Sir Olaniwun Ajayi founder of top Nigerian law firm Olaniwun Ajayi LP and chieftain of the Pan Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, is dead.
According to his personal secretary, Mr Samson Aremu, he died before 12 midnight at the age of 91 years.
He was reported to have complained of having some pain on Thursday afternoon and was taken to Lagos by his eldest son, Dr Konyin Ajayi, but died some hours later.
Sir Olaniwun Ajayi LP was born in Isara Remo on April 8, 1925 to Mr Benjamin Awoyemi Ajayi a farmer & Marian Efundolamu Ajayi who traded in the farm produce to sustain the family.
Sir Olaniwun first enrolled at the Islamic Primary School, Epe where he schooled for three months. In an interview with PunchNg he said “We started with the English alphabets and within that period I had finished reading it and understood the alphabets. At the end of the term, my uncle was unable to pay the tuition which was three pence. I had to quit schooling because of this. My father heard of the development, came to Epe and took me away to Isara to continue my education.”
Sir Olaniwun later enrolled into a primary school in 1937 and completed his primary education in Ode-Remo after-which authorities of the school engaged him to teach there due to his intelligence and excellent result. Sir Olaniwun resumed by teaching the Class Two infants (Nursery 1/2) for a year and he was paid 10 shillings, six pence per month. From his monthly salary Sir Olaniwun paid three pence as class fee as a Christian which was a membership fee as a junior member of the church. He also did monthly contribution of two shillings, six pence and later increased it to five shillings so that at the end of the year he could have at least £6 saved for himself. Sir Olaniwun later decided to go to Wesley College, Ibadan, Oyo State, for a four(4)-year teacher’s course.
Owing to the fact that there were no means of funding his 4-year course, Sir Olaniwun approached the manager of the schools in Remo and Ijebu district, William Frederick Mellor to request for a written consent to the principal of the school to defer payment of his school fee till the following year. Reverend Mellor agreed to do so and the school principal did as Mellor requested in the letter. Having done that, Sir Olaniwun had to look for money to buy a few other things to take to school. Spending four years at the college saw Sir Olaniwun pass through hardship paying for the remaining two years at college as there was no source of funding. He said “Before I could complete my primary education, my father sold his cherished agbada, local gun and a treasured herbal medicine book. Nobody wanted to lend him money because they felt he was rich. I had to meet the man who earlier showed willingness to assist with my education and asked him to lend me £12. I was to pay £6 per year. I had completed two years and it remained two years.
He told me to bring my father to Lagos to see him. We took a boat to Lagos since that was the available means of transportation in those days. I didn’t know that he wanted me to be a witness while he gave the money to my father since my father was not educated. I didn’t know that my father had also used his cocoa farm as a collateral for a loan he took from a man to see to my education.
Before the end of my last year in Wesley College, I was taken to Sagamu Wesley School, Ogun State as a class teacher. The man my father took a loan from came to ask for his money and explained the situation to me. Also, the man who loaned us £12 asked me for his money. I promised to pay the two of them and started to save heavily from my salary as a teacher. I was able to pay £10 to him and he told me to forget about the remaining. I later gathered some money to pay the man my father used his cocoa farm to take a loan from. In the midst of it all, I got married.”
After leaving Wesley college, Sir Olaniwun became a supervisor of schools for the entire Remo and Ijebu province. Reverend Mellor was about to leave when Sir Olaniwun resumed his duties as a supervisor. After a rigorous decision with his wife to travel to the United Kingdom to study Law Sir Olaniwun attended the London School of Economics and Political Science and also studied to become a chartered secretary. His wife Madam Adunola Ajayi later joined him in the UK where she studied Hotel and Catering Management until October 1962 when they returned to Nigeria.
On returning to Nigeria, Sir Olaniwun Ajayi worked with the UAC where he rose to the position of the assistant group legal adviser with Chief Ernest Shonekan as his junior in the legal department of the company (UAC). He worked with the UAC for six (6) years until his resignation. Almost a year after his resignation from UAC, Sir Olaniwun was appointed by the then Governor of Western State, Brig. Gen. Christopher Rotimi as commissioner for education until after two (2) years he was appointed commissioner for health. After about three (3) years of public service as commisioner for health, Sir Olaniwun went into private practice as a lawyer.
Aside been a legal practitioner, Sir Olaniwun Ajayi also writes and to his credit have written five books.
—>This House of Oduduwa Must Not Fall. Written based on the attitudes of young people which are not good enough especially in Yoruba land. People are no longer responsible and only exhibit corrupt tendencies.
—> Adunola: In Retrospect. It is a compilation of tributes and speeches for my late wife.(Edited by Sir Olaniwun)
—>Nigeria: Africa’s Failed Asset?,
—> Sir Olaniwuns autobiography, and
—>Isara Afotamodi: My Jerusalem.
Sir Olaniwun is married to Late Mrs Adunola Ajayi who died on the 6th of December 2007. Their union is blessed with 2 medical doctors and 2 lawyers.
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