Professor Ladipo Akinkugbe and Nigeria’s arrested Development

by Augustine Togonu-Bickersteth

Professor Ladipo Akinkugbe, Philosopher, Statesman and Physician in his Autobiography titled, FOOTPRINTS AND FOOTNOTES, revealed he visited the then President Olusegun Obasanjo forty times in the Presidential Villa, Abuja. Akinkugbe reveals in Footnote and Footprints that he had known Obasanjo long before he became military Head of State. What’s more, he had also met with Yakubu Gowon whilst he was training to be a Military Officer at Sandhurst, United Kingdom. Not just that, independently he had met the Nurse, Victoria Zakari, at the University College Ibadan where he worked, long before she became Mrs Gowon, First Lady. Bearing in mind all these contacts one is bound to ask ”What happened to Nigeria’s Development”?

Ladipo Akinkugbe is an old Boy of Government College which – by Wikipedia – has produced 80% of the Presidents of the Nigerian Society of Engineers. So when we lament the state of critical infrastructure we may invariably be talking about the old boys of Government College. A lot of Problems in Nigeria can be resolved at the level of the old Boys’ association and I dare say The Old Girls. Take Barewa College, Kaduna, they have produced 20 Governors and Five Presidents/Heads of State. Personal relations can be important. Sir Winston Churchill’s personal relationship with President Franklin Roosevelt, for instance, saved Britain a great deal during the Second World.

For reason of Albert Einstein’s personal relationship to Roosevelt, scientists arranged that Einstein sign a letter to Roosevelt on the new science of Atomic Physics which eventually resulted in the Manhatan project involving 100,000 Engineers and scientists. From Government college Ibadan was Professor Muyiwa Awe now late who served as the first secretary general of the African Union of Physics. Physics is said to have made the United States what it is today. So what happened to Nigeria? What do “Govtee Guys” find doing when they meet? Once I saw them on Television Dancing on the Bisi Olatilo Show. Perhaps that’s not part of what they should be doing.

Furthermore Akinkugbe’s Cousin, Professor Ifedayo Oladapo, now late, served as President of the Nigerian Academy of Science, another cousin, Dr Dayo Akinrele served as Director general of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, OShodi. Lastly, Akinkugbe’s elder brother, Ibukun, was President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria and is also into business and Industry but we know the manufacturers have always had it bad. From year to year its always Lamentation.

Ladipo Akinkugbe was vice Chancellor of two universities and he was also Pro Chancellor on two occasions. He has been a serial Chairman of important committees on Health and Higher Education. He also served as chairman of the Joint admissions matriculation board- admitting students into universities and now polytechnics with very limited and archaic curriculum.

In Footnotes and footprints, Akinkugbe reveals that as pioneer vice chancellor of the University of Ilorin he commissioned a Fine Artist to design the academic Robes for the university but sadly the academic Robes were manufactured in the united Kingdom. this could be described as an example of “Fashion Tourism” and I know Akinkugbe would be against Medical Tourism. Our Professors love to be Fashionable but they never thought of starting a school of fashion in any of our Universities. Fashion Industry is a multi billion Dollar industry.

Now, when Professor Akinkugbe found himself in a Hotel in India he was quite impressed to find that ”practically all the items in the room were made in India-crockery, cutlery, linen, rugs, furniture, sanitary ware and Telephones” He was even more surprised or frightened to know that the Aeroplane he was flying in was not only assembled in India but was manufactured in India.

Akinkugbe who had helped to set up three universities did not tell us that after this Indian revelation he was piqued to send a memo to the powers that be. The Indians probably manufacture Medical Equipment. Nigeria Does not. I know that a lot of the Hospital Beds in Nigeria are imported. Can I hear somebody exclaiming”. MR. Togonu-Bickersteh,can you be serious, simple toothpick Nigerians have been importing how would they produce a thing as gigantic and complex as a Hospital Bed?

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