The University of Lagos (UNILAG) has approved the elevation of some lecturers as full professors, the Muslim News can authoritatively confirm.
The list of the scholars included three prominent Muslim dons who were among the earlier generation that laid the foundation of the modern Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN) in the institution as students.
The promotions were ratified by the University Governing Council on Thursday, March 3, 2022, having considered them satisfactory for the positions.
Dr. Tajudeen Olalekan Yusuf, co-Imam of the University of Lagos Muslim Community, and Professor Musa Adebayo Obalola, the acting Dean of Students Affairs (DSA), are not only elevated to Professorial cadre, but the duo also became pioneer Professors of Insurance and Risk Management in Nigeria.
The third person, Dr. Ismail Adegboyega Ibraheem has also been elevated to the cadre of Professor of Journalism and Communications Studies, making him the first Muslim to achieve this feat since the creation of the Department of Mass Communication, UNILAG, in 1966.
Other prominent Muslim lecturers who have been promoted to the Professorial cadre by the University within a year are; Dr. Luqman Adeoti, Professor of Geosciences; Dr. Abdulhakeem Amuda; Professor of Metallurgical and Material Engineering; Dr. Zaid Aderolu, Professor of Marine Sciences; Dr. Muhammed Usman; Professor of Chemical Engineering;
Also included are Dr. Ayo Yusuf as Professor of Linguistics and Dr. Khalid Jide Adekoya, the student adviser to MSSN, UNILAG, who was elevated in January 2022 as a Full Professor of Genetics, among others.
Their journeys to Professorial cadre will be discussed in separate reports.
The journey to stardom
The journey of the three, Professors Yusuf, Obalola and Ibraheem into the academic world began in the same institution, the University of Lagos, but at different times in the 80s.
Prof. Yusuf, who hails from Abeokuta, Ogun State, studied Insurance between 1985 and 1989. In the same vein, Obalola, Epe-Lagos State-born scholar, bagged his B.Sc in Insurance between 1989 and 1994.
Ibraheem, an indigene of Ede, Osun State, obtained B.Sc in Mass Communications between 1986 and 1990.
They came from different homes with different orientations, but one unique feature brought them together. Being a Muslim is the most precious gift Allah can bless anyone with, but associating with the ‘righteous people’ as firmly established in the Noble Qur’an pleases Allah.
Findings carried out by this medium showed that the trio had their stints at MSSN UNILAG and contributed significantly to the growth of the association during their undergraduate days.
The Birth Of Amirship In MSSN
Prof. Yusuf, who was then a 100 Level student, emerged as the first Amir (President) of the Muslim Students’ body in the university.
Speaking on the emergence of the youngest scholar as the Amir, a renowned media scholar and an author, Alhaji AbdurRazaq AbdusSalam famously known as Abu Umar Al-Faruq noted that the quest for scholar-activism with the right and sound understanding of the deen (religion) made MSSN thick during their era.
AbdusSalam, who was then the General Secretary during Prof. Yusuf’s administration narrated, “They weren’t angels but dedicated and committed young brothers and sisters. They belonged to the golden era of MSSN and Prof. Tajudeen Yusuf as a 100-level student became the first to be designated as an Amir of UNILAG.
“He was the first Amir. Previously, we used to have President and Imam Titles. I could recollect our last Imam, Aliu Akosile and Tajudeen Adeyemi as the President.
“During the handover conference, we told them we’re not using the President and Imam again. We wanted Amirship, which was already introduced at the National level of the Society, Kwara and other states,” he said.
Prof. Yusuf, while speaking with Muslim News said, “Before I came to UNILAG, I was in Lagos State College of Science and Technology (now known as LASPOTECH/Lagos State University of Science and Technology). Back then, I used to attend the MSSN Unit Usrah every Thursday, and through the gathering, I have been known by many people by the Tafsir I used to give during the weekly programme.
“While I was processing my admission to UNILAG, many students, most of whom were our elders, were eager for me to come. You know, the University of Lagos was and is still very prominent in the MSSN Lagos State Area Unit and most of the leaders of the Unit were either products of UNILAG or have something to share with UNILAG students.
“So, the elders were facilitating my enrolment to UNILAG. Anytime I visit the campus, they will host me. When I eventually gained admission and the period of the election came, there was no strong opposition.
My candidacy even as a year one student was accepted by all.
On the adoption of Amirship, Prof. Yusuf corroborated Abu Umar Al-Faruq’s earlier statement, saying, “At that time, Abdul Fatah AbdulMajeed was the first Amir of MSSN at the national level. He was also a product of UNILAG. So, if the title of Amirship started at the national level, UNILAG was also in the rightful position to adopt it, because at that time, the love for Islam and anything Qur’an and Sunnah was already the high point of our da’wah. Thus, we adopted Amirship as against the usual president and imams. So, when I came in, it was easy for me to emerge as the Amir.
