A YEAR AFTER:- REMEMBERING ALHAJI (PRINCE) AMUSA OLAPADE AJAO AGBOLUAJE (ALIAS BABA EKO) 17TH JULY, 1921-13TH MARCH, 2021
On behalf of the children, including myself, I have the privilege to do this memorial tribute in honour of our late father, Alhaji Amusa Olapade Ajao Agboluaje (Alias “Baba Eko”) who transited into eternity, exactly a year ago today, four months short of his 100th birthday.
His father was Late Pa Lawani Alao Agboluaje a.k.a Baba Ile-Ife (1872-1970). His mother was Sinotu Olagbenjo Agboluaje (alias Iya Ogbomosho). His grandfather was Aminu Agboluaje, while his great grandfather, Sanni Agboluaje, along with his brothers – Jinadu Agboluaje (senior) and Somotan Agboluaje (junior) would count amongst the early settlers in modern Ibadan at its founding around 1829/1830. They were descendants of Oba Agboluaje, Alaafin of Oyo Empire, who reigned from 1750-1772.
His early education began at Ile-Ife from Salvation School Ilare, to CMS Primary School, Iremo, and then Central School, Sabo. His father Lawani was a produce merchant for United African Company (UAC) who lived in Ile-Ife from 1912 to 1952, latterly at Aroko Compound, Ita-Akogun. Primary education was completed at St. Patrick’s Catholic School, Oke-Paadi, which subsequently relocated to Oke-Ado, in Ibadan.
Alhaji Amusa and his brother Alhaji Tiamiyu, later attended Christ High School. Ebute Ilubinrin on the Lagos Island from 1940 to 1943, earning the Secondary Class Four (S75) Certificate. Both brothers were soccer talents in their youth.
Indeed, it is said that their talents were spotted by some expatriate soccer fans and admirers who were senior officers of the Nigerian Railways. These senior expatriate Railways officers saw both play at the Race Course (Tafawa Balewa Square), hand picked them along with four others and recruited them into the Nigerian Railway Corporation on July 17, 1944 (his 23rd birthday), both as staffers and as players in the Railway United Football Club. Amusa played as a left full-back, while his brother Tiamiyu was a right-winger.
Before Railways, both had been members of the Muslim Eleven Football Club of Lagos. However, both played for Railways, for only three years 1944 and 1946, after which the club was disbanded.
Amusa Agboluaje served the Railways till 1950 and later joined the United Trading Company (UTC), then located at Joseph Street, Lagos, as a Salesman, Petrol and Lubricants. He served UTC from 1950 to 1953.
Thereafter, he ventured into import business, dealing in singlets, metal cooking-pots, patent medicines and face-caps imported from Italy. However, difficult-to-collect debts, and the reluctance of foreign-owned banks to advance credits to growing indigenous businesses, forced him to wind up the business in 1957. That same year, he was back to paid employment with R. T. Briscoe Limited, which was then into importation of motor spare-parts, Alliance-Brand automobile tyres, Royal-band decorative paints, and bagged cement. Here, he was posted to Ibadan as Storekeeper/Salesman, to operate the depot located at the Ogunpa-Oyo area of the city. Later, he was assigned an assistant, one Mr. Adepegba who bore the title of Sales Promoter. He served RT Bricscoe from 1957 -1959. He parted ways with the firm when its management offered to transfer him to Kano in Northern Nigeria.
Rather than go back to Lagos, he decided to stay in Ibadan even though his childhood was largely spent at Ile-Ife, except for a brief spell (in Ibadan) during the St. Patrick’s School years. What is more, his new friends in Ibadan included some who were political party men in government. A friend, Late Chief Alimi Adesokan was Chairman Governing Council of a government-owned institution. Another friend, Chief Lekan Salami was a political appointee/Director of a regional government Statutory Corporation. Still another friend, Honourable Isawu Lawal, was a member of the Regional House of Assembly.
His friends persuaded him to go into building contract business with the assurance that they would assist him in his bid for government contracts provided such bids were fair, reasonable and competitive. He therefore registered Agboluaje Bothers & Company, a building contractor business. As a building contractor, he handled a number of projects including the following:
– Dormitory (Hostel) buildings for the Ibadan Divisional Teacher Training College, Iwo Road, between 1959 & 1960.
– Staff Quarters project for Lagelu Grammar School, Agugu, Ibadan
– A few rural Primary School building projects within the jurisdiction of the then Ibadan District Council.
As usual in business, the patronages gradually dried up because of the change in the political configuration of the Western Region, especially during the build-up to the Action Group crisis.
Alhaji Amusa returned to Lagos in 1962, again into paid employment with the new West African Breweries Limited, founded by the late lawyer/politician/businessman,Chief Adeyemi Lawson. He was appointed Senior Sales Representative. He worked there from 1962-1964. He thereafter joined another firm called Daltrade Limited, importers of ceramics, china-ware plates and steel cutlerries, as Storekeeper from 1964-1966.
