By Eric Teniola
ON Monday October 21, I attended the seventh convocation ceremonies and 10th Founder’s Day Celebrations of the Afe Babalola University in Ado-Ekiti and the conferment of honorary degrees on four prominent Nigerians. Those honoured were the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III,CFR; the Obi of Onitsha, His Royal Majesty, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe (Agbogidi); Prof. Anthony O. Adegbulugbe, Chairman/CEO, Green Energy International Limited – a serial entrepreneur and an energy expert and Asiwaju Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former Governor of Lagos State. It was a great occasion.
Expectedly the orator had nice things to say about the honourary awardees. On the Sultan of Sokoto, she said: “He was commissioned Second Lieutenant into the Nigerian Army Armoured Corps on December 17, 1977. On December 30, 2006, he retired as Brigadier-General after 31 years service in the Nigerian Army, upon appointment as Sultan of Sokoto.
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A professional of no mean status, the Sultan attended various professional courses and seminars in Nigeria and abroad with the highest being the Senior Executive Course No. 28 at National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, NIPSS, between February and November, 2006.
A keen believer in peace, the title of his research paper at NIPSS, was “Religious Extremism as a National Security Problem: Strategies for Sustainable Solutions”. During his military career, he held various appointments in Command and Staff positions. They include his being at African Union, AU, Peacekeeping Operations in Chad Republic, 1981; 201 Presidential Security Unit 1987/1988; Economic Community of West Africa States, ECOWAS, Secretariat as Military Liaison Officer, 1995-1999; ECOWAS Operations in Sierra Leone as Commander 1999-2000; and Nigeria’s Defence Adviser to Pakistan with concurrent accreditation to Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf States, February 2003 to February 2006.”
On the Obi of Onitsha, the orator said: “His Royal Majesty, Nnaemeka Alfred Ugochukwu Achebe, Agbogidi, is an enigma, a study in contrasts. Here is a man of humble birth, taught from the cradle how to walk with the lowly and toil for a living, yet he rose to the dizzy heights of royalty, majesty and splendor, the stuff of which dreams and legends are made. Trained as a scientist and schooled in the best traditions of Western scholarship and erudition, he now holds the traditional scepter of authority in service to his people in the backwater of rural-urban Nigeria.
“Urbane, elegant and stately in carriage and comportment, he dares to build a bridge between an ancient past, complete with traditional lore and values, and the emerging realities of a new century and a new millennium. He has become the custodian of the ancient traditions of Onicha Ado N’Idu, yet he holds with tenacious ease to the religion and convictions of modern day Nigeria and Africa.
“An accomplished corporate manager and boardroom strategist, he combines the imperatives of the monarchy with an abiding faith in democratic ethos and values. Mild, soft and on occasion distant and aloof, he has stood with his people in a close embrace that adulates in past glory, defines the challenge of the present, and envisions the goals of the future. That is the man, the royal personage, the quintessential leader and the trail blazer, the man of culture and sophistication, Obi Nnaemeka Alfred Ugochukwu Achebe”.
I was invited to Ado-Ekiti by my friend, Professor Anthony Adegbulugbe, an erudite scholar, energy expert and serial entrepreneur who has enjoyed a checkered career in the academia, business and government spanning 42 years.
The public orator said this of him: “In recognition of his brilliance, Professor Anthony Adegbulugbe has received several awards such as the best student with a B. Sc (Hons) in Electrical Engineering (First Class) in 1976, Special Alumni Merit Award OAU 2003, Presidential Special Merit Award by the Nigerian Society of Engineers 1992, Best Nuclear Materials Paper Award for best student paper Materials Science and Technology Division, 1981; Faculty of Science, Distinguished Scientist Award OAU 2004.
“Remarkably, in 2007 our honoree was acknowledged globally as a contributor to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPPC, Assessment Reports which won the IPCC 2007 Nobel Peace Prize along with United States Vice President, Al Gore.”