The tribute below was published on this platform last year when Chief Alexander Olu Ajayi, a former WAEC registrar, turned 90. It was entitled:
Happy 90th Birthday Chief Odoba
By Babafemi Ojudu
Alex Olu Ajayi, the Odoba of Ado Ekiti is 90 today. It would have been a huge celebration of this great man this weekend but for the pandemic. His children , numerous grandchildren and all the people whose life he has touched would have gathered to adulate him but for the pandemic.
A towering figure in stature and in life, Chief was a school Principal before he was 30. Completely detribalized, he cherishes his friendship with both the late poet Pius Okigbo and writer Chinua Achebe. They were his contemporaries at the University College , Ibadan now University of Ibadan.
When Ekiti State University was established in 1982 he donated his house in Ado as a temporary office for the pioneer Vice Chancellor and Registrar. When you visit him today you still find inscribed on the entrance doors to the bedrooms ‘Office of the Vice Chancellor’, Office of the Registrar’.
My dad’s cousin, he is always welcoming and generous in spirit. A visit to him is always like sitting at the feet of Socrates drinking from his well of knowledge and rare experiences.
I remember as an adolescent when dad used to take me visiting him whenever he came visiting from his stations, I used to hear him tell my dad in his baritone voice that he should “ do everything to get these children educated”. “ That is what is going to make a difference in the future” , he would add. I used then to admire his sparkling Citroen car which legend told us could drive on land as well as in water! We would stare and stare at the car as young folks praying God to one day make us own one when we grow up.
An educationist, Aba’Doba as he is called for sometime now, impacted so many people’s life from Fiditi College in Oyo, to the then University of Ife where he was a top administrator.
Papa has given to the world many accomplished children and grandchildren in academics and public service. At his age, he still attends the weekly meetings of chiefs at the Ewi of Ado Ekiti’s palace where he regularly gives of his wisdom and experience in the management of the affairs of the town.
Happy birthday Papa. You are a man of integrity. You live a life worth emulating. A life of wisdom. You are a living encyclopedia.
We pray for God to grant you many more years and continue to the last day standing on those long legs of yours as you make the stairs up and down your house and not on sick bed.
-Senator Ojudu, Special Adviser on Political Matters, wrote this from Abuja last year.