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69+1 for Kayode Soremekun, FUOYE’s ex-Vice Chancellor

By Tony Afejuku
26 May 2023   |   3:00 am
For some time now, I have been feeling bored about the happenings, political and non-political, all about us in our land, this land of dire hunger and dismal poverty and sub-human insecurity from everywhere to everywhere. How come that in this country we have become sub-humans who are not aware of our sub-humanity?

Prof. Kayode Soremekun

For some time now, I have been feeling bored about the happenings, political and non-political, all about us in our land, this land of dire hunger and dismal poverty and sub-human insecurity from everywhere to everywhere. How come that in this country we have become sub-humans who are not aware of our sub-humanity?

This question undoubtedly disconcerts me disconcertingly. What a disconcertment indeed! I want to go the whole hog and proceed with my self-questioning, but my disconcertment becomes pretty-less much laconicism. It turns into a dainty mess. I am revealing myself in my naked truth.

I thought I was sufficiently radical but now I presume that I am insufficiently radical. To put myself in order and check my immensely indignant clear-sightedness that must escape the risk of ruin I should not be paid for, I turn myself to lovely and pleasurable thoughts of friends that are friends. Coincidentally, my phone rings at the material time. In fact, it rings repeatedly.

Many of them are affectionate calls that help to drag me from the memory I began this piece with. They help in diverse ways to erase me from the memory of the boredom of the oddity of disconcertment. I love them because they are not about the utility of friendship but about the genuineness of friendship. O Aristotle! I remember always and value your three lessons on friendship a philosophically competent reader (St. Louis) of this column graciously reminded me of recently!

Professor Kayode Soremekun’s call roused me from the predilections of the indifferent artist or spiritual master to the monstrous situation of his landscape. His call roused me to the gaping admiration of a very polite relationship and friendship that will always inspire, ignite and stir genuine friendship to private and public good.

Of all the quantities of fellows, who called me that night, Professor K.S’s call stood in my imagination and memory triumphantly – and was (and remains a) great departure from the others. Not long ago, we lost a common friend in the person of Professor Ayo Olukotun, my Eyuze. Professor Kayode Soremekun was among the first three persons who informed me of the loss of our departed friend. Thereafter he reminded me of our impending mandatory disengagement from our respective positions that we got to after our respective acquirements we owed to the apprenticeship that got us there.

Professor Kayode Soremekun, my KS, is the immediate former Vice Chancellor of the Federal University Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE), a relatively new federal university that ex-President Goodluck Jonathan established, among others. KS is a man of more than several parts that spanned administration, academia, scholarship, activism, and journalism, all of which he distinguished himself in as a time-less visioner, a hard, efficient and competent leader and author who taught everyone who cared to learn from him for their own good and advancement in their careers. Professor Kayode Soremekun traversed, since he entered the earth plane, strange longitudes and latitudes against all odds.

But he always had walk-over victories. He was (and still is) not one anyone could or can easily be taken on in debates of any sort. He could not be easily worsted in any debate, to put it mildly, in other words. He had (and still has) the trait of a personage of “domineering ironical familiars,” to quote Marcel Proust.

As Vice Chancellor of FUOYE, his records cannot be extinguished from the university’s history. Never ever, and I assert this based on the little I know of his outstanding achievements there – the results of his most penetrating mind that, as Vice Chancellor, helped him to discover the meaning of what was happening from what had happened, and, “lastly, turned inventory and acknowledged fact into prophecy.” For example, out of the 11 newly established Universities, FUOYE was the only one in the brief time of our subject’s vice chancellorship that established a Law Faculty and commenced construction of a “multi-million naira structure” and his university won the top grade “among 12 new universities.” The university in his tenure was among Federal Universities that had the least unaccredited courses.

He also, as Vice Chancellor, had the spontaneity (of Spiritual Masters of Merit) that evoked the establishment of the College of Medicine and School/Faculty of Pharmacy, respectively, in the nascent university.

