Professor Tunde Oduleye, a veteran of the struggles of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, (ASUU) is dead. He died peacefully in his sleep earlier this morning is how it was put to Intervention. He was aged 75 at death. A very cerebral activist, he became a professor under the age of 40. A graduate of the University of Lagos, he obtained his PhD from the University of Lancaster in the United Kingdom.
The most known public side of the departed is his membership of the Ilorin 49 and later 44. That is the academic staff of the University of Ilorin the government allowed to be sacked at a go from one university in 2001. Although they won the case in courts, Prof Oduleye did not return to that university but anchored at Federal University of Technology, Akure where he was jokingly called ‘professor of professors’.
A remarkably principled and large hearted person typical of majority of senior ASUU cadres and that generation of academics, he has been a member of the ASUU Negotiating Team – the combatants who battle the government counterpart in the series of ‘wars’ between the two – since 1987.
Too many will miss him – from students to family to ideological soul mates. He has certainly experienced the short end of the stick from a system many would say is built on high degree of arbitrariness and fraud. But the worst hit will be the Nigerian society. This is because the university system is not reproducing their types in terms of subject matter mastery and the basic character of an academic anymore, certainly not in any serious number. There is also the national embarrassment in the idea of any developing country at all that will permit the sacking of 49 academics from one university at a go for whatever reasons. It is another way of saying that the country is a joke. It is worse that it happened and no political, moral or communal authority saw something of a joke taken too far as to intervene. That is really the commentary Prof Oduleye’s death has passed on Nigeria.