Opinion: Tribute to Abdul Raufu Mustapha. By Anthony Akinola & Shehu Othman
The world of intellectuals lost a giant with the death, on 8th August 2017, of Professor Abdul Raufu Mustapha. A scholar and well-admired gentleman, Dr. Mustapha was a Nigerian from Ilorin, Kwara State, who earned degrees in Political Science from Ahmadu Bello and Oxford Universities. Until his death, he was professor of African studies at Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford. An accomplished scholar and author of books and articles, Professor Mustapha's research focused on the politics of rural societies in Africa, with emphasis on democratisation, ethnicity and identity politics. His teaching career spanned decades at prominent universities - Bayero, Ahmadu Bello and Oxford.
To us his friends of three or more decades, Raufu meant a world. Our year of togetherness as students at Oxford were, indeed, a golden era. Nigerians of different ethnic and religious backgrounds, resident in the various colleges of an historic federal-type university, were best of friends who fended for one another. Raufu Mustapha fitted well into our culture of oneness, a culture we so much cherished and wished for the larger Nigerian society.
Raufu was a very passionate Nigerian whose views on our societal problems and aspirations are well documented and shared by close friends. Like most honest Nigerians, Professor Raufu Mustapha was always very sad at the abrasiveness of corruption in the society. Not a few times would he compare Nigeria to the more purposeful nations he was privileged to have visited in his lifetime. He would talk endlessly of the irony of a nation where private jets have become toys for the privileged few, while the so-called giant of Africa could not sustain a national airline!
The late Raufu Mustapha, as a specialist in democratic studies, would jokingly talk of the Nigerian brand of democracy as lacking in democrats. Of politicians who would talk loudly of the need for peaceful elections, but would nevertheless fund thugs to harass opponents. He wished our politicians were more considerate of the modest needs and aspirations of ordinary Nigerians, and be less obsessive of selfish pursuits. Specifically, he always frowned at the outrageous salaries, allowances, and pensions of elected politicians while the majority of Nigerians were not too sure of where their next meals were coming from.
Professor Raufu Mustapha fought courageously against the stomach cancer that kept him in and out of hospital for months. Being the hardworking and astute scholar that he was, he never ceased to berate a situation which made him completely unable to perform his academic responsibilities. Perhaps more frustrating for this kind and generous patriot were the unpalatable daily reports of occurrences coming in from Nigeria - unending Boko Haram atrocities. kidnapping, ritual murders, secessionist agitations, and herdsmen nuisance, among others. We knew he was genuinely saddened by all these. However, he should be smiling all the way to meet his creator knowing he was appreciated as a good human being by numerous friends and family members. A very good family man by all accounts, he leaves behind his lovely wife, Kate, and two intelligent and well-mannered children, Asmau and Seyi.
May the soul of Professor Abdul Raufu Mustapha find peace with God Almighty.
Anthony Akinola & Shehu Othman, Abuja.