By Kemi Yesufu
Political heavy weights and leading lights from the academia on Friday June 25 gathered in Abuja to celebrate one of their own, Professor Iyorwuese Hagher.
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, his predecessor Senator Gabriel Suswam, Senator Abba Moro and former lawmaker, Senator Jack Tilley Gyado led a long list of dignitaries who showered encomium on the former diplomat, academician and politician at the event tagged a celebration of his literary works and his multi-faceted life.
Governor Ortom described Hagher as a role model to lecturers, leaders, writers and anyone who wants to live a life worthy of emulation. “We have all heard of Professor Hagher’s achievements across board. We have heard testimonies from ABU Zaria, from the University of Jos. Professor Hagher stands as a model for all of you who are scholars”, he said.
The governor who was represented at the well-attended event by his commissioner for Education, Prof. Dennis Tyavyar, further described Hagher as Benue’s gift to the world, adding that he was a distinguished son of the state.
Speaking earlier, a former student and mentee to the man of the day, Professor Irene Agunloye revealed how he played an integral role in her career. Agunloye who is the head of Gender Studies at the University of Jos, said to the admiration of guests, that Hagher helped raise academics of repute. This is even as he has played the role of father to many without expecting any form of reward. On his writings, she said they cover a wide range of issues such as development, corruption, governance and the theatre. She also disclosed the former diplomat’s love for creating strong female characters in his books.
“Professor Hagher has done so much for many of us. His books are people-oriented; he seeks change in his creative works. He speaks out against economic structures that keep people poor. He creates strong female characters in his books unlike other male authors. He creates female characters who are not the usual mother, sister, daughter or wife in a book”, Agunloye revealed.
In his speech which dwelled largely global as well local issues Hagher called for a more humane leadership. He particularly called for investment in young people in Nigeria, even as he advised that the Federal Government find lasting solutions to the high level of insecurity being recorded across the country.
He said: “The world is growing a younger population that must be prepared, for harnessing the potential of a better world. In Nigeria 80 percent of the population is under the age of 40 years. We need to prepare them with adequate knowledge and experience to live in a better world than those we live in now. We need to prepare these youth with universal access to economic opportunities and social services.
“Nigeria is a victim of multiple fatalities. The citizens are crying so much that the tears have obscured their ability to see and build a better future. There has been too much bloodshed in the country recently. It is necessary to say and again say a thousand times that there has been too much bloodshed in the country. We are adversaries to ourselves. We need leaders with strong ideals who are prepared for the pains and suffering needed to foster change.
“ We need politicians who look inwards in their conscience for approval rather than become outside approval-seeking machines, whose public action is measured only by external praise from their primordial base. To restore peace in the land, we must concentrate more on compassion and forgiveness than on brute military might, we must explore all avenues of restorative justice to replace retributive justice”.
“Only by innovation, critical thinking, and conceptualization of our reality can we build lasting peace from the ashes of our security nightmare.
“My colleague politicians must look at the present security challenges as a unique opportunity to rise to the true calling as leaders and to embrace healing. A young democracy like ours is bound to be messy. Democracies tend to be messy. This is the time for us to think deeply and far for the future of our children. Our present security nightmare and descent into dystopia have made responsible people reticent, self-effacing, and opting to hide to avoid being harmed or hurt. As political leaders, we must understand that leaders are leaders only when they act as leaders. Leadership is acting responsibly in doing the right things rather than doing selfish wrong things”, he added.
Chairman of the occasion, former minister of Power, Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu led members of the high table including Senator Gabriel Suswam, Senator Abba Moro and Senator Jack Tilley Gyado to unveil a collection of Professor Hagher’s books.