Two former Vice-Chancellors, University of Ibadan, Prof. Idowu Olayinka and Prof. Isaac Adewole, have extolled the virtues and contributions of the late Prof. Akinlawon Mabogunje, the first Nigerian Professor of Geography.
Olayinka and Adewole along with others spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan on Saturday.
NAN reports that Mabogunje was born on Oct.18, 1931 in Kano and died on Aug. 4.
Mabogunje was African President of the International Geographical Union.
In 1999, he was the first African to be elected as a Foreign Associate of the United States National Academy of Sciences, among other achievements during his lifetime.
Olayinka said: “We mourn the demise of Prof. Akinlawon Mabogunje. Our sincere and heartfelt condolences to his entire family, associates and friends.
“He matriculated at the then University College, Ibadan in 1949 and earned a First Degree in Geography in 1953. This was followed by a Doctor of Philosophy in the same discipline.
“He was elevated to the grade of Professor in 1965, thus becoming the first Nigerian Professor of Geography.
“Baba was widely acclaimed as the foremost Social Scientist ever produced by Africa. He had earlier, in his illustrious career, served as Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Ibadan from 1968 till 1970.
“He provided a leadership role in the preparation of the Master Plan for the Abuja Federal Capital Territory.”
According to Olayinka, as one of the earliest students of the University College, Ibadan, Mabogunje received the Degree of Doctor of Science _honoris causa_ from the University of Ibadan in 2018.
“He will be sorely missed by all of us who knew him as a distinguished and highly respected UIte, who was very passionate, about his Alma Mater.
“He served meritoriously as the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye,” he said.
Olayinka said that it was high time the government took the advice of the late professor on university ownership to ensure sustainability.
“It is generally accepted that the fortunes of the Nigerian University System cannot improve until a sustainable funding model is guaranteed.
“In this respect, about a decade ago, Prof. Akin Mabogunje suggested that the Federal Government of Nigeria should hand over the University of Ibadan to the Alumni to manage.
“It is perhaps high time this proposal is interrogated for the overall benefit of the country, otherwise, if we are to learn from history the current national strike by ASUU may painfully not be the last.
“We pray for the repose of the soul of the Colossus and eminent global citizen, Prof. Akinlawon Mabogunje. He will be sorely missed by all of us who knew this humble and soft spoken academic giant,” the former VC said.
Also, Adewole, another former Vice-Chancellor, extolled the virtues of the deceased and his contributions to the development of Nigeria, especially the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
“We have lost an ‘Iroko’. He was truly the last of the ‘Mohicans’. An academic noble, he dined and wined with the Kings and Queens.
“He was another ‘Mr Fix’, a soft spoken man, who influenced policies without being a politician.
“Abuja was his hand and foot print. A city that could be named after him. A unique and successful family man, he remained largely visible but quiet. His work and legacy are immortal.
“May his gentle soul Rest In Peace,” Adewole, a former Minister of Health, said.
In his comments, retired Prof. Olabode Lucas of the Department of Agronomy, University of Ibadan, said that the late Prof. Mabogunje was indeed an academic giant and intellectual Colossus.
“He was in the same league as Ibadan Academic giants like Dike, Lambo, Ajayi Lucas, Odeku, Akinkugbe, Aboyade, Irvine, Durley, Olayide Oyenuga and Bassir.
“He was the greatest Geographer in Africa, who won the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in Geography.
“As a student at Ibadan, he was the Secretary of the Action Group on the campus together with people like Bola Ige and Olutoye.
“In this capacity, he was a member of the Action Group Executive Council presided over by late Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
“After retirement, he founded the DPC with Prof. Aboyade. For many years, he was the Chancellor of Ogun State University.
“He came, he saw and conquered. May his soul rest in perfect peace,” Lucas said.
Also, Mr David Afolayan, the Chief Executive Officer, GIS Konsult, said that the late Prof. Mabogunje contributed to learning of Geography and passed it down to the next generation.
Afolayan described the deceased as a professor of professors and a great mentor.
“He contributed immensely to teaching of GIS in public and private secondary schools in Nigeria since 2015 and in equipping the next generation on having a better understanding of how the world works.
“And, he also empowered young people to proffer solutions to problems in the society through the connections he provided on the project I was inspired to take on,” Afolayan said.(NAN)