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Late Ayo Asagba’s rare passion for children education

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Mr. Ayodele Asagba, Public Relations Manager per excellence, was truly a unique person. I first met him in 2005 when I was managing the litigation profile of Globacom. He needed a progress report from me on high profile litigation against Globacom. His approach towards me suggested that he had known me for years. He was full of smiles as he approached me and said, “Aburo, no be like this we talk am o. You just abandoned me.”My ‘flabber was gasted’ (if there is anything like this) as I was meeting him for the first time. Little did I know that the meeting would open a cordial relationship between me and “Oga Ayo,” as I always called him.

Years after this encounter, we were both seconded as expatriates to Glomobile, Benin Republic. Mr. Asagba was the Head of Marketing Communications, while I was the Head of Legal Department. While in Cotonou, our relationship went from professional to cordial. Mr. Asagba shared a lot of virtues that made him with me. It was from him I learnt that one can live on his/her income without borrowing to attend to petty things or the recurrent expenses.

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Mr. Asagba had rich experience managing the public perceptions of high profile and notable Nigerians. For several years, he worked in close relationship with Late Chief Rufus Giwa and Dr. Mike Adenuga Jnr, GCON. Despite his exposure to wealth and affluence through these notable Nigerians, Mr. Asagba was modest, humble and always willing to help the needy and the downtrodden.

Mr. Asagba shared with me how he once adopted a young girl in his neighbourhood. This girl (name deliberately undisclosed by the writer) was the same age as Mr. Asagba’s first daughter. One day, she was found roaming the neighbourhood because she had been sent away from school as a result of her parent’s failure to pay her tuition in a nearby private high school. After seeking the consent of the parents, Mr. Asagba decided to enrol her in Louisville Girls High School, Ijebu Itele as a boarding student with his own daughter. For those who know Louisville Girls High School, It is not a cheap school. That gesture transformed the girl’s life!

Mr. Asagba believed that the essence of life is not to amass wealth, build mansions or to just occupy powerful positions, but rather the essence of life is to keep doing good, educating young minds and craving to leave a world behind us better than we met it when we were born. He believed that the “world” might not literally mean the whole wild world, but our immediate environment. He believed that parents who make their children turn out better than themselves are the ones who truly know the essence of life.

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Mr. Asagba had little or no respect for parents who, because of the pursuit of wealth and fame, neglect to train their children thus making them turn out to torment everyone around them because of the failure of their parents to properly train them. He would always say: “An unbuilt child would soon sell the parent’s mansions in satisfaction of gambling or drug libido!”

In all my years with “Oga Ayo,” he decided to make my dad, now of blessed memory, one of his friends and heroes. My late dad, Pa Michael Afolabi Anuodo, worked as a junior staff at the Obafemi Awolowo University. He lost his wife (my mom) early in life (1993). This setback notwithstanding, my late dad sacrificed to train seven children as graduates in OAU. This feat endeared my dad to Mr. Asagba. On so many occasions, Mr. Asagba would travel from Lagos to Ado Ekiti to spend time with my late dad without telling me until he returned from such journey! Oga Ayo, I will never forget you!!

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Many young people enjoyed Mr. Asagba’s Scholarship Funds. His neighbours and petty traders’ children beside Globacom offices in Lagos and Cotonou are on his list. This was because he believed that those who have the means must never think it is enough to train only their children. If the rich refuse to assist in the education of the poor and the underprivileged around them in a society like ours, when the underprivileged eventually become miscreants, they would not allow the “foolish rich men enjoy the fruits of their labour.” 

When my dad passed on the 22nd July 2020, Mr. Asagba was one of the first people that called to console me. He told me calmly that my dad was fulfilled and prayed that we should be as fulfilled as he was when it is our time to join the dead. Little did I know that seven months later, “Oga Ayo” would join the few who, though they are dead, truly knew the essence of life while here with us.

Mr. Ayo Asagba died in Lagos on the 7th of February, 2021 after a brief illness. He is survived by his wife, his daughter Doyin, his Son Ayo Jnr. And his siblings. He has since been buried on the 9th of February, 2021. May Mr. Ayo Asagba’s soul enjoy requiescat!

Anuodo Esq. sent in this piece from Lagos.

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