It was tributes galore Thursday, October 29, as faculty, staff and students of the American University of Nigeria, AUN, remembered late Prof. Idorenyin Udoesen Akpan, who passed away on October 29, 2014, after a brief illness.
Until his death, Prof. Akpan, 45, was the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, SAS, and Chair, Communications and Multimedia Design, CMD, program of the University.
In his tribute to late Dean Akpan, Dr. Jacob Udo-Udo Jacob, Associate Dean of SAS and Chair of CMD, who was a former student of the deceased, described him as an intellectual colossus, who redefined the conventional understanding of public relations.
“He was the kind of guy that would speak his mind. He was credible. He was authentic. And in a world of politicalcorrectness, you need authentic, frank people. People that would tell you something as it is, but still be nice. That is what I remember him for, mostly.
“In terms of his contributions, I won’t just talk about his contributions to AUN. I will talk about his contribution to the field of communication studies. I think as his calling, he brought a lot to the table. He brought that concept of personal public relations in terms of organizations not just having PR departments that work on PR at a strategic level but PR on personal level in the case that every member of that organization, if it’s AUN, every student, every staff, is a public relations agent or agency for the University.
“So, he really brought that element into the academics in the field of public relations, and of course, in terms of AUN, he brought his personality, his very unique personality, his style, and it really helped to build the CMD department,”Jacob said.
The Assistant Vice President, AVP, of Public Affairs at AUN, Abba Tahir, also had some things to say about the late Dr. Akpan.
“I look back with nostalgia at the life of a young man whose life was cut short at his prime; a very well learned and intellectual humanist; a very friendly father figure, who was in the prime of his life, but God who created him recalled him, so we have no option but to do God's bidding.
“But we have a lot to learn from his life. He was one of the top academics in the University, and he was admired by all students and faculty. In fact, we could just call him one of the most enigmatic instructors to have stepped foot on the AUN soil.
“Every day, everyone would look forward to seeing Dean Akpan. Why? To see what outfit he came up with, because every day was a new day for him to showcase variety of traditional and English outfits.”
An associate professor in CMD, Prof. Joseph Rishante, who was late Dean Akpan’s colleague of many years, also paid tributes to the deceased.
“Indeed the news of late Professor Akpan’s demise hit me exactly one year ago with the sad reminder that life is nothing but ‘a candle in the wind’. Akpan will forever be remembered as a man greatly endowed with people skills. He was the man of the people; tough, focused and effervescent with a huge sense of humor.”
A friend of the deceased and an assistant professor in CMD, Abdul Mousa, shared some fond memories he has of the late dean.
“Yes, we were not too close, but we were friends nevertheless. He would drop by and joke with people, you know. He always used to do that. And sometimes we would sit and have long, long talks.
“He was always willing to help you, to make you feel comfortable. I remember when I asked him, ‘Prof, where do you get these nice suits that you wear?’He said, ‘Oh, if you need one of them just let me know. We can buy it. I have a tailor all the way out there in Awka Ibom who can do it for you, you know, nice and clean.’That’s the kind of person that I knew; he was very jovial and friendly.”
Esi Quao, a data analyst in AUN Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness, OIRE, and former executive assistant to the late dean, expressed her joy that AUN immortalized the deceased by having a Media Lab in the Robert A. Pastor Library named after him.
“I’m really grateful AUN named something after him, the CMD Multimedia Lab; so anytime I pass by, I remember. He always seemed happy despite the pressure he had as Dean, as Chair. We really do miss him a lot. I miss working with him, and I’m sure a lot of people share my feelings about him,”she said.
The Assistant Registrar of AUN, Mrs. Hauwa Abubakar, said Prof. Akpan was a friend and confidant.
“When I had problems I could share them with him. He had the best answer to every question. Prof Akpan was a man of wisdom. Words can’t really describe the type of man he was.”
President of AUN Student Government Association, SGA, Mr. Basil Abia, described Dr. Akpan as very good at his job and praised his work ethic.
“Of course people would talk about his way of dressing and everything but apart from that he was bigger than life. He was vibrant; he was boisterous; he was energetic and definitely one of my best instructors on campus, while he was alive.”
Aisha Babangida, a CMD senior, said the late dean was like a father and mentor to her.
“He had always been like a father, and he called me his special student-assistant. Each time I had a problem, Dean Akpan was always ready to answer my question and advise me on what to do and what not to do. I will forever miss him dearly.”
Musa Muhammed, another student in the CMD program, described the late Dr. Akpan as funny, a good instructor, and a good man.
“He was friendly with students and he could help you at any point.”
And for Asiya Ramallan, a former student of the late Dean, Prof. Akpan was the students’mentor.
“He was a mentor to many students; he always advised us on how to achieve our goals in life. May his gentle soul continue to rest in peace.”
Ritnen Gomwalk, a CMD student, described late Prof. Akpan as “not just a dean or a teacher, but a friend, father, and mentor.”She further described him as an amazing person and expressed sadness at his absence.
“Dean Akpan was a great man. He had so many qualities you can hardly find in one person. I will continue to miss him; may his soul rest in peace.”
By Zamiyat Abubakar, Kenret Jonathan, Fawaz Garba, Maryam Sadiq, Wadi Ishaku, Grace John, Olalekan Adeyelu