He must have felt a sense of wonder and his accomplishments in his 69+1 Mays of existence in this country his country your country my country our country. When I made up my mind to do this column today on his behalf I deliberately did not tell him. Also when I set to it all the way in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja where I am presently, I still stuck to the merit of my conviction by not putting him in the know of what I would or would not do. The distinction of my thought on him should in no way be undermined or and compromised by his foreknowledge. But I am aware that he is too much of a personage of honour to make a fellow personage of honour to taste or consume an unwanted pie.

Ever since our first meeting at the University of Ibadan approximately more than three decades ago, my opinion of him has remained very high, and it will always remain very high. It was the inspiration of Dr Wale Okediran, the medical doctor-novelist and former President of the Association of Nigeria Authors (ANA), and now Secretary General of the Pan-African Writers Association (PAWA), headquartered in Ghana that took us to Ibadan. Dr Okediran, his fellow University of Ife alumnus, was hosting a literary-cum-political event.

Professor Kayode Soremekun and I chaired different sessions. His assertions, each of them, registered his eclectic mind and doctrines. We had conversations in which he demonstrated that he was a multivalent scholar trained across disciplines of English, History, Political Science and International Relations, among others.

In his politics I could see streaks of the Politburo, which made him appear to be disillusioned with the Nigerian social and political condition. He was sufficiently radical to be seen and accepted as a shrewd revolutionary Nigerian patriot on the side of the masses. His activism and journalism that saw him work in different media organisations, including, for instance, The Guardian and Daily Times at different times showed his profound mistrust of the workers, of the champions, that is, of the political establishment yet he became a Vice Chancellor of a federal university where he excelled aforesaid, and demonstrated his concern for the generality of Nigerians. This is an undeniable fact that cannot be swept and should not be swept under the carpet. I remember vividly that FUOYE under his Vice Chancellorship awarded honorary doctoral degrees to representatives of the peasantry and masses on reasons not based on reactionary prejudices.

It was the same radical bent for his revolutionary love of merit that is merit that informed FUOYE under his academic and administrative leadership to invite this columnist to deliver the second combined convocation lecture on Thursday, August 29, 2019 before his tenure as FUOYE’s Vice Chancellor of vigour ended. He still remembered me years and years after our initial meeting. He saw me as a distinguished and radical scholar to set a-glow for his university.

In his open remarks after the lecture, he said he would bring me and other radical writers to his university on the anniversary of the death of Ken Saro-Wiwa to dwell on our convictions pertaining to our country as literary personages of hard thoughts. But shortly after, the prolonged strike embarked on by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) perfectly stopped his envisaged gathering of our genuine writers and poets from happening, thanks perfectly to the Federal Government of Nigeria that wanted the strike to continue ad infinitum.

What is the point of all this in this column today? Last Sunday, May 21, 2023 Professor Kayode Soremekun became a septuagenarian. I could not let that great day roll or go by into eternity without giving the goodly good man his 69+1 joyful hailing and bouquets – which I hereby offer him unconditionally – as I wish him to be Nigeria’s minister of education whenever Nigeria is prepared for a revolutionary Nigeria governed by political leaders without willful wiles of destruction in them.

The good thoughts and feelings that inspired this column would never forgive me if I leave out or omit to express a little but significant detail about our immaculate subject and hero of his happy family. Professor Kayode Soremekun was given the Warri fish-and-meat of true love which has always made him live and to be happy with his wife (a Professor of Pharmacy) of many Mays with whom he has six lovely daughters, who always make them happy.

He is an unusual specimen of the Nigerian man. He is a true feminist, a revolutionary one, who is against the culture of our people that states that a man must give birth to a male child to be a man. This Egba man of Abeokuta, Ogun State and Ebute-Metta, Lagos brought up, finds rarefied affinity with his matrimonial prize and his joy grows the more day by day without the urge of phallic wiliness and the spirit of phallocentric misdemeanour and misdirection.

What this statement implies is that Professor Kayode Soremekun deserves every exemplary Nigerian’s 69+1 bouquets and hailing on this May of descent into his Nigerian world. He accepts his positively existential destiny that is his positively existential destiny with rapture and felicity. Join me to give KS our KS 69+1 real bouquets of further rapture and felicity as he readies himself for new journeys of unfamiliar and familiar longitudes and latitudes on behalf of human-kind.
Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.