Culture and Lifestyle

Taoheed Adedoja at 70: Celebrating the X-Factor in Leadership

It was Robert Green Ingersoll, the renowned American lawyer and orator who pointed out that “a great man does not seek applause or place; he seeks for truth; he seeks the road to happiness, and what he ascertains, he gives to others.” These words reflect with transparent and unclouded clarity, the life and times of Taoheed Adedoja as he turns 70 today, 27 May 2021.

A passionate educationist and administrator, this servant leader is a true nationalist and political strategist, highly respected for his exploit in Oyo State, and at the national level where he served as minister. What brings greater joy to Prof Adedoja is the impact he creates in the lives of others. In the last three score and ten years, Prof Adedoja has radiated an enviable aura, like a magnet, that draws positive accolades from both friends and foes.

Prof, in all these years, has remained an outstanding team leader, right from his days in academia. He is fiercely devoted to the social, economic and political growth and development of Nigeria; being a shrewd politician of high standing.

Taoheed Adedoja
Prof. Taoheed Adedoja

Taoheed Adedoja was born into the family of Late Pa Gbadamosi Omotoso Afolayan Adedoja. His father was of the Onibiyo dynasty of Oloosa Igbonna Compound, Popoyemoja, Ibadan.

The young Adedoja began his basic school education between 1958 and 1966 at Ansar-Ud-Deen Primary School in Kano where he was born. After receiving a Teachers Grade Two Certificate at Kano Teachers College, he went on to Abraka, Delta State for a Nigeria Certificate of Education (NCE) programme which lasted from 1972 to 1975.

It is worthy of mention that while at Kano Teachers College, Adedoja was the Deputy Senior Prefect. His school expenses were in fact shouldered by the Kano State Government.

Subsequently, Adedoja attended Obafemi Awolowo University where he acquired a B.Ed having majored in Physical and Health Education. It was at O.A.U that he became popular for his activism. He was the National President of All Nigeria United Students and Youths Movement from 1976 to 1978.

Prof. Adedoja’s contribution to the nation is quite enormous following his achievements in the public service. He kicked off his career in the public service at the Education Resource Centre, Shahuci, Kano, which was under the Ministry of Education. He served there as an Educational Supervisor from 1971 to 1972.

Seven years later, Prof. Adedoja became a Lecturer at the Kano State College of Education, Gumel, where he took part in the National Youth Service Corps scheme.

As soon as he became a para-Graduate Assistant at the Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, Illinois, USA, Prof. Adedoja had his first appointment at the University of Maiduguri. At Maiduguri, he was promoted on two occasions in his four-year stay at the college between 1984 and 1988.

Prof. Adedoja then proceeded to Bayero University Kano where he was Senior Lecturer. He became Head of the Department in Physical and Health Education, and afterwards emerged as the Dean of the Faculty of Education. It was at Bayero University that he became a Professor at the age of 43.

As Provost of the Federal College of Education, Oyo (1996-2002), he received a commendation letter from the Federal Government.

Also, owing to his outstanding skills and good leadership records, Prof. Adedoja was engaged as a Consultant by the National Universities Commission (NUC), Abuja, for two years. He was also appointed as Oyo State Adviser on Universal Basic Education for the World Bank grant to the state from 2003 to 2004.

His outstanding performance as Executive Chairman of Oyo State SUBEB (2004-2006) saw Oyo in 2nd position during the 2005 performance rating of all the states in the country.

It was during the period of his tenure that Oyo State made history following a hitch-free recruitment and training exercise of over 5,000 primary school teachers in the state.

The reforms he instituted as Oyo State Commissioner for Education between 2009 and 2010 equally brought unprecedented transformation to the state’s education sector. One of them includes monitoring schools with the engagement of retired headteachers and retired principals.

Being one of the few who believe that you start dying the day you stop learning, Prof. Adedoja was at the Ohio State University, USA, last year for an intensive training programme on research grantsmanship by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND).

The educationist has authored and co-authored several books and articles in reputable journals within and outside the country.

The former Minister’s foray into politics began in 1998 when he emerged as the gubernatorial candidate of the Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN) in Oyo State. The election, however, was cut short following the death of the then Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha.

Prof. Adedoja later became the governorship candidate of the Action Congress (AC) in the 2007 gubernatorial polls that Ex-Gov. Ladoja and Chief Adebayo Akala of the PDP won. He was, however, appointed on 13 March 2009 as Commissioner for Education under Governor Adebayo Alao Akala.

He also became the Minister for Sports and Special Duties, representing Oyo State at the Federal Executive Council under the Goodluck Jonathan-led administration. He did relatively well in sports. His letter of commendation from the Goodluck Jonathan-led government on 30 May 2011 corroborates this. He was lauded for his “uncommon sense of duty and commitment with which you discharged your service to the nation as Minister/Chairman of Sports/National Sports Commission.”

More so, Prof. Adedoja is a recipient of several awards at State, National, and International levels. Some of them include the Emeritus Award of Excellence by Media Men Excellence; Royal Excellence Award in Administration and Management: Kings and Queens Promotion International; Centre Circle Club of Nigeria Merit Award as Best Educational Administrator; Merit award of National Technological Student Association, among others.

The renowned administrator has equally served as a member of various accreditation panels such as the National Universities Commission (NUC); National Board for Technical Education (NBTE); National Commission for Colleges of Education, (NCCE); Member of Visitation Panels, and external examiner to several institutions.

Currently, Prof. Adedoja is a Consultant in Education and social issues with several state governments, individuals, international organisations, and private institutions.

President Muhammad Buhari recently appointed him as the Chairman of the Governing Council of the Federal College of Education, Obudu, in Cross Rivers State.

With his vast experience and service to the nation across most of the geo-political zones, Prof. Adedoja can best be described as a pan-Nigerian par excellence. He will live to be recognised as one of the few Nigerians who has shown what nationalism and true statesmanship entails.

To encapsulate the personality of the educationist in one sentence, one would describe him as a man who, in all his life, has displayed vigour without vanity, strength without insolence, courage without ferocity, and all the virtues of a natural leader without its vices. His transparent and ingenious leadership capacity will always be a reference point for the present and future generations.