Celebrating Prof. Aghalino, a scholarly goldfish and magisterial intellectual, @ Plus One
In his brilliantly written play, Twelfth Night, a romantic comedy, the preeminent dramatist, William Shakespeare gave a profound thesis on greatness, saying aptly, “some are born great, some achieved greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them”.
There are a lot of persons who are not born great but they achieved greatness through sheer dint of hardwork, diligence, honesty, and unwavering integrity.
It is among those redoubtable men and women that one finds Professor Samuel Ovuete Aghalino who is undoubtedly one of Nigeria’s, nay Africa’s most profoundly cerebral scholar of history, celebrated public intellectual, accomplished administrator and widely acclaimed consultant who turns plus one on Tuesday, August 14. For Professor Aghalino, his greatness is not a measure of what he has achieved for himself, but, what he has silently and quietly achieved through making others better. And this will be a subject matter of tributes, felicitations that will pour in torrents from men and women of goodwill.
Born of enterprising and adventurous parentage on August 14, raised in his natal community Owhelogbo in Isoko North Local Government Area of Delta State, Professor Aghalino was a child prodigy whose maturity imbued and imbibed the enduring vision of a nation builder. He was positively inquisitive, asked hard, probing questions, and challenged some orthodoxies.
His passionate love of books and of avidly reading started early in his primary schools days, and blossomed in his university days devouring classical works of the legendary Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens whose Tales of Two Cities appeals to him more.. He read nearly all works of the then famous Africa Writers Series and got renewed and transformed.
Soon, he developed a critical sense of history and a deep analytical mind. He became highly sensitive and perceptive. With a highly meditative consciousness, he probed and explored people, places and phenomena. Professor Aghalino is well read, and has travelled extensively and widely.
He is known and highly respected in intellectual circles. Tenacity according to the septuagenarian poet and scholar, Professor Niyi Osundare, is the sine qua non for intellectual inquiry. Running through Professor Aghalino’s academic writings, essays and books, that are Catholic, one cannot help but appreciates the rigour of research by him, his critical thinking, and profound thoughts.
Professor Aghalino has laboured intellectually to privilege Niger Delta and his Isoko ethnic nationality. He has an abiding interest in Isoko History and has done a lot of studies on the economic fortunes of Isoko. Many of his academic inquisitions, especially his MA dissertation and PhD thesis bear eloquent testimony to this fact.
Aghalino is an ideal academic that is critical, discerning and forthright. He settled down as a university don at the University of Ilorin, UNILORIN, Kwara State in 1995 after a brief working stint at the Directorate of Food, Road, Rural and Infrastructure, DFRRI, Ahiazu, in Mbaise Local Government Area, Imo State, 1990 to 1991, where he distinguished himself as a meticulous and devoted civil servant. Always busy with academic workloads with scholarly seriousness, Aghalino endeared himself to staff and students of the then fledgling Faculty of Arts. He taught with missionary zeal, researched painstakingly, and wrote academic essays published in reputable academic journals. And all these augured well for him academically as he rose through the rank, and became a Professor of History! Aghalino functioned commendably as Head of the Department of History and International Studies . Other academic positions held by him include Faculty of Arts Representative, member of UNILORIN’s Library and Publication Committee. He is an external assessor and examiner. As an excellent and meticulous editor, Professor Aghalino is one of the most sought after scholars as editors of learned journals, and he has edited numerous books, journals with clinical aplomb. He is the superb editor of Ilorin Journal of History and International Studies, and member of the editorial committee of the extremely reputed Alore: Ilorin Journal of Humanities. He is a leading member of many academic associations and professional bodies, including Friends of the Earth, Environmental Rights Action and Peace, and Collaborative Development Network.
Professor Aghalino’s serminal contribution to History in Nigeria, nay Africa has not gone unnoticed, he has been honoured for his intellectual labour locally and intentionally. On Monday the 10th day of October, 2016 Professor Aghalino was honoured with the coveted Presidential Award in Outstanding Contribution to the Historical Society of Nigeria (HSN) and he has been inducted into the hall of fame of legendary and formidable historians, as a Fellow of Historical Society of Nigerian (FHSN) . Conscious of his contributions, he was elected into the highly regarded Council of the HSN to represent the North Central zone of Nigeria.
The foregoing has not fully captured the quintessential Professor Samuel Aghalino. His high profile academic productivity as evidenced in his teaching, research, and administrative experience put him in vintage and vantage position to run institutions. In 2009, he was appointed as first member of the Governing Council of the Delta State School of Marine Technology, situated in Burutu in Delta State, and he served selflessly. In 2015, the incumbent Governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa appointed him as Chairman of the Governing Council of College of Education, Warri. Three years on the Governing Council under his chairmanship has not failed in its discharge of duties in formulation and implementation of policies and statutes, and has done remarkably well as intermediary between government and the College.
Indeed, Professor Aghalino is an intellectual in government and his views are sought after. He served meritoriously as chairman, Social Development Committee of Senator Okowa’s transition Committee, 2015. Before then, he had served as member of the Delta State Think Tank Committee to the extraordinary and highly successful 2014 National Conference held in Abuja that was convoked by the immediate past president, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. There is also the fact the cerebral celebrant is a consummate consultant and meticulous external assessor to many institutions, agencies. Between 2009 to 2015, he was External Assessor for Training Progamme, to Delta State Board of Internal Revenue Service (DSIR).
Professor Aghalino has distinguished himself as a versatile and prolific public scholar who has delivered countless public lectures and keynote addresses, and granted interviews on diverse issues nationwide. Also, he is a grassroot politician of note. A chieftain of the People’s Democratic Party, who has contributed immensely to the growth of the party. He brought to bear in his politics his formidable intellectual arsenal. He is one of the intellectual power houses of his nation, Isoko. A political strategist, famous for evolving ideas and schemes, Professor Aghalino is the National Publicity Secretary of Isoko Advancement Networks (IAN) which has Chief (Comrade) Ovuozourie Samuel Macaulay, former Secretary to Delta State Government as Patron.
In concluding this essay, Professor Aghalino despite his monumental achievements remains profoundly simple. He is humble, self effacing, approachable, amiable, genial and compassionate. For now, let’s roll out the drums and celebrate this scholarly goldfish and magisterial intellectual , Professor Samuel Ovuete Aghalino, at plus one. CONGRATULATIONS, PROF!!!
Ajiri-Oghene Oreh writes from Ughelli, Delta State.