He described their days in MSSN as the era of ‘where is your hujjah (evidence), which was vested in Islamic scholar-activism. He added that during that period, “You dare not utter what you’re not sure of, especially when it comes to Islamic knowledge. You must bring your evidence from the Qur’an or Hadith. We invested so much in Islamic literature and we continued to read and do further research. That was how the scholar-activism in UNILAG spread to other campuses in the Southwest.
Quest For Knowledge
Muslim News findings revealed that Prof. Yusuf was in year 2 when Prof. Ibraheem gained admission into the university. He was in his final year in 1989 when Prof. Obalola was admitted into the same Department of Insurance. But today, the trio were elevated at the same time by the University Governing Council.
Prof. Obalola recalled his emergence as a Librarian and later Business Chairman of the Muslim students body, which he described as a booster to their (students) quest for knowledge.
According to him, our committee would travel to the North from Lagos to Kaduna; from Kaduna to Jos, and back to Kano to purchase Islamic materials which would be bought by the students right before they were displayed for sales.
Everyone back then was curious to read about Islam and be informed. The culture of reading was there unlike today”. Despite their activities, they still dedicated time to their studies and graduated with good grades.
Prof. Ibraheem, then a Mass Communication student was the Editor of the MSSN UNILAG and was among the students behind Al-Hikmah Awareness, a once-flourishing faith-based medium circulated in the southwest.
Journey To Doctoral Of Philosophy
After their studies in UNILAG, the trio continued to pursue their academic careers. Speaking with Muslim News, Prof. Yusuf, who had already completed his first MSc in Business Administration (Specialising in Management) at UNILAG in 1992, said, “I came into UNILAG as a lecturer almost the same time with Prof. Obalola. I came in March and he came in October 1999.
“We were together in the Department, at the same time, trying to do our PhD in Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB).
“We started but there was no progress because the school was an agriculture university and we were not in agriculture. Their courses were structured in a way you have to do courses in agriculture in those days. We had to stop,” he said.
“Prof. Ibraheem, who had started his PhD at the University of Leicester, UK, suggested we come to the UK for a less costly course, which could serve as a pivot to pursue our PhD. That was exactly what happened.
“I applied to a College in Leicester and got admission to the University of Loughborough for my second Masters in Islamic Management, Banking & Finance. My passion for ethical finance and the need to create a new narrative in the finance industry vis-a-vis banking, insurance and investment-led me to do that and it was fruitful because I graduated with Distinction, which was 2005.
“After that, I moved to Nottingham University Business School for my PhD, which I ran between 2005 and 2009,” he added.
In his account, Prof. Obalola admitted that his path with Prof. Yusuf has always been crossed and similar.
He said, “When we joined the University of Lagos as lecturers, we started our PhD but finished at different times. Prof. Yusuf finished before me and he graduated with Distinction while I started late because of my inability to get a visa on time. Like Prof. Yusuf, I also applied for my second M.Sc in Risk Management from Leicester Castle Business School, De Montfort University, UK, where I graduated with Distinction, in 2010. It was after then that I proceeded for my PhD in the same University, where I studied Insurance Ethics, and within three years, I was able to defend my thesis. In all, I spent about 4 years on the programme,” he noted.
Journey To Professorial Cadre
Muslim News findings revealed that the elevation of the trio did not come as a surprise to many of their students, and colleagues, who believe it was long overdue. Since the beginning of their careers, they have dedicated their time to lecturing, researching, supervision, and authoring countless papers in national and international journals.
Rising through the academic ladder from the lowest to the highest within a space of 23 years with over 50 local and international publications, Prof. Yusuf has been honoured with several leadership roles in the University community including Deputy Director, School of Foundation Studies; Member of Senate, University of Lagos; Deputy Coordinator, MBA Programmes Coordinator; PG Programmes, Actuarial Science and Insurance.
Other portfolios are the Chairman, FMS Environmental Committee; Editor, The Nigerian Journal of Risk and Insurance; Examination Officer, Department of Actuarial Science & Insurance; Students’ Staff Adviser, Department of Actuarial Science & Insurance; Course Adviser, Actuarial Science students; Staff Adviser, Department of Actuarial Science and Insurance; Staff Adviser, Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria among others.
Externally, due to his versatility and expertise, Prof. Yusuf has been honoured with numerous public leadership roles notable among them are Chairman, Lagos State Muslim Pilgrims’ Welfare Board; Co-Chairman, Nigeria Inter-Religion Council, Lagos State; Chairman, Governing Board, Subtle Nursery and Primary School, Isolo, Lagos; Chairman, Sharia Board, Hilal Takaful Limited, Victoria Island, Lagos; Chairman, Governing Board, Markas Abdul Lateef College of Quran Memorisation and Islamic Studies, Abule-Egba, Lagos, Deputy Amir (Cultural Affairs), The Muslim Congress, and so on.
As his passion for Islamic finance advocacy, education, and industry training grew. He soon started the promotion and campaign which eventually gave birth to the pioneer and foremost Institute of Islamic Finance Professionals (IIFP) in the year 2014.
