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An Awoist, Israel Adeniyi Olukoju, Leaves The Stage


OlukojuTHE death has been announced of Chief (Hon.) Israel Adeniyi Adejoro Adefarati Olukoju, MHA, JP, Elereho of the Iroho Community, Okia Quarters, Oka-Akoko in the Akoko Southwest Local Government of Ondo State.

Chief Olukoju, a Member of Parliament in Nigeria’s First Republic (1960-66) and one of the last surviving Action Group (AG) Old Guard, died after a brief illness on Monday, March 9, 2015.

Funeral arrangements in Oka-Akoko are as follows: Wednesday, August 19, 2015 — Service of Songs and Evening of Tributes; Thursday, August 20 — Commendation Service and Christian Wake; Friday, August 21 — burial service at 10a.m., St. David’s African Church, Okia Quarters, Oka-Akoko and entertainment of guests at 2.00 pm, African Church Grammar School, Owase Quarters, Oka-Akoko.

Born at Oka-Akoko on April 19, 1925, the late Olukoju was the first son and second child of the late Pa Emmanuel Ajamajebi Ologunmale Olukoju and the late Madam Naomi Otitoyomi Dudan Olukoju.

After his elementary education at Oka-Akoko and Owo between 1936 and 1943, he obtained the Teachers Grade III and II certificates at Government Teacher Training College, Abraka, Delta State (1951) and St. John’s College, Owo, Ondo State (1956), respectively.

A leading Scout Master and sportsman, his entire working life as a pupil and trained teacher from 1943 to 1976 was devoted to training and developing the capacity of generations of young minds in the Old Ondo Province.

He was pioneer Principal of the African Church Secondary Modern School, Oka, at its inception in 1957. Pa Olukoju retired voluntarily in 1976 to participate in the local government elections in preparation for the return to civil rule in 1979.

A community leader of repute, Church elder and grassroots politician, Olukoju was Secretary of the AG in Oka-Akoko in 1955 and was elected into the Western Regional Parliament on the platform of the AG in October 1960, the first indigene of Oka-Akoko to be elected to Parliament.

He represented a constituency cutting across the modern Akoko Southwest and Ose local governments. As a politician, he was distinguished by four key virtues – personal integrity, sportmanship and self-sacrifice; total loyalty to the party (AG), for which he spent and was spent; empathy for, identification with, and dedication to the common people and their challenges; and politics without bitterness.

He was noted for touching lives, peacemaking and resolution of conflicts by non-violent means. Hence, he was regarded as a clergyman in politics.

As a Member of Parliament, he was devoted to the needs of his constituents whether in meeting their personal needs, promoting youth education or in resolving communal issues relating to chieftaincy and boundary disputes, and land tax (isakole) paid by Oka migrant farmers. He was a totally committed party faithful.

He was one of the 27 AG MPs that remained in the party till the military coup of January 1966 while others defected to the NNDP of the late S.L. Akintola and Remi Fani-Kayode.

He was a member of the Western Leaders of Thought that met under the leadership of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo during the crisis leading to the Nigerian civil war.

As a lifelong Awoist and member of the Committee of Friends, he was involved in the process that birthed the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) in 1979. He was till his death a member of the Afenifere, a leading Yoruba socio-political group.

As a community leader, he was involved in the movement that led to the creation of Akoko Division out of the Old Owo Division in 1972 and in the clamour for the creation of Ondo State in 1976.

He was signatory to the Demand for the creation of each entity. Expectedly, he took part in the elections into the new local government system introduced in 1976. Following the creation of Akoko South local council in 1976, he voluntarily retired from teaching service, contested elections and served as the pioneer Supervisory Councillor for Health and Social Services of the local council.

With the onset of civil rule in 1979, he served successively as Chairman of the Ondo State Agricultural Credit Corporation in Ado-Ekiti and Housing Corporation in Akure under the leadership of Governor Adekunle Ajasin.

His tenure as Chairman of Housing Corporation recorded the feat of conceiving and delivering the Oba-Ile Housing Estate, on which he acquired no single landed property.

With the country’s return to military rule in 1983, he devoted his time to community and Church matters. At the state level, he served as Chairman of the Ondo State chapter of the Union of Pensioners and in the African Church as a National Vice Lay President.

His kindred in Iroho Community in Okia Quaters of Oka-Akoko appointed him their ruler, the Elereho, an office that had not been held in living memory. Pa Olukoju was a Justice of Peace (JP).

A most fulfilled man, Pa Olukoju was a family man to the core. He spent time with his children and their families in Nigeria and Canada, and will long be remembered by his kinsmen, friends and political associates as a bridge-builder and dependable ally.

His children, grandchildren and in-laws cherish his memory for his great wisdom, genius for planning and organising, gentle and pleasant disposition, tolerance, calmness under pressure, capacity to absorb shocks and comfort the hurting, kindness, infectious smiles, earthy humour, neatness and elegance, and care for children.

Pre-deceased in 2008 by his first wife, Princess Esther Adefolawe Olukoju (nee Odole), Olukoju is survived by many sisters, brothers and cousins, including Dr. Ebenezer Olukoju and Pastor Abiodun Olukoju; a widow, Madam D.T. Olukoju, and 14 children, among whom are Mrs Adenike Fatogun, former Commissioner for Education, Ondo State; Prof. Ayodeji Olukoju, Vice-Chancellor of Caleb University, Imota, Lagos State; Mr Olusegun Olukoju, a Lagos-based businessman; Dr. Sunday Olukoju, an educationist and minister in Winnipeg, Canada; Mrs Funke Lawal, an Ibadan-based teacher; Mrs Toyin Adewoye, a realtor in Ottawa, Canada; and Mrs Adenose Omoruyi, a Gusau-based teacher. Prof. Olukoju is the Vice-Chancellor of Caleb University, Imota, Lagos State

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