By James, Michael Igiri
Former Justice of the Supreme Court, Hon. Justice Olayinka Ayoola (Rtd.) has hailed the Pro
Chancellor of the University of Lagos and legal luminary, Dr. Bolanle Olawale Babalakin,
SAN as an alluring gentleman and one of the finest lawyers of his generation.
Justice Ayoola, stated this during the maiden edition of the Pro- Chancellor’s Distinguished
Endowed Annual Lecture which held on Monday, July 23, 2018 at the J.F. Ade Ajayi
Auditorium, University of Lagos.
As Chairman of the event, Justice Ayoola- who is also a former Chief Justice of the Gambia
and former Chairman of ICPC- explained that he was elated with the novel idea which has
been birthed in the University of Lagos, as he had not hitherto heard of any event of such
magnitude organised by a university in Nigeria.
In an opening speech, he described the Pro- Chancellor as a man of service and selflessness,
dedicated to the upliftment of humanity through his works of philanthropy and profession.
“We do owe a lot of gratitude to the Chief-Host, Dr. Abolanle Olawale Babalakin,SAN- one
of the best in this nation- who is certainly of an alluring pedigree, not only by birth, because I
can tell his history from the beginning to this moment, but also by learning,” he said.
He also thanked the event Host, and Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Prof.
Oluwatoyin Ogundipe for convening the lecture.
“It is also indeed a very great honour to have the presence, in our midst the special guest of
honour, Prof. Isaac Adewole, the Honourable Minister of Health, former Vice- Chancellor of
the University of Ibadan who in his tenure of office, achieved very much, and elevated the
status of the University of Ibadan, and of teachers, students and staff alike.”
He reiterated the need for solidarity and more collaborative efforts in the fight against viral
diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Ebola, and Zika, in Nigeria.
“Before I end this very short speech, may I add and seek indulgence that I dare to ask a few
questions- and they are very few indeed- yes indeed, and we cannot deny it, there’s much
battle ahead in our nation and every in the world, battle are held in the fight against diseases,
disease outbreaks and epidemics. So the question that I pose for each individual to
contemplate and ponder is, how do we enlist in that battle; for each person must enlist in that
battle? How do we avoid the enemy; the enemies called virus are out there? How do we
educate how citizens; and it is very imperative that we should educate our citizens whether
educated or uneducated, learned as good as lawyers or unlearned? How do we support the
fight; do we support the fight merely by talking, do we support the fight by action, do we
support the fight by making our economic, [and] financial services available. These are the
challenges, and these are the questions which I pose. Then finally, how do we vanquish the
Meanwhile, in a lecture titled: Responding to Nigeria’s Diseases outbreaks and Epidemics:
Ebola, Zika, and HIV., the Guest Lecturer at the event, Prof. Phyllis Kanki, of the Harvard
T.H. Chan School of Public Health, USA explained that although Nigeria has done a lot in
trying to combat specific epidemic diseases like the Ebola Virus and HIV, more needed to be
done in the areas of research, emergency responses, and disease control.
“There is a lack of understanding of some basic immune-biology of Ebola and Zika in human
infection, and that’s because these outbreaks are sporadic, and once the outbreak is finished,
people lose interest. [There’s also an] inadequacy of diagnostics, there are no approved
vaccines or therapeutics and we are faced with running after the fire every time it occurs to
reinvigorate our interest in vaccine development or in drugs.”
As an international researcher, Prof. Kanki, who has worked in Nigeria since the year 2000
explained that in the course of work, her team has been able to identify a number of areas that
need improvement and that this was achievable with the level of manpower in the country
“For HIV, we’ve had 35years of experience with this; we have virtually no problem with
diagnostics and we have good drugs, although not the best drugs are being used here on the
African continent, but we can advocate for that. [However] the treatment is still lifelong and
that creates a real burden to our healthcare system and a real challenge to our sustainability of
programmes because lifelong therapy is difficult to maintain. Now we are still hopeful that a
vaccine will be developed, but I think all of these instances call us to the idea that continued
operational or basic research is critical to our being able to handle some of these important
“Epidemics and outbreaks that I’ve tried to relate to you are common here in this country as
well as many other places; I believe that Immuno-pathogenesis research is important, it helps
to practically develop diagnostic tools or drugs and vaccines; and it also allows us to have
continued surveillance for either the next emerging outbreak but also the success of our on-
going programmes for continuing epidemics like HIV,” She concluded.
The event, which had in attendance some eminent personalities including, the Minister of
Health, and former Vice- Chancellor of the University of Ibadan Prof. Isaac Adewole; the
University’s Pro- Chancellor and Chief Host, Dr. Olawale Babalakin, SAN; Pro- Chancellors
of several other Universities in Nigeria, former Vice- Chancellors; Captains of Industries;
Traditional Rulers; members of the University Management; and other members of the
public, was brought to a close by the university’s outgoing Registrar and Secretary to
Council, Dr. Taiwo Ipaye, who thanked all present and wished them well in their future