Erudite Professor, Alakija, Joins Octogenarians’ League


Peter Uzoho

A distinguished professor of medicine and pioneer Head, Department of Community Medicine and Primary Health, Babcock University, Prof. Wole Alakija, wednesday marked a landmark event in his life as members of his family, friends as well as his colleagues from the academic community joined him to celebrate his 80th birthday.

The grand ceremony kicked off with a thanksgiving service at the Catholic Church of Presentation, Ikeja GRA and proceeded with a grand reception at the Sheraton Hotel and Suits, Ikeja.

The occasion was spiced up with a heartwarming music rendition from one of Nigeria’s great artistes, Yinka Ayefele, who staged a perfect orchestra with his band crew to keep the atmosphere lively while the guests relaxed and savoured the thrilling tunes.

In recognition of Alakija’s good brotherliness to both his immediate and extended families, a group known as the Descendants of Alakija Union, presented their family anthem at the occasion to honour their beloved celebrant.

In their separate tributes to the singer, organist and music composer, a good number of the guests took turns to tell their pleasant experiences dealing with Alakija as a brother, friend, colleague and teacher.

In his tribute to the celebrant, THISDAY guest columnist, Bola Akinterinwa, who recounted how Alakija facilitated his obtaining a medical report from a hospital for his visa processing, said: “Now, I am trying to tell everyone that goodness is not acquired; goodness exists in the blood itself. He was good to me. In fact, a Wole Alakija at 80 remains a Wole Alakija in blessing forever.”

Meanwhile, in an interview with THISDAY on the sidelines of the occasion, the octogenarian who was born on October 24, 1938, expressed his profound joy for being able to reach the age of 80, surpassing his parents.

Alakija said: “I am so excited for reaching the landmark age of 80 years. My father died at 71; my mother died at 73 and my grandfather died at 56. So, I have gone past them. So, I feel very happy. I thank God for allowing me to go pass where my parents left this world.”

Recounting his university experience, he said: “When I got into the university, I made up my mind that it is university life for me and I worked towards it. Ten years of being in the university, I worked very hard and I became a professor. That is the least number of years for one to become a professor. So I am happy I was able to make it.”

However, Alakija is not only happy because of his new age or his many academic accolades and accomplishments, but he feels more fulfilled seeing some of his old students rising to the position of professors.

“Most important, I feel happy because so many of my students have become professors in Ibadan, Lagos and other top universities in the country. So, I feel happy because if you can see your products doing well you feel more fulfilled,” he said.

Some of the dignitaries that graced the occasion included THISDAY guest columnist, Bola Akinterinwa; Chairman, Faculty of Public Health, National Postgraduate Medical College, Prof. Adebanjo Onajole; former Commissioner for Youth Development, Osun State, Mr. Stephen Kola Balogun; former Chief Medical Director, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Prof. Akin Osibogun; and Managing Director, Lisabi Foods, Mr. Shev Ladipo, amongst others.