NIGERIA’S President Muhammadu Buhari has joined family and friends of Babatunde Ogunnaike, a professor of more than 25 years and Dean of Engineering at Delaware University, in mourning the scholar.
Ogunnaike, an Nigerian-American from Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun State, died on Sunday, February 20 at the age of 65.
In his condolence message, Buhari noted Ogunnaike’s significant contribution to the composition of the Nigerian National Anthem and his patriotism towards the wellbeing of the nation.
“As a scholar and administrator, Ogunnaike’s long hours of research spanned into years,” Buhari said and prayed for comfort for his family.
An Associate Professor in the Faculty of Material Science and Engineering at the Jimma Institute of Technology, Ethiopia, Olu Emmanuel Femi, who was a former student of the late scholar, also expressed sadness over his demise.
“Prof. Tunde Ogunnaike thought me probability and statistics at the African University of science and Technology. He was a good teacher and gentle. Never knew he wrote the second stanza of our national anthem,” he said.
Femi added that Ogunnaike left a lasting impression on him as a student which has now influenced how he examines his own students.
In a 2012 interview, Ogunnaike who was among the five composers of the Nigerian National Anthem said he had mixed feelings of pride and sadness whenever he hears the anthem, as it reminded him of unfulfilled promises of a country filled with so much potentials.
He also expressed sadness over the anonymity given to the composers of the anthem, and the fact that the promise of N50 cash reward for the effort towards composing the song was never kept.
Ogunnaike is an Alumnus of the University of Lagos from where he bagged a first class degree at the age of 20. He also taught at the university between 1982-1988 before relocating to the US.
In recent years, he made frequent visits to the African University of Science and Technology, a World-Bank sponsored University in Abuja, where he also taught.
Ogunnaike was the author or co-author of four books including a widely used textbook, Process Dynamics, Modeling and Control, published in 1994 by Oxford University Press, and Random Phenomena: Fundamentals of Probability and Statistics for Engineers, published in 2009 by CRC Press.
He was also an Associate Editor of the journal Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research. His awards include the American Institute of Chemical Engineers 1998 CAST Computing Practice Award, the 2004 University of Delaware’s College of Engineering Excellence in Teaching award, and the 2007 ISA Eckman Award.
Ogunnaike was recipient of the 2008 AACC Control Engineering Practice award and was named a fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in 2009. In 2012, he was elected to both the fellowship of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering and the US National Academy of Engineering.