Professor Babatunji Abayomi Omotara had recounted how a banker in England told him that their professors get at least £70,000 (apr N33m), meanwhile, here in Nigeria, professors barely make N500,000.
He revealed this in an exclusive interview with HeadTopics.
The interview went thus:
Tell us about your early life.
I was born in Ado-Ekiti on September 22, 1951, to Chief Adeleke Omotara and Chief (Mrs) Rebecca Olabisi Omotara of Oloriogbon compound, Igbajo, Boluwanduro Local Government Area, Osun State. I grew up in many places because my father was a ftt Baptist school headmaster, who was transferred from one place to another. From Ado-Ekiti, we were transferred to Ijebu-Ode, and later, Ijagbo.
Apart from lecturing, did you venture into any other business?
I distributed Kessinsheen products between 1986 and 1997 in Monday Market, Maiduguri, which included hair cream, shampoo, activator and hair treatment products, among others.
That business helped me because when I became a professor in 1992, my salary was N7,400 and my basic was N4,400. When my mother was ill in 1997, I could not afford to buy a ticket to go and see her in England; my father had to sponsor me and my two sisters. The air ticket then was N71,000, and as a professor for five years, my salary was N8,000, I could only buy the ticket with my one year salary. It was bad.
When I got to England, my father wanted to add my name on his bank papers and I was embarrassed when the lady in the bank heard that I was a professor because she had strong admiration and respect for professors. While she was taking my bio-data, she asked for my monthly salary and I replied that in Nigeria we spent the naira, which did not have the same value with their currency. She quickly said that in her country, a professor earned £70,000. I said she should write it in the papers, knowing that I was earning less than a hundred pound. I will be making a fool of the country to tell her the actual salary.
Can you reflect on the years you spent with your students?
I trained and examined more than 3,000 medical doctors from this university, and I thank God for good memories. I can still remember many of them. I follow them, including those who work abroad. When they want reference letters, I allow them to lean back on me, especially if they want to do public health courses. Being trained in America, the reference I give helps students a lot. One of the students just got a full scholarship in California, which is one of the most expensive states to stay. In fact, I wanted to discourage her, but I was delighted when she got the full scholarship, which she admitted was because of my reference letter. I am happy I served humanity in this capacity.
Apart from the College of Medicine, I also taught in the Faculty of Education. In fact, I just submitted the last scripts I marked for students in the Department of Public Health Education. And it will interest you to know that I supervised Professor Njodi’s (former vice chancellor) master’s thesis. He was sent to me in 1989 when he was having difficulty in getting his proposal approved. When I came in, the proposal was approved within two months. He was on the verge of being dropped as a graduate assistant before I came in.
I teach master’s students in Health Planning and Management in the Faculty of Social and Management Sciences and I teach Population and Medical Geography in the Department of Geography, where a PhD I supervised just defended in September. I supervise five PhDs in that department. I teach master’s students in Disaster Management, as well as postgraduate diploma students. When we started Radiography, Physiotherapy, Nursing and Medical Lab Science; I taught them for five years to keep stability in the system.
Professor Mbaya, who is a course coordinator in Health Planning and Management, said when I told him I was about to retire, that whenever officials came for course accreditation, my curriculum vitae is placed on top and when they see it, that is the end of the accreditation. I retired on September 22, after turning 70 years old.
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