I received the sad news of the death, yesterday,of foremost Nigerian Professor of Medicine, statesman and culture enthusiast,Emeritus Professor Oladipo O.Akinkugbe.He was aged 86.May his noble soul rest in peace.Amen.
Above was the title of my article published in the Sunday Tribune newspaper issue of 27th July,2003,summarising four great events in which I had been imvolved,ten days earlier,on Thursday,17th July,that year.
The third of the great events that day was my attendance of the book presentation/lecture/luncheon to mark the 70th birthday of the late Professor Akinkugbe,at the Premier Hotel,Mokola Hill,Ibadan.It was chaired by the then President of Nigeria,Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
The first honour that came my way on the said day,was the express protocol clearance accorded me earlier in the morning of that Thursday by the Oyo State Director of Protocols,whereby it took me less than 30 minutes to be ushered before His Excellency,Senator Rashidi Ladoja,the state governor,even though I had no previous appointment to see the Governor.
Kindly read the above-quoted Sunday Tribune newspaper article,wherein I narrated how my humble path crossed the expressway of the world-class professor.
The starting point was when the British Government,in 2001,took the decision to close down the British Council – Leventis Foundation Library,at the Jericho Government Reservation Area,Ibadan.Reason given for the closure?
“The British Council in Nigeria wants to live within her means.In particular we have to move resources out of overheads into activity and create a sustainable network of offices offering higher quality services.”
No,you cannot go,cried out some eminent,public-spirited Nigerians,led by Professor Akinkugbe,to the British High Commission in Nigeria.
Since I had earlier,in 1995,publicly cried out against the similar close-down of the United States Information Service (USIS)Office,Ibadan,by the US Embassy in Nigeria,vide my protest article,”NOSTALGIA AND USIS” published in the Guardian newspaper issue of Saturday,4th November,1995,I was kindly invited by the concerned professionals/technocrats to join the noble movement against the threatened closure of the British Council -Leventist Foundation Library in Ibadan.
Recognising the valuable roles the British Council has played in the academic and cultural lives of Ibadan City,and determined that these servicesmust not go with the Council exit,we,the lovers of intellectualism and culture,therefore,resolved to establish,and indeed established, the Nigerian Society for Information,Arts and Culture(NSIAC),which was registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission.
The Board of Trustees consisted:Professor Akinkugbe(President and Chair),Dr.Raymond Zard,Lady Deborah Jibowu,Professor Oyin Olurin and Professor Bolanle Awe.The Executive Council comprised Mr Kolade Mosuro(Vice-President)Mr P.O Balogun(Treasurer)my humble self,Oloye ‘Lekan Alabi(Publicity Secretary)Professor Ayo Banjo,Dr Tony Marinho,Mr Ogie Alakija,Mrs Tayo Morgan and Ms Victoria Okojie(the Secretary of the former British Council,Ibadan.)
We succeeded in getting the Library handed over to us,and it is functioning,with added portfolios,till date.Please,read my article,”WITH ELDERS IN THE MARKET”,published in the Daily Champion newspaper issue of Wednesday,19th December,2001.
Adieu,Emeritus Professor Akinkugbe,you truly served God and mankind.