Meet Dr. Tayo George, First Female HoD, Sociology Department, Covenant University

Dr Tayo George

Tell us about your background.

I am an Associate Professor of Sociology at Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State. I specialise in Gender and Development Studies. I am from Emure Ekiti in Ekiti State. I had my secondary education at Federal Government Girls’ College, Abuloma, Port Harcourt, where I was the Head Girl of the 1989/1990 set.

I proceeded to Edo State University (now Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma), to study Sociology, and I became a university scholar in the department between the 1994 and 1996 academic sessions, where I bagged the prestigious award of ‘Best Graduating Student in Sociology’ at the university in May 1997. After my National Youth Service Corps scheme, I went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Sociology at the University of Ibadan between 1998 and 1999.

Upon completion of my second degree, I got a job with the United Bank for Africa Plc. At UBA, I rose to the position of Senior Banking Officer and resigned after eight years to pursue my career in academics at Covenant University. I have been researching, teaching and mentoring undergraduate and postgraduate students since I joined the University on February 1, 2006.

What inspired you to study Sociology?

Studying Sociology in the university was a coincidence. Law was actually my first choice. I had the full support of my late dad, Lieutenant Colonel (Dr) Gbadua Atalabi, to study Public and International Law at the University of Abuja. Unfortunately, my elder brother, Tadeola Atalabi, who filled my Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination form, inputted law as my first course of study and chose the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University Ile Ife, Osun State), where he was a student. He wanted me to be close to him at OAU instead of UniAbuja as recommended by our father. It wasn’t until the UTME results were released that I knew OAU was my first choice, not UniAbuja. However, my score was not enough to study Law, so I was offered admission to study Sociology instead. It appears God had a better plan for me in Sociology.  I had an excellent result. I graduated as the best student in the sociology department, and proceeded to obtain my second and third degrees from the same course at the University of Ibadan and Covenant University respectively.

As the Head of the sociology department, what are your achievements so far?

With every sense of humility, I wish to state that I am the first female head of the department at CU since its inception 20 years ago. I am currently serving a second tenure as the HOD. My major achievement during my first and second tenures was the successful and hitch-free National Universities Commission accreditation of the department in 2015 and 2021. In addition, there is a sense of fulfillment I feel seeing the students that I taught from undergraduate and postgraduate levels doing great exploits in their various careers.

Other major achievements include hosting the maiden edition of the cultural day event at CU, and a workshop on modern security approaches towards stemming the tide of terrorism in Nigeria.

Also, I started a welfare unit to provide support in various forms in the department. Last year, as instructed by God, I started a monthly prayer meeting and departmental fellowship in the department.

What makes you have a special interest in women empowerment?

I am very passionate about research and scholarly publications that target gender, women and development studies. Verified scholarly data attest to the feminisation of poverty, and the fact that globally, women constitute about half of the world’s population, including Nigeria. Pathetically, most women, especially the vulnerable widows, single mothers, small scale retailers and artisans, are buffeted with poverty and they lack basic resources for improved quality of life. There is data to prove the discrimination and marginalisation of women in different sectors. Access to essential resources such as land, for instance, as well as exclusion of women from (family) inheritance, is a common practice. There has also been a recent increase in gender-based violence, in which women are the worst victims. These, and many other reasons, stimulated my interest in women empowerment.

What challenges did you encounter while studying for your PhD?

While studying for my PhD, there were mountains to climb, hurdles to jump and challenges to confront. The greatest challenge I had was how to combine work and family. As a wife, mother, student and lecturer, my attention and time were divided and had to be shared unequally in meeting my set target of obtaining a doctorate. I became pregnant with my last child, who is now 12 years old, while collecting data for my doctoral thesis. It was a challenging period, having to combine the huge demands of a PhD with pregnancy, delivery and nursing a baby. With the support of my dear husband, Mr George Nwankwo, and my mother of blessed memory, Mrs Salamatu Adibomi, and other internal and external support that I received, I was able to complete my PhD in record time in spite of the challenges.

Quality education seems to be becoming too expensive for the common man. What do you think can be done to make it more affordable?

A wise person once said, ‘If you think education is expensive, try ignorance’. In a country where prices of goods and services have skyrocketed, there is a high inflationary trend. That dovetails into other sectors, including education. No price is too much to pay for quality education because it is one vital tool that transforms societies to bring about needed development. Government, non-governmental organisations and  stakeholders at all levels should invest more in education, as well as provide scholarships and grants to deserving citizens.

