Just like their male counterparts, female academics have been breaking barriers in the education sector. Following in the heels of the first female vice-chancellor in Nigeria, Prof Grace Alele-Williams (University of Benin), quite a number of women have also risen to that enviable height.
In this piece, we take a look at some female professors who have risen through the ranks in their respective ivory towers to become vice-chancellors
Prof Lillian Salami is the second female vice-chancellor of the University of Benin, Edo State. Prof Grace Alele-Williams became the first female VC of the institution in 1985.
Salami is also a fellow of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria and the International Federation of Home Economics/Home Professionals Association of Nigeria.
The University don was born in Jos, although she originally hails from Edo State. She started her education in Jos, but due to the Nigerian Civil War from 1967 to 1970, she had to move to Edo State for her secondary education. She attended Baptist High School, Benin City.
She then proceeded to the United States of America and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Home Economics, and a Master’s degree in Nutrition at the North Dakota State University in 1979 and 1982 respectively, before returning home to serve her fatherland in the mandatory National Youth Service Corps scheme, in Benin City.
Her quest for education excellence inspired her to go for further studies at the University of Nigeria Nsukka in 1989, where she earned a PhD in Human Nutrition.
As a lecturer at the University of Benin, she earned a postgraduate diploma in Education in 2001. In 2005, she bagged post-doctoral degree at the Vaal University of Technology, Vanderbijlpark in South Africa.
Salami started her career at the University of Benin as a senior lecturer in 1994.
She also taught briefly at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University). From there, she proceeded to the University of Maiduguri where she worked from 1985 to 1994.
Before she was appointed as the Vice-Chancellor in 2019, Salami held numerous administrative positions, which include being Head of the Department from 1996 to 1998 at the University of Benin; Chairman of the Board of the University of Benin Integrated Enterprise, Director of General Studies, director of a part-time programme; and Director General of the National Institute for Educational Planning and Administration, Ondo State.
She became a professor in 2005.
Prof Florence Obi is not just an academic don; she is one woman who is bestowed with glowing beauty. The professor of special education is the 11th substantive vice chancellor of the University of Calabar, and is the institution’s first female vice-chancellor. Before her appointment, she was the deputy vice-chancellor of the university (academic), as well as a one-time Commissioner for Women Affairs in Cross River State.
Obi, who has a PhD in the Psychology of Education from the University of Calabar, started her academic career as an assistant lecturer at the Institute of Education, University of Calabar in 1990. From there, she proceeded to the Jordan-Hill College of Education, Scotland, after obtaining a six-month postgraduate scholarship in 1992, under the World University Service, World-Wide Fund for Nature, and the Nigerian Conservation Foundation. After the course, she was put in charge of the WWF/NCF-funded schools and community education programmes.
The academic had her elementary education at St Bridget’s Primary School, Ogep Osokom, Boki, Cross River State. She also attended St Thomas’s Teachers Training College, Ogoja, Cross River State, and graduated in 1983. She later obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education from the University of Calabar. In 1990, she bagged a Master of Education degree in Special Education from the same institution.
In 2002, she obtained her PhD in the Psychology of Education from the University of Calabar.
Her rise to the pinnacle of her career was made possible by her resilient and determined spirit. She had initially given a shot at the VC position in 2015, but lost out.
But, in 2020, she beat 12 candidates to become the first female vice chancellor of the institution. She succeeded Prof Zana Akpagu.
While congratulating Obi, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege described her as ‘an astute educational icon’.
Obi is married with four children and six grandchildren.
Prof Nnenna Oti
Born on November 15, 1958, in Afikpo North, Ebonyi State, Prof Nnenna Oti is the Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State.
She has a Bachelor of Agriculture degree in Soil Science, finishing with a first class from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State.
She went on to receive a Master’s degree in Social Science, with options in Soil Biology and Biochemistry, from the same university.
Oti also has a postgraduate diploma in Irrigation Engineering from the Catholic University, Leuven, in Belgium. She later bagged a doctorate in Soil and Environmental Conservation from the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State.
Prof Oti has spent over 34 years in academics, teaching research and administration within and outside Nigeria.
She has also had practical experience working as a consultant to the government and private sector at various times in diverse capacities. Some of the places she worked include the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, Anambra Imo River Basin Development Authority, and the National Biotechnology Development Agency.
She has written over 65 academic papers, 40 seminar and workshop papers, edited a handbook, given over 50 public lectures, and authored over 10 technical reports for the Federal Government.
Before she emerged as the first female vice-chancellor of FUTO, she was a three-time head of the school’s Department of Soil Science and Technology. She also chaired the Gender Policy Unit of the institution, and was the dean of its post-graduate school.
She succeeded Prof Francis Eze, whose tenure expired in June 2021. The university don beat her closest rival Prof Ikechukwu Dozie who scored 69.7 per cent to the seat, having scored 75.5 per cent, in a race contested by six candidates.
