Professor Uchenna Nkiruka Udeani, officially handed over the reins of leadership of the Distance Learning Institute (DLI), University of Lagos (UNILAG) to Professor Risikat Oladoyin S. Dauda on Tuesday, August 15, 2023 in a cosy ceremony organised by members of staff of the Institute.
The outgoing Director of DLI, Professor Udeani assumed office on Thursday, August 16, 2018, and diligently served her 4-year tenure. Due to her meritorious service, her appointment was extended by one (1) year. Five (5) years later, this astute visionary passed the baton of leadership of the Institute to Professor Daudu at exactly 10:26 a.m., Tuesday, August 15, 2023.
The Future Is Online
It was evidently an emotionally fulfilling moment for Professor Udeani, who ascribed her success in office to the support she got from DLI staff and the two (2) Vice-Chancellors she worked with, as she was seen smiling joyfully throughout the ceremony. In a brief speech before handing over the mantle of leadership to her successor, Professor Udeani reminisced on her journey which began five (5) years ago as she prepared to head over to DLI to commence her duties as the incoming Director of the Institute at the time. She expressed immense gratitude to the Almighty God for keeping and helping her fulfil purpose.
Subsequently, she presented the incoming Director of the Distance Learning Institute (DLI), Professor Risikat O. S. Dauda, with the official red pen and bunch of keys of the Office of the Director. This symbolised the end of Professor Udeani’s tenure as the Director of the Institute and the beginning of Professor Dauda’s tenure.
In a similar manner, Professor Udeani presented a detailed document of her Stewardship Report and Handover Notes from August 2018 to August 2023 for the Distance Learning Institute (DLI), University of Lagos (UNILAG), titled: “The Future is Online” to the new Director of DLI. A copy of the report was also handed over to the Chairman, Board of DLI, Professor Abayomi Okanlawo.
Professor Dauda was then welcomed to sit in her chair in the Office of the Director.
A Joyous Day for DLI Staff and Associates
Members of staff of the Distance Learning Institute were filled with a mixture of joy and nostalgia as many attested to the tremendous progressive changes the Institute recorded in staff, infrastructure and programmes under the leadership of Professor Udeani.
Right after Professor Udeani officially handed over the instruments of Office to Professor Dauda, staff of DLI ushered her to the Nurudeen Alao Auditorium with joyful dancing to a performance of harmonious trumpet and talking drum to serenade her.
At the Auditorium, past and present Deputy Directors, Institute Secretary, lecturers, administrative staff, library staff, transport unit staff, front desk staff, security team and program staff who have worked at one point or the other or currently work at DLI gave a standing ovation as the outgoing and incoming Directors danced into the venue.
Head of Department, Management Sciences, DLI, Professor Johnson Adewara, while delivering the opening speech at the reception, posited that the wind of change started blowing in DLI for the better since the past two (2) transitions of power. Commenting on the pure joy radiating on Professor Udeani’s face as she handed over to her successor, he recalled the way the former DLI Director that handed over to her, Distinguished Professor Olukayode Amund, had done it with goodwill as well.
Encomiums and Felicitations Roll In
Professor Abayomi Okanlawon, Chairman of DLI Board commended the outgoing Director for her immense contribution to the growth of the Institute and heartly congratulated the incoming Director, saying “Professor Udeani is leaving a very big shoe and I believe Professor Risikat Dauda will do a great job in filling it up.” He went on to speak of his first encounter of the duo and attested to their individual tenacity and competence. He also gave kudos to staff of the Institute for supporting the outgoing Director thus far and encouraged them to accord the incoming Director the same support.
Professor Adebayo Oladipo, Dean, Faculty of Engineering expressed his pride and that of his faculty in Professor Udeani, his senior colleague, as she makes her way back home to the Faculty of Education after giving her all to the Distance Learning Institute. He welcomed her back, saying she had been greatly missed, although her impact in DLI, other parts of the University and the world have been notably felt. He felicitated with the incoming Director, Professor Dauda, wishing her good health and all she needs to succeed in her new assignment.
Professor Elijah Oyeyemi, Dean of the Faculty of Science and a member of the DLI Board aligned with the statement by many that a lot of development had taken place in DLI during Professor Udeani’s tenure. Her commended her dogged and equally amenable nature which he had observed while working with her. He congratulated her for a tenure well served, while also congratulating and welcoming the new Director, Professor Dauda. He shared his view of the great deeds DLI will also experience with Professor Dauda as she had once been a Deputy Director at the Institute and thus familiar with the needs thereof.
Professor Mopelola Olusakin, Director, Safeguarding Centre, UNILAG, asserted that she expected nothing less of the encomiums being poured on her friend and dear colleague, Professor Udeani, as “she is a woman of honour and excellence who fully applies herself to any task she takes on.” Professor Olusakin recalled with great pride, that during her tenure as the Director of Academic Planning of the University of Lagso, Professor Udeani’s zeal and thoroughness earned her a place of respect in programme creation, approval and accreditation by the National Universities Commission (NUC). Casting her gaze onto the new Director of DLI, she informed the gathering that; “Professor Dauda is quiet but is very thorough and she is an achiever.” She then went on to wish Professor Dauda success in her new office beyond expectations.
Staff of the Distance Learning Institute had so many fond memories to share and beautiful words to say about the outgoing Director. However to avoid repetition of words the Deputy Director, Academic Planning and Research, Dr. Folashade Afolabi, on behalf of all staff and students of DLI said a huge thank you to Professor Udeani. This cued in a video recording of some members of staff forming a representation of the entire staff of the Institute who share their goodwill messages to Professor Udeani. One of these included the fact that “Professor Uchenna Udeani is a definition of determination” and that “she is very thorough and always on top of her game.”
