Senator Abiola Ajimobi
Anayo Okolie and Ebere Nwiro
In continuation of his 80th birthday celebration Wednesday, prominent Nigerians honoured the former Federal Commissioner for Works and Housing, Femi Okunnu.
The event was also used to launch two books “Torch Bearers of Islam in Lagos State” and “Actors and Institutions in the Development of Islam in Lagos State” in honour of the former commissioner.
Speaking during the event, the celebrant, Okunnu said: “The idea of writing the book was discussed with my primary school classmate and life-long friend, the late Prof. Ibrahim Babatunde Williams, former Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, and University of Lagos sometime in the early 1970s.
“We agreed that the Lagos Muslim Community deserved a chronicle of their achievements during the 20th Century, just as The Red Book of West Africa records the achievements of some West Africans, mostly of Christian faith in the 19th century. Tunde and I did not follow up our resolve. Thirty years later in 2004, I embarked on this work.
“I discussed the idea with Prof. Misbaudeen O. Raheemson of the Department of Religions and Peace Studies at Lagos State University, who introduced Prof. Siyan Oyeweso, a Professor of History to me. Both of them assembled a team of researchers to embark on detailed studies of eminent Muslims on a list, prepared by me, of Muslim merchants, scholars, professionals and also a list of Muslims Missions dedicated to the spread of Islam in Lagos and other parts of Nigeria.
“In dedicating this work to the true teachings of Islam, and partly to the memory of my late friend, Babatunde Williams, I salute his widow, Professor Grace Alele-Williams, former Vice Chancellor, University of Benin, and the first Woman Vice-Chancellor in Nigeria.”
Speaking at the event, the National Leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who was represented by Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, said Okunnu’s careers as a lawyer and administrator are testimonies in sagacity and great industry.
Tinubu disclosed that he set the standard for that office; “a standard that is yet to be exceeded or even equalled by those who succeeded him. We are all here today because we wanted to make this celebration to transcend Lagos State because the achievements all go beyond Lagos State and if we limit everything to Lagos State without touching the heart of the Yoruba land, it would just be a meaningless celebration.
“I have always followed closely, Nigerians that are very industrious with great achievements and our Baba stands out. And because of that, many of us try to copy him and if you look at me as I am standing before you, and you look at him when he was at my age, you will see that we have something in common.
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, who was represented by his Deputy, Adejoke Orelope-Adefuire, congratulated Okunnu for attaining this height and prayed that God will continue to bless him.
He added: “that any leader that cannot produce a leader is not a leader but Okunnu produced a lot. For his achievements, we will continue to celebrate him.”