On the 8th of July, I presented two essays, representing 1 & 2 of 3 on the recent Lecture/Workshop in memory of Late Chief Folayegbe Akintunde-Ighodalo, a woman of many firsts, the most notable of which was the first female Permanent Secretary not only in her native Ondo State but in Nigeria. An old girl of Queen’s College where she had her secondary education, “Aunti Fola” would go on to a stellar career in the pioneering Western Region, later Western State of Nigeria.
She was the “mythical” Auntie to whom I addressed many letters from my journalism career at the Daily Sketch, Emotan, A Woman’s Magazine, The Comet on Sunday and, finally, The Nation on Sunday before “retiring” her and picking up a “mythical” niece of my own.
The chairperson of the occasion is also a woman of many firsts, Chief Toyin Olakunri, FCA, a foundation member of the Society of Women Accountants (SWAN). While Mrs. Olakunri’s firsts are many, suffice to list here her being the first female president of the Institute of Directors, an arm of the prestigious Institute of Directors, UK.
She was a member of the Constituent Assembly that drafted the 1979 Nigerian Constitution.
The Keynote Speaker was Professor Ladipo Adamolekun, an Oxford Doctorate is an Independent Scholar who spoke on Nigerian Women & National Development”, a subject dear to Auntie Fola’s heart.
Nigeria has awarded sixty-one (61) National Merit Awards; of these, Adamolekun is one of the eleven (11) awardees from Ondo State, Akintunde-Ighodalo’s home state. There are also other very interesting angles to the Merit Awards;
Of the eleven Ondo State awardees, TWO are of the same parentage and got theirs the same day: the Oluwoles of Ijare in Akure’s Ifedore Local Council. One is a professor of Medicine while the other is a physicist. I remember Late Professor Oluwasanmi PURSUING the younger Oluwole, the physicist back in 1970 when he was recruiting those he knew would become academic stars for the University of Ife.
Ondo town also has two awardees – at least, that I know: Professor Ladipo Akinkugbe and Professor Sylvester Adegoke.
The rest of Nigeria – 36 states & the Federal Capital – has fifty (50) National Merit Awards to share. What a proud heritage of achievement for a supposedly backwater state!
Another speaker at the event was Ms. Keziah Awosika, also an Oxford Doctorate and a contemporary of Adamolekun at the storied university who studied under the famed Lady Ursula Hicks, Pieter Ady and Peter Oppenheimer. Awosika is the daughter of late Bishop Awosika, one of the old stars of the C.M.S. faith in Nigeria, and by the way, Ondo Town – and the State – produced three great Bishops/Archibishops-Heads of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion:
While Awosika was Bishop of the old Province, Late Archbishop Timothy Olufosoye would become the first head of the Province of Nigeria, Anglican Communion and was succeeded by Archbishop Adetiloye. They entered the Ministry when it was a Call.
Dr. Keziah Awosika is now Executive Director of Women, Law and Development Centre, a non-governmental & non-profit making training research and advocacy center. She has attended many international conferences and is a recipient of many academic and social awards.
The third of the speakers, also an Ondo State indigene was Ms. Ayobade Adebowale, a staff Ph.D. at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Lagos, also her alma mater; her presentation is in her area of specialization, “social work, gender and organizational behavior in entrepreneurship studies.”
Of Auntie Ighodalo’s three children – the ever-vivacious Tolulope – also a Queen’s College “old Girl” like Auntie Fola, Asue and Pastor Ituah, Asue was unavoidably absent but the three of them were present at the 2011 first edition.
Much thanks must go the way of the National Association of Ondo State Students, Yaba Tech Branch for making the occasion possible. The selection of chairperson (a woman married to an Ondo State indigene) and the speakers – all Ondo State indigenes and two with national and international reknown — shows great perception.
Jerry Akinsele who pulled it all together shows great promise as a future leader.
It was a very good occasion and the lectures were all in the mode of things and ideals that Auntie Fola fought for: “public service, women empowerment and education” as Adamolekun summarized the thrust of his keynote Lecture.
Here are the images from the 2nd Memorial Lecture organized by the Ondo State Students’ Association, Yaba College of Technology Branch. It took place on July 5, 2012 and was chaired by Mrs. Toyin Olakunri, a great Nigerian woman in her own right.
Ms. Ayobade Adebowale, one of the paper presenters at the Lecture is to the left of Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, sharing a mirthful moment with Professor Adamolekun and Mrs. Olakunri, the Chairperson of the occasion.
Above picture includes (center) Representative of Dr. (Ms.) M.K. Ladipo, Rector, Yaba College of Tech., & in the background is Jerry Akinsele of the Ondo Students’ Assoc. (Yaba College of Tech.) who organized the event.
Dr. Depo Adenle & spouse, Tola.