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    Prof. Omotola @50: Encomiums for a Trail Blazing Scholar, Selfless Mentor

    By WOLE BALOGUN

    On May 6, 2024, renowned Nigerian political Scientist and University administrator, Prof. Jeremiah Shola Omotola clocked the golden age of 50. This indeed was a milestone in the life of the quintessential scholar whose liberal nature has made and inspired many others, particularly his students into greatness.
    Some of these proteges penned timeless words to celebrate the rare personality of Prof. Omotola.

    Dr. Chukwuma Okoli of the Department of Political Science Federal University of Lafia, says: “I first met Professor Jeremiah Shola Omotola in 2006, not in-person, but in the literature. I was scoping aspects of the existing studies on the Niger Delta crisis and was opportune to come across a piece he wrote: ‘’The Next Gulf? Oil Politics, Environmental Apocalypse and the Rising Tension in the Niger Delta’’ 


    The paper did not just offer me the ideas and information I was seeking; it, more importantly, gave me an insight into Omotola’s taste of scholarship. After I read a few other works of his subsequently, I was able to discern a persistent pattern of scholarly style and finesse in his works.
    Indeed, Professor Omotola is one of the big influences on my aspirations towards scholarship. Besides being a mentor to many, Prof Omotola stands out as a typical Nigerian indigenous scholar, who is both globally competitive and locally relevant. What is particularly interesting about Prof’s scholarship is that he obtained all his degrees in Nigeria. Yet he has not, in any way, been limited or diminished by our local circumstances in his march to academic excellence and achievement.
    The Google Scholar as well as AD Scientific Index list him among the first Quartile of the most-cited Nigeria-based political scientist. 

    Professor Omotola’s rising as a technocrat in the academia has been unprecedentedly rapid and grand. Within a short period of 6 years (thereabouts), he had been a Head of Department, Director, Dean, and Deputy Vice-chancellor in a Federal University. In spite of these challenging responsibilities, he has remained committed to his prime calling to teaching, research and academic resourcing. 

    In 2020, he won the prestigious Collaborative Working Group research grant of the Social Science Research Council, New York. In 2023, he was unveiled as the hallowed Claude Ake Visiting Chair at the Nordic Africa Institute at Uppsala University in Sweden.”

    Commenting in the same vein, Dr. Michael B. Aleyomi, current HOD of Political Science department, FUOYE, who described Prof. Omotola as his friend, teacher, mentor and brother, writes: “True leadership prioritizes caring for others and great mentorship wants mentees to succeed. Prof. Shola Omotola put other people’s needs first, establishes a high bar by unremittingly exhibiting the value of a leader and a great mentor. I have a lot to say about this quintessential personality, great teacher, strategist and a real kind and generous brother. 
    I was fortunate and honored to have known Prof. Omotola as an undergraduate at the University of Ilorin. He was always there, offering his guidance, encouragement, and sometimes pushing hard for me to keep up the ‘good fight’. 
    One of the greatest gifts Prof. Omotola has bestowed upon me is his unwavering belief in my abilities. He has a natural ability to identify students’ potential and help them realize it.
    Prof. Omotola’s penchant for leadership/mentorship is worthy of emulation. There is no denying the fact that you are both an impressive and an admirable individual. Due to his leadership, we are lucky to have one of the most peaceful Political Science departments in Nigeria
    Professor Omotola believes and respects the ideas of others. He is not a dictator, not sentimental in judgment, and not bias but engages/dialogues with others and acknowledges/accepts stronger and more convincing arguments.”

    For Dr. Gbeke Adebowale Adenuga, another protégé of Omotola from the Department of Political Science, FUOYE, Professor Omotola is an enigma who had emerged the overall best student in the Master class in U.I. his words: “Professor Shola Omotola is a man of average height but with a heart that is bigger than Mt. Everest. He facilitated my appointment as a lecturer in the Department of Political Science, Federal University Oye Ekiti, housed and fed me for over a year until I got my footing in the University Community. As a middle level staff, I was expecting him to be ‘prudent’ in his relationship with me given his status in the University. The reverse was the case as this great man openly identifies with me and tells all people that I am his friend and former classmate! That is an enigma.
    God has blessed Professor Shola Omotola richly by giving him a wife and children with the same behavioural dispositions. His wife is also a rarity as she gracefully exudes charm, loveliness, respect, humility and godliness in astonishing proportions. His children are also well taught as they interact with people with great respect and wisdom. Indeed,

    Dr. Samuel Oyewole, who penned his tribute from
    University of Pretoria, South Africa, also has these words: “…it is my great honor to celebrate Professor Jeremiah Shola Omotola @ 50. He is a distinguished scholar and a great teacher in the field of politics, mentor and inspiration for generations of newly established, emerging, promising and aspiring scholars, a rare combination of humility, humanity, critical voice of reasoning and advocacy, an administrator of repute, a strategist and peacemaker, passionate human, community and national development expert and practitioner, a strong believer and cheerful giver, a loving husband and father.

    Professor Omotola is a critical voice of reasoning and advocacy. He often forms his opinion on issues based on experience, consultation, critical engagement, superior argument, reasoning, and conviction, with little or no prejudice. His core value is built on humanity, honesty, openness, and mutual respect. He does not shy away from supporting the course he believes in. 

    John Sunday Ojo is of the School of Area Studies, History, Politics and Literature, University of Portsmouth, United Kingdom. He simply cited President John Quincy Adams ,USA’s words to illustrate his deep feelings for Omotola. His words:” If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader –One of the greatest gifts ever possessed by mankind is the ability to inspire oth ers to believe in themselves and their potential to exploit. Such a reflection mirrors the unique attributes of Professor Jeremiah Shola Omotola. Professor Omotola is a globally respected intellectual African scholar who has delved into murky scholarly terrain and challenged the ever-present Westernized cerebral status quo.

