Accolades have continued to pour in for the late Minister of Education, Babatunde Fafunwa, who died on Monday at the National Hospital, Abuja.
Yesterday, at his residence in Victoria Island, Lagos, his body was laid in-state as various friends of the family and eminent personalities including the Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola; his deputy, Sarah Sosan; and former Governor, Bola Tinubu, came to pay their respects. Sarah Sosan, who identified herself as a member of the family, said he would be greatly missed. “It was a shock, a big loss to the family and the country, especially when we are talking about educational development in Nigeria,” she said. “He has been quite relevant in education and was always giving me support and ideas on how to go about educational development in Lagos State.”
Mrs Sosan said his contributions have been second to none. “As a teacher in Nigeria, if you haven’t read his book ‘The History of Education in Nigeria’, that means you didn’t attend a College of Education,” she said. “His methods of teaching were very useful. Even the 6-3-3-4 policies we are still implementing, but people are saying that it didn’t work. It’s not that it didn’t work, it is because it was not well implemented and the parents’ cooperation was not really into this system.”
His last son, Tanimola Fafunwa, described his late father as a man of passion and an exemplary father. “I am grateful and proud that he lived his life in a way that so many people are showing so much appreciation for his life,” he said. “His passion was for education; his passion was for Nigeria. Any time I complained that things are bad in Nigeria, he would always tell me things would be okay. He was optimistic about Nigeria and passionate about mass literacy. He believed that everyone should have a minimum amount of education in order to raise a nation.”
A gift from Lagos to Nigeria
The governor also described Mr Fafunwa’s death as a national loss. “We mourn and commiserate with the family,” he said. “He was somebody who served the country with honour. We thank Almighty Allah for the life of a true icon of our country, who lived amongst us. He was a gift of Lagos to our country and continent. He served with honour and dedication. Indeed, it is ironic that as an octogenarian, he did not tire to serve and finally answered the call whilst serving. May the gentle soul of Aliu Babatunde Fafunwa rest in peace and find eternal favour with Almighty Allah.”
Mr Tinubu described the late education minister as a man of faith and compassion who had passion for his job and for education and whose dreams of education in Nigeria are yet to be attained. “Perhaps the most accomplished and the most rounded educationist in contemporary Nigeria is gone,” he said. “It is a big pity that his lofty dream of how education in modern Nigeria should be has remained unattained.”
Wahab Dosunmu, a former Senator of the second republic, said Mr Fafunwa had left big shoes to be filled. “He was an illustrious son of Lagos. A trainer of trainers. He is a big example for those of us behind him.”
The late Fafunwa was buried yesterday at Ikoyi Cemetary. He was the first Nigerian to receive a doctorate degree in education, and he served as education minister for three years under the military regime of Ibrahim Babaginda. He died at the age of 87 and is survived by his wife, four children and grand children.
By Adeola Adeyemo 234Next