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Ladipo Adamolekun at 78

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The probable question anyone bearing the name “Adamolekun” would be confronted with would be whether he or she was from Iju in Ondo State of Nigeria. Were you to have been from there, the glory that would immediately shine on you would be that from two different illustrious creatures – Nathaniel Adamolekun (1919-2000) who was the first indigenous Registrar of the University of Ibadan, and Professor Ladipo Adamolekun whose name has become synonymous with the intellectual aspect of public administration in our nation. However, Professor Ladipo Adamolekun is the focus of this tribute as he celebrates 78 years of beneficial sojourn in this universe.

It may not be the most complimentary admission by any educated Nigerian to say he or she has not heard the name “Ladipo Adamolekun”, for such an admission could suggest one has been limited somehow. However, a writer of tribute must also not be too presumptuous. It is in this respect that a brief introduction, as provided by Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, will refresh or inform us. “ Ladipo Adamolekun (born July 20, 1942) is a Nigerian public administration scholar, former dean of the Faculty of Administration at Obafemi Awolowo University and was a lead public sector management specialist at the World Bank. He is one of the leading scholars on political and administrative management in Africa. He was born in Iju, a town close to Akure and Idanre in Ondo State, to the family of Joshua Adamolekun, a farmer, and Madam Juliana Bama. Educated at Oyemekun Grammar School (Akure) and Christ’s School, Ado-Ekiti. He earned a first-class degree in French at the University of Ibadan, a Master’s degree in Public Administration at Ife and a doctorate in politics at Oxford University …”

Being the world-class scholar that he truly is, Professor Ladipo Adamolekun has published extensively – books, monographs and articles. He has also been conferred nationally and internationally, with various honours, nominations and decorations. He was, in 2005, decorated with the Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM) – the highest national prize for academic and intellectual attainment. His autobiography, I Remember, reveals how disciplined he had been from his younger days. He documents the date an event occurs in his life. He religiously keeps a diary-a culture he inherited from his disciplined parents. Anyone who has read that autobiography of his will appreciate the appropriateness of record keeping.

Professor Adamolekun is accomplished in every aspect of human endeavour. He remains a very humble creature, modest and moderate. I came to know him personally for the first time about 1984 while I was studying at Oxford University. He had come to his alma mater and ensured he met with me. His complimentary remarks about my essays and political views could not but have encouraged me to aspire further. He took me as a brother, showing the utmost kindness and generosity to my family. My children remain thankful for his great humour, advice, and monetary gifts in their pursuit of university education.

Professor Ladipo Adamolekun is the consummate intellectual, one who is neither pretentious nor self-assuming. There are those who would only expect you to say how fantastic their work is after you have read it. They get “offended” at any suggestion that it can be improved. I once reviewed a book written by the Professor for the now-defunct London-based West Africa magazine and raised a question about one of his projections. To my great admiration, the great intellectual agreed with my criticism, and I myself have learnt an important lesson from that. We should not be too presumptuous of the rightness of our views. Not once or twice would he ask me to read through a contribution and make suggestions. As a mark of respect for his person and intellectualism, I requested him in 1995 to write a “foreword” to my collection of essays on “rotational presidency”.

I must also reveal here something that is well-known to others: Professor Ladipo Adamolekun is fiercely patriotic. I am a witness to his frustrations at the military interruption of the democratic process, the cluelessness of our political leadership and the pervasive corruption in our society. We had a discussion over the annulment of the presidential election of 12 June 1993, and one could feel his anger at the lack of patriotism and purposefulness of the military elite. I know he would be quite frustrated at the growing culture of corruption in today’s Nigeria. The great patriot would be worried about Boko Haram and the escalating culture of lawlessness in our fragile society.

Of course, he would be equally disturbed at the decline in the standard of education in our country. He keeps on writing on how the quality of our education can be improved. Of significance is his suggestion on how a few universities can be elevated to world-class status. He would like the government to identify universities, one from each of the geo-political zones of the federation, and invest heavily on them. A world-class university should be able to attract intellectuals and students from all over the world. The environment in which such a university is located should be conducive to peace and orderliness. The world-class university is an institution where serious research takes place, not just envisaged. Some world-class universities are a lot richer than many countries in the world.

Professor Adamolekun, rather than abandon himself to the comfort of Europe and America, spends quality time in Nigeria doing his best for the larger society as well as his local community. Iju is one town in Nigeria, thanks to a thoughtful and forward-looking Professor, where people can stroll to a library and read books and newspapers. His type of gesture will improve the reading culture of our peoples, and help a situation where authentic information triumphs over gossip and fake news.

My family and I wish Professor Adamolekun and his beautiful wife, Olajumoke, happy celebrations and many productive years ahead.

Dr. Akinola wrote from Oxford, United Kingdom.


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