By Gabriel Dike


•Prof. Ogundipe; Prof. Odukoya; Prof. Adebowale; Prof. Olapegba; Prof. Albert and others


It was a gathering of who is who at the 60th birthday of the dean, Social Sciences, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, and also the current coordinator of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Lagos Zone, Prof. Adelaja Odukoya.

The diamond celebration of Odukoya attracted two vice-chancellors, Prof. Kayode Adebowale of University of Ibadan  (UI) and Prof. Razaq Rom Kalilu of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Deputy VC of UI, Prof. Olamakinde Olapegba, former VC of UNILAG, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, South Africa Consul-General in Lagos, Dr. Bobby Moroe, and former Nigerian Ambassador to Belgium, Prof. Alaba  Ogunsanwo. 

Others are Prof. Adele Jinadu, Prof. Isaac Albert, Director of Institute of African Studies at UI and the guest speaker, Prof. Isaac Albert, two former ASUU President, Dr. Dipo Fasina and Prof. Nasir Fage, principal officers of ASUU and branch chairmen, UNILAG management team lead by the Deputy VC, Prof. Lucian Chukwu, Provost, Federal College of Education (Technical), Dr. Ademola Azeez, Odukoya’s colleagues from the faculty, his traditional ruler, Oba Abdulrasheed Abayomi Oluseesan Banjo and family members.

Odukoya’s contributions to UNILAG, ASUU’s struggle, his field of study, and impact on his students was acknowledged by Prof. Jinadu, Prof. Albert, Vice President of ASUU, Prof. Chris Piwanu, traditional ruler, deputy VC of UI Prof Olapegba and a lawyer.

Chairman of the celebration, Prof. Jinadu said.  “We know your worth and the intellectual leadership you have been providing to students, ASUU and the Nigerian University System.”

He said the NUS, which should be the think-tank of the country, has moved away from speaking the truth about the situation in the country.

“The role of the university is to provide alternative voice for the country. Those in power are working hard to silence the voice.  We must continue. The likes of Odukoya should join forces and continue to speak the truth,” Prof. Jinadu 

Guest speaker, Prof. Albert described Odukoya as an international scholar, who combined it with activism, stating, this country cannot grow without education and activist like him.”

Albert explained that Nigeria do not respect knowledge and also do not consume knowledge, arguing, “any society that do not respect knowledge, will make do with area boys politics and that is what we have in the country now.’’

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He said government has pushed Nigerians to a position that does not exit and predicted that people would certainly fight back if things continue to get worse.

Said he: “Politicians are not talking about the people but themselves. Our political system is under the control of few people. Few Nigerians have captured the state.  Governments do not listen to civil societies like ASUU.

“We need a joint problem-solving efforts. ASUU and other civil societies must come together to take government to task on the current situation in the country. We have a lot of resources in this country but we remain poor.

“We know the problems and those responsible for it but what we don’t know is the solutions. We may find ourselves like Somalia and Libya if the country remains same.

“Those who are smiling today will suffer tomorrow. Those in government have a lot to lose if the system collapses. The system is gradually collapsing.  Are we still the giant of African. No. In the last ten years, we cease to be the giant of African.  In fact, people have been insulting the country.”

UNILAG VC, represented by Prof. Chukwu described Odukoya as a comrade professor and has been one of the pillars of the university administration.

The VC explained that the celebrant is dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and has inspired his colleagues and students as well as his inputs on national issues.

“Today, we celebrate a life that is committed to UNILAG, ASUU and education.  His impact on the university is unwavering,” she added.

The DVC of UI, Prof. Olapegba told the gathering that Odukoya has a strong principle on national issues and acknowledged his contributions in his field of study and the union.

ASUU Vice President, Piwuna said the union knows Odukoya ability and capacity, his contributions in UNLAG and as the current zonal coordinator.

Prof Piwuna disclosed that the celebrant has served the union at branch, zonal and national levels at critical period of ASUU and has delivered, noting, “the union holds him in him esteem.”

Oba Abdulrasheed Olusesan Banjo, who conferred a traditional title on Odukoya described him as a community person that has contributed to the growth and development of Ojowo.

The monarch challenged ASUU not to lose hope but continued to be at the forefront to ensure the government addresses critical national issues.