Ibadan – Eminent Nigerians on Tuesday gathered at the International Conference Centre of the University of Ibadan to extol the virtues of the first civilian governor of old Ondo State, Adekunle Ajasin.
The forum was the anniversary lecture organised by the Adekunle Ajasin Foundation and entitled: “ Chief Adekunle Ajasin: Leader with Exemplary Qualities. ’’
A professor of history, Banji Akintoye, who delivered the anniversary lecture, said Ajasin initiated the free education policy of the defunct Western Region.
According to Akintoye, when the Action Group requested for suggestions on how to achieve rapid development of the education sector in the region, Ajasin proposed his ideas for adoption.
“These were what he had been nursing since his university days in Britain and the party happily adopted them.
“They included a programme of free primary education together with the idea of modern schools as well as the idea of two-year Teacher Training Colleges aimed at speeding up the provision of teachers for the free public schools.
“Ajasin did us all proud by loyally remaining faithful to the principles of morality in leadership which his people had always cherished.
” His life was an open book to us all in the party and in the government.
“ We could all see in him that he desired and acquired no material gains whatsoever from his position of governor.
“Those qualities showed up quite early in him, growing up in an era when schooling was new and strange and when most parents feared sending their children to school,’’ he said.
The Deputy Governor of Osun, Chief Titi Laoye-Tomori, said that the exploits of Ajasin in the education sector were remarkable.
Laoye-Tomori, who described the late Ajasin as a veritable source of inspiration, said many people have a lot to learn from his unusual sincerity.
Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State said Ajasin’ s blue print on free education lifted many people out of poverty..
Represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Ifedayo Abegunde, the governor described late Ajasin as a great icon and highly disciplined politician.
” While others amassed wealth, he stood for free education for the Nigerian people.
“ Materialism was not for him but honesty and humility, ” he said.
The Chief of Staff to Gov. Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, Dr Gbade Ojo, said Ajasin was a major propagator of free education policy.
“Pa Ajasin’s idea is worthy of emulation, we need to imbibe and instill this in our youths.
“As a statesman, he showed his compatriots and younger generation honesty and sincerity,” he said.
The dignitaries at the event included Emeritus Professor, Oladipo Akinkugbe, and Chief Kunle Olajide, the Chairman of Yoruba Summit Group.
Others were Prof. Eyitope Ogunmodede, the Vice Chancellor of Adekunle Ajasin University, Afenifere chieftain, Ayo Opadokun, and the first son of the late Ajasin, Modebola. (NAN)