Celebrating an academic icon

The importance of education in the society has been brought to the fore. This time around, members of family, friends, former colleagues, students and well-wishers have showered encomiums and rejoiced with Prof. Steve Afolami of the Department of Crop Protection, College of Plant Science and Crop Production (COLPLANT); Pioneer Chairman, Farm Practical Year (FPY) Programme of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Ogun State; and the immediate past Vice-Chancellor, Augustine University, Ilara-Epe, Lagos State.

The Vice-Chancellor of FUNAAB, Prof. Kolawole Salako described him as a dedicated, punctual and a no-nonsense man, stating that he was endeared to Prof. Afolami when he first joined the services of the University, being one of the few people that he met. He encouraged all to learn some lessons from him, being a disciplinarian and always keeping to his words. Prof. Salako also commended the efforts of his wife, Prof. (Mrs.) Carolyn Afolami for upholding the truth despite the fact that many people may may not like such virtues, as he appreciated her and her husband for serving the University very well.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Prof. Bolanle Akeredolu-Ale disclosed that her first encounter with Prof. Afolami was when he was the Chairman, University Ceremonials Committee, stating that immediately he met him, his special leadership abilities and charismatic personality became apparent and which marked the beginning of their long-standing professional friendship. She noted that as a young woman, having to work with him made it possible to entrust her with many responsibilities such as chairing a committee of senior colleagues. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) appreciated Prof. Afolami for believing in her and being supportive over the years.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Development), Prof. Clement Adeofun thanked God for the life of Prof. Afolami, whom he usually calls Uncle Steve, stating that he had impacted so many lives positively. He described him as loving and caring, adding that one cannot, but admire him as he always looked for him and members of his family. Corroborating him, the Dean of COLPLANT and Chairman, Committee of Deans and Directors, Prof. Mufutau Atayese called the celebrant as a family man and that he feels safe with him all the time. He expressed his amasement at the celebrant’s gentility, ambience and energy, saying that he was extremely thorough.

The Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), FUNAAB Branch, Dr. Adebayo Oni disclosed that he knew him when he (Oni) was an undergraduate and postgraduate student in the University, stressing that Prof. Afolami was very disciplined and interested in advancing people’s progress. Dr. Oni disclosed that as a member of ASUU, Prof. Afolami was very consistent with the union and had never done anything against the decision of the union, despite being a senior lecturer. In a lecture titled, “A Man of Excellence”, the Acting Head, Department of Crop Production, Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, Prof. Femi Sosanya observed that the celebrant was a man worthy of emulation, courageous and principled. Prof. Sosanya is also the first postgraduate student of the celebrant.

A book titled, “Enduring Diligence” was launched in honour of Prof. Afolami. While reviewing the book, Prof. Omolayo Ariyo, a former Dean of COLPANT, stated that the book was a compilation of the various testimonials of friends, family members, professional colleagues and mentees about the celebrant and that the various contributions by different people had shown that Prof. Afolami’s works go beyond the academic environment, as he recommended the publication as a guide to living a productive life.

Present at the occasion include the Onitori of Orile Itori-Odo, HRH Oba (Dr.) Adebisi Adebayo; former Acting Vice-Chancellor of FUNAAB, Prof. Ololade Enikuomehin; Dean, Postgraduate School, Prof. Wilfred Alegbeleye; and the immediate Past Dean, College of Agricultural Management and Rural Development (COLAMRUD) of FUNAAB, Prof. Adewale Dipeolu, among others.

Prof. Steve Afolami expressed his heartfelt joy at the surprise birthday and book launch organised for him. A Professor of Nematology, stated that he was overwhelmed with the great birthday package, noting that he never thought a day like this would come where he would be celebrated in this manner.

He commended his mentees and those present at the event for considering him worthy of celebration, stating that he was completely taken unawares. On his upbringing, Prof. Afolami revealed that he was privileged to be one of the first few students to benefit from the free education system designed by late sage and Premier of the Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

The Don stressing that despite being born into a family where his parents had no formal education, they still took education seriously and made much sacrifice to ensure that himself and his siblings went to school. He commended the late Chief Awolowo, the Catholic Church, and his siblings for good mentoring from the secondary school till later in life. No doubt, celebrating academic icons is one of the ways to reward service to the nation contrary to the age-long belief that a teacher’s reward is in heaven. It should actually begin from here.

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