CAPTION: L-R -Professor M.M. Akanbi (SAN); Ag. National President of IEDPU, Alh. Y.O. Ahmed and Professor Agboola Gambari CFR
“My career as an academic and international civil servant has taken me to far-flung corners of the world; from London, New York in America, Nicosia (Cyprus), Singapore, and Rwanda, to the war-torn Darfur region of the Sudan; from Bellagio in Italy to Yangon in Myanmar. Today, I have been referred to as a global citizen.And yet, nothing gives me more joy and fulfilment than to be here in Ilorin, the city of my birth and of venerable ancestors – the one corner of Africa I can truly call home” Prof. Agboola Gambari.
By Babatunde Isiaka
It was an historic and epoch-making event on Saturday, August 10, 2019, when the late Justice Mustapha Akanbi’s African People’s Hall, located at Onikanga Road, G. R. A. Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, was filled to the brim during the inaugural meeting of the Ilorin Emirate Professors Association.
The well-attended ocassion, which equally captured the presentation of awards conferred on some eminent Professors from the Emirate (living and dead), also featured a global citizen and International Civil Servant, Prof. Ibrahim Agboola Gambari CFR, as the guest speaker who gave an inspiring and insightful lecture on ‘the Role of the Intelligentsia in the Socio-Economic Development of the Community’.
The lecture was part of activities lined up for the induction and award ceremony-cum-inaugural meeting of Ilorin Emirate Professors Association, where sons and daughters of the Emirate who have attained the peak of their academic careers as Professors in various feilds of human endeavours were in attendance.
This purely academic gathering was chaired by the pioneer Professor from the Ilorin Emirate, Prof. Saka Nuru, the distinguished Veterinary expert who earned his Ph.D in 1972 and became a Professor in the mid-19760s at the prestigeous Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State. Prof. Saka Nuru retired as Deputy Vice Chancellor at the ABU in 1991.
In attendance at the occasion were about 100 Professors of Ilorin Emirate origin who came from far and near to attend the inauguration.
This association of intellectuals was brought to the fore to, among other things, serve as positive agent and effective driver for sustainable development in the Emirate, Kwara State and Nigeria as a whole.
The idea of coming together as an association of intellectuals was informed by their conscious reality of the giant strides that they have made as individuals and as representatives of their people in the various fields of knowledge, intellectualism and professionalism.
In his welcome address at the occasion, the former Chief Medical Director of the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH), Prof. Sulaiman Alege Kuranga, thanked Allah for changing the erroneous negative perceptions and narratives about Ilorin for the better.
He said that the hitherto negative stereotype of backwardness attached to Ilorin as lacking in western education no longer holds sway.
“Despite our rich achievements in trade and commerce and, most significantly, our enviable heritage in Islamic education and scholarship, Ilorin and her people have been in the not too distant past, scorned as people that were backward in western education. The taunting was not a mere abuse of fact but a deliberate expression of scornfulness towards our people who were perceived as uneducated in western civilisation, thus, resulting in discrimination and, sometimes, outright denial of opportunities for our people.
“Glory be to Almighty Allah, the most beneficent, who in His infinite mercy, has immensely blessed our community.
Gathered in this hall are men and women from Ilorin emirate that have distinguished themselves in various fields of endeavours and have been so recognised and conferred with the rank of Professorship, which is the highest rank in the academic world. Allah has made us victorious. Which of His favours can we deny? ”
He said the voice of Ilorin must symbolise knowledge, power and intellectualism, saying that it is, therefore, fitting at this solemn moment of history to further pledge to rededicate themselves in the services of Ilorin emirate, Islam and humanity at large.
“We live in a knowledge-based and technology-driven society. To have knowledge is to have power. However, with power comes responsibility. As torchbearers of our communities we are saddled with big responsibilities.We are the ones to chart the way forward for the next generation – the technology driven generation” he added.
According to Prof. Kuranga, the purpose of education, amongst others, is to eradicate ignorance, poverty and diseases in the society, adding that it is also to create an enabling environment, where challenges obstructing the enjoyment of quality and better life are removed.
