Wednesday, May 31, 2017 3:51 pm
On Tuesday May 30, 2017, scholars, students, activists, eminent Nigerians, members of the fouth estate of the realm, family and friends gathered at Oduduwa Hall, Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, for the 70th birthday celebration of Dr Oladipo Fasina, a Nigerian icon, philosopher, scholar, activist and socialist, whose 35 years of active teaching service has produced outstanding professors. The occasion, put together by the Department of Philosophy of OAU, in conjunction with Amilcar Cabral Ideological School, ACIS, featured a public presentation of a book titled, “Perspectives on Dipo Fasina’s Scholarship, Activism and Ideology”. The book, reviewed by Dr. Sola Olorunyomi of the University of Ibadan, UI, is a collection of original essays. It focuses on the life of the celebrant with special attention given to his struggles for a better Nigeria, background, influences, relationship, achievements and challenges.
Fasina was happy that day but incapable of holding back his tears for the death of his fellow comrade, Professor Abubakah Momoh, the Director General of the Electoral Institute, IE, an arm of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. He died and was buried a day to the ceremony. A minute’s silence was observed in honour of the deceased during the ceremony.
Fasina, in an exclusive interview with the magazine said, “I feel happy about this. What has diluted my happiness is the loss of a comrade, very dedicated, honest and hard to find person, Abubakah Momoh. We would have loved that it did not happen because he is supposed to be here. His death in a way has affected how I feel. Nevertheless, I appreciate what has happened”.
Eulogising the celebrant, speakers described Fasina as a humble, consistent, accountable, courageous, erudite scholar, selfless, and soft-spoken gentleman, unionist and activists per excellence, pan Africanist, revolutionary, socialist, humanist, teacher of teachers, and outstanding family.
On the state of the nation, speakers, cutting across classes and ages did not only pass a vote of no confidence on the leadership of the nation but unanimously resolved and endorsed a revolution as the only way out of the nation’s quagmire. They called on all Nigerians to be part of the struggle for a better Nigeria and struggle to free Nigeria from the crop of present political leaders who have not relented in ruining the nation.
First to call for revolution was INEC immediate past chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega who said, “We need many of Dipo Fasina in Nigeria for revolution and for a real, genuine and desired change. To have a change in Nigeria will require the doggedness of the Nigerian youths”.
President, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba fired the next shot after acknowledging the good virtues of the celebrant when he said, “Our political leaders are not selfless but selfish. Politics in Nigeria is a business where the political operators firstly invest, move on to recouping their investment, and end it by making jaw breaking profit at the detriment of the commoners they claim to be serving. We need to be saved from the animal farm situation”, he concluded.
National Coordinator, Education Rights Campaign, EXC, Comrade Hassan Taiwo Soweto who advocated the eradication of capitalist ideology bemoaned the All Progressive Congress, APC led administration in Nigeria for not only failing the nation but for poor performance and governance. He said, “Today, under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, things are worse in all facets than before. The best we can do now is to liberate Nigeria by leading a mass revolution to challenge the current government”.
For the Democratic Socialist Movement, DSM, “The best honour that can be done to Fasina is simply to continue the struggle for adequate funding of education, respect for democratic rights and against all anti-poor capitalist policies. There is a need for conscious effort to struggle for good governance and a total break from capitalist neo-liberal economic policies of privatisation, commercialisation, deregulation, and devaluation of currency which places the commonwealth of Nigeria in the hands of the corrupt and privileged. The nation cannot succeed without a political alternative”.
For a man simply identified as Baba Kogboyinbo, “Nigerian masses are suffering today and Nigeria is under a wicked and unmerciful government”.
Other speakers called on the celebrant to be a rallying point for Nigerians to champion an alternative political platform that would change the current unbearable political and socio-economic system.
