oluola89 created the topic: Dad doesn’t regret serving as OAU VC – Prof. Wale Omole’s son
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Damola is the son of a former Vice-Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Prof. Wale Omole. He talks about his father’s style as a university administrator with GBENGA ADENIJI
Tell us briefly about yourself.
My name is Dr. Damola Omole. I am the son of a former Vice-Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Prof. Wale Omole.
I am the second of three children. I have two sisters — one older and the other younger. I am an electrical engineer and I grew up in a close family setting. I studied at the Florida State University in the United States.
What memorable times can you recall growing up as the child of a professor?
Growing up as the child of a professor and in a university environment was a great experience. The experience made me value education and the pursuit of knowledge from an early age.
Did your father particularly encourage his children to follow any career path?
My father did not ask any of us to follow any particular career path, but both our parents were clear about the value of education. I actually did not attend the Obafemi Awolowo University. But I grew up in a similar environment with the children of other lecturers and made friendships with people I am still close with today.
What do you think is unique about his academic talent?
My father in particular is knowledgeable about a wide range of topics and he has books on almost anything you could think of. What always amazed me, and it still does till today, is how he manages to have such a deep understanding of various topics.
What kind of father is he?
My father is a great person. He is highly disciplined and works very hard, even till today. Of course, that was the standard he set for all of us. Most importantly though, he always stresses the importance of honesty in everything one does. For me, I find that he is always finding ways to enable others maximise their potential, with education and knowledge being some of the key tools to achieving that.
Were there places he took his family to for relaxation?
There were no specific places we used to go for relaxation, but when the opportunity arose we would travel as a family to various places. He hardly takes vacations though, if ever, but I had opportunities to travel with him. I travelled with him to Abuja, Akure, Lokoja and to Ilesa in Osun State which is our hometown.
How do people relate with you when they know you are his son?
My father has always encouraged each of us to be our own person. This is exactly what I try to do. I am not sure how people relate to me because I am his son.
Would you say his name has opened doors for you?
I am sure his name influences some things (an example is this interview which you contacted me for) but I try not to focus on things I cannot control. I just do not worry or focus on those things which are beyond my control. I try to keep my head down, remain disciplined and diligent. But again, I am sure some things that are not immediately apparent may derive from being his son.
How did he discipline any child who misbehaved? Did he use the whip or the cane?
To be honest, I cannot remember him using the cane or belt much. He set a standard of what he expected and we were all aware of what those standards were. I am sure he did discipline us with the cane, belt, etc. but it was not frequent or any more than typical at the time.
Can you recall any specific thing you did wrong which made him discipline you?
My father disciplined us when we were much younger. But I do not have any specific memories of what I did wrong to make him use the cane.
How does he relax anytime he wants to take a break off work?
I cannot really say he does relax. He always seems to be involved in so many different things that he is always on the go. He still reads a lot, so I guess that may be some form of relaxation for him. He certainly does not take vacations.
What type of music does he listen to?
I cannot really say there’s any specific type of music he listens to. I think he listens to a broad range of music. I remember we used to play the music of Lagbaja in the car whenever we were travelling by road.
What is his favourite food?
He is not a big food person. My father usually only eats once a day but I am sure he likes pounded yam (being an Ijesa man, of course).
What is his favourite drink?
My father’s favourite drink is water. He mostly drinks water.
How sociable is he?
My father is sociable and gets invited to a lot of functions.
Who are his friends?
My father knows quite a number of people.
What are the values you have learnt from him?
The values I have learnt from him are honesty, diligence, hard work, kindness and generosity. These are some of the most important values I have imbibed from him.
What is his view about the state of tertiary education in Nigeria?
The position of my father about the state of tertiary education in the country is a topic he had written and spoken extensively about. I probably cannot do justice to it by summarising his views in a few sentences. But, my father does not believe the curriculum in use is what is required at this stage of our national development. He is involved in several efforts to address the shortcomings but he would be in a much better position to speak about the topic.
How do you feel being his son?
I am thankful and grateful that he is my father. I have learnt, and continue to learn, a great deal from him in virtually all facets of life. Both my parents have also done a lot and sacrificed much to enable my sisters and I to be where we are today. So I am always thankful.
How often did he visit you when you were abroad studying?
Usually, at least one of my parents used to visit about once a year and we always stayed in close contact.
How close are you to him?
I am close to him and we speak on the telephone often. I often go to him for advice and I also try to keep abreast of the various efforts and initiatives he is involved in.
The tenure of your father as the vice-chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University was turbulent especially during the massacre of some key members of the varsity’s Students’ Union by cult members in 1999. What is your view on the incident?
It was a sad incident that had a profound impact on the university community
Did he tell you how he felt about the crisis especially as the students claimed he was not innocent in the whole saga?
He is typically a calm person and he stayed so despite the allegations.
Did he ever express any regrets serving as the vice-chancellor of the university at the time?
No. He did not express any regrets serving as the VC of OAU at the time.
Would you have wished he was not the vice-chancellor then?
No, I never wished he was not the vice-chancellor at the time. I was and remain grateful for the opportunity he had to lead the university from 1991 to1999.
How did you feel about the whole scenario and the allegations against him?
My feeling about the allegations was as I always do about most things outside one’s control. It was unfortunate but I did not focus on the allegations since I knew they were without basis. There was nothing to hide and anything more than a cursory look was later revealed. This was what happened when the investigative panel concluded its task.
How does he like to dress?
My father mostly always wears white agbada.
Does he do exercises?
My father is very active and moves around a lot. I do not think he does any specific exercises.
What does he do now?
He is involved in several initiatives, particularly around education.
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