Prof. Razaq Olatunde Rom Kalilu: A Quintessential Leader And Administrator Per Excellence By Rafiu Babatunde Ibrahim (PhD)

A quintessential leader is a person with character traits that distinguish him among people in leadership positions. Profesor Razaq Olatunde Rom Kalilu, the Acting Vice Chancellor, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Ogbomoso, does not only exhibits this character traits, but a personification of humility, an embodiment of courtesy, a seasoned administrator of high repute, a gentleman per excellence, a leader with listening ears and very humane. He paddles affairs of his subject with high levels of administrative dexterity. 

For anyone meeting him for the first time, he craves to meet him again, and for those who met him twice or more, will always look forward to meeting him again and again. In the illustrious tapestry of leadership, there emerges a figure whose legacy stands as testament to unwavering dedication, visionary administration and a heart brimming with benevolence. 

Profesor Razaq Olatunde Rom Kalilu, the quintessential leader has not just navigated the corridors of numerous positions in the University administrations, but has left an indelible mark that resonates far beyond his peers.

Razzaq Olatunde Rom Kalilu, Professor of Art and Art History, studied at the prestigious University of Ife and the University of Ibadan. His career development is extensive, having worked in the advertising sector and the primary, secondary, polytechnic and college of education schools system before joining LAUTECH where he became a professor in 1999.

He is an exceptional scholar with pioneering groundbreaking achievements. Two of his books, the first on-campus cultism inspired the National Association of Nigerian Students anti-cultism activities of the late 1990s. He originated new approaches that transformed art practice and its scholarship in Nigeria, evolved Nigeria’s first B.Tech degree programme in Fine/Applied Arts in 1992, developed Nigeria’s first curricula for postgraduate diploma and master and doctor of philosophy degrees in studio the aspect of Fine/Applied Arts, pioneered the inclusion of Digital Art in tertiary education curriculum in Nigeria and is the fons-et-origo of Form and Material Technology in Fine Art. He trained Nigeria’s first hearing-impaired Art Historian (2004).

He produced Nigeria’s first M.Tech degrees in Drawing (2011) and Communication Design (2015), Nigeria’s first PhDs in Environmental and Industrial Sculpture (2012) and Ceramics and Glass (2015), the global first PhD in Form and Material Technology in Fine Art (2014), and Nigeria’s first Military Artist with a Ph.D. degree (2017).

Prof. Kalilu’s administrative and leadership experiences are very deep. He was Vice President of Fine Arts Students Association; Branch and Zonal Chairman of SSATHURAI; Head of Department; Dean of Faculty, Chairman; Committee of Deans; Chairman, Committee of Deans and Provosts; and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of LAUTECH among numerous other responsibilities. He is among the extremely few numbers of scholars consistently invited to participate, over the last one decade, in the QS World University Rankings and the Times Higher Education University Rankings.  

Beyond academics, his community service is wide-ranging. He has been involved, since 1990, in Federal Road Safety Corps activities at operational and scholarly levels. He is a Justice of the Peace. He also developed the framework for the Oyo State scholarship scheme as a member of the Oyo State Scholarship Board between 2008 and 2011 among such other services.

Since the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) governing council appointed him as acting vice-chancellor in June 2023 and extended his term for an additional six months in December 2023, Professor Razaq Olatunde Rom Kalilu has demonstrated that the trust the Oyo state government and the governing council placed in him is well-founded. As someone privileged to move closely with Profesor Razaq Olatunde Rom Kalilu, I have witnessed the embodiment of leadership per excellence. His tenue as Acting Vice Chancellor, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Ogbomoso in less than ten (10) months was marked by a commitment to progress, a tireless work ethics, and an innate ability to transform challenges into opportunities. 

Based on the evidence from the institution’s organs, Prof. Kalilu has cleared the Augean stables and put the organization back on the path of sound financial management, something that years of incompetent leadership had denied her. By enforcing strict administrative procedures that prevent worker strikes and student unrest, he has also contributed to an uninterrupted academic calendar.

It is highly commendable that his government has paid employee salaries and other benefits on time. Promotion of employees when it is due being not overlooked. Additionally, in order to achieve his goal, Prof. Kalilu’s administration supports research and scholarship in all areas of study and human endeavor. Further, in keeping with the Oyo state government’s efforts to change LAUTECH’s classification from a primarily technical university to a conventional university, the university has seen the construction of new facilities and the expansion of faculties with the addition of courses in social sciences, art, and humanity.

Interestingly, all the aforementioned performances indicated that the Ag. Vice-Chancellor, is working to bring back LAUTECH’s former glory. To his further credit, LAUTECH has continued to hold the top spot as Nigeria’s best state institution for the last two years. The Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings released the ranking in their most recent edition in January 2024. Prince Dotun Oyelade, the Oyo State commissioner for information and public engagement, remembered that LAUTECH had been compromised for political purposes and had lost its former splendor for eleven years before its fortunes drastically turned around just lately. The fact that Governor Seyi Makinde was able to bring LAUTECH back to full ownership and make Oyo State the only owner and the efforts of the management of the institution indeed won accolades.

Another heartwarming trait that single him out is his zero tolerance for religious bigotry. Prof. Kalilu is a unifier, a seasoned administrator with no iota of tribal or religious bias and capable of sustaining the universality which the University system is known for. People who have very shallow knowledge about Prof. Kalilu think he is arrogant because he tells the truth always. Anybody who tells the truth is adjudged to be arrogant by the people. Prof. kalilu love and cherish the truth. Prof. Kalilu is not a tribalistic Nigerian. He is married to a Christian lady, and the marriage is not only successful, but blessed with brilliant children. 

Prof. Kalilu is an academic brain and administrative expert who is a gifted scholar and cerebral intellectual. He rules his universe with well-reasoned arguments and innovative ideas. With his outstanding qualifications and sterling traits, this man shatters records and makes people laugh. He is a smart judge of men and affairs. A man with an indomitable resolve and a restless spirit of inquiry. Professor Kalilu is like the goldfish that can’t hide.

Prof. Kalilu has maintained a glowing reputation among friends and foes alike with his honesty, simplicity, humility, loyalty, kindness, and unwavering dedication in serving Allah and humanity. He has an easygoing and affable demeanor and a severe commitment to responsibility.

With Prof. Kalilu’s present position as the Ag. VC LAUTECH, which is well-positioned to make use of his extensive experiences and accomplishments to promote development and uphold its outstanding legacy. The leadership and insights that Professor Kalilu will offer to the LAUTECH community are highly anticipated.

The voyage of LAUTECH, a prestigious university, has absolutely embarked on a promising new chapter with his appointment as acting vice-chancellor. As anticipated! Since he was appointed Ag. VC, there have been many encouraging responses both inside and outside the academic community. Without mincing words, Prof. Kalilu’s appointment could be liking to putting a square peg into a square hole. Undoubtedly, I have the strong belief that Prof. Kalilu will perform brilliantly if he does ultimately get appointed as a substantive Vice-chancellor of LAUTECH, my alma mater.

 _Dr. Rafiu Babatunde Ibrahim, is the Ag. Head, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Osun State University, writes from Osogbo._

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