It was on a cool Monday morning in the summer of 2020, some weeks after the lockdown was relaxed. I had just resumed going to the Ekiti State Library for some quiet time to read, research and work. So, on my first day, there was a middle-aged man, as I had presumed him to be, coming in to sit close to me. He attempted to strike up a conversation with me. “Good morning, brother. You seem to be seriously doing something," he said to me in warm smiles while offering his pleasantries. We would afterwards be engrossed in a long, fruitful and eye-opening conversation to the extent of putting aside our reading and work for that day. It was all worth it.
Dr. Oluwasegun Michael Ibrahim, as I soon found his name to be after we exchanged contacts, was in the pursuit of his doctorate degree as at then. We spoke a lot about his research interests, publications, previous degrees, scholarships, academic excellence, networking and international migration. I was mesmerized by his native intelligence and wide exposure. It happened that I could also relate to some of what he shared, expanding the conversation even more. And it didn’t take long for us to realize we actually have aligned interests and we have to invariably keep in touch to keep the conversation going. As events played out, this was the man with whom I would later form a strong bond and close camaraderie. And he was not just that Ph.D scholar I casually met. He became more: a big brother, senior man, mentor and cheerleader who influenced me in truly remarkable ways. Today, February 24, is his birthday, as Egbon clocks 30.
I have not had any greater fortune of meeting a senior man as much more thoughtful, cheerful, positive-minded, optimistic and virtuous as Dr. Oluwasegun. He is ever supportive and graceful; he has a big heart for everyone around him and he encounters. And I would never know the extent of my gratitude to this man who gave me the privilege of access to him, offered me opportunities to work with him, always motivated me to go for wins and came through for me with advice, resources and support. We would often meet to explore places together, attend events, hang out to exchange banters and gists and create lingering memories. I enjoy every moment I spend with Egbon no matter how informal, as it is always another beautiful opportunity to glean from his well of wisdom and clarity of thoughts. If any of his mentees and students were to give him a tribute, this would be a similar story. He motivates everyone around him to pursue excellence and also has genuine interests in their progress.
Egbon embodies humility and humanity — an enviable jolly good fellow with endearing interpersonal, people and leadership skills. With all his astounding achievements, he is very unassuming, and he is always seeking ways to pay it forward for other young people and give back to the society at large. This is something he is now even doing on a much bigger scale at STEAM City Initiative, an educational training, mentorship and consulting platform he founded to help students, researchers and professionals navigate their academic journeys. As always, it was a big honour for me to have had him also invite me on board as a founding team member to scale the early stage of the organization. Egbon puts a lot of trust in his people and believes so much in what they can and will do.
I must say, Dr. OMI is nothing short of an inspiration to many young people out there. An exemplar of fine scholarship, integrity and diligence — true to the values of a proud Ekiti man and Omoluabi to the core that he is. Personally, it’s a huge privilege for me to know him and also experience first-hand his selflessness, ingenuity and other amazing attributes. He is a huge blessing and influence to everyone around him and I am grateful to be one of those he has impacted.
As you celebrate your birthday, I wish you all the best things in life that you truly deserve and many happy returns filled with happiness, fulfillment, love, goodness and rewards. Hearty cheers to long life, prosperity and your dreams coming true. (Anyways, we should now be expecting you to tie the nuptial knot soon, bro).
Happy Birthday, Dr. Oluwasegun. I am happy to know you. A gentleman by all standards and my senior man in whom I am so well-pleased that I know. Thank you for everything you do, sir.