Hajiya Lateefah Modupeola Okunnu, is one of the earliest female conscripts of the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria MSSN, when it was established by young foresighted Muslim students in Alakoro area of Lagos, in 1954. Her emotions and passion towards, MSSN, remains high pitched nearly 65 years after she joined it. She is best described as one of the MSSN amazons and Matriarchs of all times. As a young girl, she and her colleagues stood and fought to change the course of events for many young Muslim girls in various schools and encouraged them, to make the best of their education. No wonder, she herself amongst other feats, rose to become, the first female Deputy Governor of Lagos State and marries one of the pride of Nigeria history and a former, Minister of works at the most challenging periods of Nigeria, the civil war era; Alh. Femi Okunnu.
Speaking during a webinar programme, themed ,MSSN: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow; organized in memory of an iconic Islamic leader of all times, Dr AbdulLateef Oladimeji Adegbite, CON, the late Secretary-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), co-founder and the pioneer President of the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN), by the PEACE (AS-SALAAM), magazine; she passionately called for the audit review of the performance of MSSN with a view, to put the organisation, back on its golden tracks the hallmark of MSSN of yesterday.
She had this to say: ‘’the good old days of the MSSN must be brought back. There is a need to have a performance audit review of her programmes and activities.Today, MSSN is quiet on important national issues at the national scene. It is very important now for her performance to be examined; to reposition her for greater roles as it were in the past. Our children are now second-class citizens in schools; Muslim homes are in serious trouble as a result of the high rate of divorces which had led to broken homes and the products of such homes engaging in drug abuse and other vices. The auditing must review the MSSN camping programmes because the results are neither seen again nor relevant like in the past. The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, NSCIA, should spearhead the auditing, and groups like the Federation of Muslim Women’s Associations in Nigeria (FOMWAN)l, The COMPANION, Association of Muslim Men in Business and the Professionaland others should be a part and come up with acceptable module to propel MSSN away from its current status’’. She further posited ‘’MSSN on record remains the foundation on which many vibrant Islamic organizations and dynamic Nigerian Muslim leaders emerged and are currently contributing to the country’s well-being, therefore, it should not be allowed to drift aimlessly’’.
Paying glowing tribute to the memory of Dr AbdulLateef Adegbite, the former Lagos number two citizen extolled his virtues and wants his legacies maintained and sustained. ‘’Adegbite was my mentor for 50 years and during that early stage of MSSN, I learnt a lot from his leadership and persuasive styles. He gave me and many others the courage to soldier on, in an era where Muslim students, were victimized and called names because of their beliefs. Then, the Christian Scripture Union (SU), was at the forefront of religious activities in Nigeria at that time; but the MSSM under the leadership of Adegbite did not relent in the struggles and eventually had its way to create an identity for Islam and Muslims’’.
She commended the organizer of the events, The PEACE Magazine and other facilitators for a successful programme and urges members of the immediate family of late, Dr Adegbite to improve on their efforts to entrench the virtues and legacies of their patriarch, a Man That Lived for the People
Others who spoke during the programme included: Malam Yusuf Olaolu Ali (SAN), Alhaji Liad Tella, Asiwaju Musulumi of Iwo Land, Alhaja Modinat Simisola Adegbite (wife), Bashorun Ladi Adegbite (son), Alhaja Sherifat Sanni (niece), Professor Abdul Fattah Badru (HOD, Social Works, UNILAG), Professor M. T Yahya (Executive Secretary, MUSWEN), Malam Nurudeen Asunoge and Brother Mohammed Jameel Mohammed (former MSSN Presidents) and Alhaja Shareefat Andu (MD/CEO, Arabel).
By Abdussalam Abdulfattah