By Febisola Oladimeji-Okonkwo
I met Prof as he is fondly called through my friend Tolu Ifaturoti Fanimokun who happens to be Prof’s Niece. Tolu and I by destiny became close friends some 22 years ago and by proxy became familiar with our immediate families. My first interface with Prof was in 1999 when Tolu travelled to England for a year and her daughters stayed with me; Prof visited the girls severally and sometimes alongside his wife Prof Mrs. Akinkugbe. From our conversations, he found out about my love and passion for charity, social service and community development, this enthused him to be attentive and responsive towards my future/career goals in the humanitarian work.
Prof was never tired of my quests for wisdom, referrals and recommendations; he influenced my life with his advice, experience, presence and financial support. He was available at every opportunity to support the progress of Help Initiative and Tabitha Home, encouraging the need and importance of support for vulnerable women, youth and children in our communities.
Prof would create time to visit, follow up, remember all important details and bring up the previous discussions when the need arises. He would pay attention to every detail, dot all “i”s and cross every “t”s, he never misses the commas. He encouraged me when I wrote my first book “Roses of my Passion” and he offered to write a testimonial.
Prof made a huge impact on my life with his genuineness and humility; with him, greatness is not by being rich, successful, powerful or famous but the ability to impact the lives of others. Despite his schedule and age in his later years he still finds time to attend to everyone; influencing and stimulating all to progress in their various endeavors.
He was a fantastic networker and collaborator, always looking out for the best in others and highly punctual; he not only attended a lot of our official programs and personal events but would be one of the first to arrive and stay till the end.
Prof sees beyond the physical but looks out for stars in lives to touch and enhance. With his reputation, fame, academic prowess and international stamp attached to his person, it was unbelievable to see how natural, down to earth and jovial he could be; he had a good relationship with everyone around him despite the age, gender or status. He dined with the rich, kings, leaders of nations yet paid attention to everyone around him (most of his office and domestic staff I knew 20 years ago were with him till his demise).
He was a role model, an elder and a giant to be reckoned with in all areas.
As Nigeria and the entire world mourn and celebrate the passing of this great and fine gentleman, my family and the Help Initiative/ Tabitha Home team commiserate with Prof Mrs. Folasade Akinkugbe, the children and entire Akinkugbe family for their loss. We will all miss this great but unassuming gentleman of repute for his grandeur, demeanor, his style and incisive contributions to lives within and outside Nigeria.
May his sweet soul find peace with his maker and may he rest in perfect peace. Amen.
Mrs Febisola Oladimeji Okonkwo is the
Executive Director of Help Initiative/Tabitha Home.
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