If grace, charm and gritty determination were a person, that would be the irrepressibly cheerful professor of Physiology and vice chancellor of Lagos State University, Prof. Ibiyemi Ibilola Olatunji-Bello, a mother of three, grandmother, and wife of the Honourable Commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello, who turns a year older on Saturday.
The academic and pastor, born 23rd April, 1964 will be 58 and will, expectedly, have more than 58 reasons to roll out the drums in celebration of God’s goodness in her life.
If one were to ask how she feels today, she would probably reply in her most cherished worship song “Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name!”
Indeed, hers is a life of evidential grace endowed with an indomitable spirit that, in the words of Funke Olaode, “shines through her remarkable academic exploits.”
Born to the family of late Mr Emiola Ibidapo-Okunrinboye of Owo, Ondo State and Mrs Jadesola Ibidapo nee Abraham of Ita Kose , Lagos Island, young Ibiyemi attended Anglican Girls Primary School, Surulere, from 1970 to 1974 and then Lagos Anglican Girls Grammar School, Surulere, between 1974 and 1979. She then proceeded to Methodist Girls High School, Yaba, and Lagos State College of Science and Technology, Ikosi Campus where she did her “A” levels in 1982. She bagged a degree in Physiology from the University of Ibadan in
1985 and since then, has not looked back acquiring laurels after laurels and shattering records after records.
Today, she stands tall as the second female Vice Chancellor of Lagos State University and one of only 12 women currently occupying such position in Nigeria.
She uncommon feat nonetheless, she maintains a self-effacing personae and the equanimity of the girl next door. For all her success and pedigree, her simplicity stands out evident in her non-discriminatory posture towards all, regardless of social status or religion.
Yoruba people have a saying which goes “ti won ba bini, ka tun ra eni bi” the import of which is that it is in one’s hand to decide how one will turn out in life, regardless of the circumstances of one’s birth. Mrs. Olatunji-Bello was born and raised in a godly family and has continued in that path of godliness. She is an Omoluabi, the Yoruba concept for a person of honor who believes in hard work, respects the rights of others, and gives to the community in deeds and in action.
Such attribute, apart from her intellectual acuity, has endeared her keenly to staff and students of Lagos State University, an institution which continues to thrive under her able leadership.
As madam VC marks another year on planet earth, one prays that she will also continue to receive priority attention from God. And by the time she hits the magic 60 in 2 years, her life would have made more meaning and impact than it currently does. Until then, 58 garlands, Madam VC!