In Remembrance Of An Educationist And a Statesman – Pa Micheal Ajasin
The trustees of the Ajasin Foundation is comprised of his children Modebola Woleola Olatokunbo, Chief Mrs. M.A Aiyegbusi and sister-in-law the Right Rev. Bolanle Gbonigi a retired Anglican bishop of Akure amongst others.
The foundation was founded in memory of Pa M.A Ajasin who died on the 3rd of October 1997. Hence, on the 3rd and 4th of October 2017, the foundation rolled out a two-day event to commemorate the twenty years of his death. Department of Arts and Social Science Education of University of Ibadan and Arts Education Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko did justice to that at the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan with lectures and speeches from various scholars citing various achievements of the late icon who started out as a class teacher, a politician, and then governor of old Ondo state. Erudite professor of History Banji Akintoye delivered a paper titled ‘Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin: A teacher and a statesman.
As a teacher, he spent all his teaching career at Edo state from where he left for Fourah Bay College in Sierra Leone, where he acquired a B.A degree and Diploma in education in the United Kingdom which prepared him for the various challenges in education.
On his return from the UK, he was made the founding principal of Imade College Owo, the community that sent him to Fourah Bay College Sierra-Leone to acquire more knowledge. On his retirement in 1975, he founded the Owo grammar school.
At the turn of the 1950’s he joined politics and founded the Action Group (AG) in 1951 at Owo with Chief Obafemi Awolowo and other stalwarts. Due to his love for education, Chief Obafemi Awolowo invited him to write papers and programmes for free education in Western Region which provision for free primary education in 1955, the foundation of a modern school, various teacher training colleges that will take care of various students that will pass out.
In 1978, Pa Ajasin joined the UPN an offshoot of the Action group (AG) founded in Owo. In 1979, he became the governor of old Ondo state on the platform of UPN. He saddled the state with pride by establishing Owena bank, Confidence Insurance company and Ondo State University which is now named in his memory.
He was reputed to have ensured that salary of all the workers in the state was paid before his own monthly salary was paid.
On introduction of free primary education in his state, he abolished all private primary and secondary schools in the state in order to enhance cheaper quality education. Cumulatively, the ripple effect of his educational policies reverberated around the Western Region as many educationists and highly placed individuals have in to thank partly for their success as he paved the way for free and quality education which they enjoyed.
In recognition of this icon, he was celebrated by beneficiaries of his forward-thinking policies which reverberated across the South Western region of Nigeria and West Central Region of Kogi and Kwara state.
In the words of Mrs Anifowose (nee Ajasin) the secretary of the foundation, ‘Money from the conference will be used to fund the award of scholarship, endowments and other development and educational projects in honor of the late elder statesman’
Pa Ajasin lives on!