Chief Moji Ladipo at 70: A Tribute 

By Dr Gani Adeniran

With great delight and much appreciation to the grace of God, I celebrate the birthday of a true icon, the 70th birthday of my sister, my friend and a deserving torchbearer of administrative excellence in the Nigerian university administration.

I came to know Chief Moji Ladipo, mni early in my career in the University of Ibadan. The year was 1992. In company of Professor Wole Akinboade (now late), I had gone to the office of the very last substantive and only Deputy Vice Chancellor of UI, Professor Olusola Akinyele. While waiting for us to be ushered into the office, a beautiful young woman came in and exchanged pleasantries with Professor Akinboade. The woman, apparently a senior administrative staff, struck the image of a cheerful, dutiful and admirable personality. She was dressed to match. I was later informed that she’s the Establishments Officer that can sign my sack letter! After that brief encounter with Mrs. Ladipo in the office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor, we developed a close relationship beyond the ordinary call of duty between an academic staff and a senior administrative officer, a relationship that became even closer throughout and after her period as a principal officer of the University, till today.

I am really not qualified to comment about Chief Moji Ladipo’s competence as a university administrator but I had made some of my observations about her publicly when she became the Registrar of the University of Ibadan in 1997, a position she held with honour, dignity comportment and rectitude to the end of tenure in 2006. First, I will say without any reservations that her knowledge of university history and records is profound and unassailable. She probably learned that from her predecessors, Chief Ekanem Ita and Chief J. D. Okudu, both of blessed memory. At thorny sessions in Senate Congregation and even in meetings of such committees as the Senior Staff Disciplinary Committee (SSDC) and Students Disciplinary committee (SDC), she would always insist that things be done according to laid down rules and regulations, and possibly convention. Any time discussions tended towards sentiments or partisanship, she would always remind us that after all the grammar by “acadas” she and only she would enter the dock if any matter became a subject of litigation. She cannot be intimidated or coerced to accept a wrong decision.

I recall that Mrs Ladipo enjoyed the full support of her colleagues in the buildup to her appointment to the exalted position of Registrar. It was apparent from the manner many people related to her. She was respected by her peers and seniors, as much as she was admired by younger administrators. She was a trailblazer. She created additional posts to cater for expansion and due promotion of staff based on merit and strong competition amongst administrators and other categories of non-teaching staff. I can also recall that she had an abiding interest in the competence and development of career female staff which some people mistook for gender bias.

Blessed with a pretty and affable disposition, Chief Moji Ladipo has the natural instinct of a leader who is always helpful and able to douse tension at critical time. She enjoyed the tremendous goodwill of both academic and non-teaching staff. She was also known for seeking opinions from reliable and specific people when she had to. Recently, I spotted a memo that she wrote to me in 2003 on a matter in which she thought I could assist her having served as Congregation Secretary before. She was always on the side of order and protocol; firm but not bossy, she was ready to accept her limitations and advice from others. An example will suffice here. She had appeared before an SSDC Panel of which I was convener. In order to be fair to the staff under investigation, I politely asked if she wouldn’t mind if the staff concerned could listen to her deposition. As soon as the staff concerned saw the Registrar, he became terrified and started weeping that his job had finished in the University because the Registrar had come to give evidence against him! Needless to say that in the end, the staff was freed of the allegation to his own surprise and joy. But the staff was to get involved in another offence that didn’t involve Chief Moji Ladipo. Sometimes, she got blackmailed by people in order to get sympathy but posterity has always been the better judge.

Chief Moji Ladipo is a socialite both within and outside the campus. She doesn’t discriminate against any category of staff; even after she has left the services of the university, once she’s duly invited to a programme, she always takes time to honour both personal and official invitations. She’s always at home, be it in Abadina,  be it at the naming ceremony of a security staff or be it at the “freedom” ceremony of a distant relative of a former staff. I was pleasantly surprised some years ago when I saw Mr Kehinde (her former driver) at a place in Abadina. I thought that the driver was on his own, only for my sister to beckon on me to come and join in the merriment! Needless to say that she had attended most of my important social functions in Ibadan and Igboora.

I will never forget how in 1992 she saved me and my family from dire hunger when my salary was stopped by some administrative error in the Bursary. While awaiting the confirmation of my appointment, I realized that my salary had been withheld. It took a written memo from Mrs Ladipo then that I was a probationary and not a temporary staff. My salary for the month of May was thus reinstated until the confirmation process was concluded She simply abhorred incompetence and sloppiness.

At 70, Chief Moji Ladipo remains a towering figure in all that is noble and pure. Since she completed her tenure as Registrar of UI, there has been no dull moment in her schedule as a professional administrator and executive manager. She was pleasantly surprised to see me when I visited her once at Aba when she was Registrar of Veritas University. She picks and chooses what offers to accept or request. She told me recently that she is gradually winding down from the demands of public service. Now, her pastime is babysitting and taking care of her grandchildren. When sometime ago I reminded her of the 70th birthday celebration, she told me that with some much uncertainty in Nigeria, including COVID-19 and threats of instability in our land, to be alive will be her greatest joy.

The current Registrar of UI, Mrs. Bunmi Faluyi and her team of able and committed staff have again done well by commissioning a book of tributes for a dedicated and model administrator, a deserving daughter of Ibadanland Chief Moji Ladipo, mni, the Aare Alasa Iyalode of Ibadanland. Dear Chief, your name is well assured, cast in gold in the annals and legend of the University of Ibadan. Happy birthday and many happy returns of the day. May your generation multiply. Ire o!

Dr Gani Adeniran

Department of Veterinary Pathology

University of Ibadan.

Secretary to Congregation (1991-1993)

Member, UI Governing Council (2007- 2015)

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