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Friday, September 29, 2023

Buhari, Adesina mourn ‘intellectual giant’ Prof. Mabogunje

President Muhammadu Buhari has sent condolences to family, friends and associates of Prof. Akin Mabogunje, who passed on at 90.

Prof. Akin Mabogunje
The late Prof. Akin Mabogunje

Buhari declared that Mabogunje’s “departure will be greatly felt by the nation, especially the academia”.

The president’s condolence message is contained in a statement by his spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina, on Thursday, August 4, 2022, in Abuja.

He commiserated with Mabogunje’s network of professional associates and experts, at home and abroad, who have shared in his vision of nation building, with cerebral works in urbanisation, human and regional development, geographic perspectives and shelter provision.

Buhari noted the depth, reach and extensive research of the first African President of the International Geographical Union.

Mabogunje was the first African to be elected as a Foreign Associate of the United States National Academy of Sciences in 1999, and in 2017, was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and received the Vautrin Lud Prize.

According to the president, Mabogunje’s contribution to education in Nigeria, and in many parts of the world, remains indelible, especially the leadership positions he held, which include Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, Ogun State University.

He was also Chairman of Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy; Member, Board of Trustees, Nigerian National Merit Award Endowment Fund; and later Chairman of the Fund.

Buhari prayed that the almighty God would grant the renowned geographer a peaceful rest and comfort his family.

Similarly, President, Africa Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina, has described the death of Prof. Akin Mabogunje as a great loss to Nigeria and the world at large.

Adesina in a condolence message on Friday, August 5, said Mabogunje was a great intellectual giant and one whose name was synonymous with Geography.

He said the deceased, who was globally respected in the field of Geography, was a man of many firsts with an indelible legacy and would be greatly missed.

Adesina said that Mabogunje was exceptional and extremely brilliant, adding that he became a full professor at the University of Ibadan at the age of 34.

“He was the first Nigerian professor in geography and the first African to be elected to the globally prestigious United States National Academy of Sciences as a foreign associate.

“He was also a prodigious writer, whose work and contributions got him elected as first African to be president, International Geographical Union.

“Mabogunje was also awarded the Vaudrin Lud Prize, the highest global distinction in geography, widely considered as the Nobel Prize in Geography’’

“He contributed immensely to the knowledge and understanding of urbanisation, spatial economic development, and role of rural infrastructure development in reducing rural-urban migration,” he said.

Adesina said in spite that the deceased was an intellectual giant, he was incredibly humble.

He said Mabogunje related with him as contemporaries, adding that he treasured sharing the same name ‘Akin’ with him, as he was fondly called ‘Namesake’.

He said, “I will greatly miss the precious moments we spoke as he always encouraged me to keep on being an ‘Akin’, a warrior and conqueror.

“Namesake Professor, you were truly an ‘Akin’ as you used your very sharp brain to fight wars on underdevelopment and you conquered many knowledge territories globally.”

Adesina said the deceased, who was known as ‘Father of Geography in Nigeria’ advised state, regional, as well as the Federal Government to support models that considered environment and people’s wellbeing.

He said that Mabogunje was passionate about Geography with spiritual fervency, seeing it as an opportunity to serve God and people.

“Prof. Mabogunje said when he was awarded the Vaudrin Lud Prize that the totality of the environment was what geography meant to him.

“A passionate promoter of the need for a balance between development and the environment, Prof. Mabogunje said nature is now showing that man cannot go beyond certain boundaries.

“Our pollution has shown us the limits to which we can go and the environment is now more important than it was before,” he said.

Adesina further listed late Mabogunje’s contributions to Africa’s development.

He said the deceased was the Vice-President, Governing Council for Pan African Institute for Development between 1972 and 1978.

Adesina said he was Chairman, International Committee for Overcoming Hunger between 1988 and 1994 as well as Visiting Research Fellow, World Bank in 1990.

He was also member, Executive Committee, Senior African Leadership Forum from 1992 till his demise as well as Adviser to Secretary-General, United Nations Second Conference on Human Settlements, 1994 to 1999.

“He helped to chart a path for national recognition of professional academic excellence in Nigeria and was a Member of the National Merit Award Endowment Fund 1983 to 1989.

“He was also Chairman of the Fund between 1989 and 1994.

“With your passing, Nigeria has lost a great mind, a jewel, an intellectual colossus, an exemplary human being, a great role model, and a patriot,” he said.

He prayed God to accept his soul and console his family. 

By Ismaila Chafe and Cecilia Ijuo

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