60 garlands for the Ibadan kingmaker
Within the campus of University of Ibadan (UI), he is as popular as the institution itself. And, in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, he is as famous as the moon. Perhaps, his popularity, based on his natural inclination for justice, fairness, integrity and accountability can better be understood within the context of an argot among his admirers who summarise his relevance thus: Gani kan, UI kan, Gani kan, Ibadan kan meaning there is only one Gani in both UI and Ibadan.
However, beyond his popularity, any time the name, Dr. Gàníyù Adetunji Adeniran is mentioned, the refrain has always been, “but Gani is good.” To all intent and purposes, this goodness that is associated with Dr. Gani largely has to do with his positive character, integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity and moral courage.
Born on July 2, 1957 at Adeoyo Hospital in Ibadan, Dr. Gani who turns 60 today is a senior lecturer in the Department of Veterinary Pathology, UI where he graduated in 1986. He had earlier attended Ilesha Grammar School and School of Animal Health, Moore Plantation, Ibadan from 1977 to 1979. He has served UI in various capacities, including Council Committee Chairman on Security from 2007 to 2015. Outside the campus, Dr. Gani was Chairman, Presidential Visitation Panel to Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi (1999), Member, Governing Council, Federal College of Education, Kontangora (2000-2003) and Commissioner, Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission (OYSEIC) between 2004 and 2007.
Interestingly, Dr. Gani’s life eloquently demonstrates the Turkish proverb, which says, “good people are like candles, they burn themselves up to give others light.” Certainly, those who know him will agree that he is an “Afenifere” (the one who wishes others well) to the core. He is naturally given to the pursuit of well being of everyone. Little wonder, he is so popular and loved by many. The fragrance of flowers may spread in the direction of the wind, but as far as Gani is concerned, his own goodness spreads in all directions without considering your tribe, religion or social class.
For many years to come, security men and women in the UI will forever be grateful to Dr. Gani for all he did to improve their welfare when he was the Council Committee Chairman on Security. Before the coming of Gani, no security officer had ever attained Principal Security Officer (PSO) cadre on CONTISS 11. But when the “warrior” came, he practically took on the battle and fought gallantly until the siege was over. He dismantled all administrative bottlenecks constituting promotion stagnation for the security men and women on campus.
Also, during his tenure as Chairman, Dr. Adeniran created four security zonal offices including Masaba, Botanical garden, Intelligence Unit, and Awolowo hall. He also employed the highest number of security personnel in a very transparent manner. To be specific, 90 patrolmen and women were recruited: the largest single recruitment exercise in the history of campus security service. He rebranded their operational vehicles, just as he raised money among his friends to ensure that all was well with the unit and its personnel.
In the last 25 years, Dr. Gani has participated actively in the appointment of six Vice Chancellors, thus earning the appellation of a kingmaker. Amazingly, he does not carry religion on his head. He is a devout Muslim, yet Dr. Gani will attend a church ceremony if invited. He will sing and dance with you in church. He simply loves people and their progress. He hates injustice. For instance, when some powers and principalities rose against my appointment in UI, Dr. Gani stood for me. He insisted that the appointment must sail through. He pointedly told the opposition party, “Saanu is not a Muslim as I am. He is not from Ibadan where I come from neither is he a woman that I want to go out with. But I simply like this man because of the quality of his work. If the university must move forward, we must not hesitate to recruit the like of Saanu”. In conjunction with the immediate past VC, Prof. Adewole who equally deployed his mighty intellectual powers and political wizardry, Dr. Adeniran fought and fought until the opposition voices were subdued. Yet, he knew me not from Adam!
Apart from my case, he has fought similar battles on behalf of many helpless and hapless individuals who would have otherwise been edged out of the system unjustly. Indeed, Dr. Gani is a divine handkerchief in the hands of those that are weeping. He is a helper of the helpless and a defense for the defenseless. In abundance, he naturally possesses incomparable passion for the wellbeing of the less privileged.
Dr. Gani has the three universally recognized moral qualities of real men: wisdom, compassion and courage. From caring for others, his courage probably blossoms. He maintains a bit of mystique as his style of life is unique, simple, truthful, fearless and above all consistent. He is unrepentant when it comes to fighting for a just cause. It does not matter who is involved, Gani will garnish you with the bitter truth that will lay you to rest!
However, he does not joke with his integrity, he hates corruption with passion. In demonstration of his love for accountability, Dr.Gani attended a conference in India on the bill of the University in 2011. Immediately he returned from the “Fire India 2011 Exhibition conference. He refunded a day estacode of $425 (about #75,000). Excited by his transparent lifestyle, the then VC, Prof. Adewole commended him in a letter dated October 10, 2011, saying, “your timely clearance of the cash/touring advancement given to you for the journey is highly commendable.”
A dubious person would have manipulated the situation to keep the money for himself. Not in Gani’s character. In the same vein, when he was the Hall Warden of Sultan Bello Hall, he gave a transparent account of his stewardship, just as he raised money for the Hall without taking commission. Without doubt, in moral probity and accountability, he stands out.
To Dr. Gani, honesty is more than not lying. Honesty is truth-telling, truth-speaking, truth-living and truth-loving. His philosophy is found in the words of an Australian television personality, Tabatha Coffey who says “we have to stand up for what we believe in, even when we might not be popular for it. Honesty starts with being ourselves, authentic and true to who we are, and what we believe in, and that may not always be popular, but it will always let you follow your dreams and your heart.”
However, this tribute does not in anyway suggest that Dr. Gani is an angel. No. He is human. And there is no error-proof man in life. He has his own shortcomings. Perhaps, part of his imperfectness could be found in his mercurial twists of temperament. He could be accused of volatile unpredictability of mood. Dr. Gani is largely feared for his tempestuous temper. But then, as he advances in age, more so now that he has joined the club of sexagenarians, it is hoped that he will be taming his temper. Good enough, age, or better still, old age, has a way of making a warrior less adventurous. But beyond this perceived weakness, Dr. Gani is a man with a loving heart. A man whose unwavering commitment to any worthy cause is unparalleled.
Saanu is Media Assistant in the Vice Chancellor’s office, University of Ibadan
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