When Buck Rodgers said there are countless ways of attaining greatness but any road to reaching one’s maximum potential must be built on a bedrock of respect for the individual, a commitment to excellence and a rejection of mediocrity, he could perhaps have had Professor Razaq ‘Deremi Abubakre in mind. Here is a man whose life epitomises the identified three qualities of greatness: respect for self and others, passion for excellence and zero tolerance for mediocrity.

It all began exactly 70 years ago. ‘Deremi was born in the acclaimed city of religious scholars, “Gerin Malami”, Iwo, Osun State, on February 20, 1948 to a humble family background.  His precocity began to manifest quite early and his brilliance made him come out in flying colours at the end of his primary education at Ansar Ud-Deen Primary School, Eleji, Iwo, which he completed with Grade A. The quest for further education took him to the famous Arabic Training Centre (Markaz), Agege, Lagos, founded by the globally-acclaimed Shaykh Adam Abdullah Al-Ilory, where his uncommon brilliance would earn him the admiration of his Shaykh and his teachers.

Armed with his Distinction in Arabic from Markaz, ‘Deremi proceeded to the University of Ibadan for his Certificate Course in Arabic and Islamic Studies, which he completed with Distinction again in 1970, winning the Arab League Prize for the best student in his final examinations. ‘Deremi then enrolled for his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Arabic Language and Literature at the same University in 1973, graduating with a First Class in 1976, and enjoying the university sponsorship during the period as a University Scholar.  He also became the National President of the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN) during his undergraduate years, organising the highly successful 3rd International Conference on Islam at the University of Ibadan in 1975, with the sponsorship of the World Assembly of Muslim Youths (WAMY), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.