“Any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in Mankind, And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee”.- John Donne
It was with a heavy heart that on the morning of Tuesday, March the 9th,2021A.D that I heard of the transition to the eternal glory of our own dear Daddy, an epitome of scholarship and good virtues, Professor Folayan Ojo, a beloved elder erudite scholar of Ijero-Ekiti origin and a true citizen of the world. I got in touch with him lastly in January on a telephone conversation and another Ijero-Ekiti elder statesman, Major General Kayode Oni (rtd) commissioned me last week to visit him at his University of Lagos Estate (UNILAG Estate), Magodo, Lagos because it was a while that he heard from him and the Old soldier, General Kayode Oni too was away from Nigeria on a visitation to United kingdom. It was in spite of my busy schedule that I planned to visit him yesterday on Monday,8th March and his nephew and my dear brother and friend, Mr Ayodeji Ajoje told me that Daddy Prof. (Professor Folayan Ojo)was seriously sick and he was in a private Hospital at Surulere, Lagos.
I made every frantic effort to get in touch with Daddy Prof in spite of my tight schedule but Mr Ajoje told me that he would visit him and conveyed my Get Well message to him and that of Major General Kayode Oni and we planned to say “Get Well Daddy on a phone Conversation” when he reached the hospital today including Gen. Oni who was very anxious to know his whereabouts as his phone was either not reachable, switched off and other bla-bla-bla. Without mincing words, it was confirmed that the great man has joined the pantheon of his ancestors today. Professor Folayan Ojo is dead. Ijero-Ekiti has lost one of her best cerebral minds to the cold hands of death.
Prof. Folayan Ojo was born to the family of Late Pa Ojo, of Aaye Ayinrin stock of the Osho Family of Ijero-Ekiti and her mother was a scion of the Alapa Family of Odo Ese quarters, Ijero-Ekiti. He also had his maternal roots traced to HRM Oba Aderuku Arojojoye 1, The Ajero of the Ijero Kingdom who reigned from 1916 to 1930.
Professor Ojo began his elementary education at St. Peter’s Catholic Primary School, Ijero-Ekiti as a pioneer pupil of the school in 1947 and completed his education in 1952. He was the first Library prefect of the school as a result of his brilliance. He also got his education at Usi-Ekiti and Aquinas College, Akure for his Teacher’s Certificate Examination before he proceeded to Canada to further his education where he had most of his university education in Canada where he obtained his first and Master’s degree in economics. He later completed his PhD degree at the University of Lagos. He won the African Students Foundation Fellowship, Brandon University Faculty Association Scholarship for “Academic Excellence” and the University of Alberta Fellowship, all in Canada.
He started his employment at the University of Lagos in 1971; he rose to the post of Professor in 1982. He served as the Acting Director, Human Resources Research Unit; Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences and Chairman, Human Resources Development Board, UNILAG Ventures Management Board and Board of Studies, ASCON, Badagry.
He was a Commissioner in the old Ondo State, 1988-1991, where he served as a Director of some State and Oodua companies and Chairman of two companies.
He was a Professor of Economics at the University of Swaziland from 2001 to 2010; there he served as Faculty Dean, member of the University Governing Council, Acting Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Deputy VC) and Chairman of several Boards and Committees. He was Editor and Chairman, Editorial Board of UNISWA Journal for five years.
Professor Ojo has published widely in reputable local and international journals. He is a co-editor of some books, sole editor of some and author of others. He has served as a consultant to local, corporate, governmental and international organizations such as the UN, UNECA, ILO, UNDP, UNCTAD, Ford Foundation and the Population Council of New York, and he has visited virtually all the countries in Africa and many in other parts of the world conducting research, attending conferences and representing UNILAG and the federal government of Nigeria.
He belongs to several professional organizations, including life membership of the Nigerian Economic Society and membership of the Economic Association of Swaziland. He is a fellow of two professional institutions, namely; The Certified Institute of Public Administrators of England and Wales and the Nigerian Institute of Management. He is a Justice of Peace (JP) and Chief Asiwaju of St. Peter’s Catholic Church, Ijero-Ekiti.
To demonstrate his love for education, Prof. Ojo has set up the Folayan Ojo Educational Foundation (FOEF) for the award of scholarships to indigent and academically gifted students. His areas of professional interest are human resource management and international economics. Prof. Ojo is married with children. His hobbies were music, dancing and photography.
To many of us in Ijero-Ekiti, Professor Folayan Ojo was a Father-figure, role model of some sort and beacon of light. His death was a great loss to us and it was a rude shock to me personally but we thank God for his exemplary life of service to the town and gown and humanity as a whole. The light cannot be extinguished till eternity because of his life of impact as a silent hero of the people through his good works which have become a legacy.“Death is not extinguishing the light. It is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.”May his ebullient soul rest in peace. Your life was part of life and an inspiration to us.
Professor Folayan Ojo who passed away on 9 March 2021, aged 82 was widowed by a wife, children, grandchildren and extended family members. He belongs to the first generation of the Ijero district of Ekiti State Professors that include Prof. Adeniji Adaralegbe, Prof. V. A. Williams, Prof. Fola Esan, Prof. Adebanji Alao, Prof. Funso Akingbade, Prof. Ajibola Taylor and a host of other cerebral icons.
His two volumes of Autobiography which he gave me as complimentary copies in April 2018 spoke of a great man of scholarship always ahead of his time and it is an enduring memory of him. I had the great pleasure of meeting him in life as a great kinsman. Adieu, Daddy Prof. Folayan Ojo as you now belongs to the pantheon of the ancestors.
*Femi Alufa is the eponymous blogger of #FemiAlufaPost and curator of Ancestory Hub.