By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu
The Vice-Chancellor, Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, Prof. Dapo Asaju, was once a taxi driver after he was sacked for participating in the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) activities at the Lagos State University, LASU Chapter then.
Prof Dapo said: ''The former chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, was the president of ASUU and I was the chairman of LASU chapter then. I was a radical lecturer back then. In the course of the struggle, my university felt that I was too radical. So, they terminated my appointment. By then, my wife was also an employee at the university. Her salary was also withheld; so, both of us had no salary. My wife said, “Aluta! Aluta! Now that they have terminated, what are we going to eat?” We had a new-born at the time.
'There was nothing else to do. Although I studied Religious Studies, I wouldn't start a church. My wife was the one who encouraged me to use our car as a taxi. She would sit beside me as I picked passengers and she collected the money. After some time, when I gained enough confidence, I told her we would be giving her space to passengers as well. I took charge of the business.
'I tell this story because I want to pass a message that whoever you are and whatever the challenges you are facing, humble yourself. With a supportive wife, one can weather the storm and we did. After one year, I got back my job and we were okay. We love each other and I am proud of her always.'
Prof Dapo speaking about how he celebrated his children whenever they make him proud said, 'I gave them whatever they wanted; they had always done well. I am not the kind of father that will claim to have topped the class when I was in school. I was above average and I didn't expect too much from them. I wanted them to do well and pass their exams. I emphasised more on discipline and character. I am proud to say that my two daughters married as virgins. That is a joy to us.
'I believe education is a combination of one's knowledge and morality. Each time they did well, we praised them. We appreciated them but we emphasised morals, care, humility and others.
'Whenever they needed anything, we gave them. I promised to send them on vacation to the UK and even though I wasn't earning much, I did that for them and their mother. As soon as they were settling down, I gave them a car each, even though they were used cars. That was what I could afford and they appreciated it. We are an average family. We don't have much but we are content because godliness with contentment is great gain
'They are never envious of what others have. We don't need much to live, and all we need is food for the stomach, clothes to put on and a roof over our heads. Every other thing is vanity. We have taught them to live well and be contented with whatever they have.'
And on the values he instilled in them, he said: 'Honesty, fear of God, discipline, courage, hard work, purity and excellence in whatever they want to do, as well as pragmatic approach to life. I tell them that they are unique in their own way and shouldn't follow the crowd. People say Nigerians are corrupt, not everyone is corrupt. What God does not give to me, I don't need it. I tell them to live within their means.
'When I met my wife, the moment I saw her, I knew she was my wife and she told me that the Holy Spirit told her same. She said she rebuked it. When I was led to her, I told her, “Lady, I love you. I want to marry you. Please, let me warn you that though I am proposing to you, I am not like those boys who mess around. I love you”. '
On how close the children are to him, Prof Dapo said: 'My boy is closer to his mother although he resembles me. He bears my name. He is Dapo Asaju Jnr. But he gravitates more to the mother. The mother has a way of being around me while my daughters are closer to me. I don't joke with my daughters. All my children are dear to me but I am closer to the girls.'