Nigeria’s 1st Professor of Geography
Prof. Akinlawon Ladipo Mabogunje is a renowned scholar who has served meritoriously in various capacities in both the public and private sectors of the Nigerian economy.
Prof Mabogunje was born 85 years ago on the 18th of October 1931. He got married to his beautiful wife, Justice Titi Mabogunje, 64 years ago.
He had his elementary education at the Central School Mapo Ibadan in 1942 and proceeded to the popular Ibadan Grammar School for his Secondary School education. Shortly after that, he was admitted into the University College, Ibadan (now University of Ibadan) in 1949, where he earned a B.A General degree in Geography in 1953. Not satisfied, he proceeded to the University of London where he earned a B.A (Hons.) degree in 1956; a Master’s Degree and a Ph.D. degree in Geography in 1958 and 1961 respectively.
Professor Mabogunje (ALM) began his professional career as a lecturer at the University of Ibadan. He became a senior lecturer in 1964 and a professor of Geography in 1965. In less than ten years of his career, he attained the highest level of his career at the age of 34 (1st Geography Professor at 34), a record that has not been rivaled, not only in the Department of Geography, in Africa, but also in the Social Sciences in general.
Professor Mabogunje served and ably demonstrated his administrative expertise and competence in many spheres at the University level as well as National and International levels. He taught in a number of Universities outside Nigeria; Britain, Sweden, Brazil and the United States.
At the University of Ibadan, he served as the Head of Department, Department of Geography (1972-1975); Dean Faculty of the Social Sciences (1968-1970) and Director, Planning Studies Programme (1972-1981). He was a member of Senate (1965-1981) and Chairman of many Senate and Council Committees where he made significant contributions to the development of the University of Ibadan.
At the professional level, Professor Mabogunje was the Editor of the Nigerian Geographical Journal (1962-65); Editor, Oxford University Press series on studies on the Development of African Resources; President, Nigeria Geographical Association (1972-1982); Vice-President, Nigerian Ecological Society (1973-79); President, National Council Population Activities (1986-1992); and Executive Chairman, Development Policy Centre, Ibadan (1996-2000).
He was a member of the Western Nigerian Economic Advisory Council (1967-71); Member, Federal Public Service Review Commission (1972-74); Consultant, National Census Board (1973-74); Chairman, Nigerian Council for Management Development (1976-79); Consultant, Federal Capital Development Authority (1976-84); Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, Ogun State University, Ago-Iwoye (1982-91); Member, Board of Directorate of DFRRI (1986-1993); Member, Board of Trustees Nigerian National Merit Award Endowment Fund (1983-1989) later Chairman of the Fund (1989-94) and Executive Chairman of the National Board for Community Banks (1991-94).
In the private sector, he served as a member of the Board of Directors, Nigerian Agricultural Products Co. Ltd. (1975-76); Vice-Chairman, Pai Asssociation International (Nig.) (1974-1989); Vice-Chairman, Board of Directors Pi, International Co. Ltd. (1990); Chairman, Board of Directors, Fountain Publications (1990-date); Member, Board of Directors, Shonny Investments and Properties Ltd. (1994-date) and Chairman Board of Directors, First Interstate Merchant Bank (Nig.) Ltd. (1995-date).
At the international level, Professor Mabogunje has held several important positions either as a member, the Chairman or the President of various organisations. He was the Vice-President of the International Geographical Union (IGU) (1980-1992), an organisation where he served as the First African President (1980-1984). He was also Vice-President, Governing Council for Pan African Institute for Development (1972-84); Chairman, International Committee for Overcoming Hunger in the 1990s (1988-1994); Visiting Research Fellow, World Bank, 1990; Member, Executive Committee, Senior African Leadership Forum (1992-date); Adviser to the Secretary General, United Nations Second Conference on Human Settlements (1994-1999).
As an eminent scholar, he has gotten various honours and awards, both within and outside Nigeria. He is one of the earliest recipients of the Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM) – 1980, the highest National Award for his laudable contribution to the academic and intellectual life of the country.
He was also the recipient of the national honours of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON). He has been honoured with honorary doctorate degrees by the Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden (1973), Michigan State University, East Lansing (1976), University of Benin, Benin City (1995) and the Ogun State University, Ago-Iwoye (1996).
He is the first African to be elected as a Foreign Associate of the United States National Academy of Sciences in 1999 and also the recipient of numerous research medals from international professional associations. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering and Fellow Social Science Academy of Nigeria.
As a reflection of his hard work and diligence, he has published well over 100 journals, articles and books.
Some of his publications include;
Yoruba Towns (1962);
Urbanization in Nigeria (1968);
Cities and Social Order (1974);
Shelter Provision in Developing Countries (1978);
The Development Process: A Spatial Perspective 1st and 2nd Edition (1980 and 1989 respectively);
Geography and the Dilemma of Rural Development in Africa (1981) and State of the Earth:
Contemporary Geographic Perspectives (1997);
System Approach to Rural-Urban Migration (1970);
Manufacturing and the Geography of Development in Tropical Africa (1973);
Towards an Urban Policy for Nigeria (1975);
Growth Poles and Growth Centres in Regional Development of Nigerian (1978);
The Dilemma of Rural Development in Africa (1981); A New Paradigm for Urban Development (1992);
The Environmental Challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa (1995); and Preparing African Cities for the Bond Market (1998).
He has consulted for the Nigerian Government on several developmental issues.
Prof has consulted for organisations such as;
The United Nations Research Institute for Social Development in Geneva;
International Council for Scientific Unions;
The International Labour Organization (ILO);
The Population Council, New York;
The African Studies Association;
UNESCO, among others.