Justice Mustapha Akanbi: Tribute to integrity

Barely an hour yours comradely landed yesterday morning at Jeddah Saudi Arabia King Abdulziz International Airport for Umrah (lesser Hajj) in Mecca here came sympathy text messages in torrents on the death of our grandfather, father, mentor, pan-African leader and role model, Hon. Justice Mustapha, Akanbi, CFR, PCA (Rtd) Wakili of Ilory. May Almighty Allah shower the abundant blessings of the Month of Ramadan among which is Aljanat Firdahusi!
At 86 Alhaji Justice Mustapha led an impactful life to the end which at the last count touched positively on humanity in a sustainable way. Ilorin Emirate, Kwara state, Nigeria and indeed Africa truly lost a selfless, hard and smart working, incorruptible and generous statesman! To my primary constituency (National Union of Textile and Garment Workers), his death is a total loss. Justice Mustapha was more than a judicial titan. He proudly identified with the masses and mass organizations often at shortest notice. Many times my Lord had been an inspirational resource fellow at textile union’s annual educational programmes. He had been billed for the anniversary award at the 40th anniversary later in August this year. He was indeed a senior comrade in his own right given his commitment to fairness and justice to all as well as his down-to-earth simplicity and accessibility
Just last Monday in Ilorin even at bed rest, he was full of warmth and generous spirit with family members and well-wishers alike. The achievements of Justice Mustapha as a statesman of integrity are well documented. A former President of Court of Appeal and pioneer Chairman of Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Justice Mustapha Akanbi like late Nelson Mandela left public offices by quitting when the ovation was loud and integrity was unblemished. Of special importance however were the bold imprints in administration of justice both at the bar and the bench and pioneer frontal attack on corruption at the time it was not fashionable to do so.
After “retirement after retirement” (again like Nelson Mandela), Justice Mustapha committed even enough time to public good. The value adding activities of his Mustapha Akanbi Foundation (MAF) are unquantifiable. I bear witness that MAF is an enduring signature in the art of giving back to the community. President Muhammadu Buhari administration commendably initiated the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme benefiting millions of the most vulnerable and poorest Nigerians paid N5,000 monthly stipends under the social investment scheme. However unknown to many what the Federal Government just adopted as a state policy is what Justice Mustapha and his foundation had been doing in retirement in the past ten years.
In the age of elite greed and elitist state capture of national commonwealth, we must posthumously salute Justice Mustapha’s art of generosity and giving to the aged, the sick and disabled. His Foundation catches the youth positively young via reading and writing skill acquisitions in public secondary schools. The Foundation truly acts local without losing sight of the national and global high profile public agenda setting lectures.
The 11th Annual lecture of the Foundation was a tribute to him at 85. Yours comradely was honoured to deliver the lecture entitled “Challenges for Nation Building; Ways Forward” in September. It was refreshing to be in good company of great scholars who had shared similar platforms such as Professor Attaihiru Jega and Professor Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, who delivered 2008 lecture on “Challenges of Nations Building: The Case of Nigeria”, then as Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General. The best tribute to the late icon is to keep the MAF legacy alive.
My Lord was almost a global citizen by birth; born 85 years ago; 11th of September 1932 as a third child to the great grandfather, Alhaji Muhammed Bello (Akanbi Oniyo) and the great grandmother Nana Aishat (Ki Olorun forun Kewon!) in cosmopolitan Accra, Ghana. It is an open knowledge that his parents were of great warrior Kemberi stock of “Afin- area” of Ilorin. He was born into a rich heritage of industry, long distance enterprise and scholarship dating back to almost 500 years of the great Ilorin community. By 1938, six years after his birth, his father was already an international exporter of wide range of goods from kola nuts, potash from Maiduguri, dried okro (orunla) to guinea fowl eggs.
Truly as the Yoruba would say, Ile ni ati ko eso rode. Justice was celebrated as a symbol of hard and smart work, incorruptibility, enterprise, selflessness and generosity. But it all started from a good home. Bibi re osee fowo ra. (A good pedigree is not something one can buy with money or better still money can hardly improve on circumstances of birth). Alhaji Akanbi Oniyo successfully lived on dignity of his labour and sweat. True to his remarkable enterprise, as far back as that time he bought a house in Cow Lane Accra, (comparable to our present day Broad or Allen street in Lagos or Taiwo Oke/Taiwo Isale in Ilorin!). The building is a legacy house today “developed into a storey building comprising fifteen shops” bequeathed to his children.
I strongly recommend the Autobiography of my Lord entitled, “The Story of My Two Worlds,” to all Nigerians and indeed all African youths. For me, the 400-page book compares very well with “Long Walk to Freedom” of Nelson Mandela’s 700-paged Autobiography in terms of details about “Challenges, Experiences and Achievements” of a great African. The book is a compendium of self/community actualization as well as nation building. My Lord through MAF has commendably put in place a sustainable initiative to further continue in retirement same good work spanning some decades at the bar and the bench.

By Issa Aremu, mni | Publish Date: Jun 4 2018 3:14AM2018_6$large_Justice_Mustapha_Akanbi

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