Babatunde Ogunnaike, co-author of national anthem, is dead

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Babatunde Ogunnaike, one of the authors of the Nigerian national anthem, is dead.

He was said to have died on February 20.

He became a co-author of the national anthem after his submission for a competition organised by the federal government, calling for entries for lyrics for the new national anthem, was chosen.

Ogunnaike’s entry and that of four others — P.O. Aderibigbe, John Ilechukwu, Sota Omoigui, and Eme Etim Akpan — were combined to form the new national anthem which was adopted in 1978.

Ogunnaike, who was born on March 26, 1956, in Ogun state, attended the University of Lagos (UNILAG) for his bachelor’s degree, graduating with first-class honours in chemical engineering in 1976.

He later earned a master’s degree in statistics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1981 and also graduated with a PhD in chemical engineering from the same university in 1981.

He was a research engineer with the Shell Development Corporation in Houston, Texas, between 1981 and 1982, and was also a professor in UNILAG between 1982 and 1988, during which he held appointments in two departments — chemical engineering and statistics.

Between 1989 and 2002, he held various positions at DuPont Central Research and Development.

Ogunnaike joined the University of Delaware as a full professor in 2002, and was appointed as the William L. Friend chair of chemical engineering in 2008.

He acted as interim dean of the college of engineering at the University of Delaware beginning in July 2011, and was named dean of the college of engineering in July 2013. He retired as dean on October 1, 2018 but remained on the faculty.

Speaking about how he contributed to the composition of the national anthem in an interview with The Nation in 2013, Ogunnaike said: “I believe that most of the second verse of the national anthem (if not the entire thing itself) was the second verse of the poem that I submitted. My first verse had a line similar to ‘The labours of our heroes past’ which ended up in the anthem; I am also sure that many of the other submissions had lines similar to this one.”

Reacting to news of his death, President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement on Tuesday, condoled with the deceased’s family and friends.

“President Buhari notes that Ogunnaike, who contributed significantly to the lines of the National Anthem, showed his patriotism and dedication to the wellbeing of the nation in the living words that daily reinforce the faith and spirit of Nigerians,” the statement reads.

“As a scholar and administrator, the President affirms that the long hours of research, spanning into years, enhanced knowledge and understanding, and prepared generations for greater works.”

Source: (The Cable)

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