Ekiti state first lady, Dr. Olayemi Oyebanji, on Monday started her community service at the Ekiti State University (EKSU), where she offered to educate students of Education Management department for free as a way to support their development.
The First Lady was in the classroom for about two hours to share knowledge with the students in the university where she began her career as an academic and taught for twelve years before transferring her services to the University of Ibadan for family reasons.
Dr. Oyebanji said her gesture was borne out of her desire to leave her comfort zone in the Government House and doing what she knows best: teaching and imparting knowledge on the students.
According to her, she is fulfilling one of the three core values of the academic profession which include, teaching, research and community service noting her being the First Lady cannot take her away from her love for students and helping in moulding their future.
Dr. Oyebanji, a senior lecturer at the University of Ibadan and presently awaiting her Associate Professorship where she had held various administrative positions and successfully supervised PhD students.
The Governor’s wife had earlier signified her intent to take time off her busy schedule as the First Lady to lecture students periodically at EKSU to contribute her quota to the development of students at the state-owned university.
Thereafter, Dr. Oyebanji similarly expressed her readiness to lecture at the Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), a gesture seen in some quarters a model of mentorship service, sacrifice and humility in power which earned her local and international applause.
Third year (300 Level) students in the Department of Education Management at EKSU were thrilled and excited to see the First Lady in the class to teach them a course, Leadership in Formal Organizations in which she dwelt on Theories of Leadership and entertained series of questions from the appreciative students.
The students listened with rapt attention as Dr. Oyebanji who asked the students to see her as their teacher and not as First Lady diligently dissected five theories considered during the EDM 303 class which included Trait Theory, Behavioural Theory, Situational Theory, Contingency Theory and Path-Goal Theory.
Apart from the questions asked by the students, Dr. Oyebanji also gave them opportunities to share their thoughts on issues thrown up in the course of learning various perspectives in theories studied and how they could apply them to situations they find themselves especially as future leaders.
While urging the students to feel free and bare their minds during the lecture, Dr. Oyebanji said one of the aims she wanted to achieve with teaching the course was to inculcate the art of public speaking in the students, especially the female ones, noting that public speaking is an ingredient of leadership and effective communication.
Speaking with reporters in an interview after the two-hour lecture, Dr. Oyebanji said she was fulfilled to be involved in a community service at the state university teaching students describing her interaction with them as worthwhile. She added that she is contributing her quota to moulding the character and shaping the personality of future leaders in her community.
She said: “I started here as a Graduate Assistant and I worked in this university for twelve years before I relocated to the University of Ibadan where I was before we came to office. This is my own community service and I am fulfilled to give it for free in our state university.
“I have taught all my life and I want to teach here while in office to share from my experience with these students. This course, is a course that I have taught for over twenty years. When I was given the course to teach, I said ‘why not, it’s part of my community service.’ We lecturers have have three major areas: teaching, research and community service, so, what I am doing now is community service to my dear state.
“Since assuming office, it’s not that I am totally disconnected from academic activities. Recently you followed me to UI when I went to attend to my PhD students and within one year of my assumption of office (as First Lady), I have gone to UI and I have graduated four of my PhD students.”
The co-lecturer of the EDM 303 course (Leadership in Formal Organizations) with the First Lady, Dr. Omowumi Ayodele, described Dr. Oyebanji’s gesture as motivating noting that she students were excited to benefit from her intellect, experience and mentorship.
She said: “Having the First Lady around to teach our students is highly motivating, I am highly motivated that I am taking this course alongside her. She is creating a path for the students toward believing that they can be successful.”
A senior academic in the Department, Prof. Florence Adebayo, eulogized the First Lady for her act of humility in choosing to offer free service at the state university noting that Dr. Oyebanji has proved her mettle as a mother, a humble academic, a change agent and a role model to the students.
Prof. Adebayo prayed that the blessings extended by the First Lady to the students will always follow her to anywhere she goes noting that the impact made will be with the students for a long time to come.
One of the students who attended the lecture, Ismail Abdullahi, said he gained a lot from the various perspectives and true life experiences Dr. Oyebanji shared which will make her teaching to be indelible in his memory.
“Some of the examples and experiences she gave will make her lecture to be unforgettable and I am happy to have gained a lot and I will return home with many takeaways from the lecture of today,” he said.
Another student, Temitope Agbaje, said she felt excited having Dr. Oyebanji in class noting that the lecture gave her some insights about the theories and their application in real life situations.
The First Lady also used the opportunity to visit offices of some lecturers in the department exchanging pleasantries with them and the students before her departure.