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By Idris Katib
Crescent University, Abeokuta (CUAB), Nigeria is the brainchild of Prince Bola Ajibola, a former judge at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Netherlands.He was Attorney-general and Minister of Justice in Nigeria; Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR) and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).A heavyweight in the field of law plus education. He founded the university after selling all of his worldly assets abroad and in Nigeria to stamp a legacy for this and coming generation. Judge Ajibola ought to have retired to bliss and enjoy his wealth quietly like most of his contemporaries at the ICJ but he dissented to impact positively on the new generation of citizens the vision of academic and moral excellence. CUAB Nigeria has now produced excellent performers across the spectrums of further studies, employment and entrepreneurship in its laudable one and a half decade of existence.Hurray!
The journey of yours truly to this noble citadel began in late 2009 through the recommendations of Prince Adesegun Ajibola,a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and a member of the Board of Trustees of the university after my two-year stint in the healthcare sector as Relationship Manager. I was invited for an interview. After being examined practically and professionally in a written examination by an Iroko of mass communication, Dr Kola Adesina who subsequently recommended me to the registrar. I was further subjected to a rigorous 5-man panel interview superintended by a revered Professor (Mrs) Bolanle Akeredolu-Ale. The panel was constituted by the then vice chancellor, Professor Sheriffdeen Tella, an erudite professor of Economics who later called to congratulate me on my superlative performance.”Your performance was impressive “, he told me in his office in January 2010 when I was given my employment letter.
Soon afterwards, I resumed my duty wearing two caps: managing the reputation of the Crescent University and that of its Proprietor, Prince Ajibola.As a diplomat and jurist of international standing, Prince Ajibola possesses the mastery of reputation management and media relations. And he so much valued them. So, he briefed me on my roles as his media aide and reputation managee while I made my notes. It is interesting that being the pioneer executive to man the public relations office of CUAB, I worked almost independently, using my initiatives on modus operandi of the job at every point in time.
As a skilled communicator, I was left to draft my job description which I promptly submitted to the registrar’s office. I did a lot of research in education sector nationally and internationally coupled with consultation with my leaders in the profession. Two eminent former chairmen of our Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) Ogun State Chapter, Mr Femi Dokunmu and Mr Tope Adaramola served as good mentors in addition to the support from Dr Kola Adesina whose department served as my second office and laboratory.
Although it was very tough joggling between the university activities and proprietor’s assignments, I have gathered a hugely worthwhile experience within this period. I was privileged to have worked with three vice chancellors, Professor Sheriffdeen Tella, late Professor Hassan Kehinde Okeleye of blessed memory and Professor Ibraheem Gbajabimila, a professor of virology.
So far so good, I was able to develop myself both academically and professionally.By a dint of determination, I have bagged four professional certifications with APCON, NIPR, ICAD and ACSPN and still counting. It is gratifying to unveil at this juncture that I am also an alumnus of CUAB, having got the first and second degrees within seven years of my sterling performance. Looking back now,after eleven and a half years of meritorious service, I can emphatically say that Crescent University, Abeokuta is a worthy abode and I will remain a good ambassador for life.
Working with the institution has not only afforded me knowledge of the workings of the National Universities Commission (NUC) but has also sharpened my knowledge of marketing communication, reputation management, media management, news releases, copywriting, events management, stakeholder relations, speech-writing, advertisements, citation packaging, crisis communication, resource verification, academic programme accreditation, awards, web contents management, media convergence, news reporting, social media handles, digital/viral marketing, news editing, feature writing, opinion articles, proactive management counselling, photography, audio-visual packaging, headline casting, picture captioning, community relations, corporate social responsibility, admissions marketing, issues management, protocol management,newsletter packaging,magazine production, press conferences, media interviews, script writing, product branding ,negotiation skills, customer service, feedback management, internal communication, external communication, emotional intelligence, talent management, mentoring and emceeing as I kept improving myself year after year.
My experience in the lecture room as a volunteer lecturer of Editing and Graphic Communication, Digital Public Relations and Advertising, Reporting Religion and Copywriting for Public Relations and Advertising at the Department of Mass Communication has added value to my knowledge of marriage between town and gown in the last four years.In my sojourn, I discovered that the job of a reputation manager has no closing time.Whether you are physically at work or outside of your office, you are thinking, strategizing and ruminating on what next to promote. You are either writing to promote your brand or prioritizing on what next to write. As you make research about other academic institutions, you are on your toes to avert crises.
Apart from surfing the internet day and night, I was subscribed to six national newspapers to be at vantage position of happenings in education sector nationally and globally. I usually looked out for admission strategies of other universities. I would read interviews and opinions articles of professors and other academics as well as steps being taken to curb vices like cultism, alcoholism, drug addiction and many others.I made recommendations internally.
By 2011, I started to promote specifically our best graduating students on news websites and newspaper columns.CUAB became more visible as our products, mostly females, were highly celebrated nationally and internationally for their exceptional performances. More parents reading success stories of our alumni became attracted to Crescent University, Abeokuta. I amplified my efforts in promoting the university products doing well in universities abroad after their earning first class at CUAB.Many of them also earned distinction grades in their Master’s elsewhere: University of Portsmouth, UK; Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland, University of Lagos,University of Ilorin and all over.Then, “Our first class” became “world class”.
I enjoyed seeing my bylines, stories, releases, copies and professional articles with accompanying pictures published after painstaking research, coverage, writing, editing, proofreading, photographing and captioning. I enjoyed working on VIP’s citations especially converting them from raw materials, that is, CVs and profiles. I enjoyed holding the microphone to recognize our academics and university special guests, particularly on our Founder’s Day and Convocation Ceremonies.I was most excited reading the citations of recipients of Bola Ajibola Community Awards for Excellence before the presentation of the awards.
As part of my volunteer and social service, I relished sending beautifully penned articles/news by professional and academic colleagues for publishing on news websites and blogs when my workload was less.I also enjoyed taking good photographs to accompany news and features in publications. I have also articulated position papers distilled into marketable articles on behalf of the university.In crisis situation, I have proactively responded to misconceptions and misrepresentations of Crescent University from a section of our publics by feeding the publics with true and honest position of the university management.
What more! I really enjoyed the role of public relations at CUAB, having attracted a mounthill of professional and academic experience working directly with three distinguished professors in different fields of knowledge. To have published two academic papers online is an icing on the cake. And ultimately, I relished working as media aide to Judge Ajibola, a legal veteran for over a decade.
It is indeed a rare privilege.