Prof Adepoju Akinyanju turns 70

The red carpets were rolled out at Fresh Hotel in Ilorin on Saturday 28th September, 2019 to mark the 70th Birthday of Professor Joseph Adepoju Akinyanju.

A veteran of many struggles on the platform of the Academic Staff Union of Universities and other labour and civil society organisations, Prof. Akinyanju was born on September 27 1949 at Iwo Station in present day Osun State.

The native of Awe in Oyo State also attended many institutions of learning in Nigeria and the United Kingdom before finally settling down at the University of Ilorin where he spent most of his career life.

His contribution to learning and research in his field of biological sciences is enormous.  However, Prof Akinyanju is best known for his struggles against oppression and domination by the powers that be.

In a landmark ruling by the Nigerian Judiciary, Prof Akinyanju was listed as one of the heroes who have made sacrifices while struggling for the emancipation from oppression, bad leadership and underdevelopment. The judgment paid tribute to Akinyanju’s activism:

Talking of radicalism and the voice of dissent … every nation or institution like the University of Ilorin needs the rebellious spirits and free lips of the Nnamdi Azikiwes, Obafemi Awolowos; Nelson Mandelas; Soyinkas; Fawehinmis; Fela Anikolapo-Kutis; Bala Usmans; Adaka Boros; Ken Sarowiwas; Akinyanjus; Oduleyes; the Atahiru Jegas and the ASUU/Unilorin 44 and others of this world; to constantly remind rulers or administrators of their responsibilities to their subjects and subordinate and to save the system from avoidable cataclysm. It took the rare courage and selfless efforts even at the risk of their lives …

Tributes similarly flowed on the day Prof Akinyanju’s 70th Birthday was marked. ASUU President Prof Biodun Ogunyemi paid tribute to Akinyanju’s “doggedness and courage in the struggle for the emancipation of Nigerian University System, and the battle to save Nigeria from re-colonization and further underdevelopment.”

Additional tributes came from activist ranks from the likes of Prof Omotoye Olorode, Dr Taiwo Oloruntoba-Oju, Prof Debo Ajayi, Prof Akanji Nasiru, Ms Rasheedat Adesina and many others.

See “Snippets of the Tributes” Below

from left, Prof Akanji Nasiru, Dr Taiwo Oloruntoba-Oju, Prof & Mrs Akinyanju, ASUUPresid Prof BiodunOgunyemi, Profs Adana, Idowu Awopetu, Omotoye Olorode, Aborisade, Adedire in stage tribute to Akinyanju@70

from right, Prof Debo Ajayi, Ms Rasheedat Adesina, Prof Kola Babarinde, Prof Olorode, Mrs Akinyanju, Prof Akinyanju, Prof Awopetu, Dr I.K. Kolawole


Above: Left: Prof Akinyanju and ASUU President Biodun Ogunyemi (inset elder brother Mr Adeleye Akinyanju)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Middle: Dr-Taiwo Oloruntoba-Oju, Prof & Mrs Demola Jolayemi, appreciation and applause                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Right: Mrs Aderonke Ayoola (nee Akinyanju), testimonial to a brother
BELOW: TRIBUTE TO DAD                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Adebunmi Aiku (nee Akinyanju)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Deolu Akinyanju                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Wemimo Akinyanju

 Prof Omotoye Olorode: “Homage to a friend, comrade and brother”

Dr Gab Ojegbile – testimonial to a bosom friend

Snippets of the Tributes:

“He inspires everyone around him to work hard, through his hardworking lifestyle. He does not know how to be idle; he is either reading or working around the house. He works hard while leaving time for recreation. All the children that passed through us attest to the fact that Poju cares about the academic and social well-being of each of them. Poju exhibits godly love towards everyone that he meets.” (Mrs Tola Akinyanju)

“Adepoju Akinyanju had been able to participate in our humanistic project (which often got scary, frustrating and bloody) because of his almost fanatical interest in learning and teaching, both of which projected him from not only being competent in Microbiology but socially committed in the advancement of the cause of our people.” (Prof. Omotoye Olorode)

“Many in my generation will agree that Comrade Poju Akinyanju has continued to be a pillar of support for ASUU’s demand for the entrenchment of academic tradition of critical engagement … Prof Akinyanju ranks high among those who laid the foundation for a purposeful, virile and dynamic ASUU.” (Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi)

“Prof. Akinyanju is a disciplined and courageous man, a man of unshakeable commitment and loyalty. I call him a man with a lion’s heart. Or simply Lion Heart.” (Prof. Idowu Awopetu)

“Our years together at the University of Ilorin was tremendously memorable. We were both at one time or the other officers of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU. We were both detained by the SSS in the mid-1980s on account of ASUU activism. In all these years, I found Poju to be a highly trustworthy, dependable and principled person. I always admire his courage and straightforwardness even in the face of intimidations and threats(Dr. Gab Ojegbile)

“These positions that Prof. Akinyanju has held simultaneously with his academic pursuits stand as an index of his major lifetime choice; behind all of them lies an ideology of service to community and commitment to the cause of humanity – plus a paternalistic attitude towards the oppressed, whether they are students, workers or the masses at large.” (Dr Taiwo Oloruntoba-Oju)

