The Nigerian Academy of Letters (NAL), at its 19th Convocation inducted Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, mni, MFR the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, and four others as Fellows of the elite organization.  The venue was the J.F. Ade-Ajayi Auditorium, University of Lagos, Akoka.

The four other fellows are: Professors Unionmwan Edebiri, OFR, Mabel Osakwe, Siyan Oyeweso and Joseph E. Inikori who was inducted as Overseas Fellow.

The Academy which is an organization of Academics in the liberal arts, language and linguistics and the broad discipline of Humanities was founded in Ibadan on November 14, 1991 with Professors Ayo Bamgbose, Chinua Achebe, J.F. Ade Ajayi, A.E. Ajigbo, Adeboye Babalola, J.P. Clark-Bakederemo and Wole Soyinka as founding fellows.

In a citation read by the Academy Orator Prof. Segun Awonusi, FNAL, Prefessor Rasheed was described as a prolific scholar and researcher who had “churned out a considerable number of original, innovative and lucid academic publications”, adding that Professor Rasheed had to his credit four solid academic books, 23 reviewed articles published in national and international journals of repute in addition to eight other papers in the form of keynote addresses, special presentations and quality press publications.

The citation mentioned that Professor Rasheed had attended 46 national and international conferences, seminars and workshops and his contributions to knowledge spanned the theories and practice of systemic linguistics/functional grammar.

According to the Orator the inductee had demonstrated, “in a robust fashion,” the relevance of linguistically-oriented stylistics to the analysis and interpretation of literary discourses, thus developing a stylistic architecture of meaning interpretations as evidenced in the fresh perspectives given to the meaning and style of Bessie Head’s life, and novels.  “This had led to one of his major publications Discourse Stylistics and the Study of African Short Fiction.”

Speaking on positions held by Professor Rasheed, the citation said he had served in various administrative capacities in the university system that he could be described literally as one who has straddled and conquered the system.  “In BUK, he had served as Acting Head of English and Foreign Languages Department, substantive Head of the same Department, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Islamic Studies, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Admin), Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Acting Vice-Chancellor and eventually Vice-Chancellor.  Apart from serving as member in the various committees of Senate and Council of BUK, at the pan-Nigerian level, he had served Member Governing Council in four different universities: ABU, UNIJOS, Kaduna State University and BUK.  He also served on the Board of the National Institute of Nigerian Languages, Aba.

Besides, the citation continued, he was judge, NLNG Nigerian Literature Prize, Chairman TETFund Technical Advisory Group on Book Development, Monitor-General, National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, and a member, Board of Governors of the politically-influential Arewa House.  In 2014, he was appointed Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, Sule Lamido University, Kafin-Hausa, Jigawa State.  “Moving on to the pinnacle of university administration in Nigeria, he was appointed Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission in 2016.”

The Citation also captured other recognitions, rewards and laurels received by Professor Rasheed thus: “He won the Foreign and Commonwealth Scholarship to study at University of Nottingham, and was International Visitor, Foreign Affairs in the US.  Besides, he is Fellow National Institute for Public Relations, Fellow the Institute for Corporate Executives, Nigeria, Fellow Institute for Corporate Administration, Associate Fellow, Oxonia University Network, UK, Fellow, Nigerian Linguistic Association and Fellow, Nigeria English Scholars Association of Nigeria as well as Member, National Institute of Strategic Studies (mni), To crown it all, a National Honour/award was conferred on him as Member (in the order of the) Federal Republic (MFR).”

In presenting him for admission into the NAL Fellowship, the orator described Professor Rasheed as outstanding systemic grammarian-cum-discourse analyst, versatile and prolific scholar, multi-tasking and talented administrator per excellence in the higher education enterprise, and an avowed journalist of the first order.

In his welcome remarks, the President of NAL, Professor Olu Obafemi said that the year 2017 had been a very busy year for the Academy and an equally difficult time for all of us as a nation in its present state of socio-economic and political travails, adding that never had our harmony as a nation been more bedeviled with so much troublous agitations and frightening dystopia than in the past few years of our national history.  “The times have called for a rigorous critiquing of the state, essence and nature of nation offer Hence, the Academy has decided to engage the theme of Patriotism in its 19th Convocation,” he concluded.

Prof. Obafemi said that Patriotism, included but transcended Nigerianism or Nigeria’s nationhood and pertained to committed love and affection for and loyalty to our nation.  “These are humane values that engage the Humanities.  It involves working through rigorous national conversation toward building and redeeming the ideal Nigerian dream, one which transcends but includes sub-national and sectarian loyalties.  The raging rational and extreme agitations for restructuring, devolution, true federalism and even self-determination are all implicated in patriotism.”

According to the NAL President, when the word restructuring was mentioned, reference was uncritically made to politics, “yet, the most important restructuring is the major economic reform that the nation direly needs to embark upon,” insisting that the nation required major structural reforms to create growth, boost employment profile and enhance mass participation and inclusivity in the country.

He said that Nigeria needed to make a wide range of structural policy reforms such as opening up key sectors to improve living conditions across board, introducing new minimum wage, developing entrepreneurship and maintaining macro and micro-economic stability and creating a clement business environment for enabling and enhancing productive economy; all of which will grow national patriotism.  “The present state of a highly unequal society and moral bankruptcy in public affairs are responsible largely for mass frustration, disillusion and a frightening challenge to national patriotism, he averred.

Prof. Obafemi said that 2017 was a special year in the Academy’s annals” as we induct, for the first time, 60 new members of the Academy who have fulfilled the requirement of membership in the past three years.  Another high point of Convocation is the admission of five new Fellows to the College of Fellows.  I congratulate all of the recipients of membership and fellowship of this most worthy Academy,” he said.

The Convocation lecture titled: “The Patriot and the Nationalists in an Emergency Democracy” was delivered by Professor Dele Layiwola, FNAL, while the Scientific Session had two speakers, Professors Yakubu Aboki, Ochefu, FHSN and Asabe Kabir Usman of Kwararafa University, Wukari, Taraba State and Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto State respectively.

In an Acceptance Speech on behalf of the new fellow, Professor Abubakar Rasheed said it would be an understatement for him to say, on behalf of his fellow recipients of “this most prestigious and coveted honour, the highest of its type in the humanities, that we are simply overwhelmed and humbled by our admission into the College of Fellows of the Academy.”

He said that they did not take the honour for granted as they knew how competitive and rigorous the exercise of selecting the fellow must have been, assuring that they would rededicate themselves to the ideals of excellence and promotion of “humane values of our nation which are critical mandates of the Academy at a time like this when such values are in short supply but in very great demand.”

Professor Rasheed further assured the academy that on his part the ideal of partnering with the Academy in the attainment  of excellence and high standards in the nation’s education “is uppermost in my mind in my unalloyed drive to reposition the NUC for the fulfillment of its objectives.”

He added that he believed that he would continue to receive and enjoy guidance, cooperation and nurture from the academy in the task of committing the NUC to raising the standard of university education in Nigeria of 21st century “impelled by information and knowledge as the sole imperative of growth and development.”

Professor Rasheed said they would treasure the honour forever and thanked the president, the past President and the College of Fellow for finding them “worthy of admission into this prestigious club of NAL Fellows”

Prof. Rasheed’s investiture was attended by the Deputy Governor of Kano State, Professor Hafeez Abubakar, Vice-Chancellors of UniLag and BUK Profs. Rahman Bello and Yahuza Bello and a couple of Vice Chancellors from the South-Western and South Eastern part of the country.

The Vice-Chancellor University of Lagos Prof. Rahman Bello hosted guests to a luncheon to honour Professor Rasheed.