Professor David M. Akinnusi

When faced with adversity, we develop either the best or the worst in us, depending on our support system or the lack thereof. Eddy, whom we are celebrating today lost his mother when he was ---- years old and was virtually brought up by his father who ensured, at all costs, that the bereavement would not adversely affect Eddy and Ade, his younger brother. Eddy, through this experience developed moderate tastes and was always satisfied with whatever life threw at him. His father was further committed to his upbringing, seeing that even in those early days, his son showed academic brilliance which needed to be nurtured. It is, no wonder, Eddy, coming from the town of Igodan Lisa, made it to Nigeria’s premier secondary school, King’s College, Lagos, proving that, as Chief Awolowo was to sayt: “It is not life that matters, but the courage you put into it”. Eddy continued to show his academic prowess in class competitions among the best brains from the few selected ones across the country. Coupled with this is his exemplifying the ethos of a true King’s College boy and thus becoming a School Prefect. It was at KC where our journeys crossed and we have not walked away from each other since then.

Curiously, you would have expected someone who grew up with meagre means and who majored in the course which produces and accounts for wealth, to be drunk with pursuing and amassing wealth, at all costs, to make up for the lack he suffered when young. Certainly, not Eddy. He had a philosophy developed early in his accounting degree programme that he would not put his knowledge to assist multinationals and corrupt managers who are milking the country, even though, at that time in the early 70s, corruption was only in its infancy or primary school level and not anything near to being at the professorial level now!!! This crusade gradually manifested itself as Eddy entered into student politics at the University of Lagos, under the slogan of “accounting for people’s money”. He held the post of Financial Secretary and was able to produce a financial report which was not done before his time. After graduating, he was appointed by Central Bank of Nigeria but before long, he resigned, saying that he could not be party to helping multinationals drain the nation’s economy. He would rather be teaching students how to prevent the milking of the economy. In the same vein, he refused to become a chartered accountant because it is capitalist in its orientation. Rather Eddy preferred to have an MBA and PhD degrees from the Manchester University, UK and Columbia University, USA, respectively, with the sole objectives of identifying how to manage organisations’ and government’s budgeting system. As a student in these institutions, Eddy raised the status of blacks in general and Nigerians in particular as worthy academic competitors by winning academic honours and prizes. He shunned the temptation to stay permanently in America and his eagerness was to come home to apply  his knowledge to block the hemorrhage of Nigerian organisations by multinationals and the wanton looting of public institutions by politicians and managers. Eddy was also moved by the need to take care of his aged father, not forgetting the role he has played in his early life and education.

In settling down to teaching after bagging his PhD, Eddy was consumed with a passion to make a difference in every situation he finds himself. His slogan was “Eddy for the Masses”. However, after a freak accident when his car being bashed when he was waiting to give a lift to the swarming “masses” waiting at the bus stop at the entrance to the University of Lagos, he modified this slogan to “Eddy for the Redeemable Masses”, this being mostly aspiring students who are desperately seeking university education to liberate themselves. Hence Eddy threw his weight and efforts to make the Correspondence and Open Studies Unit (COSIT) a success. This was the University’s strategy of extending business education to those working class men and women with minimum qualifications to graduate with a business degree. The Accounting Department enrolled most of these students and only those who worked their hearts out qualified as redeemable masses. At various times, Eddy was either the head of the accounting department or the coordinator of the COSIT Programme. At no time was he found wanting in the management of what to others is a fertile ground for self-enrichment and aggrandizement of power. 

His ascendancy to the Deanship of the Faculty of Business Administration provided him with the grand opportunity to display his Midas touch. Through mobilizing funds from the Faculty’s vast clientele, he was able to transform the Faculty of Business Administration, which was one of the oldest of such faculties in the nation, into a fully functional, modern, appealing and conducive edifice, recognising the fact that the environment is an important element in productivity. The needs of the students were not left out as he was also able to attract funds to develop computer laboratories for students’ use. This was a far cry from the mid-70s when students of the Faculty learnt about computer concepts only from textbooks. To cap his commitment to revolutionizing the Faculty, Eddy established some handsome prizes for undergraduates and MBA students, to fire their thinking and commitment to public probity.

Eddy’s contributions to scholarship is immeasurable and his influence goes beyond the several thousands who consult his work as evidenced by the Google Scholar documentation.  Apart from not missing his classes for any reason, Eddy saw and met the need of producing a series of basic textbooks on accounting such as Coping With Cost Accounting and Foundation of Accounting: An IFRS Approach, etc. in order to redeem the “redeemable” masses. Such textbooks, with local flavour and examples and copious solutions, have helped to reduce the casualties typically associated with accounting courses.

Eddy’s teaching philosophy is not only about how to balance the books, but also how to balance the need for self and others and the apostolic role of looking after the lost sheep, with practical examples of his own lifestyle. Together with his adorable wife and family, Eddy’s household is sometimes home to scores of students who are otherwise “homeless”. Many would not have been able to finish their degrees without the generosity and humanness of Eddy and his family.

In his role as consultant and service provider to the community, the University of Lagos has sought and benefited from his knowledge and experiences when he was the head or part of some commissions of inquiry. Currently, Eddy serves as a member of the  University’s Governing Council. Between 2010 and 2016, he also served as a part-time Commissioner at the Tax Appeal Tribunal, South Eastern Zone, Enugu.

In my considered view, Eddy’s expertise has been under-utilised , especially by the public sector and state institutions to which he has devoted his entire academic life to study and much of his research and publications. His avowed commitment to probity and accountability and uncompromising stance against corruption in all its manifestation is, simply, too much to bear and too scary for Heads of State, Governors and Chairmen of Parastatals to appoint him to any assignment, knowing that Eddy would not cover their backs. Nevertheless, Eddy is very happy with his life and has not regretted his views and philosophies nor his association with the University of Lagos where he has spent his time as a student, and his entire 43 years of his working life. As chronicled in his internet page,

“During his many years of service at University of Lagos, he contributed to the education of thousands of Nigerians who are leaders in their fields. Among these are eight state Governors including three of the current State Governors, the first female Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service, former Head of Service of the Federation, the Country Senior Partner of one of the top four accounting firms in the world and many Professors including two Vice Chancellors”.

I consider myself as one of Eddy’s best friends. We love, respect and care for each other. I and my family wish Eddy a happy birthday and many happy returns of the day, with long life, good health and peace of mind, in Jesus’ Mighty Name, Amen. Congratulations for all your achievements and contributions to learning, teaching and the lives of others and the nation. May you live long and in good health to enjoy the fruits of your labour.

Professor David M. Akinnusi