Today, one of the iconic personalities that epitomises the character and scholarship of the great University of Ilorin is bowing out in a blaze of glory. At a glowing peak of a stellar career devoted to teaching, preaching, researching and developing community/humanity, Prof. Abdul-Ganiy Abdus Salaam (AGAS) Oladosu joins the septuagenarian club and it is with mixed feelings that The Alma Mater congratulates him on his birthday and wishes him happy retirement.
As Chief Imam of the University, first Professor of Arabic Education in this part of the world and harmonious confluence of the town and the gown, Prof. Oladosu is leaving behind a big vacuum that is difficult to fill. This is so because the cerebral Oladosu is not an ordinary scholar that can be easily replicated, here is one million men rolled into one given the totality of his quintessential personality!
Raised to value erudition, I have always held Prof. AGAS Oladosu in awe since I encountered him on the mimbar in the 90s as an undergraduate student. As a translator and deputy to the equally talented former Chief Imam, Prof. Rasheed Raji, he was a spectacle to behold every Friday as he wasn’t just a translator, he was an exegete. He was a spell-binding and compelling communicator who expressed what the Chief Imam said and intended to say in impeccable Yoruba with the Chief Imam, another compulsive Yoruba speaker, usually nodding in affirmation.
From the time he started to lead prayers on the Main Campus to the time he became the substantive Chief Imam, Prof. Oladosu has not ceased to wow his audience with his masterful command of not just English, his main medium of expression on the pulpit, but also Arabic and Yoruba. This essential scholar is highly respected in traditional Islamic circles in the community and he is an astute educator and educationist whose publications are wide and varied. Either at the podium or on the pulpit, Prof. Oladosu’s personality is an uncommon phenomenon – an admixture of uprightness, forthrightness, excellence, erudition, versatility, humility, eloquence, discipline, astuteness and resourcefulness.
A man of exquisite academic pedigree and sophisticated intellectual orientation, AGAS was born exactly 70 years ago (February 10, 1950) in Cape Coast, Ghana. After being personally trained by the late sage and exceptional scholar, Shaykh Kamalu-deen Habeebullah Al-Adaby, in Ilorin, he was further educated at the prestigious ‘Islam’s oldest university’, Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt, where he graduated with honours in 1979. He obtained his Master’s degree in Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language (TAFL) from the American University in Cairo in 1982 before capping his education with a Ph.D. in Arabic Education in 1988 at the University of Ilorin. While in Cairo, he was a broadcaster at the Egyptian Broadcasting Corporation between 1972 and 1982.
The well baked Oladosu joined the services of the University of Ilorin on September 21, 1983 as an Assistant Lecturer and rose through the ranks to become a Professor in June, 2002. He served the University in several capacities including as the Head of the defunct Department of Curriculum Studies and Educational Technology, Sub-Dean of Student Affairs and Director of the Institute of Education (2004 – 2007), Academic Planning Unit (2008 – 2011) and Centre for Ilorin Studies (2011 – 2014), which makes me refer to him as Emeritus Director. It was during his tenure as Director of Academic Planning that the University started to publish its Annual Report, a practice that has been sustained and embraced by many other Nigerian universities. As pioneer Director of the Centre for Ilorin Studies, he also laid a solid foundation for the Centre, the template of which is followed till date.
Having been privileged to work closely with Prof. Oladosu at various levels, I have learnt and benefitted immensely from him. A Qu’ranic personality par excellence who is always glued to the holy book, noticing that I was married for years without a child, he invited me one day and asked how often I read the Qu’ran. I told him my modest daily regimen. He retorted that it wasn’t enough for a person like me, my excuse notwithstanding. He gave me a long haul and I managed to follow his burdensome prescription that he considered standard. Soon, there was wonder: our prayers were so answered that my wife and I soon arrived at our own ‘o to gee’(it’s enough) some years before Kwarans made the expression popular!
Despite his vast academic attainments, Prof. Oladosu is humble to the core. On many occasions, he would ask some of us how his presentations were sincerely seeking how to improve – that is someone who has fully mastered his art as an international scholar, tub-thumping orator and remarkable raconteur. Another quality of his is self-discipline, a multi-layered attribute that manifests in his fidelity to time and aversion to lateness. To draw his ire, just be late to an event he was involved in. He would scold you with his eyes if he spared you his tongue, a quality that I think derives from the punctuality that is associated with regular prayers.
Undoubtedly, the abundant qualities of Prof. Oladosu and his inspiring personality qualify him as “an asset to humanity, a special gift of God to human race”, as I wrote on this page on June 29, 2015 in “Ramadhan: Oladosu as a role model” (here). Having studied him at close quarters, I have reasons to believe that Prof. Oladosu is unique because he 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”, as I wrote on this page also in “Oladosu’s stirring sermons” on January 29, 2018 (here).
In bidding bye to a man in a million who must take a bow and leave the stage, the sign board at the University gate is sure and assuring, inshaaAllah: “It is never good bye but see you again!”