Thursday, May 25, 2023 5:07 pm
By Jadesola Babalola
Chief Dr. Alex Olu Ajayi was born on Saturday, June 28, 1930, to famous, well-enlightened, and respected missionary parents, Hon. Canon Joseph Adesuyi Ajayi of Ado-Ekiti Kingdom and Princess (Mrs) Marian Ademubiola Oyegoriade Ajayi of Owo Kingdom. He was until his passing away on Thursday, 25th May 2023, a Community leader and a Christian faithful in his hometown, Ado-Ekiti. He was the first child of his parents and lived his early life in different stations in Ekiti where his missionary father served as headmaster and catechist while undergoing his formal education at the Anglican mission schools.
After a successful provincial standard six examinations to Christ’s School, Ado-Ekiti in the early 40s, he was admitted to Form I at Igbobi College, Yaba, Lagos. He lived in Ibadan for 3 years during World War II from 1944 staying at the Kudeti. He was exposed to the challenges of the war as a schoolboy, joining in farm work for schoolboys to collect palm kernels and extract the seed nuts for transmission to Britain towards raising Nigeria’s 20,000 pounds contribution to the fund to win the world war. He ended up passing the London Matriculation examinations, a feat which got him an automatic teaching job at the Christ School, Ado-Ekiti.
From 1953, when he took a degree at the Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone, to post-graduate studies at the University of London in 1954, he had an unparalleled impact on the education sector of the country positively. He served at great schools as a tutor becoming the Principal at Fiditi Grammar School, Oyo, at the tender age of 26. As a teacher, he taught in various institutions. He joined the West African Examination Council (WAEC) in 1959, where, he served as Assistant Registrar and Head of the Nigerian Office of the West African Examination Council (WAEC), and took over the conduct of examinations hitherto conducted by Cambridge University and the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University). He later had a stint as the Deputy Registrar of the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife).
When he ventured into private business, he was responsible for setting up A. G. Leventis’s carpet manufacturing industry which lasted for a quarter century and sponsored a football team – Leventis United which became the National Champion. In political governance, he was the longest term as Chairman of the defunct Ekiti Central Local Government under both military and civilian regimes and served twice in that office without remuneration. He played a modest role as a supporter of the ideas for the creation of Ekiti State championed by the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti and Elder Deji Fasuan among others.
Chief Ajayi in his lifetime was a great confidant of respective monarchs of the source – Ile-Ife where he was honored as the Opo Akin of Ile-Ife alongside other traditional chieftaincy titles earned from Ado-Ekiti (the Odoba Ahunsi of Ado-Ekiti) and Owo kingdoms. He was a great lieutenant of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the late Ooni of Ife – Oba Adesoji Aderemi, and Oba Okunade Sijuwade among others.
As a patriot and elder statesman, he played the role of mediator during the early days of party differences in Ondo State during the Second Republic. He was for many years, the benefactor of the then Ondo State University (later Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti) when he donated his building to the University for administrative purposes. The University later honoured him with a Doctorate degree in Public Administration.
A great leader of his people and a well-grounded scholar, he was an astute Yoruba patriot, linguist, historian, church music lover, and organist. Indeed, as a historian and Administrator of repute, he would be regarded as one of the custodians and promoters of Yoruba culture in his lifetime and generation, having visited over 100 countries as a proud, respected, and knowledgeable Black African Gentleman.
In the field of education, he was involved in teaching, examination, and administrative work at Primary, Secondary, Teachers’ Training College, University, and Post – Graduate levels as well as Distant Learning. In the industry, he made his mark in the manufacturing sector at A. G. Leventis. In civil administration, he was the longest-serving Local Government Chairman under military and civilian administrations with a Council rated as a model and working for nearly 60 years in public offices without applying for it. His 342-page autobiography titled: A Legacy on The Move published by EKSU Printing Press in 2021 holds a refreshing memory as the acclaimed first Ado-Ekiti graduate to complete a University education in record time.
He is survived by his wife, promising and reputable children, and grandchildren who hold sway in various fields of public service in Nigeria and other parts of the globe.
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