By Samuel Ogunduyilemi Ogunyemi.
RE: The Honourable Dr Timothy Akinola Aguda (OFR) NNMA, LL.M, Ph.D (Lead), LL.D (Notions Causa (Ife), First Nigerian Professor of Law.
(NOTE: He has so many firsts and feats that will take another forum to explore.)
Hon Dr Akinola Aguda, fondly referred to in Nigeria’s legal firmament as Nigeria’s Lord Denning is not bereft of honour. Neither has he consciously or unconsciously sought any honour while he lived. Justice Akinola Aguda remained humble in the real sense of humility.
Though a world citizen, for the benefit of the younger generation of Àkúrẹ́, let me locate Justice Aguda in Àkúrẹ́, the land of his birth.
Hon. Justice Timothy Akinola Aguda was born in Àkúrẹ́ on 10 June 1923 to the highly distinguished family of Elijah Aguda and Deborah Fasu, a prominent cocoa farmer and an Anglican couple.
He was reputed to be a cerebral jurist and lawyer, who embraced radicalism especially during the period of military rule in Nigeria. It is believed this may have resulted in his exclusion as a member of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
His decision in Agbaje v Commisisioner of Police, Western State of Nigeria and Afe Babalola v The Federal Electoral Commissioner and Anor amply demonstrated his fearlessness when it comes to equity, justice and justiciability.
Those of us who were old enough during the Afe Babalola v The Federal Electoral Commissioner and Anor case couldn’t but feel sorry for Nigeria seeing that judges with uncommon courage and candour are thinning out. One needed to see how Adegborioye, the then Ondo State Electoral Commissioner was shivering in court under the full weight of the law. Michael Ani, FEDECO Chairman and even General Olusegun Obasanjo the then Head of State were not spared for shielding Adegborioye from the court-ordered arrest after he failed to appear before the court on subpoena.
That aside, but it serves the purpose of backgrounding the crux of the matter, THE DEBASEMENT OF THE NATIONAL MEMORIAL HONOUR earlier given to Hon. Justice Akinola Aguda.
In honour of Justice Akinola Aguda who chaired the Panel that was set up to determine the best place to situate a new capital city for Nigeria and at the end recommended Suleja, present day Abuja a central place in the country for citing of the new capital territory, the Federal Military Government headed by General Murtala Muhammed proclaimed on February 3, 1976 that the residence of the President at Abuja should be named after Justice Akinola Aguda.
By 1982, Aguda House was built. It was formally named after Akinola Aguda on October 1, 1982.
On Oct 5, 1982, President Shehu Shagari presided over a Federal Executive Council Meeting at the Akinola Aguda House. That was the first Federal EXCO Meeting in Abuja, outside Lagos.
Shagari lived at the Akinola Aguda House, the State House in Abuja until the General Muhammadu Buhari 1983 coup that toppled the Second Republic.
ÈRÒ ÒYÈ, YORUBA PEOPLE, THAT HONOUR, AKINOLA AGUDA HOUSE AS NIGERIA’S PRESIDENTIAL LODGE WAS A GLOBAL HONOUR DONE “US”.
I deliberately use past tense because it is no longer so.
Today, Akinola Aguda House was first relegated from being the official home of the President to the official home of the Vice-President. In 2010, the construction of a new Vice Presidential Residence commenced. The Residence has yet to be completed. Do we, by that fact need any further conviction that THE “HONOUR” HAS BEEN ERODED AND HAS PALED TO NON-EXISTENCE? This is right before our very eyes!
That is why Àkúrẹ́ needs to rise and act now to emblazon our “dulled epaulet”. Or have we lost our scimitar? It has only been blunted by our diminishing patriotism. We can hopefully rise above these distractions.
I hereby propose as follows:
1. In liason with our political representatives in all levels and fronts, let us urge the Federal Government to honour its proclamation in the naming of the Presidential Lodge at Abuja after Akinola Aguda.
For all intents and purposes, the founders of Abuja WANTED THE RESIDENCE OF THE PRESIDENT NAMED AKINOLA AGUDA HOUSE in honor of the man that headed the panel that discovered Abuja. Therefore, the new structure housing the President now called Aṣọ Rock Villa should have been rechristened Akinola Aguda House. But probably because he is not from a tribe that is born to rule, they refused to accord him the deserved honor. THEREFORE, OUR REPRESENTATIVES ACROSS YORUBA STATES IN GENERAL, Ondo State in particular should take it up politically and ensure that the Presidential Lodge is appropriately named.
2. In the interim, even back home in Ondo State, steps should be taken to have a unique but popular monument named after Justice Akinola Aguda. One I consider appropriate is the Akure Airport before they name it after a Fulani man.
In conclusion ọmọ Òyè, Yoruba People, Àkúrẹ́ says, “Elérú li i k’ọfẹ kan tí i ba gbé rú rẹ̀”. The ball is in our court, please.
Àkúrẹ́ á gbè á ò.
PLEASE HELP SHARE UNTIL IT GETS TO THE APPROPRIATE QUARTERS & PURSUE UNTIL THIS GOAL IS MET!!!
By Samuel Ogunduyilemi OGUNYEMI