Championing Change: Prof Shola Omotola’s 50-Years Legacy in Social Activism and Community Development

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The gift of eruditi or sapientialism isn’t something one generally comes in contact with especially in the swelling number of academics in circulation these days, regardless of the abuse of the word erudite this or that in the academics, that word is overemphasized and wrongly used oftentimes. This is because of the growing impatience to learn, read, and progress academically via the proper channel; also, it can be because of the dwindling standards of our education. It is pertinent to say that what you don’t have, you may not be able to give except if you rob Peter to pay Paul. Sadly, this is the case in our academic environment today. 

As much as the word erudite should be sparsely used, one can not take away the fact that we still have great and erudite academics. We have great teachers, tutors and lecturers. Succinct to say that we have erudite professors in the different fields of the academics. So, even with the toxic, drab and under-funded educational environment of our nation, Nigeria is blessed, Kogi State is blessed, Okun land is profoundly blessed with great and erudite scholars. 

In this line and at the risk ot sounding proud, misuse of words, over-patronizing a man who loves his quiet space, or deodorizing the facts on paper; Professor Shola Omotola ranked among those we can beat our chests to call an erudite Professor and scholar! 

Journey with me on this short and hurriedly put-together tribute to a man of academic exploits and conquest, a man with a humble background and also a man that matches his words with his actions, which has given rise to his numerous achievements in life; The Professor Shola Omotola, A.K.A Unbeatable.

Professor Shola Omotola is a name familiar to many, particularly in academic circles. Renowned for his intelligence and versatility in politics, he is a respected figure in the field of political science. His primary areas of expertise include Comparative Politics, Elections, Governance, And Democratization.

His vast knowledge in Political Science undoubtedly earned him the moniker “Unbeatable”, the name he’s widely known for and called by his colleagues and even people that are outside academics. Professor Omotola has established himself as a leading figure in research. His reputation transcends borders, as he is recognized not only in Nigeria but also globally for his scholarly contributions to Education.

When he announced to me his 50th birthday anniversary, I was like wow, so, Prof is just 50? With this level of intelligence, achievements, and academic excellence? Prof is a silent achiever whose achievements can deceive someone into thinking that he is already 70! A young man who has traveled far and near within such a short period deserves a medal. 

Early Beginnings and Inspiration

Prof. Shola Omotola’s journey started from Ekinrin-Adde where he was raised as a young man from a humble background. It is not uncommon for individuals from average backgrounds to envision themselves following in their parent’s footsteps, especially individuals who were raised in the agrarian, so, I’m sure that Prof. accumulated so much experience going to the farm to work for his parents; this is undoubtedly where the seed of hard work and determination to succeed were sown. As he began to work on the farm, he learned the values of hard work, compassion and patience. 

His thirst for education and success led him beyond the farm. Starting from primary school, he progressed to secondary school, graduating as the senior prefect. He proceeded to the University of Ilorin where he finally evolved into becoming unbeatable. At the varsity, he mixed extracurricular activities with academics; where he contested as an honorable member of his Department’s Students Representative Council (SRC) where I’m fortunate to be a member presently. As if that was not enough, he came back home and contested for Director of Social (DOS)as a member of the Ekinrin-Adde Student Union. His knowledge and versatility in activism/Unionism have passed the test of time, and even today, he continues to advocate for a better Nigeria. He’s indeed, a Comrade who has refused to retire from activism. 

At the University of Ilorin, he switched from being an Honorable member of the Students Representative Council to the Central Executive Council where he contested for the President of the National Association of Political Science Students (NAPSS) and won. His story is of a man who is courageous enough to get whatever he wants at every attempt.

At home in Ekinrin Adde, when his tenure as the Director of Social elapsed, he contested for the Union’s President and also won. So, he was a President at home and President away! It is so surprising how he did all that and still came up as the overall best student in his department. Mathew 7: 7-8 says “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened”. It seems to me that Prof. made use of this Bible verse in those days. He knocked continuously and the doors were opened simultaneously, so. It can only be God!

 Community Recognition

Prof. Shola Omotola is a distinguished son of the Ekinrin-Adde community who is widely recognized for his excellence and achievements. His unwavering contributions to community development have added to his credentials of achievements thereby making him suitable to be at the forefront of eminent sons of the community. Although Ekinrin Adde is a fast-growing community that houses successful men and women who have made their marks in different fields, Prof. Shola Omotola is undoubtedly a Primus Inter Pares when making a selection in the academic. He was Inducted into Omo-Atata Hall of Fame by His Royal Majesty, the Olu Adde of Ekinrin Adde, Olu Anthony Bamigbaiye Idowu ( The Ahemworo first And Commander of the Order of Naija) Prof was a pioneer member of the inductees. According to the organizers of the program “Omo-Atata Hall of Fame is the highest Honour given to the Sons and Daughters of Ekinrin Adde who have made their marks in their chosen careers and who have as well done the community proud in terms of participating in the course of community development. so, before anyone can be Inducted into this Hall, he must have met these requirements. Remember Prof. Is a pioneer member; that underscores how important he is in the community.

