One of the three Nigerian professors who died of COVID-19 in the course of the last two weeks had visited the Presidential Villa, Abuja,17 days before his death.
The three professors killed by COVID-19 were Habu Galadima, who was Director-General of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS); Femi Odekunle, Nigeria’s first professor of criminology and member of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC); and Oyewusi Ibidapo-Obe, a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos.
Presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina, said in an opinion piece that he had received Galadima at the Presidential Villa when he led some NIPSS students on a visit to present their research findings on “Population Growth and Human Capital Development: Challenges and Opportunities” to President Muhammadu Buhari.
“In my capacity as compere, I consulted and related closely with Prof Galadima. We discussed who would do what on the program, and were engaging till the about two hours event was concluded. We both had our face masks in place, and still tried to respect the principle of social distancing, even as we conferred.
“You could imagine my shock, when 17 days later, I heard of the death of the erudite Professor. He had reportedly been admitted at an isolation centre in Abuja on December 19, but sadly, he lost the battle for life the next day.
All the learning gone, all the intellect, perished. The knowledge and quest for more knowledge, kaput. What a waste, sheer waste,” Adesina said in an opinion article.
The presidential aide further expressed sadness that two of the three professors died before they clocked 60. He said Galadima died at the age of 57, noting that he was “not ripe at all”.
Adesina said of the other professors killed by COVID-19 in the last two weeks: “Professor Femi Odekunle I probably knew closest among the three fallen scholars. I visited his home in Wuse area of Abuja regularly, very regularly, and he had a way of saying: “Femi, please let’s see on your way from church on Sunday.” And I usually did.
“Odekunle was a Buharist, and we usually had a lot to discuss about our principal, trends in government, the anti-corruption war, and many others. When he needed background information on certain issues, he usually sent for me.
“When COVID-19 came, the Odekunle home took all the precautions. You must wear face mask before you were granted access, and someone was always by the door to apply sanitizers to your hands. So, how did the Prof catch COVID, or rather, how did COVID catch him? Mysterious. Inscrutable. Baffling.”