The Three Wise Men


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The Three Wise Men




Tunde Oseni




December 2, 2005


If you know these three teachers, of whom I write the lines that follow, you will agree with me that these gentlemen deserve national merit awards. They are men of admirable ideas and purposeful, matching actions. But tell Mr President not to nominate the trio, for they won’t, I attempt to preempt, collect the Abuja awards. They, to my mind, have risen above petty pat on the back.


Those of us who are students of the University of Ibadan, the oldest and the best, who seek extra-curricular knowledge on campus, I mean those of us who don’t joke with public lectures, will know, for sure, that Osisioma Nwolise, senior lecturer in political science, Niyi Osundare, professor of English, and Michael Aken’ova, professor of Agronomy, are truly reservoirs of knowledge and that their likes should be emulated.


The first time I saw Professor Aken’ova was in 2002. He was delivering a lecture at Agriculture faculty, and I was, as all other members of the audience, stupefied, by his sense of humour and history. He is, no doubt, an orator par excellence. Professor Aken’ova has always been of the view that Nigeria, for it to grow, must create room for justice. He is also an objective analyst of religion. He has no grudge against the traditional ways of doing things, but in his words traditional religion “should open up.” Secrecy, Aken’ova consistently argues, has been the bane of traditional religion. If traditionalists want people to take their religion seriously they should explicate on the ‘dark sides’ of their practice, why human sacrifice? Even in the twenty first century? Aken’ova would want to know.


The second time I met with Professor Aken’ova was at a newspaper stand opposite U.I gate. We were both gazing at the headlines when he, attempting to take Vanguard, said to me, as if he knew me before, “Don’t be like Chris Uba o”. “Lae Lae, I won’t be like Chris Uba”, I replied. Apart from these two experiences with Aken’ova, I have also heard many of my mates say the man is a thorough teacher and an excellent social commentator.


There is also Dr Osisioma B.C Nwolise. O.B.C for short. He is known through out the length and breadth of the University of Ibadan. No lecturer, no student, would say he or she doesn’t know Dr Nwolise. He is arguably the most listened-to, most highly revered public lecture giver on our campus. He has delivered no fewer than twelve public lectures in the past twelve months. He is an orator, a humourist and has a unique way of dealing with topical issues, particularly political ones.


For instance, O.B.C., it was, who once told us that HIV/AIDS is a mere ‘biological weapon’ deliberately ‘imported’ into Africa to depopulate us. In the views of O.B.C, Africa will not grow if Nigeria will not. This is because, to him, Nigeria is the hope of Africa and the black race as a whole.


One very crucial thing OBC tells us his students, and those who attend his numerous lectures, is that a difference does exist between strategy and strategem. The two, even though are antithetical, do, of course, co-exist. While strategy is positive and not necessarily harmful, strategem is harmful and parasitic in nature. It is the latter, in O.B.C’s mind, that the West wields to suppress the Blacks.


Dr Nwolise often blames our woes on our inability to develop the black mind. All what we do is copy-cat, zombie, follow-follow. Politics, for him, is the “struggle for the minds and resources of men and nations”, and it is high time, we Africans changed strategies and tactics to be able to catch up with the rest of the world. Our society needs more of O.B.C; people who practice what they preach. I have never seen O.B.C in western shirts and trousers,  he is always proudly African, without being flashy.


Then, Professor Niyi Osundare. We all know him to be a poet with a difference. Simple. Friendly. Frank. And always down-to-earth. Osundare opines in his The Universe in the University that our educational system needs a surgical operation without a delay. He is a preacher of non-violent revolution. The town must not be far away from the gown and vice-versa. The university and the community must not be culturally distant. Education must be both functional and developmental. Role models are scarce, and this Osundare says contributes to our nation’s woes. He does not like answering “Isaac”, his middle name because of his passion for the African essence. For us to move forward, we must “localise the global and globalise the local”. Niyi Osundare needs the prayer and support of every one of us. Learnt he was affected by the Hurricane katrina which swept over the New Orleans where one of the brightest brains of Africa is imparting knowledge into the brains of people of other climes.


My views on the trio are basically personal, but I think they reflect the thinking of many people who know these ‘three wise men’ with voices of reason.         



Oseni reads Political Science at the University of Ibadan, Oyo State.




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