One of the five authors of Nigeria’s National Anthem, Professor Babatunde Ogunnaike is dead.
He was 65.
Ogunnaike was born on March 26, 1956 and hailed from Ijebu Igbo, Ogun State.
A notable Nigerian educationist and publisher, Gbenro Adegbola confirmed his death.
According to Adegbola, Ogunnaike emerged as one of five, whose words and phrases were combined to form the anthem.
The others were: John A. Ilechukwu, Eme Etim Akpan, Sota Omoigui, and P.O. Aderibigbe.
Ogunnaike attended the University of Lagos for his bachelor’s degree, graduating with First Class Honours in chemical engineering in 1976.
He furthered his studies and earned an M.Sc. degree in statistics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a PhD in chemical engineering also from the same university in 1981.
Ogunnaike was a research engineer with the process control group of the Shell Development Corporation in Houston, Texas from 1981 to 1982.
He worked as a researcher for DuPont and was also a consultant to several companies including Gore, PPG Industries, and Corning Inc.
He joined the faculty of the University of Delaware in 2002 and was appointed to the William L. Friend Professorship of Chemical Engineering in 2008.
Ogunnaike 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 effective July 1, 2013.
He retired as Dean on October 1, 2018 but remained on the faculty.
Recalling how he contributed to the composition of the National anthem in an interview with The Nation in 2013, Ogunnaike said: “I recall being on my national service (NYSC) in 1977 (in Port Harcourt) when the announcement came out for contributions to the new National Anthem. And I recall reading some of the submissions because they were then routinely published.
“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.
“I think that my line emphasised “sacrifice” instead of labour and I don’t think I used heroes. I do not have the original submission with me, alas; and that was some 36 years ago now, so it is difficult for me to recall precisely what was in the first verse.”