Maj. Gen. (Otunba) T.B. Ogundeko: An Accomplished Patriot, Takes His Final Salute

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Issa Aremu

This weekend, Friday, August 12, 2006 the remains of the late foundation Director General of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Maj. Gen.(Otunba) T.B. Ogundeko (rtd), OFR will be laid to rest. The late General T.B. Ogundeko died in his home town Ijebu-Mushin on 8th July, 2016 aged 84 years.

The Alumni Association of the National Institute, AANI in a condolence message conveyed by the Association’s President, Major-General Lawrence Anebi Onoja CFR, Ph.D, mni to his family, people and government of Ogun State singled out “the remarkable contribution of late Maj. Gen. (Otunba) T.B. Ogundeko OFR to the growth and development of the country”. According to the late African writer, Chinua Achebe “There Was A Country” called Nigeria that once produced public officers who not only worked harder but smarter with integrity and selflessness for public good.

The late Maj. Gen.(Otunba) T.B. Ogundeko was the face of Nigeria that once worked and delivered service for Nigerians and indeed all Africans. Sadly names of some public holders almost in sectors are identified with self enrichment and ruination of public institutions. Commendably T.B. Ogundeko’s signature was synonymous with institution buildings long before Barack Obama’s belated admonition to African leaders about strong institutions during his Ghana’s visit in 2009.

His imprints are verifiable, indelible and sustainable namely; past Commandant Nigerian Military School (1962-1972), past Director Nigeria Army Education Corps (1972-1978) and Founding Director General, National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, among others. In his popularised tribute to the late General, Lt. Gen T Y Danjuma described Major General Timothy Babatunde Ogundeko as “…the best Direct Commissioned Officer that ever served in the Nigerian Army”. He recalled that all…”the professional soldiers who served with Timothy remember him as a mature and seasoned teacher who transformed the Nigerian Army Education Corps through his foresight, dedication, determination and diligence.

He also transformed the attitude of the officer corps towards continuous learning and the acquisition of knowledge.” The former Chief of Army Staff recalled how late General facilitated the establishment of the Command Secondary Schools “to meet the needs of the children of Army personnel, a feat “.. soon copied by other Services of the Nigerian Armed Forces”. The remarkable and historic role in the establishment of the prestigious National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru however stood him out as a committed public administrator.

Established in 1979 by the Federal Government, NIPSS Kuru has continued to serve as a high level centre for reflection, research, and dialogue where academics of intellectual excellence, policy initiators and executors and other citizens of practical experience and wisdom drawn from different sectors of national life in Nigeria, meet annually to reflect and exchange ideas on the great issues of society, particularly as they relate to Nigeria and Africa in the context of the dynamics of a constantly and rapidly changing world. Today, NIPSS has graduated over 1500 participants that include three former Heads of State, former governors, traditional rulers, serving and past top level executives from various walks of life such as the presidency, states and local governments, civil service, Armed Forces, academia, labour and para-military institutions among others who are adding value to the country.

As the pioneer Director of NIPSS, Major-General Timothy Babatunde Ogundeko presided over the institute between 1979 and 1981. An educationalist to the core, General Ogundeko was the Director, Army Education Corps before his appointment late in 1978 by General Obasanjo, then Head of State, to bring into fruition his (Obasanjo) dream for the establishment of the National Institute. In an Interview with 2015 NIPSS year Book General Ogundeko who creatively coined the motto of the National Institute, “Towards a Better Society” and also designed the logo of the institute, narrated how he travelled to notable countries like the UK, the US, India, Pakistan, Malaysia and Germany to understudy their national institutes with the objective of pioneering the national institute at Kuru. Jos.

The first Director General established the 38-week intensive Senior Executive Course (SEC) inaugurated the Alumni Association of NIPSS during the graduation ceremony of SEC 1, March 1980. He successfully graduated SEC “1 and SEC 2 before retiring voluntarily on health grounds at the age of 49 in 1981, just before the commencement of SEC 3”. General Ogundeko recalled the NIPPS editors how on account of his commitment to NIPPS to the inauguration of SEC 1 in 1979 he had complications from an eye surgery. Witness him “…just before the first course started in 1979, I had to go for medical treatment in the UK, I had an eye surgery. I needed about 14 days to recover from the surgery.

However, I kept receiving telephone from Nigeria reminding me of the September target date for the official opening of the new Institute. So I requested for discharge, explaining to them that I was urgently needed back home. When I came back, what I remembered was that I was still bleeding in the eye in which the surgery was conducted because I was seeing red. It was certainly bleeding but I could not complain. We had a successful inauguration on September 3, 1979.” Ogundeko belonged to the generation that selflessly served the nation even at the expense of their personal well being.

President Muhammadu Buhari in his tribute to the late , Maj. Gen. Timothy Babatunde Ogundeko said the deceased “will be long remembered for his towering role as an educationist and public administrator, who immensely contributed to the procedure and processes of training potential leaders in security and socio-political environment of Nigeria.” Undoubtedly an accomplished patriot, the late General was saddened with the recent commitment deficit to nation-building by contemporary public office holders. Witness him “When I listen to news…the most depressing thing is corruption. There is much corruption in the country to the extent that the funds available to this country and to the states have been terribly eroded. Some state governments cannot pay salaries of workers six months.

That sort of thing should not happen, but it is taking place. Listening to the news daily on radio and television depresses one. Those who are appointed to positions are exploiting such for personal gain. But what can one do? What can one say about that? I think with determination the government’s effort to fight corruption will succeed, even though it is not going to be easy.” The celebrated South African poet, BM Themba, once wrote that “Blessed are the dead, For they will; Never be suspected…” May his soul rest in perfect peace. Certainly the late Gen. Timothy Babatunde Ogundeko is blessed because he would no longer be suspected of lamentation about our free fall from development of the past to underdevelopment of the recent times. But he would be better hounoured as the nation resolves in his words “with determination” to make a difference from corruption to development agenda.