By Abubakar Imam
Even before the arrival of the double wahala of paucity of new naira notes and fuel scarcity, everyone seems to be seriously busy attending to various personal matters. No one actually has time for the other as everyone is busy turning his or her attention to one issue or the other, even if nothing productive comes out of such ventures.
But no matter how busy one is, the great day of a great personality would and should not go uncelebrated, particularly by those who know his worth. This is often done to ensure the perpetuation of greatness. It is for this singular reason that yours sincerely decided to put and push aside every other thing that matters to him to enable him join relations, friends and colleagues of the Director, Corporate Affairs, University of Ilorin, Mr Kunle Akogun, in the celebration of his Diamond birthday, which falls due today Thursday, February 2, 2023.
I must say that long before I became a staff of the University of Ilorin and under the direct supervision of this birthday boy, I had often marveled at Mr Akogun’s marvelous character, enticing professionalism and exciting personality. This is because I regularly read his write-ups in the media through which he projects and defends the University of Ilorin with total vigour and absolute loyalty that made me fall in love with his uncommon professionalism. Yours truly always wonder where Mr Akogun gets the materials and arsenals, which make his written impressions clearly expressed in a way that no one feels depressed or oppressed. Only a worthy professional does that!
My association with Mr Akogun in the last seven years has clearly revealed to me another side of this outstanding journalist, particularly his human and humane dispositions to issues. Though no one is absolutely perfect but I can say with every sense of objectivity that Mr Akogun is an excellent man.
Mr Akogun, a journalist’s journalist, is a man who combines humility with humour and decency. He is also a democrat and a man who always does what he preaches.
His democratic credentials became more glaring to me two years ago when his eldest son, Abdullahi Dare Akogun, contested for the chairmanship of the Kwara State Chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ). Mr Akogun not only approved the visitations of all candidates but also welcomed every contestant to the position to his office and the Directorate for the purpose of electioneering. He also gave each of the contestants equal privilege of getting their visits reported on UNILORIN Bulletin, which he edits; and UNILORIN FM, which he supervises; despite the fact that his son was one of the leading candidates then.
I must say that despite being one of those that was eligible to vote and who actually voted at the keenly contested elections, Mr Akogun never for once campaigned to me on who to cast my vote for. I believe that, that was also the experience of every other member of the UNILORIN chapel of the NUJ.
Surprisingly, the loss of his son at the elections had no negative effect on him and the discharge of his roles as a leader of the Union and father figure to members of its UNILORIN chapel. Immediately the results of the elections were officially announced, Mr Akogun called and directed me on phone to draft a press statement on behalf of the University with which the institution would congratulate the winner, Mr Abdulateef Lanre Ahmed. As soon as I forwarded the draft press statement to him, Mr Akogun got it polished and embellished so well as if his biological son was the subject of the piece. When Mr Ahmed also decided to pay a thank you visit to the Directorate of Corporate Affairs after the elections, this birthday boy abandoned other pressing official engagements to lead the management and staff of the Directorate to welcome the Number One journalist in the State and his entourage warmly as he also ensured that the visit was elaborately reported.
Another instance that advertised his personality so well to yours sincerely and others who are close to him was when his two journalist sons, Abdullahi Dare Akogun and AbdulRasheed Akogun, were arrested and detained last year for an alleged professional offence, Mr Akogun was in top spirit throughout the episode. He also discharged his services to the University and related with those of us who worked with him without any iota of displeasure or agitation.
While working at ensuring the release of his children, Mr Akogun was still on his desk to ensure that the image of the University of Ilorin remains glittering. Only very few persons would conduct themselves with such equanimity at such an emotionally challenging period without any form of transfer of aggression.
I can also not forget how elated Mr Akogun felt when I was elected as the National Secretary of Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU) in December 2021. Mr Akogun was so happy that he, against my sincere wish, insisted on getting the then Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, to, profoundly celebrate the development with a motivational and inspirational congratulatory message in form of a press statement, which enjoyed elaborate usage by various media outfits. I remain grateful to him for the honour as I became more highly rated in town courtesy of the celebrity treatment I enjoyed from my employer.
Earlier on, the decision of Mr Akogun to ensure my appointment as the Deputy Editor, UNILORIN BULLETIN some years back remains very surprising to me. Mr Akogun, who is the Editor of the publication, did not only insist in me being appointed as such he also ensured that I enjoy the privileges associated with the position. He got me retained as his immediate lieutenant in the production of the University’s weekly newsletter as he always got me nominated into relevant committees where he thinks I would enjoy the needed visibility despite and in spite of my numerous weaknesses. I cannot thank him enough for this!
