By Ola Ajayi
PRESIDENT GOODLUCK Jonathan, yesterday, joined other eminent Nigerians to mourn the death of late Emeritus Professor of History, and former Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Professor Festus Ade Ajayi, who died on Saturday at the University College Hospital, Ibadan
The President, in a condolence message signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati urged “late Ajayi’s family and his many students, friends, associates in academics and colleagues in the field of Nigerian and African history to take solace in the knowledge that in passing on, he leaves behind a body of significant works that will stand to his eternal credit and assure him of a
lasting place of honour among Africa’s greatest historians.”
According to the statement, “President Jonathan reaffirms the nation’s enduring gratitude for Mr. Ajayi’s notable contributions over many years to the development of education and educational institutions in Nigeria as a lecturer, Professor, Dean, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Vice Chancellor at federal universities. The President assures Mr. Ajayi’s family, relatives, friends and colleagues of the Federal Government’s full solidarity and sympathy as they mourn the very eminent historian and 1993 winner of the Distinguished Africanist Award.”
Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi and the Minister of Works, Prince Dayo Adeyeye also condoled the immediate family and the people of the state over Ajayi’s death.
Fayemi in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Olayinka Oyebode in Ado Ekiti, yesterday, described the Ikole Ekiti born
renowned scholar and administrator as an intellectual giant whose legacies would continue to benefit generations to come.
The Governor described the late Professor Ade Ajayi as a man of integrity who built a reputation of hard work, honesty and represented
the core values of Ekiti.
He said the deceased was a great Ekiti ambassador who positively projected the image of the state and that of Nigeria all over the
world. He added that the renowned historian showed tremendous concern for the growth and development of Ekiti State.
Fayemi recalled his last engagement with the Emeritus Professor of History shortly after the June 21 governorship election in the state,
describing him as a man of immense wisdom, who was ever willing to encourage and mentor the younger ones.
Describing Ade Ajayi as “Professor of Professors,” Fayemi noted that the late History icon mentored numerous scholars who had contributed immensely to teaching, learning and research all over the world, saying, “the works of this great scholar in the field of History have become reference points to scholars, researchers, students and the general reading public.”
The Governor said Ade Ajayi’s tenure as Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos recorded unprecedented successes and still remains
a reference point in the history of the institution. He noted that the vacuum created by the deceased would be very difficult to fill given his impact in academia, administration, culture and other areas of human endeavour.
Also, the Minister of State for Works, Prince Adedayo Adeyeye described the death of eminent historian as a great loss to Ekiti
State and Nigeria as a whole, saying, “again, Nigeria has lost one of the torch bearers of its academic’s finest moments.”
Adeyeye, in his reaction to Prof Ade Ajayi’s death, said the deceased will be sorely missed for blazing the trail in establishing the
authority of African history as an academic discipline.
No doubt, we have yet lost another important player in the pre and post independence historians that gave credence to the existence of
Africa history as pre dating the whitemen invasion of the continent.
“Prof Ade Ajayi was an outstanding scholar, who as one of the foundation students of University of Ibadan, then known as University
College, also impacted knowledge on many people as a teacher in the university. If one puts in perspective the quality of life that he
lived, especially his contribution to education in Nigeria, there is every cause for us to celebrate a man with virtues plated in
superlatives. The irony of life however, is that no matter how long and fulfilled they lived, we do not ever wish to lose our loved ones
Meanwhile, several sympathisers yesterday thronged the residence of the late Professor.
According to Abidoye Babalola, one of the numerous students of the late don said his former teacher saw his death coming and adequately prepared for it.
Babalola who recalled the last moments with the deceased said it appeared that his former teacher knew of his death as he called all
his children and grandchildren together and exchanged some words with them.
He said after taking his family members to the residence of one of his colleagues, Oladipo Akinkugbe, he showed some signs of weakness.
“He believed in the university system and thorough university administration. A humble, friendly, unassuming and somebody who made the most impact on my life, a man I’m proud of”, Babalola said.
One of the five children of the deceased, Oyinkansola Ajayi said it was painful losing such a caring father. She described her father as a
great family man that the whole members of the family would miss greatly.
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said, “We on behalf of the UI came to commiserate with the family of the international community of scholar on the transition to the world beyond of a great scholar, icon and astute administrator. Baba, we thank God for a life dedicated to humanity and Africa”.
Another sympathiser, Professor Bisi Sowunmi said, “Erin wo! What a glorious exit for an icon, a foremost scholar, yet humble, God fearing and truly Christian. We take consolation in your outstanding and exemplary life in all areas and that you are at peace with your Lord, whom you served to the very end”.