In a keynote address to the Conference co-organised by the National Universities Commission (NUC), the Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (AVCNU) and the University of Ilorin on September 27, 2010 to commemorate 50 years of university education in Nigeria, Dr Jamil Salmi of the World Bank identified three factors that make universities world class. Speaking on “The Challenge of Establishing World Class Universities”, the theme he explored in a book he published a year earlier, the scholar explained the three factors which are: concentration of talents, abundant resources and favourable governance.
Of the entire cornucopia of talents concentrated at the University and “milestones that make UNILORIN world class” (Kuranga and Adedimeji, 2015), one of them that towers high is a former Director of the Institute of Education, former Director of Academic Planning Unit and former Director of the Centre for Ilorin Studies, Prof. AGAS Oladosu. The Professor of Arabic Education is an admirable blending of the best of Islamic education, Western education and Traditional education, the last of which imbues its recipient with native intelligence and distinctive wisdom. Many educated people are only brilliant, intelligent and smart, not necessarily wise.
A product of the renowned Al-Azhar University, Cairo, the Chief Imam of the University of Ilorin is a spectacle to behold on the pulpit. Every week, he dishes our stirring sermons and throbbing homilies masterfully delivered in Arabic, English and Yoruba, three languages he controls with astounding communicative competence. The same mastery is also applicable to the podium as his public lectures are always deeply engaging in evocation and impact.
Prof. Oladosu’s first two sermons of the new year delivered on Fridays January 5 and 12 belong to a class of their own. Perhaps, they were especially “well-loaded” in order to give the audience, both immediate and distant, a solid footing on the journey along 2018. In their complementary relationship, the two sermons both examined the tragedy of life and living in Nigeria with applied exegetical insights from Qur’an 102 (At-Takaathur) where the theme of materialism is addressed with the punishment that goes with it grimly highlighted.
According to Prof. Oladosu, Nigerians are already going through hell, referred to in the chapter, and this manifests in the prevailing challenges the country is facing. These challenges are evident in perennial fuel scarcity, untold hardship, crass immorality, pervasive insecurity, mindless kidnapings, ritual killings, graduate unemployment, increasing poverty, indecent dressing, spousal infidelity, general indiscipline, heartrending incest, chronic corruption, shedding of innocent blood by herdsmen and communities as well as various calamities that ensnare Nigerians. He blamed this ugly situation on the seemingly unending rat race which foregrounds the faithlessness and distraction that characterise our contemporary living.
His argument is that though Nigerians are many in number, indeed the most populous in Africa, many of us are indeed animals, a point that former President Olusegun Obasanjo tangentially drives home in his “This Animal Called Man” (1998). He attributed the selfishness of leaders who oppress the poor to foolishness and stressed the consequences of being distracted from the pursuit of good. Scholars and clerics who join the fray of materialism, immorality and corruption did not escape his acerbic condemnation as he urged all to be disciplined and responsible while emphasising that everyone would be accountable for their actions before the Almighty God.
As I wrote on this page on June 29, 2015 in “Ramadhan: Oladosu as a role model”, the various qualities of Prof. Oladosu and the positive values he directly impacts on those who know him actually qualify him as “an asset to humanity, a special gift of God to human race.” As a man of peace who benefits and edifies not only the University community but also the entire country with his rare insights and delightful delivery, one can only wish him more years of service to humanity in good health and the entire wherewithal.
Akanbi’s painful departure
Last year ended on a sad note for the University of Ilorin as the news of the death of our Director of Legal Unit, Barr. Dare Akanbi, jolted us on Friday, December 29, 2017. For a person like me who met him a few days before his death without any premonition that the end was near, it was like a poisoned dagger driven into one’s inner core, another pungent reminder that life is uncertain and anyone can drop dead anytime. If that’s the situation, then, why is the stress?
Barr. Akanbi was a thorough-bred professional and gentleman to the core. He was sociable, amiable, amicable and remarkable as a personality. That he touched many people’s lives positively was evident in the sheer number of people from various places that thronged his family house since his departure till many days after the fidau prayer in his honour.
On the fidau day especially, the various testimonies given on the values he upheld, the principles he cherished and the philosophy of life that guided his years actually struck a chord in every perceptive listener. His life is another evidence that one does not need to live as long as a Methuselah or be known everywhere like a Mandela before one could influence the lives of others. From all accounts, he was a man well aware of the purpose of his creation and the responsibilities imposed on him by that sense of purpose.
I pray that Allah forgive his shortcomings and grant him His Aljannah Firdaws. May He console the grieving families – the immediate, the extended and the professional – the University community as well as his friends and relations.