By Kunle Akogun
Sadness and joy? That’s the whole essence of this life: of interlacing silver lining amidst dark cloud; of bitter-sweet ding-dong; of uproarious laughter and sorrowful lamentation; of bubbling life and morbid melancholy; of famine and surplus; of scorching heat and freezing harmattan; of grinding poverty and stinking wealth; of ecstasy and depression; of good and bad! That’s how the Almighty, in His Divine Wisdom, created this world so that humans would appreciate His Infinite Power.
For the University of Ilorin, the Almighty Allah manifested one of His irrefutable attributes this past week: the power of dominion over all! He showed us tremendous happiness in one instance and also enveloped the campus with a measure of sadness in another, both within a space of four days! While national attention was focused on the University on Thursday, July 12, 2018 with the elevation of two of our erudite Law scholars, Prof. Wahab Egbewole and Prof. Muhammed Mustapha Akanbi, to the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) by the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC), we lost a prominent member of the community, the Dean of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Prof. Abdulkareem Agunu, to the cold hands of death barely 96 hours after on Sunday, July 15, 2018!
To be sure, the elevation of our two Law Professors to the pinnacle of the legal profession is another clear manifestation of the uniqueness of this citadel of learning that is always making waves in all spheres of positive human endeavours! We are always ahead in national and global ranking of higher educational institutions; and we are the toast of admission seekers all over the country. The University is also the darling of sundry national education regulatory agencies, probably on account of its zero tolerance for cultism and other anti-social vices, its stable academic calendar, its being the bastion of several patented research outputs, its reputation as campus of harmony, centre of academic excellence, citadel of industrial concord, and now home to three SANs (as one of its Law lecturers, Dr. Joshua Kayode Olatoke, had earlier in 2014 attained the prestigious silk status!)
There is definitely something strikingly special about Profs Egbewole and Akanbi that commend the duo to anybody who wants to make a success of his/her chosen career, and indeed who wants to succeed in life in general. And that is their unassuming nature, despite their respective attainments in the academia and the legal profession! While some misguided and indeed empty practitioners think that to be a lawyer you must be unnecessarily haughty, self-conceited and arrogant, the lifestyles of our new SANs, since I made acquaintance with them about six years ago, have taught me that indeed in modesty and humility lies the secret of true success!
Highly cerebral and hardworking, the unpresumptuous dons, even from accounts of their students and colleagues, have contributed immensely to intellectualism and legal development in the country. They have both, at one time or the other, held the Deanship of our Faculty of Law, and held other prominent academic and administrative positions in the University, including Directorships of pre-eminent academic units. The one is the Director of the University’s School of Preliminary Studies (SPS), the other is the Director of the Centre for General Studies (GNS).
Prof. Egbewole, in particular, had once headed the vibrant and progressive Unilorin Chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) during the heady days of intensive struggle between destructive and progressive unionism. And of course, the latter, actively espoused by Egbewole and the majority of Unilorin academic staffers, triumphed! Ironically, the SANship award for this forward-looking legal activist got delayed for about two years on account of his non-compromising progressivism during his tenure as Unilorin ASUU Chairman, as the agents of retrogression within the fold did all they could to truncate what God had already perfected! But at last, the award came at God’s appointed time and we are glad for this.
We congratulate Professors Egbewole and Akanbi on their well-merited elevation, which the Chairman of the University Governing Council, Dr. Abdullah Jibril Oyekan, described as “more feathers to the cap of Team Unilorin”. They have, indeed, done the University proud by this attainment. May Almighty Allah endow the duo with Divine Wisdom with which to operate successfully in the inner bar of the Nigerian legal profession. Big congratulations to you two, sirs!
But while rejoicing over the SANship awards, members of the University community are saddened by the sudden death of the Edo State-born Prof. Abdulkareem Agunu penultimate Sunday (July 15, 2018). The easy-going, affable and humble late Dean of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences would have been 52 years old by October this year.
With his death, the University has lost a dedicated and hard-working intellectual, who contributed immensely to the unprecedented full accreditation granted recently to all the programmes of the young Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
A pall of sombre melancholy has enveloped the Faculty, and indeed the entire University campus, since last Monday when the reality of the passage of Prof. Agunu started to dawn on the staff and students. This is a sad loss to everybody that knew this self-effacing don. He would be sorely missed by his immediate family, his Ihievbe community in Edo State, his students and colleagues, members of the Unilorin Muslim Community, and indeed the entire University community that he had served so dedicatedly.
We pray Almighty Allah to forgive his terrestrial trespasses and grant the affable soul of Prof. Agunu peaceful repose in Aljannah Firdaos. May Allah also comfort the family members he left behind and give them the fortitude to bear the loss of a bread winner at such prime age!