I came to Ahmadu Bello University Zaria in 1989, having enjoyed two years’ hiatus teaching English and Literature at an academy somewhere in Ijesha in Surulere, Lagos.
The two years of rest from the taskmasters at Federal School of Arts and Science in Victoria Island where some of us passed through intellectual furnance where we were hammered and forged into shape by task masters .
I knew that Ahmadu Bello University had among its faculty staff, global intellectuals, highly regarded for their outstanding intellect.
After the boredom of Lagos environment, i needed a freshener, thus the compulsion to go to ABU of Odekunle fame.
As a sociology major meeting the famed Professor Femi Odekunle, an intellectual giant, a towering figure in academia and Nigeria’s first professor of sociology was inevitable.
Charismatic, affable, easy-going , Odekunle , like Bala Usman, Patrick Wilmot and other academics of international repute that were legion in ABU made the faculty of arts and social sciences, popularly called FASS, a natural pull for students whose primary calling was outside the arts and social sciences faculty. Thus, it was not unusual to see students of other faculties milling around once Odekunle was in class.
His class was always jam packed, filled to the brim, as many students were really in love with his wits, intelligence, The large swoop and canvas of his intellectual compass.
In Odekunle, one sees a penetrating intelligence, a broad and comprehensive exposure to the length and breadth of sociology as a discipline of enquiry , and criminology in particular as an enquiry into the mind of man twisted to subvert the order of society.
He was a rare intellectual, one of Africa’s brightest, a teacher of teachers, and the very epitome of lucidity, pristine clarity and pure wits.
Along with the foremost historian , the iconoclastic Bala Usman and the combative Patrick Wilmot , made the arts and social sciences faculty brimmed with life, vitality and righteous indignation and rebellion fuelled by such intimidating intelligence as to create disquiet in highest echelon of power
He was a pointer to and parable for the infinite possibilities of human mind to explain the social animal called man in all his shape and colour using sociological cast of mind.
Until his death, Prof. Odekunle was the Chairman Board of Trustees of Nigerian Society for Criminology.
and a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption .
Mr Odekunle graduated from the University of Ibadan in 1968.
He bagged his PhD in Sociology and Social Psychiatry from the University of Pennsylvania, United States in 1974. His death is a big blow to the academia and public sphere. Olakunle is no more, so also are towering minds as Ikenna Nzimiro, Onigu Otite and Omafume Onoge. Hmmm!