Ooni of Ife plans to bestow award on IITA DG for his efforts in securing Africa’s food security
A delegation from IITA paid a courtesy visit to the Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, at his palace in Osun State, Nigeria on 9 April, as plans to recognize the Institute and Director General, Dr Nteranya Sanginga continue to gain momentum.
The team, comprising Hildegarde Koper-Limbourg, IITA Deputy Director General, Corporate Services and Toyin Oke, Manager, Resource Mobilization, Protocol, and External Liaison (RMPEL), was in the company of traditional rulers and facilitators, Asiwaju Yinka Fasuyi, and Oba (Dr) Odunayo Ajayi, both from Ijesa community and was received by his Imperial Majesty, Ooni Ogunwusi and his entourage.
Applauding IITA for its research efforts, Fasuyi, spoke of the Institute’s impact on the lives of smallholder farmers within and outside Nigeria, emphasizing that DG Sanginga is the first African to be the Director General of IITA since its existence. “IITA is one of the leading research institutes saddled with the responsibility of lifting millions out of poverty to ensure a food-secure future for all. We are privileged to have the headquarters domiciled in the South West of Nigeria,” he said.
He noted that DG Sanginga not only occupied the position, but did so meritoriously to the extent he was reappointed for a second tenure, and this has reflected positively in the lives of farmers and youth in Africa. “Today, IITA’s effort to out-scale proven technologies have been felt in nearly all nooks and crannies of Nigeria including the State of Osun. As a result of his unique and unprecedented achievements that he has recorded over the years, we the friends of the DG felt it a good idea to bring our son home for appreciation and recognition in any way you deem fit,” he added.
Speaking on behalf of IITA, Koper expressed how excited she was to speak on behalf of the number one citizen of IITA, DG Sanginga and to be in the palace of His Imperial Majesty. “For me I would say that DG Sanginga is a driving force for African transformation. As a result of his commitment, hard work, and passion for agriculture and securing the path to food security in Africa, IITA won the 2018 Africa Food Prize.”
Echoing the need to award DG Sanginga, His Imperial Majesty Ooni Ogunwusi welcomed the team to his royal palace and expressed his sincere gratitude saying, “It is indeed a great privilege to have you all at the heartbeat of tropical agriculture, and the source of mankind where it all began. This is the center of tropical agriculture and I am happy that IITA’s priority is on transforming tropical agriculture.”
He continued, “Ever since I started following up with IITA’s activities, I have been amazed at the advancement of technologies and research breakthroughs. I believe one of the things that has distinguished IITA from other reputable organizations is the high level of commitment among the staff. However, I congratulate DG Sanginga for doing tremendously well because he has been a good model and has set the pace that his colleagues and staff are following. I am very proud of the entire IITA team!”
Commending DG Sanginga for his numerous achievements, especially in championing the delivery of technologies and innovation to nourish Africa, Ooni Ogunwusi said, “Right at the center of tropical Africa, we must honor him with the highest award that the throne of Oduduwa can give. It is going to be a very huge ceremony and sooner than he can imagine, we will be reaching to that effect. He must be celebrated in a big and cultural way that, forever, he will not be forgotten. This is our heritage, our tradition, and our culture, and because he has done so well for tropical agriculture, we must blow his trumpet as our own little way of showing appreciation for the good work he has done for the State of Osun and Africa at large.
“Before the end of this month, I will lead a delegation, to IITA to see DG Sanginga and also discuss his grand award ceremony. This is going to be a legacy that no one can forget, including generations yet unborn. Do not give up on your struggle to make Africa a better continent,” he added.
Lastly, Mrs Oke immensely appreciated Ooni Ogunwusi for hosting the team in a special way and presented some traditional gifts and confectionary made from cassava to him.