Tribute to Professor Emeritus Ayodele Olajide Falase at 80 by Idowu Olayinka

At 11:00 pm on Tuesday, 4th January 1944, a baby boy was born to the family of the Very Reverend Emmanuel Akinrolabu Falase and Madam Janet Omolayo Falase. Baby Falase, later christened Ayodele Olajide Falase, who turns 80 today has since grown to become, in the words of of his famous teacher Professor Oladipo Akinkugbe NNOM (1933 to 2020) ‘one of Africa’s foremost cardiologists’.

Ayodele Falase is a Nigerian National Merit Award winner, Fellow Nigerian Academy of Science, Doctor of Medicine, has been named Professor since 1979, named Emeritus Professor of Medicine in 2014 and served as the ninth Vice-Chancellor of his alma mater, the University of Ibadan from 2000 till 2005. He had, earlier in his illustrious career, served the same institution with distinction as Chairman Committee of Deans, Provost College of Medicine, Dean of Clinical Sciences and Dentistry, Sub-Dean, and Head of Department of Medicine. A man of many parts, he was a University sportsman as an undergraduate student of Medicine and Surgery. He was very good in athletics, especially the sprints. Table tennis is still one of his favourites. He served in the war front as a Field Captain in the Nigerian Army during the unfortunate Nigerian civil war. He was Organist with the Chapel of the Resurrection University of Ibadan from 1964 to 1968, and at All Saints Church Jericho Ibadan since 1971, a service for which he received a meritorious award in November 2009.

I had golden opportunities to watch Professor Falase at close quarters during his stint as our Vice-Chancellor. His firmness, fairness, sense of justice and spartan lifestyle have always stood him in good stead while endearing him to many. He is reputed as a disciplinarian. As Chairman of the Senior Staff Disciplinary Committee he ensured that the rank of the Faculty and Staff was not polluted under any guise. He restored sanity to the University campus by eradicating cultism. Many ‘students’ who entered the University with questionable credentials were expelled.

Apart from processing my elevation to the grade of Professor he appointed me Head of the Department of Geology during which period I concurrently represented the Faculty of Science on the University Appointments and Promotions Committee for Academic Staff in 2001/2002. I also served as Dean of the Postgraduate School for the next four years. It was to the eternal credit of Vice-Chancellor Falase that his administration produced the 2005 Promotion Guidelines, which the University still uses till date (as amended) in spite of the initial protestations by a large segment of the academic staff. In a recent discussion I had with him, barely a week ago, I drew his attention to this 2005 Promotion guidelines. I used the analogy of a computer system to drive home my point, stressing that it is the hardware that anyone can see and feel. Yet, it is trite to state that a computer cannot work without the software.

A prolific and profound scholar who writes with effortless ease, Professor Ayodele Falase has documented his odyssey as Vice-Chancellor in his Autobiography titled ‘Great is His Faithfulness’. Those who want to find out how to run a University with a very low budget among many competing items of teaching and research expenditure will learn from the Falase solution. For the better part of his tenure, his administration had to resort to taking bank loans in order to complement the funds provided by the proprietor- the Federal Government of Nigeria. He weathered the storm and the bank debts were liquidated a few days to the end of his tenure on 25th September 2005, much to his relief.

In and out of office Professor Falase has very strong opinions on how the fortunes of the Nigerian University System can be improved upon. He was extremely troubled and worried during the 2020 and 2022 protracted national strikes by the Academic Staff Union of Universities. He called me on several occasions to find out what could be done to salvage the badly battered image of the Nigerian University System.

I cannot thank Professor Falase enough for his role as a Conciliator during my tenure as VC. On one particular occasion he heard about some misgivings between a ranking officer of the University and the VC. He offered to come and see me on the matter. I protested that I would rather come to see him at home on the matter. He was unyielding and insisted that he would rather come to see his VC which he did. Thankfully the matter was resolved amicably.

Sir, as you join the exclusive ranks of our elders and icons who are Octogenarians, we wish you many more years of quality service to humanity in good health, prosperity and peace of mind. We join your wife of many decades, Dr. Adelola Falase, children and grandchildren, friends and associates on this joyous occasion. We wish you everlasting bliss in the land of the living. We love you, Sir. Happy birthday.

Professor Olayinka, a former Vice-Chancellor , University of Ibadan, writes from Ibadan.

Related Articles