Tribute to Ab­dul Raufu Mustapha

Daily Trust - - OPINION -

The world of in­tel­lec­tu­als lost a gi­ant with the death, on 8th Au­gust 2017, of Pro­fes­sor Ab­dul Raufu Mustapha. A scholar and well-ad­mired gen­tle­man, Dr. Mustapha was a Nige­rian from Ilorin, Kwara State, who earned de­grees in Po­lit­i­cal Sci­ence from Ah­madu Bello and Ox­ford Uni­ver­si­ties. Un­til his death, he was pro­fes­sor of African stud­ies at Queen El­iz­a­beth House, Uni­ver­sity of Ox­ford. An ac­com­plished scholar and au­thor of books and ar­ti­cles, Pro­fes­sor Mustapha’s re­search fo­cused on the pol­i­tics of ru­ral so­ci­eties in Africa, with em­pha­sis on democrati­sa­tion, eth­nic­ity and iden­tity pol­i­tics. His teach­ing ca­reer spanned decades at promi­nent uni­ver­si­ties - Bayero, Ah­madu Bello and Ox­ford.

To us his friends of three or more decades, Raufu meant a world. Our year of to­geth­er­ness as stu­dents at Ox­ford were, in­deed, a golden era. Nige­ri­ans of dif­fer­ent eth­nic and re­li­gious back­grounds, res­i­dent in the var­i­ous col­leges of an his­toric fed­eral-type uni­ver­sity, were best of friends who fended for one an­other. Raufu Mustapha fit­ted well into our cul­ture of one­ness, a cul­ture we so much cher­ished and wished for the larger Nige­rian so­ci­ety.

Raufu was a very pas­sion­ate Nige­rian whose views on our so­ci­etal prob­lems and as­pi­ra­tions are well doc­u­mented and shared by close friends. Like most hon­est Nige­ri­ans, Pro­fes­sor Raufu Mustapha was al­ways very sad at the abra­sive­ness of cor­rup­tion in the so­ci­ety. Not a few times would he com­pare Nige­ria to the more pur­pose­ful na­tions he was priv­i­leged to have vis­ited in his life­time. He would talk end­lessly of the irony of a na­tion where pri­vate jets have be­come toys for the priv­i­leged few, while the so-called gi­ant of Africa could not sus­tain a na­tional air­line!

The late Raufu Mustapha, as a spe­cial­ist in demo­cratic stud­ies, would jok­ingly talk of the Nige­rian brand of democ­racy as lack­ing in democrats. Of politi­cians who would talk loudly of the need for peace­ful elec­tions, but would nev­er­the­less fund thugs to ha­rass op­po­nents. He wished our politi­cians were more con­sid­er­ate of the mod­est needs and as­pi­ra­tions of or­di­nary Nige­ri­ans, and be less ob­ses­sive of self­ish pur­suits. Specif­i­cally, he al­ways frowned at the out­ra­geous salaries, al­lowances, and pen­sions of elected politi­cians while the ma­jor­ity of Nige­ri­ans were not too sure of where their next meals were com­ing from.

Pro­fes­sor Raufu Mustapha fought coura­geously against the stom­ach cancer that kept him in and out of hospi­tal for months. Be­ing the hard­work­ing and as­tute scholar that he was, he never ceased to be­rate a sit­u­a­tion which made him com­pletely un­able to per­form his aca­demic re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. Per­haps more frus­trat­ing for this kind and gen­er­ous pa­triot were the un­palat­able daily re­ports of oc­cur­rences com­ing in from Nige­ria - un­end­ing Boko Haram atroc­i­ties. kid­nap­ping, rit­ual mur­ders, se­ces­sion­ist ag­i­ta­tions, and herds­men nui­sance, among oth­ers. We knew he was gen­uinely sad­dened by all these. How­ever, he should be smil­ing all the way to meet his cre­ator know­ing he was ap­pre­ci­ated as a good hu­man be­ing by nu­mer­ous friends and fam­ily mem­bers. A very good fam­ily man by all ac­counts, he leaves be­hind his lovely wife, Kate, and two in­tel­li­gent and well-man­nered chil­dren, As­mau and Seyi.

May the soul of Pro­fes­sor Ab­dul Raufu Mustapha find peace with God Almighty.

An­thony Aki­nola & Shehu Oth­man, Abuja.

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