The Institute has contributed largely to the education, advocacy, certification, and training of numerous industry practitioners across Islamic Banking, Islamic Insurance, Islamic Capital Market, Islamic Pension as well as the Islamic Investment ecosystem with thousands of professional members spread across the country.
He is a recipient of several awards of honour including the Best Lecturer Award Department of Actuarial Science and Insurance, University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria. He is a two-time recipient of grant and honour of the Central Research Committee (CRC)(2016); Boosting Financial Inclusion and Penetration through Unconventional Insurance in Nigeria as well as the TETFUND GRANT 2020; Institutional Quality, SMEs Productivity, GVC’s Participation, and Export Intensity in Nigeria.
Prof. Yusuf is also a Fellow, Islamic Finance Professional, Nigeria (FIFP); Fellow, Chartered Institute of Loan and Risk Management, Nigeria; (FCILRM); Associate Member, Chartered Insurance Institute, London (ACII London); Chartered Insurer, Chartered Insurance Institute, London; Associate Member, Chartered Insurance Institute, Nigeria (ACII Nigeria), among others.
Prof. Obalola, who assumed the position of Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Actuarial Science and Insurance in 1999 has held relevant positions in the department as well as the Faculty of Business Administration, University of Lagos.
He was lecturer II between 2003 and 2008; Lecturer I between 2008 and 2011. After years of extensive research, project supervision, and lecturing, he was a Senior lecturer for 5 years (2011 to 2016) before assuming the post of Associate Professor in the same department for almost 6 years.
The Acting Dean, Student Affairs (DSA) has also served as the Deputy Director, in the Academic Planning Unit of the University where matters bordering on academic standards are determined, implemented, evaluated, and monitored, amongst numerous occupied positions.
Prof. Obalola is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Loan and Risk Management, a member of Chartered Insurance Institute of London and Nigeria (CIIN), British Academy of Management (BAM), The Nigeria Academy of Management (TNAM) and Social Responsibility Research Networks (SRRNet.), UK.
With over 32 local and international publications with many ongoing works, Prof. Obalola’s area of teaching and research interest broadly covers Research Methodology, Health Risk Behaviour, Risk Management, Insurance, Corporate Governance, Ethics, Corporate Social Responsibility, Organisational Justice, and Commitment.
His publications include chapters in books, conference papers, and refereed journals in these research areas. He also regularly reviews some national and international journals in these subject areas. He is also the external examiner to schools such as the University of Benin, Joseph Ayo Babalola University, Redeemer University, Lagos State University, and many others, and has worked as an associate lecturer at different institutions of learning across the country.
Prof. Obalola is a recipient of the Leicester Castle Business School Best Student Performance on M.Sc. Risk Management Programme; Outstanding Author Contribution and Highly Commended Paper Awards at the Emerald Literati Award of Excellence in 2015 and 2013 respectively.
Prof. Ibraheem, who bagged his PhD in Media and Public Policy in 2004, is an innovative and creative professional with over 28 years of cross-functional and cross-sector local and international experience, including over 15 years in the civil society sector at leading different organisations through change.
He is a goal-oriented and accomplished team builder with a proven ability to develop programmes, and organisations out of nothing and make a difference in the various roles he has occupied over the years.
Since he joined in 2011 as a Senior Lecturer, Department of Mass Communication, Prof. Ismail, a former British Chevening Scholar, has contributed immensely to the development of his department and the institution, teaching and mentoring of undergraduate and postgraduate students in journalism, development, political and international communications.
Promoted as Associate Professor, Journalism, and Communications Studies in 2016, Prof. Ibraheem led the University for the Bloomberg Media Initiative for Africa programme that provided cutting-edge training on financial journalism to over 600 high-flying journalists in three African countries, Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa between 2014 and 2017.
With over 3 years of experience as the acting Director of IRPP, the media scholar is leading the Internationalisation Strategy Implementation for the University of Lagos, covering International Engagement Management for all the Units in the University and ensuring alignment with the University’s vision and strategic objectives.
He is also the Chair, Board of Trustees, Cable News Foundation, and Co-Chair West Africa, Academics Stand Against Poverty. He was the Director of Communication and Strategy, Centre for Free Speech, Nigeria; Acting Executive Director, Civil Liberties Organisation, Nigeria; and Editor, Director Media and Governance Programme and Coordinator of Journalists Outreach for Human Rights, Civil Liberties Organisation, (CLO), Nigeria.
He is a former Country Programme Director, Nigeria/Lecturer: Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) the United Kingdom, Postgraduate Diploma professional programmes in Nigeria.
His core areas of competence include Strategic and Foresight Thinking, Policy Development and Implementation, Organisational and Thought Leadership, Strategic and Complex Relationship Management, Action Learning and Design Thinking, Team Leadership, Leadership Development, Development Communication Strategy, User-Focused Approach to Development and Stakeholder Mapping and Management.
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