I hate to see professors die. And in recent days, we have lost three of them to the strange ailment called COVID-19, currently ravaging the world.
Within two weeks, we lost three professors in quick succession. Habu Galadima, Director-General, National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies. Femi Odekunle, renowned criminologist and member of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption. And Oyewusi Ibidapo-Obe, former Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos.
Each time a professor dies, I say to myself: what a waste! All the learning, gone. All the intellect, perished. The research, the knowledge, and quest for more knowledge, kaput. Sheer waste!
I have firsthand experience in losing a Professor. My elder sister was one. She was a Professor of Dramatic Arts at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. In December 2015, she was traveling from Ibadan to Lagos, when that famished road consumed her. All the learning, gone. All the intellect, perished. The knowledge, and the quest for more knowledge, kaput. What a waste, sheer waste of all that is bright and beautiful.
I have seen Professors die. Young, middle aged, old. But at whatever age, the sheer sense of loss always weighs on me powerfully. Galadima was only 57. Not ripe at all. Prof. Ayodele Awojobi, perhaps the most brilliant Engineer from this part of the world, was only 47, when he passed. Waste. Sheer waste.
I knew the three Professors that just died, personally. Galadima I’d met each time he visited the Presidential Villa, either solely or with his students at NIPSS.
Just 17 days before he passed on, he had led members of the Senior Executive Course 42 on a visit, to present their research findings on: “Population Growth and Human Capital Development: Challenges and Opportunities,” to President Muhammadu Buhari. I was Master of Ceremonies at the event, which held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa.
In my capacity as compere, I consulted and related closely with Prof. Galadima. We discussed who would do what on the programme, and were engaging till the about two hours event was concluded. We both had our face masks in place, and still tried to respect the principle of social distancing, even as we conferred.
You could imagine my shock, when 17 days later, I heard of the death of the erudite Professor. He had reportedly been admitted at an isolation centre in Abuja on December 19, but sadly, he lost the battle for life the next day. All the learning, gone. All the intellect, perished. The knowledge, and quest for more knowledge, kaput. What a waste, sheer waste.
President Buhari says usually of COVID-19: “You can’t see it, you can’t touch it, you can’t hear it, but it is there, causing havoc all over the world.”
It kills the rich, and the poor. It eliminates the old, and the young. It has no respect for learning and research, so it takes even Professors. “Death lays its icy hands on kings, Scepter and crown must tumble down, And in the dust be equal made with the poor crooked scythe and spade,” wrote James Shirley.