Earlier, in his welcome address, OAU outgoing Acting Vice Chancellor, Professor Anthony A. Elujoba who described the celebrant as a highly valued scholar, socialist, nationalist, educationist, a revolutionary leader, a prime mover, supporter of the cause of workers, students and university system, said that his contribution to the educational system could not be forgotten in Nigeria. He added, “He was the ASUU President who negotiated and got government committed to improve funding of the universities in Nigeria. At international level, Fasina is working on the freedom of the Saharawi people. The commitment of Fasina to emancipation of humanity from any form of oppression and suppression makes him an asset to the educational sector in Nigeria and to humanity in general”.
Warning the stakeholders in the educational sector not to view universities as a mere labour centre that provide jobs to people as against its core responsibility of being centres of excellence in research, teaching and productivity, Elujoba said, “Everyone should be ready to contribute his or her quota to revamping and sustenance of the university system. We should uphold truth, justice, fairness and equity, and great virtues that provide enabling environment for advancement of knowledge, which is the primary goal of the universities. I must confess that it is Fasina’s commitment to these virtues that informs our gathering here today to celebrate him. I urge him to remain steadfast”.
Also, the Head of Philosophy Department, Dr Gbenga Fasiku noted that Fasina is an institution within an institution adding that for the department to first celebrate the celebrant, it organised an international conference in 2013 to commemorate his retirement which culminated into writing and launching of a book titled, “Nationalism and Economic Justice in Nigeria”. According to him, the department would not cease celebrating Fasina because of his ever commitment to the growth and sustenance of academic rigour which has established the department as a force to be reckoned with among her peers. Fasiku pointed out that the celebrant had made sacrifices and has helped to attract funds to the department.
He said, “Direct evidence of this is the fact that many top scholars in Philosophy today, both at home and abroad, had a touch from Fasina. Moreover, beyond the field of Philosophy, most students who offered courses taught by Fasina have had life changing experiences, which have made many of them connected to him till today. Fasina took most of the large classes courses without complaining, supervised most of the postgraduate students and also chaired or convened numerous committees in the department. Dr. Fasina, for all his 35 years in the department never went on sabbatical. He also rejected many enticing offers, all for the sake of building people and the department”.
Continuing, “In 2011, through his singular effort, he facilitated a TETFUND project of N25m to the department, which the university used to build a state of art Philosophy Resource Room. Dr Fasina facilitated admission of many of our colleagues, who today are successful academics into postgraduate studies in universities outside Nigeria”.
The Chairman of the occasion, Executive Secretary, Nigeria Universities Commission, NUC, Professor Adamu Abubakah Rasheed who noted that Fasina’s principle is unrivalled revealed that all attempts by some universities to make Fasina a professor were turned down. He said, “Fasina, you are a golden fish and there is no hidden place for you. He is a great strategist. To know Fasina is to know a very very good man.”.
His family members including Professor Adeyemi Aderibigbe and Adesina Aderibigbe, Busuyi Onabolu, Alhaja Adaranijo described him as a pride of the family who is not found wanting in any family affair. They added, “He has time for his family. He is a good father to his children and a good husband to his wife. He is just good in all ways”.
In attendance were: OAU incoming VC, Professor, Eyitope Ogungbenro Ogunbodede. Also in attendance were eight former and serving VCs of other universities including Professor Tola Badejo of Wesley University; Professor Saburi Adesanya of Olabisi Onabanjo University, OOU; Professor Taiwo Rufus Ajayi of the Premier University Sao-Tome; former DVC of the University of Abuja, Professor Gboyega Kolawole; Professor Gbemi Remi Adeoti; Professor Kehinde Taiwo; Professor Abiodun Jeyifo of Harvard University; Professor M. A. Durosinmi; Professor Idowu Awopetu. Others include Professor Moses Awogbade; Professor M.A. Rahman; the immediate past ASUU President; Dr. Nasir Fagae; Sir Jimi Odugba, SAN; Supo Ojo of Committee for Defense of Human Rights , CDHR, and representatives of Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP.