Meet Professor Samuel Olabanji Aje, Third Vice-Chancellor, Achievers University

Professor Samuel Olabanji Aje had his primary education at the Holy Trinity Primary School, Idoani, Ondo State between 1954 and 1960. He immediately secured admission to Imade College, Owo, where he completed his secondary education in 1966 in flying colours. He later proceeded to France for further studies – first at Université de Caen, Normandy and then at the Université de Paris, where he obtained his PhD in French Language in 1979.

On completion of his studies in 1979, Dr Aje returned to Nigeria and picked up an appointment as Lecturer II with the University of Jos. In 1981, he was promoted Lecturer I and by 1983, he was elevated to the position of Senior Lecturer. In recognition of his diligence and unalloyed commitment to his job, he was appointed Acting Head of the Department of Languages and Linguistics that same year. He has promoted Reader and Professor of French and Applied Linguistics in 1988 and 1992 respectively. He was Dean, Faculty of Arts between 1998 and 2000.  

Prof. Aje is reputed to be the brain behind the commencement of Language Immersion Programme (LIP) in Nigeria. The seed of the programme was sown in April 1984 at a meeting of all Heads of Department of French in Nigerian universities he convened in Jos. To his credit, the first LIP was held in Jos three months later with three institutions in attendance. The programme expanded in quick succession as it attracted many institutions who found in it a substitute for oversea training.  It was the seed of the LIP sown in the University of Jos that germinated in Badagry as the Nigeria French Language Village (NFLV). In recognition of his contribution to the birth of NFLV, the Federal Government of Nigeria appointed the visionary and initiator of the LIP as its Director-General (DG) in 2003.

As DG, Prof. Aje was able to align the programmes of the institution with current trends in teaching and research, reorganizing and refocussing the programmes to meet the needs of people who are desirous of learning French Language. He also put in place the necessary infrastructure to cater to these needs. No wonder, he was rewarded with another five-year tenure. 

Professor Aje, as Chief Executive of NFLV, conceived the idea of the Regional Network of French Language Centres in Africa (RECFLEA), which, in 2006, agreed to accommodate French Language centres of similar status in the continent. The need to place RECFLEA on a strong footing must have influenced the centres in the network to appoint him the first president of the body, a position he held between 2006 and 2011.

The Professor of French and Applied Linguistics, realizing the need for upward mobility as well as rejuvenation of teachers of French in Nigeria, conceived and implemented the first online postgraduate programme in Nigeria. The tripartite online Master of Arts and Master of Philosophy programmes, which involved NFLV, University of Lagos (the host institution) and the Université de Franche-Comté, France, took off in 2010 after an MOU was signed between the partnering institutions.          

On the behest of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Prof. Aje handled, from conception to implementation, the foreign language acquisition programme at beginners and advanced levels in the following languages: French, Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian and Chinese. He is currently the consultant to and technical partner at the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Foreign Language Institute, Abuja. Since June 2013, Nigerian diplomats have been undergoing training in any of the above languages before their posting on a foreign mission.  He also designed and prepared a customized programme in French language for the Nigerian Army Language School, Ovim, Abia State and ANAN School of Accountancy, Kwol, Plateau State.

Apart from having successfully supervised many masters’ dissertations and Ph. D. theses in the areas of Linguistics, Semantics, French Language and French Literature, Professor Aje has authored many books and contributed chapters to many books, published many scholarly articles in reputable national and international journals, and has served as editor-in-chief, consultant as well as member, Editorial Board of many academic journals. He has been, at various times, Chairman, National Universities Commission accreditation committees between 2000 and 2015.

In 1986, Prof. Aje was decorated with the Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Academiques (Knight of the Order of Academic Excellence) by the government of France. He is one of the first set of Nigerians to ever receive the prestigious award. He is a fellow of the Institute of Administrative Managers of Nigeria, Nigerian Institute of Translators and Interpreters, and the Institute of Transport Administrators. 

Professor Aje is a patron of the Red Cross Society of Nigeria, a holder of Paul Harris Fellowship of the Rotary Club International, a Jerusalem Pilgrim (J.P) and the Afitoluwasaaju of the Anglican Cathedral of Idoani. 

He retired from the University of Jos after 40 years of meritorious service to the institution to join Achievers University as its third Vice-Chancellor.