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Nigeria’s Greatest Polytechnic Administrator Wilfred Awodi ‘Goes Home’

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By Joseph Edegbo :

The body of an academic Icon, Dr. Yusufu Wilfred Awodi was committed to mother earth last weekend in his country home, Ogbogodo in Dekina Local Government Area of Kogi State.

Late Dr. Awodi who held the record of the longest serving Rector in the nation’s history, died on 17th of December 2021 in Lokoja of a brief illness.

The funeral ceremony witnessed sea of heads from all walks of life to pay tributes to the greatest polytechnic administrator Nigeria had ever produced.

Late Awodi served as Rector, Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo 1988 — 1991, Rector, Federal Polytechnic Idah 1992 — 2000 and Acting Rector, Federal Polytechnic Oko 2006 –2010.

He headed the powerful Council of Heads of Polytechnics and Monotechnics in Nigeria (COHEADS) from December 1995 — May 2000 in the design and implementation of policies for the Nigerian polytechnic system.

A Chartered Chemist, Late Awodi was a member of several professional bodies in Nigeria and abroad including, the Royal Institute of Chemistry, Manchester Technology Association , Fellow, Institute of Chartered Chemistry of Nigeria among others.

At the ceremony, tributes poured in from rectors, educationists, friends , relatives, old students Associations to an Icon who capped his educational achievements by obtaining his Ph.D from the University of Manchester, Institute of Science and Technology in 1984.

In a tribute to Dr. Awodi, whom he called his excellent leader, mentor and beloved brother, the Rector, Federal Polytechnic Idah, Dr. D.D. Bala said the deceased’s role in his life and the life of many who are doing well today in various sectors of the economy, can never be underestimated .
“You employed me in Benue Polytechnic Ugbokolo in 1980 and also Federal Polytechnic Idah in 1992, through your good mentoring, counseling and guidance, Iam today by the Grace of God, the Rector of the Federal Polytechnic Idah, the position you once occupied from 1992 — 2000”, Bala narrates.

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On behalf of the Governing Council, Management, Staff and Students of Federal Polytechnic Oko, the Rector, Engr. Dr. Francisco Nwafulugo said the deceased became the Acting Rector of the Polytechnic at a very critical point in the life of the institution, and brought sweeping reforms, which subsequent Rectors built on.

Hon.Justice J.O. Ogebe JSC rtd, described Late Awodi as an excellent administrator who had headed several Polytechnics both at State and Federal levels without blemish. His death was a great loss to the nation, he said.

The Rector, Kogi State Polytechnic, Dr. Salisu Usman said the Late Awodi’s imprints in making an enviable investments when he served as Rector of Benue State Polytechnic Ugbokolo, Federal Polytechnics Idah and Oko would remain fresh in their memories.

His home community where he was the Grand Patron of the town Union, the Ogbogodo Progressives Union says, “A heart made of gold has stopped beating.. “Even if you are dead you are not genuinely gone as your memories will live on in our hearts and minds because we love you and will never forget about you”.
Continue to intercede for us just as you did while you were with us” says the Union.

A renowned educationist and Amana Attah Igala, Imane, Chief Sylvester Onoja described Late Awodi as his bosom and inseparable friend from Native Authority Primary School, Ofugo in the late fifties.

Chief Onoja stated that the demise of Awodi showed that a portion of the educational library has gone with him.
The Igala race, he emphasized, has lost an unrivaled intellectual giant whose mentorship would have been regularly needed at a time when by their ill- fated educational system was on the stretcher in a state of comma due to age long systemic failure.

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According to Chief Onoja, ” He has legacies that would follow mourners from his grave side as we leave him alone in his eternal casket:- legacies of care, love for humanity, unblemished service to fatherland, putting food on people’s table and supply of research works that would advance the course of academic discourse forever”.

A former Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Prof. Stephen Ocheni said Late Awodi was known and would ever be remembered for his uprightness and resilience, an advocate of truth, hard work and fear of God . Weeping for eternity, Ocheni emphasized, would not convey the depth of his feeling of the irreparable loss.

Pastor Reuben Otajele Musa, a retired Director ( Administration) Federal Civil Service Abuja, said the joy of meeting again at the BOSOM of the Lord one day by the mercies of the Lord has taken away the pains of reality that he’s gone to glory leaving behind family, friends and folks for eternity.
“Also, it is a thing of joy that it has been brought to pass concerning you, by the mercy of God, Omaye mi, that your mortal and corruptible body now dwells in incorruption and immortality. Glory be to God”.
“Sir, brother, daddy, Dr., you and Dr. Iyaji were the only two brothers I had in my educational pursuit. Your encouragement led me to Ochaja Secondary School in 1972, the foundation of my tertiary education.
Career wise, I was able to reach the climax of my Civil Service Career”, he said.

On their part, Prof.& Mrs Moses Etila Shaibu described Late Awodi as an Icon, academic colossus, an astute administrator and a first- class educationist par excellence.
To them, he said, the deceased was a man of many parts of which time and space would no be fair to them to chronicle his impacts in their life in particular and the Society in general.

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Other tributes include those from ECWA, Gideon International, United Evangelical Church, Igala Elders Consultative Forum Lokoja, Hon. David Ona Former Benue State Commissioner, Dr.A. Bulama, Engr. Joseph Akagwu, Ageni Yusuf, Kossi Ebunilo of Mass Comm Dept. Fed Poly Oko and JKA Umaru.

The officiating Minister, Rev. Dr. Dauda Ayuba reminded the mourners that whether one likes it or not death must come to separate body from soul.
Dr. Awodi, he emphasized, is dead and that it is philosophical that all persons must also die hence the need to remain pure in heart for salvation.

Aged 73, Dr Awodi, a widower, is survived by four children and ten grand children.

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