As it happens everywhere, whenever negative reports about me were brought to his attention, Mr Akogun often dismissed such. He was often reported to say “Mr Imam cannot do what you have attributed to him”. What else does a subordinate wants from his Oga? Mr Akogun, please accept my gratitude.
Above and beyond these are the testimonies he always renders about me in my presence and even when not at the scene. His impressions of who I am even before higher authorities, visitors and career evaluators had granted me not just special recognitions among colleagues but also professional progression. I would not dwell much on this for some reasons. But this birthday boy has shown me much more love, respect and recognition beyond what I truly deserve! My Director, thank you so much, Sir.
Mr Akogun, a refined journalist, consummate public relations guru, thoroughbred professional and exemplary family man, was born exactly 60 years ago to the famous Akogun family of Oke-Ode in the Ifelodun Local Government Area of Kwara State. He had his childhood in the Ife region of the present-day Osun State where his father sojourned as a Cocoa farmer and Islamic scholar.
Following the completion of his West African School Certificate course at Oke-Ode Grammar School, Oke-Ode, Mr Akogun proceeded to the then Kwara State College of Technology (now Kwara State Polytechnic), Ilorin, for his Advanced Level programme through which he was prepared for professional training in a University. His successful running and completion of the programme, which was also built on a solidly fascinating WASC results, informed his admission into the prestigious University of Lagos. At the front line University, Mr Akogun studied Mass Communication and was a course mate of a former Commissioner for Information in Kwara State, Alhaji AbdulRaheem Adedoyin and a Director at the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Alhaji Abdulganiyu Aminu, among others. He eventually bagged a Second Class (Upper Division) degree in Mass Communication from the University in 1984. He thereafter earned his Master’s degree in the same discipline from the same prestigious institution some years later.
Mr Akogun, who started his career in the Public Relations Unit of the Federal Housing Authority, Lagos,as a youth corps member, has, in the last four decades of his stimulating career, worked as an effective journalist and efficient public relations practitioner. He has worked in highly reputable newspaper outfits like The Herald, The Punch, Champion, The Sunray, The Comet, and ThisDay, among others where he gave a very good account of himself.
This veteran journalist joined the services of the University of Ilorin in 2012 during the tenure of the renowned talent hunter and celebrated administrator, Prof. Is’haq Olanrewaju Oloyede,OFR, CON, who headed the Better by far University between 2007 and 2012. Mr Akogun took over the running of the affairs of the public affairs unit of the University from the pioneer Vice Chancellor of the Ahman Pategi University, Prof. Mahofuz Adedimeji, who succeeded the pioneer Head of the Unit, Dr Isiaka Zubair Aliagan. Dr Aliagan currently teaches Mass Communication at the Kwara State University, Malete.
A member of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) and the Igbomina Professional Forum (IPF) as well as the Igbomina-Ekiti Muslim Forum, among others, Mr Akogun is a man of the people. He is a great manager of human and material resources who encourages everyone working under him to pursue and embrace greatness.
His weakness, however, is that Mr Akogun is a leader who rarely bares his fangs. Like a cobra,he allows everyone around him,particularly those who work under him, the privilege of “advertising” his or her “irredeemable nature” after such a person repeatedly ignored admonitions and warnings from this easy going wordsmith. I doubt if anyone who stands abandoned or condemned anywhere Mr Akogun reigns or rules over can be rehabilitated! His tolerance level is simply superlatively high.
Interestingly, Mr Akogun has added a lot of colours and honours to the office he currently occupies as he has moved the Directorate to a level which sister institutions admire and understudy in order to improve theirs. His efforts had impacted greatly on the hugely exciting rating of the Better by far University. If this is not success, what do we call it?
Little wonder, the appreciative authorities of the University of Ilorin rewarded his industry, commitment and professionalism first with elevation to the position of the first substantive Director of the Directorate. The appointment was recently renewed. This is,indeed, a new height!
This great “Akogun”(generalissimo) of journalism and public relations, is happily married. He is also blessed with accomplished children and promising grand children.
As Mr Akogun marks his 60th birthday, I congratulate him and his family as well as the pen fraternity to which he belongs. I wish him many more years of sound health, peace and prosperity as well as quality services to Allah and humanity.
Imam is Deputy Editor, UNILORIN BULLETIN.