Afe Babalola: A season of Awards

By: Tunde Olofintila
The ever-green words of the Preacher in the Book of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven”. Deriving from that scripture, one could say with an air of finality that this is a season of Awards for the Elder Statesman and Founder of the increasingly famous Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, ABUAD, Aare Afe Babalola, OFR, CON, SAN, LL. D (London), as he will be carting home three Awards in the next couple of weeks.
The beauty of these additional feathers to his already well-adorned cap of Awards, Fellowships from institutions of higher learning and Professional Associations/Bodies and Chieftaincy titles across the country is that the three new Awards are coming from two continents of the world: Europe and Africa. Specifically, the Awards are coming from England, France, and Nigeria.
Beginning from Tuesday, May 21, 2024, Nigerians and other citizens of the world will crane their necks while some others will lower their gaze to catch a glimpse of Babalola, a man who is different things to different people, as he steps forward to be decorated with the Chief Obafemi Awolowo Gold Medal for his contributions to Education and Human Capital Development, and later the following day, on Sunday, May 26, 2024 when he will receive “The AfrikaFora Award of Excellence in Education & Health in Africa” in Saint-Ouen-sur-Seine, near Paris in faraway France.

His investiture as a Fellow of King’s College, London, and “The AfrikaFora Award of Excellence in Education & Health slated for France will take place during Summer.

For Babalola, a former Pro Chancellor & Chairman of Council of the University of Lagos, UNILAG, the signification and significance of the Chief Obafemi Awolowo Gold Medal Award are the more profound bearing in mind that it is coming six years after he won the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo Leadership Award in 2018.

With these Awards, the world has thus further taken cognizance of Babalola’s genuine commitment to promoting the cause of humanity which has marked him out as a leading legal icon, protagonist of functional and quality Education, including Health Education, Farmer, Industrialist, Healthcare provider, Community Leader and Philanthropist of note whose social consciousness is a source of inspiration to the world and as such deserving to be celebrated across the globe.
A Monday, March 15, 2024, letter signed by Barr. Murtala A. Kanka, the Acting Chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau, and Co-Chair, PIC, made it clear to Babalola why he was found deserving of the prime Award.
Said Kanka: “You may wish to know that your nomination was sequel to extensive deliberations and a painstaking selection process by the PIC’s Technical Committee and final ratification and endorsement of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) under the Presidency”.
He added: “Your choice is thus purely based on personal merit: professionalism, patriotism, transparency and selfless service to humanity in all ramifications”.
The following day, Sunday, May 26, Babalola will be in France to receive the “The AfrikaFora Award of Excellence in Education & Health in Africa”.

In the letter nominating Babalola for the Award, Mrs. Winifred Uloaku Gaillard, the Founder/CEO of the AfrikaFora said the Award was created to identify and honour Africans (continental and descendants) and friends of African achievers in order to motivate, encourage and reward honest contributions to the growth and upliftment of Africa and Africans.
“It is an opportunity to contribute to the promotion, influence and advancement of Africa”.
The cheering and elevating news about the King’s College Fellowship, KCF, came vide a May 2, 2024, E-mail by Mrs. Irene Birrell, the College Secretary.
The accompanying letter titled “Invitation to accept a King’s College, London Fellowship” and signed by the Chairman of Council of King’s College, The Rt. Hon. The Lord Geidt rationalized the invitation to the King’s College Fellowship in the following words: “The FKC is awarded to individuals who have had a transformative impact on the College through quality of their work or activities or whose accomplishments are exceptional and align with King’s aspirations and values”.
“In awarding you the FKC, we seek to recognize all you have done in the course of your career to advance the course of Higher Education and provide opportunity for generations of young people to come to improve their lives and contribute to their communities and the world”.
Lord Geidt added: “The Award is also a celebration of the partnership between King’s and Afe Babalola University and the creation of the Afe Babalola Centre for Transnational Education which will stand as testament to your commitment to transformative education”.
For Babalola, a triple Alumnus of the University of London, who donated a staggering sum of 10 million British Pound Sterling for the establishment of Afe Babalola Centre for Transnational Education at King’s College, partnering with King’s College, University of London, the first university in the world that appreciates the power of education to provide quality education for the under-privileged in the 60’s, is a project that is dear to his heart. This is the more so because education is the surest panacea to ignorance, poverty, extremism, religious bigotry and tribalism among other vices.
Through this partnership, Babalola is replicating what the University of London did in the past through its External Degree Programme which enabled the underprivileged in the Commonwealth to study at home.
It was this External Degree Programme that enabled the former Pro Chancellor and Chairman of Council of the University of Lagos to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics in 1959 and LL. B (Hons.) in 1963 from the University of London and an Honourary LL. D of the same university in March 2015, his humble beginnings notwithstanding.
According to him, his financial contribution to this Programme is a way of reciprocating what he benefitted from the laudable and unique External Degree Programme of the University of London in the 60’s without which he certainly would have ended up an unsung farmer or at best the Secretary of the Local Motor Union (courtesy of Bishop Mathew Kukkah).
As the legal colossus settling down the FKC celebration, he will yet be beckoned upon to step forward in Abuja, Nigeria’s political headquarters, on Saturday, May 25, to receive the FGN-IPSMA Education & Human Capital Development Award (Chief Obafemi Awolowo Gold Medal) in appreciation of his stellar contributions to Education and Human Capital Development.
For Babalola, these warren of Awards are significant in many ways. Indeed, this would appear to be the harvest time for this altruistic Nigerian who sold his properties in Ibadan, Lagos, Abuja, Port-Harcourt and England, pooled and devoted the proceeds to education after his two-term stint as an exemplary Pro Chancellor and Chairman of Council of the University of Lagos between 2000 and 2007, an experience which gave birth to his 15-year old university, ABUAD, which commenced uninterrupted Academic works on January 4, 2010 and which has been ranked by the UK-based Times Higher Education Impact Rankings as th Number 1 University in Nigeria for two consecutive years (2022 & 2023) and Number 221 in the world in 2023.
Happily, Babalola’s efforts at making the society better than he has met it are not in vain. The society, locally and internationally, has not failed to acknowledge his immense contributions to make the world a better place to live in.
With over 50 titles and Awards across the globe, including Honourary Doctor of Laws and Doctor of Letters from 10 universities, including University of London, University of Lagos, University of Ibadan and the elite Nigerian Defence Academy, NDA, 12 Fellowships from institutions of Higher Education and Professional Bodies as well as many traditional titles, humanity has unequivocally and loudly demonstrated that Babalola, a man of commendable candour who has consistently redefined patriotism and reworked nationalism, is a rare gem with all-time and all-round relevance to the world around him.
Babalola’s good natured-ness and generosity of spirit is incomparable and unparalleled while his love and contributions to humanity are immeasurable and indescribable. He remains the man who relishes in lighting other people’s candles. No wonder, his own candle keeps glowing brighter and brighter.
While congratulating this citizen of the world of African descent, a man with insatiable appetite for hard work and excellence, one is compelled to assure this most altruistic man whose name opens doors and windows of opportunities that better days are ahead.
Olofintila, ABUAD’s Director of Corporate Affairs, writes in from Ado-Ekiti

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