Every doctoral voyage has its own length, most, with the lowering of the mast and the conferring of the cap lasting two or three years after.
For Dr. Adetunji Adeniyan, a lecturer in mathematics at the University of Lagos, his journey with sums and equations took an unlikely route, lasting 25 years!
In The Beginning
Dr. Adeniyan said: "I went to school in the village, it was in the Western region at Ikire, a few kilometres to Ibadan...I was a very good lover of mathematics.
"In those days there used to be elementary mathematics and additional mathematics, we weren't much who took the course but I stood out and did very well in it so my background in Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Biology became very sound" he said.
The lecturer who has always been a keen lover of mathematics and a prestigious student never foresaw the problems that will hinder his progress and had logically concluded that he would have his qualifications in.
"My late uncle, he was a lawyer and I used to live with him in Ikoyi. He wanted me to study engineering but I opted for mathematics against his wish. He was worried that I will end up just teaching"
Despite stern warning from his uncle he said, "I went for an interview to get a banking job and at the same time, the University of Lagos was recruiting and they offered me a job as a graduate assistant."
Then Things Fell Apart
In 1983, after completing his masters, he proceeded to obtain a doctorate degree.
When his supervisor, Prof. Bachir, an Indian, made a decision to leave the country due to a deteriorating economic system.
A rapid decision it was as it deterred Dr. Adetunji from his almost concluded doctorate program.
He had showed keen interest in plasma dynamics or magneto hydro-dynamics in the area of applied mathematics and Prof. Bachir was the only lecturer in that capacity.
After his supervisor left, there was no one to fill in his position.
However, Prof. Bachir was willing to see to the end of Dr. Adetunji’s work.
He therefore sent a letter to the institution to make provisions for Dr. Adetunji to join him overseas so he can complete his program.
He further added that he would be given free accommodation and an office space to occupy as a lecturer, all the institution needed to do was to get him funds to travel. The university on the other hand, claimed to be broke and could not send him there.
With his supervisor and several other white lecturers gone, Dr. Adetunji and few other lecturers available were left to teach rather voluminous classes.
As a disciplined and hardworking lecturer, Dr. Adetunji did not brook idleness as he would always saddle his students, who were about three thousand, with several assignments and he will solely do the job of grading all of their papers.
The university did later assign an assistant to help him out but this, coupled with the fact that he had no supervisor, made it impossible for him to complete his program till it was terminated in 1989.
Following the termination of his program, his colleagues, Prof. H.N Odogwu and Dr. Mrs. Ogbonna, who were also faced with the problem of a supervisor, switched to other field and went abroad to continue respectively.
Dr. Adetunji was apparently faced with a choice to opt for other fields whose supervisors were readily available but his tenacity to continue in a desired field of interest and lack of funding to seize opportunities outside the country kept him precluded him.
Afterwards, he decided to go into the school transport system in order to augment his salary.
This growing small scale business occupied his time till he was able to reapply for his PhD degree in 1998/1999. He was not ready to allow unfavourable circumstances to hinder him from achieving his goals and was even more focused and determined.
Good Things To All Who Wait
He worked relentlessly again without a supervisor and not until 2010 before his PhD program success began.
While his initial unsupervised thesis was ready as at that time, he only had to revisit it when he met Prof. Daniel Makinde who came from South Africa to give a lecture at the institution. During the lecture, he spotted Dr.Adetunji’s intelligent response amidst the larger audience.
He met with him afterwards and was appalled that such an intelligent individual had been spending years chasing a degree he was way qualified for.
Having understood the barriers, he gave Dr. Adetunji thirty-six articles to read and convinced him to change to his own field which was quite similar to what he (Dr. Adetunji) wanted.
He adhered to the advice and with this, he progressively moved. Officially, his thesis was submitted in August 2016.
He graduated and was given a honourary award as the longest serving lecturer in the university.