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Prof Matthew O. Akusu: One Year After

 

By Gani Adeniran, PhD
When the news of the death of my Oga lecturer, friend and brother hit the waves about a year ago,  I was devastated to the extreme. I could not write a tribute and I couldn’t attend the obsequies at Effurum, Delta State because Covid19 was just gathering storm. Suffice to say right away that I had honoured him in his life time by attending his daughter’s wedding at Warri, which he greatly appreciated.
My path crossed with Oga Akusu’s in the 1980s when he taught me Veterinary Reproduction and later when we became colleagues in the Faculty. Prof Akusu was an excellent teacher. He was meticulous, detailed and always wanted the best for his students. He stayed extra period in the laboratory and classroom in the days and retired to the staff Club in the evenings.  At our final year DVM examinations in 1986, he and the legendary Prof J. U. Akpokdoje ensured that we had a good showing by ‘fire and by force,’ having lost some ground to the ASUU strike of that year that had prolonged our stay in the university.
It is no secret that as a social man, Prof Akusu loved his bottle and the stick but he made his impact as a teacher and I loved him dearly. He fondly called me “my own brother” and I called him the same even though he was my teacher and later, senior colleague.
He was a leader by all standard and he led by example. During one of the stormy sessions at the Faculty Board while considering students results, a Sub-Dean (Undergraduate) showed signs of fatigue and despondency due to criticism. He offered to be Sub-Dean just to off the bluff of my colleague who is now a Professor! There was dead silence and the fellow got the message!
Prof Akusu had no time for hatred, intrigues, diabolism and sentiments that some people thrive on! He enjoyed whatever life offered here in the community without guile. He became President of the Senior Staff Club and Director of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital without hassles. I was on the Selection board for the VTH appointment; I didn’t boarder to look at his CV when I saw his application. ‘Who born me?’
At a time, he had a running battle with the Bursar and VC because of his dogged commitment to our welfare and he suffered for it. The then VC, my very good friend, called me to report to me an unpleasant incident that happened between him, the VTH Director and the Dean in Abuja. When he saw my countenance and reactions, he looked at me. I had to tell him that the issue was tilting towards professional bias, he being a medic and I, a veterinary surgeon! He later said that if he could not convince me as a friend he would drop his displeasure! The VC eventually respected my professional conviction and camaraderie.  I never told Prof Akusu and the Dean then what transpired between the VC and I!
Prof Akusu stood solidly behind me during my SL promotion travails. The story is for another day. The issues that led to his premature exit from the university did not suck him in but rather propelled him to a vogage of greater accomplishments of honour and integrity: He became a household name, thanks to Prof Chris Ikporukpo of the Niger Delta University Amasoma, Bayelsa State.
 Prof Akusu was a thoroughbred Catholic who worshipped his Creator and was a saint by every standard.  I held him highly. May his redoubtable soul continue to rest in perfect peace.  Ire o.
Dr Gani Adeniran is of the Dept of Veterinary Pathology, University of Ibadan

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