In what specific ways can the government improve the education sector?

Government needs to invest more in education with an intentional budget to revamp the sector. Provision of adequate infrastructure for learning to take place in a conducive environment is another way. Also, they should organise periodic training for personnel in the sector to raise awareness on global best practices.

CU is regarded as one of the best private universities in the country presently. What is the school doing differently?

In the words of the Chancellor, Dr David Oyedepo, ‘the mandate of Covenant University is to raise a new generation of leaders through a qualitative and life applicable training system that focuses on value and skill development’. This, in a nutshell, is what the institution is doing differently. The university is intentional, resolute and passionate about her vision of becoming one of the best 10 universities in the world by 2022. Through massive investment in infrastructure, equipment, research publications, quality teaching, mentoring and training, the university is different and is sure to climb to greater heights.

A school of thought believes that people who study Sociology often consider it as a second choice. Do you agree with that assertion?

My personal experience attests to this fact. Prior to my studying Sociology at the university, I did not know much about the course. During our time, the more popular courses were Accountancy, Law, Engineering and Computer Science. Despite the usefulness of sociology as the scientific study of human society, it is undersubscribed due to low publicity.

How can students be encouraged to study Sociology?

Publicity is the way to go. When the purpose of a thing is not known, abuse is inevitable. Sociology is a very important discipline that is unpopular and unknown to many, unlike what obtains in the United States of America, Europe and Asia, where it is a highly subscribed discipline. The unique thing about sociology is that anywhere human beings are found, sociologists can work there.

As the chair of CU’s Community Development Impact Initiatives Committee, how do you get students to participate actively?

The committee works with the Directorate of Student Affairs to get the students involved.  The students are directly involved in cleaning and sanitation exercises within and outside the campus, including major roads and drainages on the university campus, Ota and environs. We are training them as new generation leaders, so we make our students own community projects.

As a deaconess in Living Faith Church Worldwide, do you teach morals alongside Sociology?

Certainly, my spiritual background reflects in my teaching of sociology courses to my students at various levels. This is rooted in the university’s core values, which have spirituality as its arrow head. Our core values of integrity, responsibility and sacrifice teach morals to our students.

Do you feel fulfilled at this point in your career or are there other feats you want to achieve?

To some extent, I thank God for where I am today. I am currently an associate professor. However, I desire to obtain my full professorship soon. As a lecturer and researcher, I have attended conferences on different continents and countries where I presented scholarly papers. Additionally, I have over 70 scholarly publications in form of journals, book chapters, edited books and conference proceedings. All of these would not have been possible if I did not venture into academics.

Who are your mentors?

I have many mentors, both men and women. They include Bishop David Oyedepo, the late Pastor Bimbo Odukoya, my parents of blessed memory, who taught me humility, honesty, hard work and love for God and His creation.

In my academic journey, God brought a mentor and a mother my way in the person of Prof Olabisi Aina of the Department of Sociology, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. She was not only my external examiner during my PhD oral defence, she has continued to teach and mentor me on how to become the best academician. Ever since I met mama, as we call her, my academic journey has not remained the same.

How would you describe your relationship with Bishop Oyedepo?

The bishop is my spiritual father, pastor, prophet and mentor. I see him as God’s servant and apostle over this generation. I have been tremendously blessed by his teachings and I remain his student for life. He is indeed God’s general and servant sent to liberate mankind through his teachings on the word of faith.

How do you balance work and family?

Over the years, God has helped me to balance family and work, which explains why I quit my banking job to attend to the needs of my immediate family. Sincerely speaking, it is an uphill task to combine domestic duties, family and work. I recently found out that what makes a super mum is the ability to multi-task, combine chores with family and work, and in some cases with spirituality and other assignments that may demand the attention of a career woman. The decision to leave banking for lecturing is one of the best I could think of. Combining family and work requires a lot of hard work. It is not for lazy people. Success is about paying a great price, going the extra mile to achieve extraordinary feats. As a wife, mother and career woman, one has so many things calling for one’s attention. The ability to prioritise, manage one’s time very well, be focused on achieving one’s goals and the God factor are prerequisites to achieving success.

What are your hobbies?

My hobbies include reading, meeting people, travelling and community service.

Punch

(Visited 359 times, 1 visits today)