By Rotimi Ojomoyela
The arena of the maiden convocation ceremony of the Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, on Saturday, April 29, practically stood still and in awe of a former teacher, who, after almost half a century of leaving the classroom, a grateful and appreciative generation bestowed on him an honour.
The garland bestowed on Chief Adepoju Akomolafe, who clocked 100 on April 5, 2017, was a clear testimony that a teacher’s reward is no longer in heaven.
It took the Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, under the leadership of Professor Kayode Soremekun, to make this ideal of rewarding and celebrating our hero while alive a reality.
Soremekun, while explaining the rationale behind the selection of Akomolafe and others for the university’s honorary degrees at the pre-convocation press conference stated: “The gesture is to remember these great Nigerians, who had in their own ways contributed to scholarship”.Among those confered with Doctor of Educational Administration (Honoris Causa) of the university was Akomolafe, founding Principal of Ekiti Parapo College, Ido Ekiti and a member of the federal parliament in 1959 who was very prominent in Action Group (AG) under Chief Obafemi Awolowo. AG was an opposition party at the federal level as a result of the 1959 election. Nevertheless, under the arrangement, he became the shadow minister of foreign affairs which implies that had AG won that election, he would have probably become the minister of foreign affairs.Others conferred with the awards were the first indigenous principal of Queen’s College, Lagos, Mrs Efunjoke Coker, and an 89-year old retired school principal, Mr. Francis Daramola.
Akomolafe had his secondary school education at Ondo Boys High School and trained as a teacher at St Andrews College, Oyo. He started his teaching career at St John’s (CMS) School, Sabongida, Ora, Edo State.
His teaching career took him through Christ Cathedral Church School, Lagos and Igbobi College, Yaba, Lagos. In 1951, he obtained a Bachelor of Arts (B.A. Hons) degree in English.
Akomolafe was the first Chairman of the Advisory Committee of Western Region General Hospital, Ido-Ekiti, Chairman of the Provincial Constabulary Prison and visiting Special Health Committee (1958-19562) and member of the Ekiti Divisional Council.
In 1976, he was appointed as the first Chairman of the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital Autonomous Board Management. In 1954, he became the pioneer and founding principal of Ekiti Parapo College, he was also the first Chairman of Ido-Osi District Council, a position he held until he was elected into the Federal Parliament in 1959.
Akomolafe worked alongside others for the creation of the Ekiti Diocese of the Anglican Communion. He was the Diocese first Registrar and later became it’s deputy Lay President. The centenarian was represented at the Oye university convocation by his son, Oluwole, who reeled out his father’s contributions to the nation. “My father happened to be first in a lot of things in Nigeria. He was the first Principal of Ekiti Parapo College, Ido-Ekiti, the second secondary School in Ekiti after Christ School,”Oluwole stated.
“He was a member of parliament in the First Republic, representing Ekiti. He was the Chairman, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital and also the Chairman, Lagos University Teaching Hospital when General Olusegun Obasanjo was Head of State. He also participated in a lot of church activities in Ekiti State.
“He is a Fellow of the Nigeria Institute of Management, member of Rotary Club. He has travelled far and near representing Rotary Club.
He is also a philanthropist”. At the convocation ceremony where18 students, who bagged first class were presented with awards, the President of Kogi State Council of Traditional Rulers and the Attah of Igala, Michael Ameh Idakwo, was installed as the Chancellor of the university.
The occasion was also used to launch the university’s N30 billion endowment fund. The Chairman of the fund, Lanre Adesuyi, a business mogul, said the fund, to be raised over a five-year- period , would used to build classrooms, procure research and learning equipment.
Others projects to be financed with the fund are the Faculties of Pharmacy, Basic Medical Science, Environmental Science and Law, as well as recreational center, sports complex and official vehicles.
Adesuyi said efforts of donors would not go unrewarded as the university would immortalise them. He told the gathering that one of those conferred with honorary doctorate degrees by the university, Dr Babatope Agbeyo, had donated two lecture theatres.