[OPINION] Brainpower and Political Activism: Professor Abiodun Ogunyemi, ASUU President

Among the arrays of intellectual gifts for which Africa, in general, and Nigeria, in particular, is blessed is Abiodun Ogunyemi, whose brainpower is reflected in the numerous academic and non-academic engagements for which he is popularly known. His date of birth, December 25, which coincided with that of the Christian messiah’s secularist choice, Jesus Christ, is metaphoric and symbolic because of the life of sacrifice that Ogunyemi has lived and continues to prioritize, underscores its significance. 

Some parents had mythical reservations about education and were constantly in fear of losing their wards to Western education due to the sacrifice to concentrate on acquiring knowledge. For this reason, it is a heroic achievement on Ogunyemi’s part to not only remain persistent in the pursuit of education but also to make maximum accomplishments from it. Another thing that markedly gives him away as symbolic was that he was born a year before Nigeria’s independence. People born within this timeframe signal positive development in the threshold of the country’s history. Ogunyemi would eventually prove that he is made of sterner stuff when he confidently carved a notable niche for himself in social, political, and philosophical engagements. 

For one, he actively belongs to the intellectual group that employs their brilliance to shape the academic direction of the country’s educational system. He has made measurable contributions to the extension of the Nigerian educational system’s frontiers. Between 2006 and 2008, Ogunyemi was the Head of Department, Curriculum Studies and Instructional Technology in Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), a composite of the national body that actively determines what is taught to students and how. To understand how informed he is on the subject of educational design, his Ph.D. thesis, which is centered on the exploration of conventional lecture methods, value clarifications, among others, for the enablement of a suitable environment that would be complemented by competent personnel for the quality delivery of academic services in Nigerian institutions, should be studied. The critical mass of his works reveals his obsession with the idea of installing a credible structure for anchoring the Nigerian education system to build a formidable civilization and society capable of withstanding the pressure of globalization pressure that is currently threatening the world with its torrents. He, unarguably, conceives education as the spine of every civilization, without which their standing would be shaky. 

This productive professor has shown that quality education is not negotiable, especially in a country that aspires to be actively involved in the competitive global economy and politics. Natural resources could catapult a country to a level of economic prosperity and financial buoyancy that would transform it beyond imagination, but such a level, Ogunyemi insists, through his academic engagement, would only be transient and short-lived. He maintains, through his philosophy, that material development accrued through natural resources agencies is not reliable because people without a strong foundation in education would certainly mismanage financial surplus if they are suddenly inundated by it. For this reason, therefore, investing in education is the ultimate sacrifice that a nation can make to have a sturdy foundation to protect it in situations of emergencies and a solid future.

Teachers like Ogunyemi are undeniably seers, and their projections into the future are not based on conjecture but valid conclusions aided by the accumulation of facts and an objective interrogation process. For an educationist, two things occupy the cardinal position of their intellectual campaign: advocacy for a vibrant social environment and the development of fertile minds to enhance it. This explains why most of Ogunyemi’s academic productions are centered on social participation, socialization, academic influence, among others.

Beyond the facilitation of a progressive academic posture for the country is the insatiable quest for the reclamation of Nigerian, and African, moral structure, which has approached an unprecedented decline in recent history because of different factors. The pressure to universalize the world’s normative architecture, along with globalization, has led many Africans to believe that unacceptable or fairly condemnable behavior in certain cultural contexts can be accepted without hesitation. Simultaneously, the unbundling of civilization does not translate to appropriating ideas that have more cultural persuasion in some places than others. The sexualization of the African (girl) child, for example, has approached the rooftop in recent times, endangering innocent children while also challenging our collective thinking, morality, and sense of values. Ogunyemi’s book, Child Sexual Abuse in Nigeria: Dimensions, Issues and Challenges, addresses the ubiquitous sexual abuses that underage children are exposed to in the contemporary time. Among many other things, he decries the flagrant disregard for the safety of the children demographic and challenges the fact that society is losing its sense of control by not maintaining the code of ethics for which the African society is historically known. 

Ogunyemi’s intellectual fecundity cannot be denied because he has a profound way of connecting his ideas to make considerable sense to people and audiences. For example, it may be difficult to link his dedicated advocacy for enhancing a beautiful educational system and the quest for a fair society where the safety of a group, especially the children, is not threatened by the unguarded libidinal obsession of sexual predators. Nevertheless, there exists an awe-inspiring bond between them. Consider that if the children demographic is safe and assured of protection against these elements, the institutionalization of a formidable educational structure would make substantial sense. This is not only because the children would be in a good frame of mind to process ideas and information disseminated to them by their various instructors, but it would also provide them with the safety insurance to ensure their continued protection. As a result, the combination of these would create the synergy needed for the crystallization of development agendas that are progress-inclined. The community’s moral architecture would be solid, and the academic environment would have secured a healthy atmosphere conducive to the enablement of productive thinking and impactful ideas. 

Therefore, the aspirations and dreams of scholars like Ogunyemi, whose concern is for the enthronement of a healthy social environment where the people would actively participate in the development and progress of such a setting, can be understood. The fertile and versatile professor has instigated several academic research that placed its social philosophy within the appropriate quarters. In 2006, he published Contemporary Issues in Social Studies Education, aimed at examining the emerging issues that circumscribed the country and continued to impede its full restoration of the social ideals used in making every important society. Issues ranging from the spread of capitalist and bureaucratic culture altered society’s moral understanding and, invariably, affected human social relationships. Due to the haphazard arrangement of social ideals that resulted from this condition, the social education system was greatly affected, negatively at that, forcing the country to swerve away from its moral trajectory. Subsequently, the resulting outcome was appalling. This awareness inspired Ogunyemi to take a scientific approach to evaluate the situation, and he came up with better solutions to facilitate the country’s acceleration in a desirable moral front. 

Therefore, with all his involvement, it is understandable that various successes crowned him to reinforce his efforts and complement his nationalist efforts. When intellectuals make such efforts, they are usually taken note of by their immediate neighbors in the same profession and the international community, who has been an audience of their work. Their awareness of his versatility and the understanding of its potential advantage for humanity has won him numerous grants to support his academic inquiry. As a result of this encouragement, Ogunyemi has expanded his coverage and explored various angles, all of which continue to contribute to our general development. However, his recognition by the international community is complemented by the internal appreciation shown to him through the award of excellence and by other means. Several of the awards, according to him, are confirmation of his outstanding academic brilliance and the beautiful contributions he has made in this regard. Almost every school where he has served, either as a student or an instructor, has presented him with an outstanding award to recognize his invaluable contributions to the Nigerian education system as a whole. 

To hear him speak and answer your questions, do please join Professor Abiodun Ogunyemi on:

Sunday, Apr 25, 2021 

05:00 PM Nigeria (GMT+1)

11:00AM Austin (CST)

Join via Zoom


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