Oti is married to Dr Nnannaya Oti, and their marriage is blessed with three children.
Prof Ibiyemi Bello
This 58-year-old professor of Physiology is the ninth Vice-Chancellor of Lagos State University, Lagos State.
Prof Ibiyemi Bello born in Ologbowo community Idumota, Lagos Island, on April 23, 1964. She attended Anglican Girls Grammar School in Surulere, Lagos, between 1970 and 1974. She also went to Methodist Girls’ High School, Yaba, Lagos for her secondary education between 1974 and 1979. From there, she proceeded to the Lagos State College of Science and Technology. She also studied at the University of Ibadan, where she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Physiology in 1985. Thereafter, she obtained a Master’s degree in Physiology from the University of Lagos in 1987. She also attended the University of Texas at San Antonio, Health Science Centre, San Antonio, United States of America, between 1994 and 1998.
In 1998, she was awarded a PhD in Physiology at the University of Lagos. She went on to bag a post-graduate diploma in Theology from the Bible College of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in 2001, as well as another post-graduate diploma in Education from the Lagos State University in 2018.
Bello worked as an assistant lecturer at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, and rose through the ranks, eventually becoming the first professor of physiology of the institution in 2007. She also served as the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the Lagos State University in 2008.
Positions she has held include being the acting Vice Chancellor of LASU from July to December 2010 and January to October 2011; Deputy Vice-Chancellor from December 2008 to December 2011; Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) from November 2011 to January 2013, and Head of the Department of Physiology, from October 2007 to December 2008.
She was the Lagos State government’s representative on the Lagos State University Governing Council between 2004 and 2008. She was also the institution’s Senate representative on the Governing Council.
She was the pioneer Director of the LASU Directorate of Advancement established by the former Vice Chancellor, Prof Lanre Fagbohun, in 2016.
Prof Bello is happily married to Olatunji Bello, a journalist, and lawyer. He is a one-time Commissioner for Environment, and Secretary to the State Government of Lagos State. Their union is blessed with three children.
Beyond academics, Prof Bello also devotes a lot of time to church activities. She is the Zonal Pastor in charge of Zone 9, under Lagos Province 1, of the Redeemed Christian Church of God.
In 2012, she was nominated by the National Universities Commission to attend Course 34 at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies in Kuru, Plateau State. She was awarded a certificate as a member of the national institute.
She was awarded a fellowship by the Physiological Society in the United Kingdom in 2017, followed by a fellowship from the Physiological Society of Nigeria. This was even as she was appointed a Fellow of the society for Environmental Toxicology and Pollution Mitigation in 2019.
Prof Kaletapwa Farauta
Professor Kaletapwa Farauta is a seasoned academician and technocrat. Born on November 28, 1965, in Numan, Adamawa State, she is happily married and blessed with children.
Farauta had her elementary education at Numan II Primary School, Adamawa, from 1973 to 1979. She later attended Federal Government Girls College, Yola, also in Adamawa, from 1979 to 1983.
She bagged a National Certificate in Education from the Federal College of Education, Yola, in 1987. Two years after, she got a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Education from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka; as well as a Master’s degree in Agricultural Extension from the same university in 1995. She went on to get a PhD in Agricultural Technology Education in 2008 from the Federal University of Technology (now Modibbo Adama University of Technology), Yola.
She observed the mandatory one-year National Youth Service Corps scheme at the College of Agriculture, Akure, Ondo State, from 1990 to 1991. After NYSC, she taught at the Government Girls Secondary School, Yola, from May to October 1991. After that, she moved to the Federal University of Technology (now Modibbo Adama University of Technology) Yola, October, from 1991 to date.
Before she was appointed the vice-chancellor of the Adamawa State University in February 2020, Farauta had held some key leadership positions. She was the Executive Chairman of the Adamawa State Universal Basic Education Board from July to October 2014.
She also served as the Commissioner of Education in Adamawa State from August 2015 to July 2017. From there, she was appointed the acting vice-chancellor of ADSU by the Governor of Adamawa State, Senator Muhammad Jibrilla, on July 17, 2017.
Farauta has also rendered a lot of developmental services in various capacities. She has often spoken about her passion for adding value to humanity through hard work and sincerity.
Those who have worked with her have at different times described her as ‘intelligent’, ‘faithful’, and ‘committed’.
Prof Adenike Oladiji is a prolific researcher with over 100 publications. She is also a Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Science, and a Fellow of the Nigerian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
She has won many distinctions and awards, including the university’s merit award, a certificate of merit, and scholarships. She has also served as a member of various committees at the National Universities Commission, and Tertiary Education Fund. This is even as she has been an external examiner in over 20 universities within and outside Nigeria.
