OLAOLU BILAU writes on the life and times of the late academic, administrator and eminent Nigerian, Prof. Tamuno…
The death of renowned Nigerian historian, poet and former Vice – chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Emeritus Professor Tekena Tamuno on April 11, 2015 at the age 83, came as a shock to friends and colleagues of the erudite scholar.
According to close associates of the deceased, he died after returning from the United States of America, where he had gone for medical treatment in March.
Former President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, described the death of Prof. Tekena Tamuno, as a great loss to the Tamuno family of Okrika and Nigeria.
“The late Professor was a leading figure in African History, judging from the seminal calibre and pioneering nature of his work as well as the exceptional quality of students who passed through his hand.
“We would have wished that he is still alive to continue with us on the Nigerian project but the cold hand of death has snatched him away,” Chief Obasanjo lamented.
Born on January 28, 1932, in Okrika, Rivers State, Tamuno attended St. Peter’s School, Okrika between 1938 and 1946; Okrika Grammar School, Okrika from 1947 to 1951. He proceeded to then University College, Ibadan now University of Ibadan in 1953. Not done yet, Tamuno attended Birkbeck College, University of London from 1960 to 1962; and Columbia University, New York City, United States between 1965 and 1966.
A distinguished academic, Prof. Tamuno joined the Department of History at the University of Ibadan in 1962 and began his academic career as an Assistant Lecturer in History. He was promoted to the position of Lecturer in 1963; Senior Lecturer in 1967 and Professor of History in 1971.
Secretary of Nigerian Academy of Letters (NAL), Prof. Olutayo Charles Adesina said: “Professor Tamuno was an extremely cerebral historian and foremost scholar of the humanities, who combined the rigour and flexibility needed for a better understanding of his field.”
Prof. Tamuno was Head of Department of History, University of Ibadan between 1972 and 1975 and was Dean of Arts, 1973 to 1975 and Chairman, Committee of Deans, University of Ibadan between 1974 and 1975.
Other capacities in which the Rivers State-born scholar served include: Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan from 1975 to 1979; Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Governing Council, Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt between 1981 and 1988; Visiting Professor in History, Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna from 1989 to 1990 and Research Professor in History and Distinguished Fellow, National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru from 1990 to 1994.
Emeritus Prof. Tamuno served as Chancellor, Redeemer’s University and as Chairman of the Presidential Panel on National Security, he worked closely with then President Obasanjo between 1999 and 2007 on the whole issue of security of the nation. The late professor was also on the Panel on Policing Nigeria between 2002 and 2003.
Prof. Tamuno was a fellow and former President of the Nigerian Academy of Letters and Rockfeller Foundation and former member of the National Universities Commission.
As Chairman of Board of Trustees of the Bells University of Technology, the institution experienced ‘growth, credibility and even, wider acceptability among stakeholders under his able and effective leadership.’
Speaking on the contribution of the eminent academic to nation building, President Goodluck Jonathan spoke glowingly of Prof. Tamuno, describing him as an asset to the nation, and an edifice of knowledge epitomizing the capacity of Nigerians to be among the best in the world in their chosen profession.
Some of his published books include, The Evolution of the Nigerian State: The Southern Phase; Abebe: Portrait of a Nigerian Leader; Herbert Macaulay, Nigerian Patriot and Nigeria: Its People and Its Problems. Others are Nigerian Universities, their Students and their Society; Factors of Leadership, Time, and Circumstance; The Police in Modern Nigeria: Origins, Development, and Role and Nigeria since Independence.
Prof. Tekena Tamuno will be remembered for his contribution to the development education in Nigeria as well as the growth of the nation as a whole.