We are all gathered here today to mark the transition of our pride as Ekiti, Emeritus Prof. Jacob Festus Adeniyi Ajayi a quintessence scholar, a distinguished renowned historian, a humane and astute administrator with tact, stubbornness for diligence and extraordinary type of excellence. His soft spokenness and exteriorized humility always serving as disguise for strength of character.
It is often forgotten by many commentators who have eulogized and stressed the national and international achievements of Prof. J. F. Ade Ajayi that he was for the love of his home land, Ekiti highly instrumental to the establishment, growth and development of the Ekiti State University from its inception as Obafemi Awolowo University, later Ondo State University and the University of Ado – Ekiti.
In Ekiti State University, we have fond memories of this great man who as a sign of his commitment served as the second Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, between November, 1984 and November, 1988.
During his four successful years as Pro-Chancellor, Prof. Ade Ajayi nurtured a toddling University. Regardless of the challenges and hardships of pioneering a lofty idea of a State University, he gave vision to his followers and led the University with exemplary finesse to achieve huge turnaround of infrastructural growth, as well as improved quality of teaching and learning. .
Prof. J. F. Ade Ajayi was a focused man. He demonstrated this throughout his years at the University College, Ibadan. His single-mindedness also earned him a First Class degree from Leicester University and a Ph.D from London University. He secured appointment in the Department of History, University College, Ibadan in 1958 and rose to the peak of his academic career when he became a Professor in 1963. His contributions, along with those of his mentor, Prof. Kenneth Dike in re-orientating the programme of Africa-centred history as distinct from the Eurocentric pattern are well known. His contributions in this respect led to the evolution of the Ibadan School of History with outstanding contributions in the areas of research, publications and Africa-centred research. He was also instrumental to the internationalization of African history, thanks to his works for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World University, Tokyo.
In the area of University administration, Prof. J. F. Ade Ajayi made an indelible mark in the development of the University of Lagos between 1972 and 1978, creating for himself a reputation as an astute University administrator. and erudite scholar. At the end of his tenure in 1978, he went back to the University of Ibadan where he devoted his time to teaching, research, supervision and many more outstanding publications on national and international issues.
It was during this period, that he was called upon by the late Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin led old Ondo State Government to play a role in the foundation and establishment of our University. He was the Chairman of the Recruitment Committee for this University in 1982 and was appointed Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of University’s Governing Council between 1984 and 1988. It is on record that he weathered the storm generated by the demand of some communities in the then Ondo State regarding the execution of the Multi-campus programme of the University.
Some of his many achievements which laid the foundation for the future of Ekiti State University include; (i) the establishment of the University staff school located in the GRA, (ii) the creating the University logo with the motto “for service and integrity” (iii) the appointment of the first University Deputy Vice-Chancellor and the University Solicitor, (iv) construction of additional class rooms, drainages and boreholes. His emphasis was always on prudence driven by modesty and functionality.
With the establishment of the University firmly in Ado – Ekiti, he became very active on issues that had to do with the progress of the University. He delivered the First Foundation Day Lecture on 30th March, 1983. Prof. Ade Ajayi was also a regular visitor to the University in his post retirement years. It was obviously in view of his monumental contributions to the University that he was awarded a Honorary Doctorate Degree of the Ondo State University on 30th March, 1992. He had always felt fulfilled associating with his roots to the extent that he obtained the WP car plate number. In 2009, the Segun Oni led Administration appointed him Chairman of Ekiti State Museum of Historical Artifacts
The University Community commiserates with the people of Ikole – Ekiti, with Ekiti State, Nigeria, the African Continent and world community over the loss of a true gem, a gifted scholar who gave character to the study of African history and historical research in general.
To us in Ekiti State University, his good works will keep his memory evergreen.
To the Ade Ajayi Dynasty which is now in the care of his beloved wife of many beautiful years, the matriarch, Mrs. Christy Ade Ajayi, it is not the time to weep. Rather it is a time to celebrate the life of a truly great man. It is a time to rejoice and be grateful to God for giving humankind such a precious gift in the person of her husband and father of their children Prof. J. F. Ade Ajayi.
To Ekiti State, We have indeed lost an illustrious son a worthy ambassador who showcased Ekiti State to the International community and earned for us all respect.
The academic community, and in particular to the successful generation of academic giants that Prof. Ade Ajayi has helped produced, we challenge all to hold up still the flag of excellence and true scholarship, hallmarks of a fading era to which Emeritus Prof. Ade Ajayi so fittingly represent.
Our dear Late Pro-Chancellor, you have run the race with panache, sincerity of purpose and rare diligence. We shall miss you.
Eternal rest grant to him o Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May he rest in peace. Amen.