Stories by Japhet Alakam

MANY great men and people of undeniable influence and astounding contribution to the society achieved greatness by virtue of their birth. Some were not opportune to come into the world with a silver spoon but were able to achieve greatness through dint of hard work. To which class does Professor Rahmon Bello, the 11th Vice- Chancellor of the University of Lagos belong? These and other issues surrounding his life are what the duo of Ralph A. Akinfeleye and Ismail Ibraheem unravelled in his biography entitled: Prospects in Retrospects: Life and Public Service of Rahamon Adisa Bello.

The authors, in the 12-chapter book published by  Unilag Press &Bookshop Ltd, Lagos, document the life of a gifted personality who has excelled in many fields as an engineer, academician, administrator, commissioner, manager, husband, father and vice-chancellor.

Divided into two parts, the first part consists of 11 chapters ending with memorable pictures that captured the life history of this remarkable man, while the second part with only a chapter consists of testimonials and eye witness accounts of significant and topical moments in his life.

The authors who are all professionals in their chosen fields, in the first chapter, provide an insight into his place of birth – Iboro, a community in Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State. Here, the authors provide a socio-cultural and economic analysis of the community at the time of his birth, his parents and some great personalities from the community.

Chapter two takes the reader to the early life of Professor Bello,where it gives a chronological documentation of his primary, secondary and tertiary education up to the period he went for National Youth Service Corps, NYSC scheme.

The third and fourth chapters tagged: The Class of 1970-74, Chemical Engineering at Ife and The Pursuit of excellence shaped by life at Waterloo, provide an overview of his life in the University of Ife(now Obafemi Awolowo University) where he obtained his first degree as well as the University of Waterloo, Canada where he obtained his doctorate.

In the next four chapters, the authors took a critical look at Bello’s private and public service career. Here again, it featured his engagements with local, national and international agencies which he served immensely. It also gives an insight into his public service at the University of Lagos, how he became the VC where his leadership prowess was utilised. Bello’s challenging moments as well as leadership orientations, leadership motivation skills, innovative skills, diplomatic skills with practical examples, are also highlighted.

The last three chapters in this part digs deeper into Bello’s private life as an adult with numerous responsibilities. His strategies in providing balance as a father, husband, friend, vice- chancellor etc., are explored. The tenth chapter unveils 10 relatively unknown personal facts about him. These include his best moment, his greatest achievement, the most important personality in his life and his most cherished publication, amongst others.The last chapter takes the reader into a discourse analysis of his passion and inspiration through select articles and presentations by him.

The authors dedicate the second part to testimonials and accounts of individuals who share one relationship or the other at one time with him. They include former colleagues in service, friends, his wife, children, siblings, in-laws and grand-daughter. Their testimonies which were conducted separately attest to the fact that Professor Bello is a man of many parts who touched many lives.

One special attribute of the book is that the authors featured memorable pictures that captured the life history of this remarkable man, from family life, undergraduate days, wedding day, his parents, with family members at various functins, commissioners, traditional rulers,  at Wateroo University and many others.

The book is a very good reference point for all, especially those in public service who feel that one cannot make it to the top without compromising their integrity.

The biography is an excellent compedium of examplary life and times of Professor Rahmon Bello and is replete with invaluable lessons of life. It is highly recommended to  present and future generations of Nigerians who wish to excel in life.


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