“The memory of the just is blessed”. This saying aptly describes the memory of Pa Christopher Agboola Ajao, we fondly called ‘Agbo boy’, who was called to glory exactly five years ago today at the age of 79. An epitome of humility and reality, a man of uncommon values, Christopher Ajao lived a purposeful life touching the low and the high, the affluent and the poor in all strata of society.
Christopher Agboola Ajao was born September 9, 1932.After his education, he joined the services of the former Western Region where he rose to position of Chief Physiotherapist. He then served the Oyo State government as Honourable Commissioner for Information and Culture, under Major General Oladayo Popoola (rtd), OFR, mni. Major General Popoola said of him, “He was always at hand to avail me of the best advice. He was so committed, serving like a deputy governor with passion for positive results.”
On the national scene, Late Pa Ajao was one of the pioneers of the Physiotherapy profession in Nigeria. He was a co-founder of the Nigeria Society of Physiotherapy in 1959. He rose to the top of the profession and pioneered the Community Physiotherapy Service in 1974 thus taking physiotherapy to the rural areas. Internationally, he was Chief Physiotherapist at King Khalid Hospital, Saudi Arabia, and Honourable Physiotherapist at the Commonwealth Games in New Zealand.
His contribution to the development of his native Ogbomoso was colossal. Agbo boy was a key to the establishment and a leader of many organizations that stand today as bastions for the economic development of the town. He was Secretary of Ogbomoso Investment Club which later was Ogbomoso Investment Company Limited when he became the General Secretary. His input was vital in the outcome of the Ojedele Chieftaincy Commission of Enquiry which heralded the relative position of traditional rulers in the zone.
Soun of Ogbomosoland, Oba Oladunni Oyewunmi Ajagungbade III JP, CON, said of him, “He was a true ‘Omo Ogbomoso’ in whose patriotism there is no guile. He left an indelible mark on the sands of time. His death is a great loss to the entire Ogbomosoland.
Attesting to his contributions to Ogbomoso, Dr. Omololu Olunloyo, OON said, “At every opportunity, professional, social or otherwise, Agbo as he was popularly called, made excellent contributions to his beloved hometown. He demonstrated bravery, conviction and great calm in the face of provocation and intimidation such as the ugly aftermath of the January 15, 1966 coup in which Ogbomoso and Yoruba icon, Chief Ladoke Akintola was brutally slain.
“After the slain Akintola’s body was put on public display by some unpatriotic Yorubas, Agbo boy and two gentlemen turned things around to correct that indecency and carried the body to Ogbomoso for a proper burial.”
Such was his political significance though he was never a politician. He was indeed a patriot to the core. Agbo boy was relentless in championing the cause of the helpless in society, touching the lives of many in the areas of education, health, tourism and community service. He was active and life member of the Management Board, School for Handicapped Children from 1967 till glorious demise on that fateful morning. He was further a keen scouter, achieving the status of State Scout President of Oyo State a role he undertook so well binding all together in the true spirit of a boy scout. Late Bayo Babalola and others like Layi Oke were his able lieutenants.
The late Ajao was a culture enthusiast and an environmentalist who was a tree planter of note. In his memory, a commemorative tree planting was done by his wife Chief Ajike Ajao in 2012.
Agbo boy proved himself a custodian of culture and tradition; as a member of the Ibadan Museum Society, he played his part to ensure effective conservation of monuments, culture and tradition in a humble way. Dr. Jide Ladipo and Bayo Oyegade, both called him a silent achiever in all his dealings. They also said his life was the definition of dedication, selflessness, patriotism and service. Mr. Agboola Ajao till his death was a Trustee of Baptist Boys High School, Abeokuta, Old Boys Association.
The values he stood for were unpretentious, living an unostentatious lifestyle. He was an accommodating personality who never hesitated to spend his time, energy and resources finding solutions to people’s problems unobtrusively. He was indeed an outstanding leader and my wishes are that his soul rest in perfect peace. I must not conclude this article without mentioning that he scripted and submitted documents and influenced getting many sons of Ogbomoso including the Soun of Ogbomoso to be added national honours and he refused one when his boys came together to honour him. How many Ogbomoso sons have been so honoured since his demise?
Even in death he was exemplary. He exhibited an uncommon detachment for materialism and avarice that forms the trademark of many of today’s leaders. If the people of Ogbomoso should today name an institution after him or raise an epitaph in his honour, it would not be out of place. Indeed he deserves more. A chapter completed, a page turned, a life well lived, a rest well earned; your memory we will always treasure, in our hearts, you will always be forever.
Ajike, Laitan, Dele and the entire Ajao family with the breaking of each new day, we remember you. Agbo boy, we remember you on all our birthdays, national occasions, family outings and matters concerning Ogbomoso land for the love and care you showered on us in such abundance. How many of us still visit Peace Glen Walls? Rest in perfect peace ‘Agbo boy.’
- Ayandele is a senator of the Federal Republic.