“Prof Akinyanju’s intellectual forays go beyond the narrow confines of his field of Microbiology He has this ravenous hunger for literature and the arts too. To my knowledge, he has virtually read all the works of literary icons such as Wole Soyinka, George Bernard Shaw … and of philosophers such as Aristotle, Kant, Karl Marx …” (Prof. Omotayo Oloruntoba-Oju)

“Over the years that I have known him, his personality has been defined by one golden diadem, and that is stoic commitment to the cause of humanity and a just society. In fact, he has practically become a metaphor for justice and humanity. Prof Akinyanju abhors oppression and abuse of power almost in an unparalleled measure. Credence is lent to this position by the resoluteness with which he stood by students and colleagues who were the butts of oppression at one time or the other.” (Dayo Akinlaja SAN, FCIARB)

“So many words come to my mind as we celebrate Prof. Poju Akinyanju at 70. One such word is “optimism.” The bestowments of the optimist to my mind are kindness and friendliness; always ready to assist. Because of these messianic bestowments, the optimist is also a mind reader that understands what goes on in the body, blood and brain. Other of his bestowments are transparency and boldness.” (Prof. Demola Jolayemi)

“His love for socialism is not theoretical because he viewed and practiced socialism as “the science and art of making life abundant for all.” Prof Akinyanju was born before his time. As we read in history, people like Akinyanju have wisdom beyond the age in which they live. They have mental facilities at wavelengths outside the range of comprehension of their contemporaries.  (Prof Debo Ajayi)

“Prof Joseph Adepoju Akinyanju is a pleasant gentleman, a highly intelligent, resourceful, astute microbiologist … teacher, boss, mentor. A stickler for excellence, knowledgeable, articulate, humorous, committed and sincere, not hypocritical or petty; he “walks the talk.” (Professor Folakemi Omojasola)

“Over the years, I have come to know Prof as an honest intellectual, who say things the way they are and care less about whose ox is gored. On this, I remember his ever ready conviction to go the oppressor and look him in the face and tell him: “you are a bad man.” The former terrorizing VC of the University of Ilorin had several bouts of this.” (Dr. Goke-Tosin Akinrogundade)

“He was my teacher, mentor and my friend. He is a diligent and dedicated researcher, an erudite scholar and a committed icon in academics. Behind the stern look is a loving heart of flesh and a passion for humanity and justice. He detests cheating in all coloration and encourages young ones to excel and attain their full potentials.” (Prof Kayode Adedire)

“A quintessential teacher and revolutionary leader with a modest grandeur; Professor Poju as commonly called is a philanthropist to the core; he gives to the needy and contributes to class struggle without any iota of complaints.” (Comrade Martins Adekunle Egbanubi)

“I met Professor J.A. Akinyanju in 1989 as my PhD supervisor. As an academic mentor, he nurtured me to the zenith of my development as a Fungal Physiologist. he is a thoroughly disciplined academic whom I respect and honour every day of my life. He inculcated in me the discipline and rigour required for me to function successfully as a lecturer and researcher.” (Prof Hadi Ahmed Suberu)

“What can one say or write about “Prof Poju” as he is fondly called by all of us in the struggle that will be enough or precisely mirror the totality of this erudite scholar who has been able to against all odds created by consecutive oppressive political classes in our nations instutitutions including the labour and university communities galvanize all manner of opinions across front/protest organizations in our country? I cannot but mention that the history of front organisations such as NLC, ASUU, RSV/SCON, OYM, PAYCO, CD, CDHR, etc, will not be complete without chronicles of the participation of our dear “Prof Poju.” (Comrade Akin Abosanyin)

“I learnt the art of discipline from my Dad. He believes that what you do repeatedly would become a part of you.  No wonder he would wake us up at 5am in the morning to study. The art of being disciplined has come in handy so many times in my life. My dad also believes in family. My friends say about me that I am one person they know that has so many cousins!” (Adebunmi Aiku)

“Education is very important to you and you gave your best to make sure we had quality education which I am going to be forever grateful for. Not a religious man but your life has been all about being morally upright and standing by the truth always.” (Adeolu Akinyanju)

“You are the wisest person that I know. You always have the right words and there is no situation/subject you do not have an idea or two about. You might not be religious but you are fair.  Thank you for instilling discipline in me but most importantly you have helped me to develop the ability to trust myself, treat everyone equally, call out injustice, ask questions and not just accept the norms” (Wemmy Akinyanju)

“My brother, Prof, is a man full of zest for life and zeal for his convictions. He is a thoroughbred family man, with great commitment to the ideals of family at nuclear, immediate and wider extended levels.” (Gbola Akinyanju)

“You are the peacemaker, the common sense man and the chief adjudicator and intermediary of our family. We’ve shared so many highs and lows. Having you as a brother has been such a blessing, more than anyone knows.” (Aderonke Ayoola)

“He is a role model of who a father, husband and a brother should be; he is kind, firm, loving and caring. A family man to the core, always seeking that all his siblings are at peace and doing well. I appreciate him for his sacrifices for me. ” (Adeola Oyelade)

Prof & Mrs Akinyanju – with natal family – from left Mrs Aderonke Ayoola- Deacon Adegbola Akinyanju- Mrs Adeola Oyelade

Prof $ Mrs Akinyanju with children and grandchildren

Prof Akinyanju – a grand smile at 70!