By Eric Teniola
ON the former governor of Lagos State, Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the public orator, Professor E. Smaranda Olarinde, Acting Vice Chancellor of the university said: “Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu remains Nigeria’s most relentless fighter for democracy, justice and the rule of law.
“No history of modern Nigeria can be complete without giving due regard to his contributions to safeguarding the democratic aspersions of an entire nation and its people, regardless of creed and ethnic background, at a time when those aspirations were deeply threatened.
“Today, he remains the most vociferous voice in the call for Nigeria to return to the path of true federalism and for him, the star prize is the enthronement of fiscal federalism that will give governors and chairmen fully funded mandates and accelerate grassroots development.
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“Thanks to Bola Tinubu’s untiring political maneouvres and nationalistic approach to politics Nigeria is now a two-party state presenting Nigerians with clear choices. This is in tandem with his tradition of selfless sacrifice, political foresight and unequalled commitment to progressive and people-oriented politics.
“Bola Tinubu has served the cause of humanity and expanded the frontiers of freedom and democracy in Nigeria and the African continent. Bola Ahmed Tinubu is one of Nigeria’s foremost nationalists and champions of federalism. He is one of the few leaders and champions of democracy with the potential and experience to take Nigeria to the next level.”
I travelled from Akure to Ado-Ekiti. I should have passed through Ita-Ogbolu/Ikerre to Ado Ekiti but a friend, Fola Ayegbusi, advised that the road has broken down.
The road is Federal Government road. In the past it will take anyone less than 30 minutes to get to Ado-Ekiti from Akure, so I was advised to pass through Igbara Oke/Igbara Odo/Ilawe to Ado Ekiti. The road itself was bad but manageable. From Ado-Ekiti to the campus of Afe Babalola University, which is about 8.5km was equally bad too.
The Ado-Ekiti that I saw on that day was a different city. Development has taken place and the city could be ranked among the most developing in the country. The last time I was in Ado-Ekiti was during the tenure of my friend, Chief Segun Oni and that was ten years ago. His then Chief of Staff, Prince Segun Ilori, hosted me. Ado-Ekiti wears a new look now with overhead bridges and the city is very clean.
It is better to be at Afe Babalola University than to describe it. I cannot believe that the university was established ten years ago with the level of development and the gigantic buildings in the institution.
It is the first private university in Nigeria to take off on its permanent site with all human and material resources on ground. According to Chief Segun Oni who was the Ekiti State Governor when the university was established: “Wednesday, October 1, 2008 was a different independence anniversary celebration in Ekiti. No parade, no march past.
“The State Executive Council took a resolution to dedicate the independence celebration to support Aare Afe Babalola, SAN, at the ground- breaking of what is now Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, ABUAD.
“The virgin forest in Erinfun, an area of about 1000 square metres, was freshly cleared to accommodate canopies and guest cars’. At about 10am, guests were pouring in, events started.
“The peace of the virgin forest has been shattered forever! History was made. What is today one of the greatest private sector initiatives in the education landscape of the continent of Africa began.”
At the convocation, Chief Emmanuel Afe Babalola was glittering. Same as his wife, Modupe Babalola, who is the daughter of Mrs. Lapite from Owo in Ondo State. She wore a designer academic cap on that day.
Chief Afe Babalola is a lucky individual. Extremely lucky. At 90, he does not use a walking stick neither does he use any pair of reading glasses. He still walks like a 30 year old man.
I knew him in Ibadan in 1973, although I am not close to him. My office in The Nigerian Herald was opposite his own in Adamasingba.