How N16 almost made me to drop out of school — Nigerian Professor
Celina Folakemi Ogundana, an academic and professor of Sociology, is the Provost, College of Postgraduate Studies, Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti. She shared her life story with TUNDE ADELEKE.
How would you react to the controversy on women’s tendency to negatively influence their children against their fathers?
I wouldn’t want to agree that women can be so self-centred to the extent of influencing children against their fathers. In my view, some fathers are simply not alive to their responsibilities towards their wives and children. In such circumstances, the children cannot but observe and possibly pay such fathers back. After all, what goes around often comes around, except in some instances where the children are forgiving.
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Can you share your experience growing up?
It was not rosy. Having lost my father at the age of three, I was raised by my mother. My mother was into the cocoa and palm oil business. This was combined with some farming to feed us (the children) and pay our school fees. By implication, getting school fees paid was not easy. In fact, when it became compulsory to pay some development levies in my third year in the university, I almost dropped out of school, but for the assistance of a friend who gave the money as a loan.
What about your educational background?
I had my early education at Saint Paul’s Anglican Primary School, Ikole-Ekiti, from 1970 to 1975; Saint Andrew’s Anglican Primary School, Ibara, Abeokuta, from 1975 to 1976 and my secondary education at Saint Mary’s Anglican Girls’ Grammar School, Ikole-Ekiti, from 1976 to 1981. I gained admission into the then Obafemi Awolowo University, Ado-Ekiti, which was renamed Ondo State University, Ado-Ekiti in 1983 and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in. Sociology in 1987.
I later had an M.Sc. in Demography and Social Statistics from the Department of Demography and Social Statistics, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile- Ife in 1994. I returned to my department at the Ondo State University, Ado-Ekiti, now Ekiti State University, for my doctoral studies and earned a Ph.D. in 2001.
Can you let us into your career journey?
After the one-year mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme, I got involved in the National Directorate of Employment programme between 1988 and 1989; I was later employed as a Research Fellow on a collaborative research programme between the then Ondo State University (now EKSU) and Swedish Agency for Research Cooperation (OSUA/SAREC) from 1989 to 1995. From there, I was employed as an Assistant Lecturer in the university in 1995. I rose through the ranks to become a professor of Sociology in 2012. I still remain in the service of EKSU to this day.
How did you meet your husband?
The journey was far. He was a year ahead of me during my undergraduate days. Although he had been making advances since then, we did not start any relationship until 16 years later. Somehow, we struck a deal and we decided to settle down together. We eventually got married and to the glory of God, it has been a happy union blessed with children.
Can you recollect any unforgettable experience you have had?
The one that readily comes to mind was when my mother, in a bid to source for the development levies that I mentioned earlier, approached her local contribution ‘esusu’ group in the village for a roll-over of the N16 loan she was to pay back in November 1986. She had the money, but because I needed to return to school in August, with N250, she thought about holding on to the N16, at least, as something out of the N250. To my surprise, the ‘esusu’ group members were so insensitive to her plight and they requested that she pay their money. That will forever remain in my memory. Thank God for the bailout received from a friend. Perhaps, I wouldn’t be where I am today, but for the timely intervention of my friend. I am highly indebted to Dupe Arekete (nee Akilo), a friend in need and a friend indeed!
What adventures were you involved in as a young girl?
Did I really have the time for adventures? I was always going to the farm. I hardly had time for the things that engaged my peers; I was always on the farm with my mother, trying to make ends meet and assisting her to ensure I had the required resources to go through school. No time for partying, no time to loiter around, and of course, there was no time to idle away, paying people and places undesirable visits.
Do you have a favourite food?
Yes, I love pounded yam, a well-prepared one with any local soup.
What is your favourite type of music?
I am at home with Juju and the local Ekiti music
Do you have time for relaxation at all?
Yes, I do. At my leisure, I listen to my choice of music. I play with my children and of course, I spend time reading. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, they say. Relaxation is important; it is good for one’s health.