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Remembering Professor Fatiu Akesode (4) - Prof. Siyan Oyeweso

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#Akesode was not a rich man, but he was rich in culture, rich in knowledge and rich in faith. Akesode left behind him an example of devotion to scholarship, an insatiable appetite for learning and an irresistible attachment to the principle of medical education.

As a Vice-Chancellor at #LASU , the late Fatiu Ademola Akesode was a devoted and most competent academic cum administrator of exemplary character. He was a self-effacing silent worker.

He was also an internationally recognized scholar of correct etiquette, a reformer, a goal getter and a friend to all, who laboured hard to satisfy his critics more than his friends.

His life was gentle and the element so mixed in him that Nature might stand up And say to all the World “This was a man” (Shakespeare)

RELIGIOUS LIFE

Professor Fatiu Akesode was the first Muslim Vice-Chancellor of LASU. As a chief executive he openly identified with his faith as he had always been since his formative years.

From his youth, he related well with muslims and sought to act nobly in this regard. He was a member of the Shooting Stars 42, an organization established by Professor Aliu Fafunwa as a catalyst for the promotion of the education of indigenous Lagos muslims.

He was also ANSAR and strong member of Division 3 of the Ansar-ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, Lagos State Chapter. He was a prominent figure in the establishment of the Islamic Medical Association of Nigeria and was actually the President of the CMUL/LUTH Muslims Community between 1983 and 1987.

Not minding his religious belief, Akesode remained a bridge builder across all faiths in the university environment and the society, and he was greatly loved by the overwhelming majority of staff.

And when Lagos State University was shut down by organized labour unions (under the auspices of JACON) in the early 2000, Professor Akesode knew quite well that LASU needed Divine Intervention and Divine Blessing. Sequel to this challenging crisis.

Akesode proceeded to Mecca on pilgrimage as a personal religious duty. By the time he returned from Hajj, the situation had calmed down appreciably.

I asked him a direct question: “Sir, What personal prayer did you offer to Allah that was so efficacious to the extent LASU has now become abode of peace? Professor Akesode curtly replied: At Medina and at Arafat, the constant prayer on my lips was the dua – “Idina Sirantali Mustakin”.

In fact, a seasoned journalist, Seidi Muleiro, captured Fatiu Akesode’s approach to prayer in these words: “Tertiary Problems, Tertiary Prayers”.

UNFULFILLED DREAMS

Till the very end of his life, Akesode continued to dream dreams and to see visions, particularly dreams on how to take LASU to greater heights.

He had, in fact, a prepared a blueprint for the establishment of a number of academic programmes in the year 2001 and beyond. Indeed, a number of Senate Ad-Hoc Committees set up by him had submitted position papers for the establishment of a Faculty of Agriculture and Agricultural Engineering, Faculty of Marine and Aeronautic Engineering, Department of Building and Civil Engineering all at the Epe Campus of the University.

Again, he also had in his custody position papers on the establishment of Agro-Industrial Park, an Entrepreneurial Village and LASU Business School at Sangotedo Village along Lekki- Epe Expressway. Tall dreams, short span of life. Death aborted this aspiration.

Another unfulfilled dream of late Professor Akesode was his inability to resolve the problem of encroachment on LASU land by illegal land speculators, especially around Agboroko and Iba Villages.

As at 4th January 1998, the number of illegal structures on LASU Land stood at 3,920, in spite of the fact that LASU has a valid Certificate of Occupancy covering its property. Akesode appealed to both Marwa’s and Tinubu’s administrations.

At the time of Akesode`s death in 2001, the number of illegal structures had increased to N4, 540. Today, encroachment on LASU`s land still persists in spite of Management`s and Government`s interventions.

A LEGACY OF SERVICE AND HONOUR

During his six decades sojourn on earth, Prof. Fatiu Ademola Akesode touched the lives of many people in many practical ways as he was always already willing and ready to lend a helping hand to anybody in need.

