A Nigerian professor at the University of Benin (UNIBEN), Kokunre Agbontaen-Eghafona, has been named an adviser to Pope Francis, CAMPUS GIST reports. Francis is head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State.
CAMPUS GIST reports that Professor Agbontaen-Eghafona is among the only three persons appointed as Ordinary Members of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (PASS), on Friday.
The two others, according to a report by the Vatican News, are Pedro Morandé Court, a professor emeritus at the Pontifical University of Chile, from Chile; and Mario Draghi, former European Central Bank chief, from Italy.
The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences was established by Pope John Paul II on 1 January 1994, with the aim of “promoting the study and progress of the social sciences, primarily economics, sociology, law and political science.”
The Academy helps offer the Church “those elements which she can use in the development of her social doctrine, and reflects on the application of that doctrine in contemporary society.”
The Academy holds regular international symposiums on subjects of social concern such as human trafficking, modern slavery and debt relief, and produces reports which the pope can use to guide him on non-religious issues.
Professor Kokunre Adetokunbo Agbontaen-Eghafona was born in London on 1 October 1959. She studied at the University of Benin, in Edo state, graduating with an undergraduate degree and later a Master of Arts in History. She also obtained a Master of Science in Archaeology and Anthropology from the University of Ibadan.
At the University of Benin, she has been a Lecturer at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology since 1992; Senior Lecturer in 1996, Associate Professor in 2003, and full Professor in 2008.
She has also held a number of administrative positions including Head of the Department of Sociology (2009-2013) and Director of part-time programs (2016).
A sustainable development champion, she was responsible for sustainable development within the UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network from 2012 to 2017.
Professor Agbontaen-Eghafona is the author of numerous academic publications. Her current scientific activities include measures to combat human trafficking in Nigeria, with focus on Benin City, Edo state.
Some of her research works include “examination of the role of the family in the trafficking of girls and women in the Benin society (2008/2009)”; and “prevailing perception of trafficking, prevention, and anti-trafficking activities among communities in Edo State (2012).”
A professor of cultural anthropology, Agbontaen-Eghafona has won numerous awards as “best lecturer” and “excellent lecturer” at UNIBEN including: “Best Lecturer in Sociology and Anthropology, Faculty of Social Sciences, UNIBEN Award, 1999/2000; SOSSA (Social Science Students Association) Award for Excellent Lecturer – Students Relation and Exemplary Life Style in the Academia, June 2002;…
“Best Lecturer in Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Benin. Vice Chancellor’s Award 2006/2007; Best Lecturer in Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Benin. Vice Chancellor’s Award 2006/2007; SOSSA (Social Science Students Association) Award for Excellent Lecturer. September 2014.”
Professor Agbontaen-Eghafona is a member of various prestigious societies including the Archaeological Association of Nigeria; Nigerian Field Society; International Society for Benin Studies; Nigerian National Museum Society; West African Archaeological Association; Society for International Relations Awareness; Ethics Committee of College of Medical Sciences, University of Benin.