By the end of 1966, he decided he had had enough of paid employment. He registered Motolani Trading Stores, a stationery supply business, with office first, at 37 Ibomo Street, Isale-Agbede, Lagos, and later at 30 Shitta Street, Lagos. Motolani Trading Stores supplied stationery materials to several public and private sector organizations such as the Central Bank of Nigeria, Electricity Corporation of Nigeria, Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Air Force, Brian Munro Limited, Research Bureau Nigeria Limited, Lagos City Council, West African Automobile and Technical Company Limited (WATECO, distributors of Lada-brand jeep and Moscovich Saloon cars). The stationary supply business was relatively successful, although it was a market in which late Chief Israel Adebajo’s Nigerian Office Stationery Supply Stores (NOSSS), Ona-Ara Bookshop, Fidelis Stationery Supply Stores (along Reclamation Road, Lagos) and Kolynson Stationery Stores (along Offin Road, Lagos) were clear leaders.
Later in the early 70’s the venturesome and adventurous Alhaji Amusa diversified into imported textile (French stuff) materials. He retired from active business in 1990.
SPORTING/SOCIAL LIFE: His sporting and social life remained active for long. He was Captain, Oluwole Athletics Club, Oluwole, Lagos from 1944 to 1947. While it lasted, he was active in the Muslim Eleven, and the Railway United Football Clubs.
He was a member, Club 20 of Lagos in the 1960’s with other friends/members, including Late Alhaji Tajudeen Kotun, Late Alhaji Kamil Pedro and Late Alhaji Aminu Babatunde. Outside of the clubs the Late lawyer, Chief Wahab Ojikutu, and Chief Richard Akinyemi (alias Obe), late Balogun of Ido-Ani, Ondo State, (another Lagos-based lawyer) counted amongst his friends, not forgetting Late Alhaji Amusa Otiti (retired Central Bank Deputy Governor) and Late Justice Bola Babalakin, retired Justice of the Supreme Court.
In Ibadan, he was a member of the Egbe Ifenirepo, which he joined during his R.T. Briscoe years. Upon a split within the group in the Late 50’s, he joined the faction that became Egbe Gbobaniyi, which had Olubadan of Ibadan as its Grand Patron and Late Chief Augustus Meredith Adisa Akinloye as Baba-Egbe. His friends and contemporaries in both social clubs included Ibadan socialites and notables including, Late Alhaji S. L. Yusuf (a.k.a S.L.Y), Chairman of the Latter group, Late Alhaji Alimi Adio Adeniran, Late Alhaji Suara Lawal, Late Alhaji (Prince) Busari Akinyo, Late Alhaji Adedewe Sanni Agboluaje (his cousin), Late Alhaji Lamidi Apampa, Late Alhaji (Prince) Wahab Aminu, Late Alhaji Salman Bolatito Lawal, and Late Alhaji Ganiyu Adewale amongst others. Alhaji Amusa Agboluaje was Treasurer of the Egbe Gbobaniyi for several years.
He favourite music was Sakara (of Yusuf Olatunji Baba L’Egba and Salami Balogun Lefty) and Juju music of Ayinde Bakare and Tunde Thomas, alias Tunde Nightingale). No more!
He was a polygamist who was blessed with twelve children, including the following:
Aderemi Agboluaje – Retired Oyo State Water Corporation Executive
Adekunle Agboluaje – Advertising Practitioner and Author
Adewale Agboluaje – Retired UBA Plc Manager
Adesina Agboluaje – Former Managing Director, Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority, and Past Commissioner, Regional Investment and Trade Office (Asia Region)
Muraina Agboluaje – Self-employed
Moshood Agboluaje – Technician
Ms. Ashiat Agboluaje – Alonge Marketer
Iyabode Akinola – Retired Principal Data Officer, Oyo State Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Gafar Agboluaje – Businessman
Kofoworola Sanusi – UK – based Nurse
Sarafadeen Agboluaje – Deceased
Folashade Ogundele – Deceased
Alhaji Agboluaje performed the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina in 1976. He also visited Britain and Germany in 1978 on business and social trip.
Alhaji Amusa Olapade Ajao Agboluaje was a very liberal person, known for his warmth, humour and friendliness. He easily forgave any act of misdeed toward him. He had no room for malice towards anyone and was quite plain and predictable. He was known for always taking things in his stride. He was a typical Lagos man. He once attributed his long life and relatively good health to the grace of Almighty Allah, strict adherence to healthy living and moderation in term of food and drinks.
Popularly known as “Baba Eko” within the extended family, Alhaji Amusa Olapade Ajao Agboluaje relocated to Ibadan in 1998, and subsequently assumed the headship of the Agboluaje Family (Mogaji) at Oke Foko, Ibadan, which title he held till his death in the morning of Saturday, the 13th of March, 2021. He was buried the same day according to Islamic tradition.
May his soul rest in peace. Aameen
ADEKUNLE AGBOLUAJE (Son)
13th March, 2022