Just like their male counterparts, female academics have been breaking barriers in the education sector. Following in the heels of the first female vice-chancellor in Nigeria, Prof Grace Alele-Williams (University of Benin), quite a number of women have also risen to that enviable height.
Below are some female professors who have risen through the ranks in their respective ivory towers to become vice-chancellors
Prof Lillian Salami is the second female vice-chancellor of the University of Benin, Edo State. Prof Grace Alele-Williams became the first female VC of the institution in 1985.
Salami is also a fellow of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria and the International Federation of Home Economics/Home Professionals Association of Nigeria.
The University don was born in Jos, although she originally hails from Edo State. She started her education in Jos, but due to the Nigerian Civil War from 1967 to 1970, she had to move to Edo State for her secondary education. She attended Baptist High School, Benin City.
She then proceeded to the United States of America and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Home Economics and a Master’s degree in Nutrition at the North Dakota State University in 1979 and 1982 respectively, before returning home to serve her fatherland in the mandatory National Youth Service Corps scheme, in Benin City.
Her quest for education excellence inspired her to go for further studies at the University of Nigeria Nsukka in 1989, where she earned a PhD in Human Nutrition.
As a lecturer at the University of Benin, she earned a postgraduate diploma in Education in 2001. In 2005, she bagged post-doctoral degree at the Vaal University of Technology, Vanderbijlpark in South Africa.
Salami started her career at the University of Benin as a senior lecturer in 1994.
She also taught briefly at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University). From there, she proceeded to the University of Maiduguri where she worked from 1985 to 1994.
Before she was appointed as the Vice-Chancellor in 2019, Salami held numerous administrative positions, which include being Head of the Department from 1996 to 1998 at the University of Benin; Chairman of the Board of the University of Benin Integrated Enterprise, Director of General Studies, director of a part-time programme; and Director General of the National Institute for Educational Planning and Administration, Ondo State.
She became a professor in 2005.
Prof Florence Obi is not just an academic don; she is one woman who is bestowed with glowing beauty. The professor of special education is the 11th substantive vice chancellor of the University of Calabar, and is the institution’s first female vice-chancellor. Before her appointment, she was the deputy vice-chancellor of the university (academic), as well as a one-time Commissioner for Women Affairs in Cross River State.
Obi, who has a PhD in the Psychology of Education from the University of Calabar, started her academic career as an assistant lecturer at the Institute of Education, University of Calabar in 1990. From there, she proceeded to the Jordan-Hill College of Education, Scotland, after obtaining a six-month postgraduate scholarship in 1992, under the World University Service, World-Wide Fund for Nature, and the Nigerian Conservation Foundation. After the course, she was put in charge of the WWF/NCF-funded schools and community education programmes.
The academic had her elementary education at St Bridget’s Primary School, Ogep Osokom, Boki, Cross River State. She also attended St Thomas’s Teachers Training College, Ogoja, Cross River State, and graduated in 1983. She later obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education from the University of Calabar. In 1990, she bagged a Master of Education degree in Special Education from the same institution.
In 2002, she obtained her PhD in the Psychology of Education from the University of Calabar.
Her rise to the pinnacle of her career was made possible by her resilient and determined spirit. She had initially given a shot at the VC position in 2015, but lost out.
But, in 2020, she beat 12 candidates to become the first female vice chancellor of the institution. She succeeded Prof Zana Akpagu.
While congratulating Obi, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege described her as ‘an astute educational icon’.
Obi is married with four children and six grandchildren.
Prof Nnenna Oti
Born on November 15, 1958, in Afikpo North, Ebonyi State, Prof Nnenna Oti is the Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State.
She has a Bachelor of Agriculture degree in Soil Science, finishing with a first class from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State.
She went on to receive a Master’s degree in Social Science, with options in Soil Biology and Biochemistry, from the same university.
Oti also has a postgraduate diploma in Irrigation Engineering from the Catholic University, Leuven, in Belgium. She later bagged a doctorate in Soil and Environmental Conservation from the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State.
Prof Oti has spent over 34 years in academics, teaching research and administration within and outside Nigeria.
She has also had practical experience working as a consultant to the government and private sector at various times in diverse capacities. Some of the places she worked include the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, Anambra Imo River Basin Development Authority, and the National Biotechnology Development Agency.
She has written over 65 academic papers, 40 seminar and workshop papers, edited a handbook, given over 50 public lectures, and authored over 10 technical reports for the Federal Government.
Before she emerged as the first female vice-chancellor of FUTO, she was a three-time head of the school’s Department of Soil Science and Technology. She also chaired the Gender Policy Unit of the institution, and was the dean of its post-graduate school.
She succeeded Prof Francis Eze, whose tenure expired in June 2021. The university don beat her closest rival Prof Ikechukwu Dozie who scored 69.7 per cent to the seat, having scored 75.5 per cent, in a race contested by six candidates.
Oti is married to Dr Nnannaya Oti, and their marriage is blessed with three children.
Prof Ibiyemi Bello
This 58-year-old professor of Physiology is the ninth Vice-Chancellor of Lagos State University, Lagos State. (The PUNCH)