    From Johannesburg, South Africa, Dr. Olawale Akinrinde writes that Prof. Omotola is a guiding light, saying that: “In the hallowed halls of wisdom and the academia, where minds converge, You stand as a beacon, a sage, and a guiding light,
    Your wisdom’s light has guided us through each life’s curve, You are a mentor, a friend, and your influence is eternal”

    Revd Dr Opeyemi Aluko
    Of the Political Science Department, Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, Oyo State, Nigeria, remarked that Prof. Omotola has been a leading beacon among the beacons of academic light in the Political Science field and beyond. He is a mentor of great repute and he never settles for lesser values. This is just as another graeful protégé,  Dr. Gbenga Owoeye OF Landmark University, Omu-Aran, celebrates him thus: “
    Being a sought-after quintessential academic, your name rings a bell within the circle of political scientists in Nigeria. …
    Initially, I thought you were too stretching when you would give lifeline to return corrections, but later I discovered that you were only moulding me to become a better academic. Thank you, sir! “

    Okikiola Samson Oyelowo University of Stirling, Stirling, United Kingdom, also says that: “What manner of man is Prof Shola Omotola!
    There is a man who is always loyal to both young and old, and in his Okun English accent, he will say to us even as an undergraduate, “Your boy is always loyal,” wondering who this loyal boy is!
    Prof Shola Omotola is popularly known as the unbeatable Prof by his friends whom he grew up with
    Prof is that man that when you win his trust, it is hard for anyone to manipulate you before him, which personally I have witnessed.”

    Also, Lajuwomi, Oluwatosin Owolabi of  NISER, peens that Prof Omotola: “…is a great role model for young men who come from low- income families. I remember him saying to me, “Laju, I have been where you are before.” What impressed me most about Professor Omotola was his level of humility. Despite his remarkable achievements, age, and experience, he treated all students with the same level of respect. When he entered the classroom, he would often say things like, “I am just a human being, and I don’t know everything; I can learn from all of you. Even after I graduated from school, Prof. always looked out for me. Prof J. S. Omotola is a father, a mentor, and my benefactor, I can boldly say where I am today in academics is the work of God and Prof. Omotola.”

    Temitope Feranmi Adeyanju, another protégé and Prof’s daughter says: “Happy birthday Daddy!Today, we gather to celebrate a remarkable man, a pillar of strength, and an embodiment of love, dadddy as I fondly call him.” She adds:
    “It’s impossible not to reflect on his profound impacts. For he is not just a father in name, but in every sense of the word – a guiding light, a source of wisdom, and an unwavering support always.”

    Ohia Success Batholomew who penned from Lagos, says; “My undergraduate project supervisor, Professor Shola Omotola, put up with extra time to review my work despite his hectic schedules. He once said, “Success, you still have to do more as a first-class student
    One of the most remarkable qualities is Prof’s ability to see potential in others even when they may doubt themselves. You possess a rare gift for unlocking hidden talents and nurturing them into fruition.”

    Folagbade Gbadegesin Deborah Adedamola, a former student of Prof also has the following tribute: “Beyond your role as a mentor, Prof Shola Omotola, you are a beacon of integrity and compassion. You lead by example, demonstrating the importance of kindness, empathy, and humility in all interactions. Your genuine care for the well-being of others extends far beyond the confines of the workplace, creating a sense of community and belonging wherever he goes.” 
    For Blessing Adebimpe Adewumi, a First Class graduate of Political Science and Omotola’s supervisee, “Professor Shola Omotola is a great man of his time. A great man of numerous values and a blessing to the 21st  century…I have never seen a man who possesses his selfless character”. She continues:
    “Professor Omotola is a wonderful lecturer, loved by students and colleagues. His influence further extends far beyond the confines of the classroom. He possesses an innate ability to see the potential in his students, go above and beyond the ordinary to encourage and nurture that potential into fruition. From the sincerity of my heart, I celebrate Professor Shola Omotola—a man of incomparable value and unwavering integrity”.

    The celebrant’s children are not left out in showering him love. 
    Lilian Omotola , daughter has the following glowing words for him:”You are a person who is wise, compassionate and inspiring. You consistently demonstrate fairness, kindness and humility. Your integrity shines through in everything you do, inspiring others to follow in your footsteps. Your commitment to doing what is right and just is genuinely inspiring. You are an uncommon and amazing person who always put others first.
    You taught us the importance and value of giving back to the community. You are a true philanthropist and a great leader
    Your existence is God’s gift to us all
    we celebrate and cherish the impact you have made on all those around you.
    It is an honor to extend my deepest regards on this special day. Happy Birthday Daddy
    I love you”.

    Gift Omotola, says: “Happy birthday to the most supportive, selfless and amazing father in the world. Today marks another year of life, love and adventure, and I’m so grateful to have you in my life.
    Your guidance, wisdom and unwavering belief in me have shaped me into the person I am today. I aspire to be as strong, kind and courageous as you are. Your influence has made a profound impact on my life, and I can’t thank you enough.
    Here’s to many more years of love, joy, and laughter. With all my love and appreciation.” 

    Describing her dad as “A mirror of possibilities”, Favour Omotola says:
    “In a world where almost every pathway to greatness forsakes right ancient paths and standards, Jeremiah Shola Omotola, “My Father” stands as a pillar that mirrors possibilities of true success through right moral standards…If someone were to inquire of me about what to do today or how days like this should be spent, I would suggest that, in my view, the entire world ought to come to a stop and all we do is thank God for blessing a generation such as this with a soul like you.”

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