Chief (Mrs.) Moji Ladipo, first female registrar, University of Ibadan, speaks with TOLUWANI OLAMITOKE on the ups and downs of her office which she held for two terms, life out of service and relationship. Excerpts:
Did you achieve these?
I think others will be the best judge-they will be in a better position to comment. But I believe I tried my best from the feedback I received from people, those I have impacted positively on given the facility that was made available to me. one of the things I did was to ensure administrators were trained. Being in an academic setting, they needed to learn and improve on how they administer in whatever area. They were exposed to in-service training and also travelled out to see how universities were administered in other universities. I’m happy this is still going on. This training covered among others their relationship with students. The university is made up of the academics, students and other persons employed into service. The training is essential because the first call of any fresh student in the institution is the administrative staff. If at the beginning, they frustrate a student or when at graduating, there is a problem with the call up letter, the memory of such a student of the university will not be favoured, no matter what the university had trained him or her to be. I tried to make administrators know they are a vital part in the university system and as such, see themselves as giving service and not as lords.
What did you miss out of service?
Oh! sometimes the hustling and bustling of university life. from morning to night, someone is asking for something or seeking that something is done. But in all, I feel compensated, I have my peace.
Now that you are in the employ of a private institution, can you do a comparative analysis of the private and public schools?
It’s incomparable. They are two different things. The public service has its rules and regulations, there is a kind of security. University of Ibadan has its tradition, you can always predict what you are going to do in five years. Procedure is followed strictly which in a way makes administration easy. Private university in Nigeria today is established by a body or person whose influence is brought to bear on all you do. Freedom is limited. In the public university, if a student hasn’t met the required academic level or misbehaved, the rules and regulations are there as guide on what decision to take. That is not so with the private university. there you get a culture shock. Ability to act or use initiative is limited. Again, the kind of money that comes into public universities like University of Ibadan for example which is used on funding and execution of projects doesn’t come into private tertiary institutions. A private university looks at input and output from students intake to how papers are used; the type of office you are given will be dictated by how well the proprietor or proprietress is out to fund and how much he, she or they want to put on the office.
Their belief, experience of life, personal reaction to events, people and places also call up or determine how they fund their universities, treat staff and students.
Every woman falls in love one time or the other. How did you feel when you first fell in love?
that was too long ago, I can’t remember. But I have always said that we fall in love every day.
Whenever we look up and admire the beautiful butterfly flying, the sun rising, something leaps in ones heart—you are in love with that particular moment. But I know you are talking of human relationship.
Why do many end up not marrying their first love?
Immaturity is part of the reason for this. A lady’s first love will almost certainly be her peer, between 17 and 18 years. The guy is not anywhere near getting married. If the girl attends a university and falls in love at age 20 with an undergraduate or one who has just graduated, the latter can’t be ready for marriage. It is very possible for a man to marry his first love, first love not the first person he’s infatuated with. Women are very calculative -they marry prospect - their thinking is what he is going to be like in 10 years. They also look at the guy’s background, social status and the like. Women don’t fall in love, but choose who they want to fall in love with. Unfortunately, sometimes, they are wrong in their calculation. Men who they thought would never amount to something can be spectacularly successful, while their ‘best’ didn’t make it. Unfortunately, some women are willing to be paired with anyone in trousers because the society expect a woman to get married. There is pressure from home, friends and the society. In the present day age where a woman can be what she wants to be, many young ones shouldn’t build hope on being married, thinking it is only when they are married they can have their dreams achieved. I will advise that while waiting, live, improve yourself, pursue career, be a total person, seek happiness within self. Nobody can give happiness, they can just add to it.
Have you had certain experiences that had changed your perception about life?
Marriage is sharing, but it also takes grace to be able to share because sometimes, you give and the other person doesn’t know how to receive. It may be that you know how to receive and not give. There should be a balance between giving and receiving. In marriage, you share everything, life ambition, children, property, fate, just name it. If there is not enough sharing, marriage is hell. If given to grace, marriage is bliss, at least much part of it.
What encounter changed your perception of life?
I was never privileged to meet Alhaja Simbiat Abiola. The day she died, my life changed. This was a woman I used to see in the newspaper and in my opinion she is wealthy and having a wealthy husband. I adored her and she just died. From that time, my attachment to worldly goods, especially women ornaments, dropped. I developed a sense of detachment. I still like comfortable things, good jewelry, cars, but I learnt nothing in life is worth attaching significance to. I can see that as I get older, my sense of detachment to unimportant things is decreasing. I now experience peace which I never knew was possible.
Can you tell us your age?
I will be 60 next year.
You are still looking young and you are gorgeous. How did you develop your fashion sense?
I love cleanliness and take good care of my body with excellent cream. I would be 60 next year.
My fashion sense is dictated by comfort and quality but not fad. When I travel, I see the way people-icons-dress either in corporate or traditional wears and I like to look like that. We don’t look at history of fashion. An actress will dress appropriate to her profession on the stage and in the studio and not on the street. My nails and hair have been priority to me long before the vogue of manicure and pendicure. My secondary school, Queens’ School, Ede, impacted on me. Many of us from the school today dress moderately but in an eye-catching manner appropriate for our status and professions. The home factor was also a contributor. we were brought up to look nice and smart. It’s easy to keep this up because it’s an innate thing. My sisters also dress same way like me.
Do you have any of your children taking after you fashion-wise?
I have two sons. The younger is very particular about the kind of shoes he wears. They both dress well. For the two of them, the idea is quality but the younger adds style to quality.
Do you have favourite designers for your wears and shoes?
I buy what is well made and I am comfortable in. I don’t believe in labels.
I wear that which is neither too potent nor subtle. I have a lot of perfumes and I’m not in the habit of mixing. In the evenings, I use those with pungent smell and for work, airy.
What is your best colour?
I like green and love purple. Purple is royal.
What do you do to keep your shape?
Fairly simple. I don’t eat when I’m not hungry. I start my day with a big glass of water, then my tea — green or white. I also eat fruits. As I grow older, my diet is now dictated by my age. I need less food since I’m not as active as before. I don’t snack. when I’m hungry, even if it’s 2: 00 a.m., I will wake up and eat whatever I feel like, be it rice or anything. I have stopped drinking soft drinks and taking sugar. I take a bit of honey and this is regulated. I do everything in moderation. This has helped me in keeping my weight. I also take a walk everyday, have aerobics or stretch exercise first thing in the morning or later in the day around 6:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m. thrice a week.
I went to Queen’s School, Ede as earlier mentioned and University of Ibadan for both first and second degrees. I studied B.A. in English and M.Sc in Industrial and Labour Relation. I’m a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Management (Chartered).