Ojengbede at 70: Tribute to a life of accomplishments
From his brilliant exploits at Ilesa Grammar School, pundits were of the opinion that he was designed for uncommon accomplishments, engineered for success, and endowed with the seeds of greatness. Today, true to predictions of those good gone years, Prof. Oladosu Akanbi Ojengbede is taking a glorious bow out of the University of Ibadan, with a bagful of accomplishments, having attained the age of 70. For a man who has ever stayed steadfast to his scholarly adventure, with remarkable sterling strides, his official retirement can only create a huge vacuum that may be difficult to fill.
Prof. Ojengbede, who I fondly call “Borda Dosu” had left Ilesa Grammar School around 1965 when I was then a Primary Two boy in Ibadan. But much later along the line, his life, like light that draws moths, attracted me when I joined the University of Ibadan about 30 years ago. He specializes in Medicine while I am a Veterinary Surgeon, however, his humility and philanthropic humanism were more than enough to make me one of his numerous mentees. His is a story of humanism and humility. A man of amazing grace and courtly civility. A shinning star among the galaxy of stars. He creates his own comparative advantage through the dints of hard work and weds it to a wholesome pursuit of excellence as a way of life. To Prof. Ojengbede, anything less than a total commitment to excellence is an acceptance of mediocrity which he detests with passion.
Prof. Ojengbende who was Acting Vice-Chancellor of the UI (December, 1995 – March, 1996) left historical marks. Expectedly, he made a good showing at the Vice-Chancellorship race when it was the turn of the College of Medicine, however, the story of how it all went is already part of history. Born on 09 December, 1949, Prof. Ojengbede attended Ilesa Grammar School and College of Medicine (1967 – 1974). He bagged the Bachelors of Medical Science (Anatomy) with 2nd Class Upper Division (1972) and the MBBC (1974). A consultant Obstetrics and Gynaecologist, Prof. Ojengbede has to his credit all the Fellowships of his speciality available for grab, including the highly rated Fellowship of International College of Surgeon (FICS).
In his profession, his imprints are phenomenal. For instance, when the study of female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery became a major issue in Nigeria, Prof. Ojengbede was one of the authorities in Vesico Vigina Fistular who came to the rescue. He has trained several doctors, nurses and birth attendants. The honours, distinction to his credit are too numerous to be listed; but he has refused Chieftaincy title. He has the know-how, the intellectual heftiness, the wisdom, the personality and uncommon principles hinged on honesty, patriotism and justice. Indeed, his sheer determination, patriotism and prudence are the linchpins that underpin his success.
This is a scholar who always conducts himself with class and decorum. While some of his contemporaries are crowd-driven, Prof. Ojengbede remains rather purpose-pursued, always taking routes less travelled. Looking calm always, this septuagenarian, like a duck above the water surface, appearing composed and unruffled, but below the surface, he paddles like hell, all in a bid to achieve outstanding success. This is life of this great man.
Interestingly, his only sister, the then Miss Bunmi, now Mrs. Akintayo who was my senior at Ilesa Grammar School seemed to have seen far more than many of us, as Senior Bunmi kept saying she saw his brother becoming an accomplished scholar tomorrow. Today, Mrs. Akintayo, the wife of my uncle who took me to Ijeshaland in 1971 is absolutely right in her prediction as Prof. Ojengbede is no less a fulfilled man.
Being a philanthropist, Prof. Ojengbede’s personal office is always like clinic of some sorts for doctors, residents, professional colleagues, women in search of fruits of the womb and those already blessed, artisans (plumbers, rewire, mechanics, bricklayers, panel beaters) and church members seeking one form of help or the other, yet, Borda Dosu never shut doors against them. He has a peculiar way of soothing nerves and restoring hope. I was in his office some years ago when certain individuals came to persuade him to accept the headship of his department even though he was no longer interested. He later told me why he had to agree; saying, people feel safe and comfortable with his leadership style.
His tenure as Provost of the College of Medicine (1994-1998) was characterized by physical and infrastructural development and a lease of life where everybody got his or her due without let or hindrance. My wife was admitted to the B.SC Nursing in 1994 during his tenure. A highly renowned pharmacist in Ibadan gave similar testimony of him; that Prof. Ojengbede admitted his daughter to the pharmacy programme in his usual demonstration of kindness to all and sundry. His social and community lifestyles are quite interesting. He becomes a full-fledged adopted son of Ibadanland and never discriminates against any one on the basis of religion and ethnic considerations. He has been, for several years, the Chairman of Chief ‘Bode Amoo Foundation that has awarded scholarships to students across all disciplines in different parts of Nigeria.
As expected, his road is not without adversaries and oppositions, however, on account of his deftness and wisdom as well as the grace of God, this exceptional gynecologist always emerges triumphant, leaving those who plotted evil against him speechless and confused. Yet, he forgives easily and stretches out his hand of fellowship to any repentant fellow.
Prof. Ojengbede is leaving the university a fulfilled fellow. His achievements are legendary. His children, both biological and academic are all over the world doing well. What else could a man ask for? I cannot say that he is retiring from the University, rather he has just finished a phase of life and another chapter will open. Borda Dosu happy birthday and many more years of service to humanity. May the Almighty God bless you with a longer productive life with sound health.
Dr. Adeniran wrote from Department of Veterinary Pathology, University of Ibadan.