“I Will Not Disappoint You Professor Udeani”
The incoming Director, Professor Risikat Dauda likened the ceremony to a saying by Billie Jean King, a former world No. 1 tennis player, that goes thus: “Create your legacy, and pass the baton.” She posited that even though every opportunity had an expiry date, it is inspiring to see that Professor Udeani made optimal use of her leadership opportunity in DLI to steer the affairs of the Institute to greater heights. Professor Dauda made these remarks while delivering her speech as the new Director of the Distance Learning Institute (DLI), UNILAG.
She affirmed that she was familiar with the DLI terrain as she had once served as a deputy director and thus was privy to the challenges faced by the Institute. She said this while giving Professor Udeani her flowers for having transformed the Institute to a boastworthy place.
Professor Daudu averred that she had observed and respected Professor Udeani as someone to learn from. She stated with warmth that: “I am honoured, privileged and happy to be taking over from someone who has achieved great things like you.”
Contrary to the many voices that have mentioned in good faith that Professor Dauda will fill the big shoes left by her predecessor, she playfully but decidedly asserted that: “I’m sorry to disappoint you, I will not be wearing Professor Udeani’s shoes, instead I promise I will not disappoint you, Professor Udeani. When you look back, you will be happy and proud of me.”
She went on to disclose that Professor Udeani has inspired her in many ways and she has celebrated Professor Udeani’s many successes, “…therefore, I pray you will be alive to also celebrate my successes.”
Professor Dauda recognised and commended the efforts of the members of staff of DLI in helping her predecessor make such awe-inspiring accomplishments. She averred that it could only have been possible with the support of every single staff and thus solicited their support during her own tenure as well.
Time to Say Goodbye
Overflowing with joy, Professor Uchenna Udeani, heartily expressed her gratitude to the DLI family for welcoming her with love, and sending her forth with much more love. She again, appreciated the 2 Vice-Chancellors with whom she worked during her tenure as DLI Director; the immediate past Vice-Chancellor, Professor Oluwatoyin T. Ogundipe, FAS and the incumbent Vice-Chancellor, Professor Folasade T. Ogunsola, OON, FAS. She expressed her full appreciation to them for always supporting and keying into her visions for the Distance Learning Institute.
Speaking further on their support she said: “It is one thing to bring up an idea or share your vision, it is entirely another for that vision to be adopted and given wings to fly.” She thanked the Vice-Chancellors for breathing life into her thoughts and giving her the backing that ensured she succeeded.
“As I am leaving, I’m leaving you with all the love in my heart.” This she said to the DLI family. She averred that she considered every single staff of DLI her family as they have worked tirelessly together over the years. She recalled the rigorous works that each staff had to put in for the five (5) different NUC accreditations the Institute underwent, a procedure that is notorious for being highly tasking.
Similarly, she appreciated her biological brother who was present at the ceremony and her adoptive family who she chose in the University of Lagos; Professor Virgy Onyene, Professor Mopelola Olusakin, Dr. Mrs. Chukwu, to mention a few.
She heartily welcomed Professor Dauda, her successor and wished her success in her tenure. Playfully she said: “I will take my shoes with me”, in response to expectations of her successor filling her shoes. She expressed her wish to see the new Director of DLI, Professor Risikat Dauda, spreading her tentacles and achieving far greater things for DLI than she could.
The Institute Secretary, Mr. Olagoke Oke gave votes of thanks and mentioned that “today marks the beginning of a new year in DLI”, as he charged all staff to give full support to the new Director just as they did with the outgoing Director.
Cutting of cake, presentation of gifts and a plaque and a photograph session ensued.
Professor Uchenna Nkiruka Udeani is a Professor of Science Education at the University of Lagos, a Gender Consultant and an Equal Opportunity Specialist. She has contributed immensely to the advancement of the University of Lagos both in her capacity as the Director of the Distance Learning Institute and as member of faculty in the Faculty of Education.
She has invested a considerable amount of her time and resources, be it intellectual or financial into DLI, in a manner that can be termed “a labour of love”. Driving her verve for a unique and globally competitive distance learning education in the University of Lagos, she pioneered the DLI International Colloquium as a platform for professional conversations about emerging technologies and the future of Open, Distance and e-Learning (OdeL). It was on this premise that she worked with a staff of the Institute, Professor Adewara, to launch a mobile application that enables DLI students access the Institute’s Learning Management System (LMS) on the go.
She also leveraged her long-time relationship with Siemens Stiftung, in offering consultation for the international education project ‘EXPERIMENTO’ in 2016, to facilitate the donation of the Digital Engineering Laboratory in the Faculty of Engineering by Siemens Energy.
She runs a non-governmental organisation named Girls and Science Outreach (GASO) which runs holiday programmes for girls in STEM.
Professor Risikat Oladoyin Sunmola Dauda is a Professor of Economics at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Lagos. She was a former Head of the Department of Economics notable for fostering mutually beneficial relations with the Financial Derivatives Company, a foremost financial company during her tenure.
Between 2014 and 2016, she served as the Deputy Director (Media Services and Course Materials Development) DLI. During this time, she also chaired committees on DLI policy guidelines and instructional design respectively.
She is a co-founder of a non-governmental organisation named The Atarah IteOluwakiishi Foundation, that focusses on promoting access to education, women empowerment and children well-being among other things.