By Kayode Akinmade
In the Yoruba community to which he belonged, death, especially following a life well lived, does not call for endless mourning: the tears, intense as they may be, soon dissolve into a festival of celebrations. This is why, in the ancient Iperu Kingdom, it has been celebrations galore since Emmanuel Adesanya Abiodun (PhD.), foremost educationist and social activist, joined the pantheon of ancestors on August 2, 2021, in faraway Manchester, United Kingdom.
Iperu, mourning, no, celebrating, the departure of a quintessentially and uniquely great man, has become a Mecca of sorts, as the high and mighty, old and young pay tributes. Almost everywhere you turn, testimonies abound of the good works of the man who gave his all to develop his community. Baba Teacher, as he is fondly called, even in death, indeed lived a good life; he was a role model, a mentor to many. Akara is being fried; solid food is being distributed free to people on a daily basis, as we do in this part of the world when good people, great people, as we say, make the earth their covering.
Baba Teacher propagated education and enlightenment all his mortal years. As a tribute on behalf of the entire family of the late Baba Ijo of St. James’ Anglican Church, Iperu, noted: “Pa Abiodun was a leader and a passionate lover of God and humanity. His love for his community and the church will continue to inspire and be emulated.”
In his tribute, President Muhammadu Buhari described the late octogenarian as a progressive who supported worthy causes during his lifetime, a life that should be emulated by all. Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, accompanied to the Abiodun family house by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, and Ondo State governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, harped on his Christian devotion: “The inheritance that Baba left behind is the path of Jesus Christ, the path of truth, that is the footprint he left behind, and that is what he bequeathed his children. I am extremely pleased to say to you today that we are rejoicing and celebrating the life of an incredibly great man who was not only known for his own contribution to society as a teacher but also the fact that, all through his life, he supported all the worthy causes, and was himself a progressive.”
On his part, Akeredolu congratulated Abiodun for surviving his father, saying the deceased would be remembered for all his good works, which helped in transforming society.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo summed it all up: “Baba has done his best and has gone to be with his Creator. From what we have heard and what we know of Baba, we can testify that Baba gave his life to serve. He gave his life for service of his family, his community, his country and to God.”
Born into the household of Isaac Okanrende and his wife Alice Olubowale on February 23, 1932, the late Emmanuel Abiodun received his baptism at St. James Church, Iperu, in 1942, and was confirmed at St. Paul’s Grade III Teacher Training College, Abeokuta. Having studied for his first school-leaving certificate at St. James Anglican School, Iperu, from 1939 to 1947, he served as a pupil teacher at the school between 1948 and 1950, and at St. Paul’s Grade III Teacher Training College, Abeokuta (1951 to 1952). He was a Grade III certificate teacher at St. Paul’s Anglican School, Odogbolu (1953 to 1954). He was at St. Lake’s Grade II Teacher Training College, Ibadan (1955 to 1956), and served as Grade II certificate teacher at St. Barnabas Anglican School, Ilesan (1957 to 1958), before serving at Joint Provincial Grade II Teacher Training College, Sagamu (1959 to 1960). He again served as a teacher at CAC Grammar School, Iperu (1961). Between 1962 and 1963, he again taught in Sagamu, before heading to the Obafemi Awolowo University (1963 to 1966) on a Western Region scholarship, graduating with a B.A (second class lower) honours degree in English and Literature. Leaving Sagamu, he served as education officer at Comprehensive High School, Ayetoro (1968 to 1970) and at the famous Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo (1971 to 1999), from where he retired as a senior lecturer.
An educationist to the core, Pa Abiodun obtained a postgraduate diploma in education at OAU in 1976. This he followed up with a master of arts in education (1978) and PhD in education (guidance and counseling) in 1984, still from the same university. While at Adeyemi, he was at various times head of the Department of English; head, Department of Educational Foundation, and Counselling; dean, School of Arts; dean, School of Education; director, Institute of Academic Extension Services; and head, Department of Educational Foundation and Management. A thoroughbred professional, he was a member of the Nigerian Association of Educational Psychologists, Counselling Association of Nigeria and Educational Foundations Association of Nigeria.
If Pa Abiodun’s academic sojourn was sterling, his community engagement was so much more. He was an epitome of the town/gown matrix, a son-of-the-soil uncompromisingly devoted to the good of the land. Gentle, forthright and supremely disciplined, the one-man-one-wife exemplar trained his children, among them the Ogun State governor, to be godly, disciplined and circumspect in handling matters. He was a symbol of fatherhood who built close-knitted relationship with his children. Time and again, he lent a helping hand to youth in the community seeking admission to various higher institutions of learning, mentoring and counselling them. Community service made him a member of the Akesan Club, Iperu, and Christian Unity Band, St. James Church, Iperu. His record of service is distinguished, but only a few can be listed here. Pa Abiodun served as secretary, Iperu Palace Building Committee (2002-2003); member, governing board of CAC Grammar School, Iperu (2003-2007); member, governing board, Remo Anglican College, Isara-Remo (2004-2008), and member Ikenne Local Government Scholarship Board (2001) and Synod delegate, Anglican Church (2002-2005).
As he lies in state at the Akesan Club, Iperu, at 2pm on Wednesday, September 8, preparatory to Christian wake at the family house in Iperu, many will have the opportunity of viewing the body for the last time. The burial and interment service scheduled for Thursday, September 9, takes place at the Anglican Church, Iperu. Dr. Abiodun, a devout Anglican, is survived by Mrs. Victoria Abiodun, his wife of 61 years; many children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His was, to say the least, a life of service to humanity. He will be sorely missed, and that’s putting it mildly. He came, saw and conquered, and has gone home in a blaze of glory, a fulfilled and contented old man. Adieu, Baba Teacher.
•Akinmade, former Special Adviser of Media and Strategy to the Speaker of House of
Representatives and two-term Commissioner of Information in Ondo State, contributes this piece through [email protected]