“As highly-skilled intellectuals and torchbearers of our community, let us seize the moment, our people are looking up to us to provide guidance and direction on matters relating to economics, politics, social, medical, legal and environmental challenges amongst others”, he added.
Prof. Kuranga disclosed further that the Ilorin Emirate Professors Association was primarily formed to provide opportunities for members to: network, support and assist each other towards achieving personal and professional satisfaction.
He said that the forum is also saddled with the responsibility of promoting and implementing ideas, activities/programmes that will enhance the growth and development of the Emirate in the various human fields of endeavour.
He averred further that the Association would equally serve as a resource pool of technocrats from which government at various levels (in Kwara State and Nigeria as a whole) can readily consult regarding policy making and implementation.
Prof. Gambari, in his lecture, advised members of the Association to be up and doing in the business of community development, saying that the role of ensuring and consolidating peace, security, democracy and development at home falls squarely in the hands of the intelligentsia, which, he said, must be supported by every other segment of the community.
“This is where we the people,the intelligentsia, scholars, civil society, NGOs, youths and traditional leaders have a critical role in taking our community and country back from the grip of visionless leadership anchored in faulty leadership selection process. And through their elected representatives, the people must ensure that the present federal structure in the country is adjusted to ensure good governance at all levels”, he said.
The Diplomat urged members of the forum to make it a point of duty, as they act locally and nationally, to also think globally in order for us as Nigerians to survive and prosper in an increasingly inter-dependent world.
He explained that it is through local and national politics with global developments in view that we expect the emergence of political leadership with sound understanding of the dynamics of social, political, economic and ecological challenges essential for the peace and overall well-being of society and the nation that will contribute to the peace, security and socio-economic development of the community.
He expressed satisfaction that Ilorin Emirate has almost and always been cosmopolitan- whose horizon has been widened by the evolution of melting pots of several tribes, ethnicity, linguistics as well as hopes and aspirations.
Prof. Gambari expressed joy to be part of the forum and commended the brain behind its formation, saying that it could not have come at a better time than now when it is imperative for the Nigerian elites and academics to be responsive to dynamic environment in the world at large for accelerated growth and development that will stand the test of time.
“My career as an academic and international civil servant has taken me to far-flung corners of the world; from London, New York in America, Nicosia (Cyprus), Singapore, and Rwanda, to the war-torn Darfur region of the Sudan; from Bellagio in Italy to Yangon in Myanmar. Today, I have been referred to as a global citizen.And yet, nothing gives me more joy and fulfilment than to be here in Ilorin, the city of my birth and of venerable ancestors – the one corner of Africa I can truly call home” Prof. Gambari said.
In his goodwill message on the occasion, the Ag. National President of the Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union,(IEDPU), Alhaji Y. O. Ahmed, charged members of the Association to eschew unhealthy rivalry and unnecessary competition.
Alhaji Ahmed urged them to cooperate among themselves in order to put their intellectual resources together towards addressing emerging challenges facing our society.
” My appeal to you is to continue to impact positively on our people. This is necessary since community services form one of the three cardinal responsibilities of academics”,the IEDPU President appealled.
The Chairman, Organising Committee of the event, Prof. Muhammed Mustapha Akanbi (SAN), thanked every member of the Association for showing deep interest in coming together as a strong voice to advance the course of progress and accelerated development of the Ilorin Emirate, Kwara State and Nigeria as a whole.
He said that the Association will, with immediate effect, swing into action and begin to add more value to the private and collective lives of members and the society in general.
Highlights of the event included presentation of awards to the pioneer Professor of the Ilorin Emirate origin, Prof. Saka Nuru; the Chairman/Founder of Savanna Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development (SCDDD), Prof. Ibrahim Agboola Gambari CFR; a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Shuaibu Oba AbdulRaheem OFR; the immediate past Vice- Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Abdulganiyu Ambali OON; and posthumous awards to the late Prof. Musa Ali Ajetunmobi, Prof. Shehu Ahmed Jimoh OON; Prof. Usman Abdulsalam a.k.a Thaqafi; and Professor Abdul Raufu Mustapha of the Oxford University, United Kingdom.