Professor Gregory Olu Omosuyi, 1956 to 2022: Tribute to a classmate, friend and confidant
On Thursday 22nd December 2022 I received a phone call from you in respect of a PhD candidate in the Department of Geology University of Ibadan, for which the Postgraduate College had earlier approved your appointment as the External Examiner. We agreed that the oral examination could be scheduled for the second week of the new year. Man proposes, God disposes.
I was at a Thanksgiving service on Monday 26th December in honour of a colleague who had just retired from the services of the University the previous day on attaining the mandatory retirement age when I opened my phone at 2:15 pm to note a missed call and a text message. It was a rude shock for me to learn through a mutual colleague that you had passed on earlier that day. Needless to say that I was dumbfounded and devastated. It pushed ashes in my mouth, your demise coming barely four days after we last spoke and you were in good spirits.
My path crossed with that of Gregory Olu Omosuyi as one of the undergraduate students admitted into the Preliminary Science Class at the University of Ibadan in 1977. At the end of that session we both registered with 25 other colleagues for the Bachelor of Science degree in Geology. It was a closely knit group and all of us were friends. You were a resident of Nnamdi Azikiwe Hall while I was in Sultan Bello Hall. The two of us were paired for our Field Mapping Project in our penultimate year (1980) and our site was in parts of the then newly created Ogun State. We got on well and bonded as brothers, a friendship that we sustained even after the completion of our degree programme. You were easily one of the best and the brightest in our set, graduating easily with a Second Class Honours (Upper Division).
You secured a Federal Government Scholarship for a Master of Science degree in Marine Geology, your pet subject, in the United Kingdom but for some undisclosed reasons you were unable to utilise the scholarship. You then returned to our alma mater, the famous University of Ibadan for a Master of Science degree in Exploration Geophysics which you deservedly earned in 1985.
After a stint in Lagos State as a secondary School teacher you commenced a brilliant and productive academic career in 1992 at the Federal University of Technology Akure as Assistant Lecturer. You registered for your Doctoral research which you completed successfully in 2001. You rose through the ranks and was promoted a Professor of Applied Geophysics in 2015.
You served your University dutifully and diligently in different capacities including Coordinator, Acting Head and substantive Head of the Department during the period 2001 to 2003, 2008 to 2010 and 2017 to 2021, respectively. Within the larger Nigerian University System you were a valued scholar reknown for thoroughness and due attention to details as External Examiner to undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in Applied Geology and Exploration Geophysics and External Assessor for professorial candidates in many sister Universities.
You were a devout and committed Catholic from birth. You were very exemplary and impeccable in character, ever so humble, unassuming, self-effacing and very quiet and pllegmatic.
You successfully supervised 22 Master of Technology and 3 Doctor of Philosophy students in your very brilliant career spanning the last 30 years. You distinguished yourself through your hard work, discipline and spartan lifestyle. You were an inimitable exemplar to covet.
On a personal note, I have lost a brother, friend and confidant. I can never forget that infamous Friday evening in March 1996 when my passport with a German entry visa and Lufthansa flight tickets were lost after some fellows broke into my car in Akure, barely four days before my trip to Germany. I had to follow you to your house along Idanre Road after the incident to spend the night with you rather than go to the Guest House originally reserved for me. Neither you nor my humble self could catch any sleep throughout that night. The following morning you took me to the Head of Department Professor J. S. Ojo of blessed memory and the Vice-Chancellor, Professor L. B. Kolawole on how to procure another passport for your friend within the shortest possible time frame. You were such a selfless person who was always interested in my welfare.
You had a very large heart. About a year ago you duly informed me of your forthcoming Inaugural Lecture. You asked me to review the draft manuscript which I gladly did. You publicly acknowledged me when you eventually presented the lecture in February this year. Although I was unable to attend physically you easily forgave my absence.
You as the Head of Department, our very good friend Dean Professor Pius Enikanselu and a great colleague Vice-Chancellor Professor Joseph Fuwape went out of officialdom and bureaucracy to grant me a Visiting Professorship Appointment at the Federal University of Technology Akure at a time when such privilege had been literally annuled in our Federal Universities, no thanks to the faulty interpretation of the nebulous Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
We commiserate with your darling wife, children, the entire Igbotako community of Ondo State, your friends, associates and neighbours.
It hurts very deeply to be referring to you in the past tense. I am in tears as I conclude this tribute. But our good God knows best why He had to take you at this time.
Rest in perfect peace, Olu, my gentle giant of a friend. In you I have lost a brother, friend and confidant.
Your Undergraduate classmate (1977 to 1981)
Wednesday, 28th December 2022