He was a kind, gentle and amiable gentleman who found it very difficult to offend people. He left behind him a legacy of honour, love, sincerity and enduring service to his fatherland.

To serving others, Akesode gave his life; to medical education, a total commitment and devotion; to the family; a fatherly stature and excellent moral education.

In recognition of his services and achievements, Fatiu Ademola Akesode received honours from different quarters in the society. The people of Ogun State honoured him with the titles of Baasegun of Okun-Owa and Baagbomola of Oke Lamuren.

In 2000, he was honoured by the immediate past Oba of Lagos, Oba Adeyinka Akinola Oyekan II, with the title Aare Baasegun of Lagos, (President of all Medical Doctors in Lagos).

Indeed, the broad consensus of scholars is that Akesode was a brilliant academic, an accomplished public health physician, a compassionate paediatrician and an outstanding Vice-Chancellor.

At the time of his death, Akesode was perhaps the foremost Paediatric Endocrinologist in West Africa. Akesode was faithful and steadfast in the pursuit of the greatest glory of LASU. He addressed the problems of #LASU with surgical precision.

There is no gain saying that he was an astute and outstanding administrator who devoted all his time and life to making LASU one of the best Universities in the land.

It is soothing to note, however, that the quality of service he rendered is now being appreciated at least by the naming of Lagos State University Library after him.

In life and in death, we should hold Akesode up as a worthy example to all who found themselves in public office in Nigeria. He served LASU with diligence and total commitment.

At a personal level, I conclude this piece with these verse from an anonymous author:

“Let us now praise famous men, And our fathers that begat us, The Lord hath power from the beginning Such as did bear rule in their Kingdom; Men renowned by their power, ‘ Giving counsel by their understanding, And declaring prophecies, Leaders of the people by their counsels, And by their knowledge of learning meet for the people, Wise and eloquent in their instructions.”

However, the best epitaph for the late Prof. Fatiu Ademola Akesode has been provided by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the erstwhile Visitor to the Lagos State University and former Executive Governor of Lagos State:

“It is particularly disheartening that the demise of the fine gentleman occurred just as he was settling down to a second term as vice-chancellor that would unquestionably have been as successful as his first term… Even though he is no more with us physically, the imprints of this outstanding intellectual and administrator in the educational development of Lagos State will forever remain indelible.

It is all too obvious that he elevated LASU to a much higher pedestal than he met the institution. Under his wise guidance, the university made rapid progress on all fronts.

Not only did his reputation soar as a centre of academic excellence but the peace that obtained during his tenure was unprecedented in the history of LASU…

I can personally testify to the persistence and unrelenting doggedness with which Prof. Akesode pursued the interest of LASU.

He utilised every opportunity and avenue possible to draw the attention of government to the numerous needs of the institution and the need to urgently meet them in the interest of Lagos State.

Let me say that 1 was always encouraged by the patriotic leadership demonstrated by Prof. Akesode to do whatsoever was in my power to foster the growth and development of LASU.

There is also no doubt that his dynamic leadership was a key contributory factor to the willingness of individuals and groups within and outside Nigeria to invest in LASU.

I am aware that despite his heavy administrative burden as vice-chancellor, Prof. Akesode remained a committed academic who would not be counted among those, who all too readily prostituting their intellectual integrity on the contaminating altar of material acquisition, contributed a great deal to dragging our nation downhill.

On behalf of the government and the people of Lagos State, I extend my heartfelt condolence to the family of the late Professor Akesode.

It is my prayer that the Almighty Allah will grant his loved ones the fortitude to bear this great loss. However, they should be grateful to the Almighty that Professor Akesode has left behind a good and honourable name of immeasurable value.

He has bequeathed to us an incomparable record of patriotic and dedicated service that shall continue to inspire future generations.

And for us all, his life offers an enduring lesson. Between the point of our birth and that of our death, we have the opportunity, through our actions and in-actions, to determine what history will record of us for posterity. May Prof. Fatiu Akesode’s noble soul rest in perfect.”

- Prof. Siyan Oyeweso, FHSN

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