Dr. Yusuf Bangura, Sierra Leone born political economist who also taught in the same Department of Political Science at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria with Prof Ayo Olukotun whose death was announced yesterday has reacted to the death of his ex-colleague with sadness. Dr. Bangura who said the two were flatmates sent the following reaction to Prof Olukotun’s death:
This is very sad news. Ayo was one of the first people I bonded with when I arrived at the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria in 1980. He was teaching at the School of Basic Studies and I was in the Department of Political Science.
He was bookish (in a positive sense) and very much interested in discourses on politics and society. We had very engaging and heated exchanges on a wide range of issues. Although he was fascinated by radical left ideas, he always maintained some distance in his scholarship.
The foundation of our relationship during my first two years at ABU was our mutual love of ideas. I housed him in my bachelor appartment—close to the staff club—for a few months before he was given his own accommodation. We could argue endlessly on any issue in our free time.
Unfortunately, his zealous religiosity affected our relationship before he moved out of my appartment. I found it difficult to connect with his passionate brand of evangelism, especially on Sundays when I craved quiet reflection and relaxation. Indeed, I often wondered how he was able to live in two universes: as a scholar without any trace of religiosity when discussing public policy issues, and as a deeply religious person with an evangelical mission in his private life.
We later reconnected and re-established our mutual interest in ideas, often exchanging our published works.
I was an avid reader of his penetrating newspaper column, which interrogated Nigeria’s ills. He regularly sent me these articles. Living outside Nigeria, his commentaries became a good source for keeping abreast of developments in the country.
Ayo wanted to see a well governed, developmental Nigeria that is less corrupt and at peace with itself. May he rest in eternal peace.
Comrade John Odah from the Nigeria labour movement, Gabriel Nyitse from Government House, Makurdi and Dr. Chijioke Uwasomba from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife all joined to mourn Prof Olukotun. Prof Olukotun was president of the Students Union Government at Obafemi Awolowo University in the early 1970s and, according to Dr. Uwasomba, he was highly respected by his peers even as a student union leader because of his capacity for critical writing and informed interventions on issues of national and international provenance.
The story of Prof Olukotun’s passage as initially ran by Intervention goes as follows:
Professor Ayo Olukotun, the Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona Professorial Chair in Governance of the Department of Political Science at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye in Ogun State of Nigeria is dead.
A statement by Bukola Adeyemi Oyeniyi whose relationship with the deceased is not stated said he died on January 4th, 2023. The statement described the late Prof Olukotun as mentor, an enviable academic and a fine columnist whose works have contributed to the shaping of public policy and discourse in the past three decades.
Prof Olukotun lectured at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; the University of Lagos and Lagos State University. He was a visiting Professor of International Relations at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife as well as Distinguished Professor and Head of the Department of Political Science and Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences at the Lead City University, Ibadan, all in Nigeria.
In journalism, he was the Chair of the Editorial Board of Daily Times, writing a penetrating weekly column that have appeared in several Nigerian newspapers such as Daily Times, The Guardian, Compass and Punch. Through his column, Professor Olukotun spoke truth to bad governance in Nigeria, always coming forth with alternative pathways to national redemption.
In scholarship, he is one of the three more known political scientists who made the mass media the subject of intellectual engagement. The other two are professors Adigun Agbaje and Wale Adebanwi. The statement did not indicate his age at the time of death, what killed him and where he died.