Prof served as the National Publicity Secretary of Ekinrin-Adde Community Development Association (EACDA) the apex community social cultural group. One thing that is interesting about Prof. is his readiness to serve. He can serve in this position today and hold another one tomorrow. He’s so flexible, adaptive, and multi-talented! 

Academic Advocacy/Achievements 

Although not a lawyer, Prof. is a senior advocate of a better Nigeria.  Whenever he has the opportunity to address the people, he will always advocate for the democratization of the Nigerian institutions and the standardization of the country’s Education system. Since his area of research is on election and Democracy, he always makes use of every opportunity to conduct empirical inquiries into the defects in the electoral system of the country and he always provides sustainable solutions to the problems. In his recent presentation at a retreat organized by the Senate press corps at Keffi in Nasarawa State on Monday 29th of April,  Prof. was quoted to have told the journalists to “Speak truth to power”. According to him, before development can flow in a democratic government, journalists must own up to their onuses as the watchdog by speaking truth to power. Delivering a paper on The Developmental Impact of The Executive on Nigerians from 1999-2024, Prof. stated that if the executive seems weak, the legislature should perform its “oversight function”. 

He categorically stated that the Tinubu government hastily removed the subsidy without putting in place measures to cushion the effect of the removal. He said “No one is laughing apart from my Senator here. No professor in the university today can afford a car. You have a wife and three children, your salary cannot buy you a car now unless you have other sources of income to augment.

“The government removed fuel subsidy without prior measures to cushion the effect. So many families have disintegrated. You removed the fuel subsidy and now you are removing (subsidy) on electricity, but the salary of the professor remains the same.”

Prof. is such a fearless man whose voice is like a sword that pierces into the flesh of those who have sucked the country and left it shattered. As a lecturer with over two decades of lecturing experience, he has authored and co-authored several books that have sought to address the menace in Nigeria’s political system. These are a few of his books; The Political Economy of Kidnapping And Insecurity In Nigeria. Nigeria’s 2015 General Election; Continuity And Change In Electoral Democracy. Horror In Paradise; Framework For Understanding The Crises of The Niger Delta Region of Nigeria. The Troubled Trinity; Elections, Democracy And Development In Nigeria.

As the pioneer Head of the Department (HOD) of Political Science at the Federal University Oye, (FUOYE) in Ekiti state, Prof. delivered a captivating 3rd Inaugural lecture titled; The Troubled Trinity; Elections, Democracy And Development In Nigeria, where he extensively discussed the importance of Free and Fair Elections in a Democratic System of Government and how Democracy can engender meaningful development. Prof. happens to be the first lecturer to have delivered an inaugural speech in the whole faculty of social sciences of FUOYE. All these feats are rare and can only be achieved by someone who has dared to be great. 

Prof. has traveled all over the world and has had encounters with some notable institutions like; The Electoral Integrity Project (EIP), USA/Australia/Canada, where he was appointed and served as the only African on its International Advisory Board. The African Peacebuilding Network (APN). Social Science Research Council (SSRC), New York, USA. Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies (BIGSAS), University of Bayreuth, Germany where he served as a Visiting Professor in 2017. Institute of Peace and Security Studies (IPSS), Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. Department of International Relations, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, where he earned the African Residency Post-Doctoral Fellowship in 2013.  International African Institute (IAI), Rome, Italy. South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), Johannesburg. Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA). If I’m going to keep listing the various local and international institutions Prof. Has had an engagement with, this write-up is going to be too bulky and boring but you can download his Inaugural lecture mentioned above and see yourself.

Indeed, Prof. has lived a life of impact, and success, and has achieved a lot for himself. His legacy of excellence endures. It takes a lot of commitment for someone to achieve all this within their 50 years on earth; such a man could be called either phenomenal or unbeatable. Here’s to 50 years of peace of mind, good health, and strength to keep standing tall. Happy birthday to a phenomenal individual.

– Temibi Samuel, an undergraduate of Political Science, University of Ilorin, writes from Akogba Mountain in Ekinrin Adde. 


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