Oladiji is also a member of different professional bodies, such as the West Africa Research and Innovation Management; the American Society of Nutrition; the Organisation for Women in Science for Developing World; the Science Association of Nigeria; and the Nigerian Society for Experimental Biology.
Born on April 27, 1968, she attended Christ Anglican School, Ijomu-Oro, and Iludun Oro Nursery and Primary School (both in Kwara State) for her elementary education. She had her secondary education at St. Claire’s Anglican Grammar School, Offa, Kwara State, from 1977 to 1982.
She got a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from the University of Ilorin in 1988; as well as a Master’s degree in Biochemistry from the same university. She went on to bag a PhD in Biochemistry from the same institution in 1997.
She started her career in academics with the University of Ilorin in July 1992 as an assistant lecturer, before she was appointed a professor in September 2011. She has over 29 years of continuous service in the university system.
The beautiful VC has also held various positions in the institution. At different times, she was the Deputy Director of the Centre for International Education; Director of Centre for Research and Development and In-House Training; Director, Central Research Laboratory; Dean, School Of Basic Medical Sciences, Kwara State University; Dean, School of Life Sciences; and Member of the governing councils of the Federal Polytechnic, Nasarawa, and Crown Hill University, Eiyenkorin, Ilorin.
The biochemist became the first female VC of the Federal University of Technology Akure, besting 29 other candidates who jostled for the seat. Her appointment was ratified by the governing council of the institution at a special sitting held on May 13, 2022. She succeeded Professor Joseph Fuwape, whose term ended in May 2022.
In her inaugural address, Prof Oladiji described her appointment as divine amd promised to “ensure that the gains of FUTA in the past years are sustained, improved upon, and strategies are evolved to secure the future while extending hands of fellowship to my co-contestants. My emergence is divine, as only one person will serve as vice-chancellor at a time.
“I therefore wholeheartedly extend a hand of fellowship to all others who aspired for this position, and I solicit your support and cooperation to move our great university to greater heights.
“As a university of technology, we must be prepared to deal with emerging questions that we did not know had to be answered. The COVID-19 experience showed that there is a lot of ground yet uncovered.
“We will network and be the hub for the much-desired change in the higher education sector. With your support, I will provide purposeful and pragmatic leadership, creating an environment that cherishes unity in diversity and equity which is grounded on tolerance, understanding, and probity.
“My focus and priority will be to— improve internally generated revenue; prioritise staff and students’ welfare; intensify capacity building and staff development; deepen research; enhance students’ experience on campus; engender peace, security, and stability; expand the university; create new academic programmes; infrastructural development; and positively impact the host community. It may appear a difficult task, but I am confident that with your support, we can meet our target and even surpass it.”
She is happily married with children.
Professor Folasade Ogunsola
Professor Folasade Ogunsola is a chip off the old block; following in the steps of her father, Prof Akin Mabogunje.
She was raised at the University of Ibadan where her father worked as a lecturer. As a child, she mimicked medical practitioners by using dolls as patients, while offering ‘medical care’ to them.
For her secondary education, she attended Queen’s College, Lagos, between 1974 and 1982. She has a Master’s degree in Medical Microbiology from the College of Medicine, University of Lagos. She proceeded to the University of Wales, UK, between 1992 and 1997, for a doctorate in Medical Microbiology.
In the past, Ogunsola had expressed concern about disease prevention and control in Nigeria. She identified poor hygiene and overuse of antibiotics as practices that foster antimicrobial-drug resistance. Proffering a solution, she maintained that, “sustained infection prevention and control infrastructure and programmes should be built around a set of core components, which include guidelines, training, surveillance, and multimodal strategies for implementing IPC, monitoring and evaluation.”
Speaking during an interview, she stated that the way to reducing the 58 per cent unemployment rate in the country was for Nigerian graduates to begin innovating ideas that will enhance human lives. She also noted that knowledge in itself was not sufficient, but its application in an appropriate manner to better mankind and enhance the livelihood of others was what youths should be concerned about.
She was a founding member of the Nigerian Society for Infection control in 1998, and is also a member of the Global Infection Prevention and Control Network.
The microbiologist was the acting vice-chancellor of the University of Lagos for some time in 2020 when the university was embroiled in a crisis as a result of the removal of the then vice chancellor, Prof Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, by the university’s governing council. Before then, she was the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Development Services) of the university. At a time, she was also the provost of the College of Medicine, University of Lagos.
Her research is centered on the regulation and management of viral diseases, particularly HIV. She is the principal investigator at the AIDS Prevention Initiative in Nigeria at the University of Lagos. She has also been the chairman of the Infection Control Committee of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital. This is in addition to being the chairman of the National Association of Colleges of Medicine in Nigeria.
Ogunsola is the first woman to become a vice-chancellor in UNILAG’s history.