Prof. Chris Ikporukpo Retires from the University of Ibadan: A Tribute
Today, our senior jolly friend, senior brother, colleague and benefactor of many people from different paths and ways, Professor Chris Ikporukpo turned 70. He takes a dignified bow from the UI of his youth and reputation. He remains a hard core resident of Ibadanland because he has secured a permanent relationship with the people of the town most admirably.
My path crossed with Oga Chris early in my career in this university about 1992. With Professors Michael Filani (who was his supervisor), Sylvester Abumere and Anthony Elueze, all of blessed memories, and the last man standing – Prof Okafor, he formed a sort of academic and social group famed for building minds, promoting sound intellectualism, mentoring young people and keeping the campus groovy in the true tradition of a University. It was this group of highly detribalized people that my friends (including Idowu Olayinka and Niyi Gbadegesin) and I associated with.
The early memorable time was during the ASUU strike of 1992, when Congress usually meet at the then IBWA Building. Prof Filani used to attend Congress regularly, but I am not sure if others did diligently. But at the end of each Congress, everyone returned to either Prof. Abumere’s office or Filani’s office to eat and drink and review Congress decisions. I recall that they did not support the strike action but they were not rebellious either. Ikporukpo and others always gave financial support to colleagues in need, especially during the 1994 strike when Abacha stopped our salary from the very month the strike started. That was unlike in 1992 when our salary was paid throughout. Oga Chris was generous, open and kind-hearted. And we grew with him in friendship.
You will never notice differences in age amongst these elders, with the way they relate with the young ones, throwing banters and sometimes dry jokes. At the bachelor’s eve of a particular person in 1993, they kept late night and everyone enjoyed! Oga Chris spotted my independent mindedness and originality during contributions in Senate and ASUU meetings. He developed special interest in me the same way as his other three highly respected colleagues. When I ran for Council elections in 1998 against a much elderly person, they all campaigned and came to vote enmasse for me.
When Prof Ikporukpo became the Vice-Chancellor of Niger Delta University, that university became an exemplary annex of the University of Ibadan in orientation, staff recruitment and policy directions. All that was good in academic and administrative personnel, including technical expertise were full exploited by Ikporukpo. He ensured that UI staff in search of sabbatical and other work contracts were employed, leading to the rapid development of Ammasoma, Bayelsa State. Although I never got a job there, Prof. Ikporukpo was very supportive of my needs, and we both usually appreciated the mutual gestures publicly. I do, sometimes to his embarrassment! He preferred to touch lives without making noise about his gestures. I was pleasantly surprised when he returned from Niger Delta University and took up the headship of the Department of Geography even though he had been Dean of Faculty of the Social Sciences earlier. Prof Chris Ikporukpo is an enigma of some sort; he speaks less, acts more and even frankly but he was never a controversial person.
He is originally from Delta State (perhaps because of the difficult terrains, he has refused to take us to his ancestral home). But he has found real peace, love and comfort in Ibadan. We may therefore organise a chieftaincy title for him in the future if he continues to stay. Throughout the years that he spent years in Bayelsa State as Vice-Chancellor, the University never experienced any revolt or industrial action against his administration.
As a writer said, “Geographers don’t retire; they only calibrate new tyres on the road of life”! At 70 years, we give glory to God that Prof Chris Ikporukpo is well fulfilled. I enjoy my relationship with him, and I use this medium to wish him a most rewarding life in retirement.
Oga Chris, congratulations sir. Ire o!
Dr. Gani Adeniran
Department of Veterinary Pathology
University of Ibadan