will continue to need the immense contacts you have developed over the years with industry and government. I will work hard to ensure that our comradeship grows and that we shall be an example to others in the way we ensure that the larger interests of our people looms larger in all our considerations than immediate personal goals. Thanks for bringing out the best features in our election. Your participation made it more competitive and I believe our people will be better off as a result of the way we have conducted ourselves.
I congratulate the foursome for their brave act of not only respecting the people’s will but in cheerfully congratulating and wishing me well in the onerous task of rekindling the hopes of our people.
I have never seriously sought elected positions before this. I am ordinarily very insistent on whatever I think is right. An elected office is a position of collective responsibility. There are compromises to be made. Compromise! A very bad word? Not necessarily! Our people say, “Ona kan ko w’oja”. O poor poor English! There is no way to translate that without losing something. It roughly means that there are usually several ways to reach the market – Never only one way. In that sense, we shall compromise on issues of tactics while our strategies and principles of operation remain well-defined and unyielding. And we shall endeavor to learn to disagree with you without being disagreeable. We shall try to open things up especially when they are difficult and allow the “two heads better than one” rule to guide us.
To the electorate. I salute you. I salute the women; I salute the men. The women must come first because they are our mothers. They work harder than us because they are in a man’s world and are making success. To achieve this, they raise families and often do school runs. They work up to twice as hard, have fewer choices and still excel. I salute you. Some of you are great encouragers and your families are greatly blessed to have you. We will work to understand your special needs and ensure they are looked after as much as it lies with us. To my men comrades, I say it like old Buka Suka Dimka did in 1975, “We are all together!” I also salute those who worked hard for the campaign of my competitors for this honor. You worked doggedly and you were faithful to your principals till the end. Kudos! I will work hard to earn your trust and make sure your rights are protected. I want to congratulate those members who worked for me and encouraged me. Ola yin ni o! I will work hard to not disappoint you and make you look foolish. We can only have one dean at a time. Other people will have their turn as God gives us life. To my predecessor, Professor Ajibade Salau, the people’s dean, I say congratulations on your run. You have set for us a standard we will try to match, and, with God’s help, we shall endeavor to exceed. You have put your imprint on our faculty and it is our prayer that your continued work in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department as well as other future opportunities will be met with the same kind of success. You are a great mobilizer and go-getter. While you were dean, you not only listened to ideas shared with you, you supported them vigorously to fruition.
From now till the end of July, we shall be planning to engineer the issues that have been lingering in the minds as dreams. The web pages we have used for the campaign will become a veritable tool for bi-directional communication amongst us. Let us share freely what we think should be done. Let us not be shy about it. We all have a stake in the future of this place where we spend most of our productive years.
I am humbled by your choice of me. I take the challenge seriously. It is a blessing, it is a honour. In my mind, the words of the old hymn resonate:
“When with blessings sated,
Or by praise elated,
Blessed Jesu, hear us!
Let Thy cross be near us! Amen!”