Prof Olabanji Aje: A Gem that can never be forgotten by Achievers University —Pro Chancellor, Ayorinde

The Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Governing Council of Achievers University, Owo, Ondo State, Dr. Bode Ayorinde on Wednesday described the late Vice Chancellor of the University Professor Olabanji Aje as a rare Gem that can never be forgotten by Achievers University.

Ayorinde made this comment as he received a delegation of Christian ministers from the United States of America who paid him a condolence visit at the start of the obsequies for the late Aje.

The Pro-Chancellor remarked that the University community, though in deep mourning over the loss of the late Vice Chancellor and former member of the university’s governing council nevertheless has every course to thank God for the highly impactful life of the late don and the laudable contributions he made to the intellectual community and humanity at large.

From left..Mr Dokun Farinre, GM AU Ventures, Rev. Canon Oladimeji, University Registrar, Pastor Wale Ajimatanrareje.,Hon. Dr. Bode Ayorinde, ProChancellor of Achievers University, and Evangelist/Engineer Niyi Osuporu at the Condolence visit.

Members of the contingent from the United States include Pastor Adewale Ajimatanrareje who is the Founder/Lead pastor of Royal Seed Church International in Laurel Maryland  U.S.A with a passion for the restoration of the priesthood of God to the place of power and direction in the affairs of men.

Prior to his current thriving and impactful ministry in the United States, Pastor Wale served as the Ondo state coordinator of Intercessors for Nigeria; a vibrant intercessors ministry that is affiliated with the Jerusalem House of Prayer. 

Evangelist/Engineer Niyi Osuporu is a prince of the Osuporu dynasty in Owo Ondo State, and presently the chairman and managing director Darobet Nig. Ltd; a leading international civil engineering consult.  Osuporu Is the president and founder of the Ark of God evangelical ministry for all nations with headquarters in Akure, Ondo State.

Late Prof Aje
The late VC, fifth from right standing with The Pro-Chancellor of Achievers University, Dr Bode Ayorinde who was invested as the grand patron of Owo Progressive Union, Jos branch.

The contingent also brought condolences from Rev. Victoria Imolehin, currently on a Christian Mission Outreach in the United States who consoled the University with the following passages of the Bible, Romans 8:38-39

…For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord…

Rev. Imolehin also enjoined the university community to keep their hope in the Lord God alive; quoting the words of God in John 11: 25–26 which says:

..I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die..

Rev. Imolehin commended Professor Aje as a ‘Barnabas’ of our time:  A true Son of Encouragement who provided a humane face with astute leadership to bring out the best in both staff and students at the University.

 Others who lauded the astute leadership of the late Vice-Chancellor include the newly appointed Acting Vice Chancellor to the University, Professor Omolola Irinoye.

She said, “I count myself highly opportuned to have met and worked with him (Prof Aje) for the short time.

His intellectual commitment, his outstanding leadership qualities, his administrative prowess, his friendly disposition to all, his commitment to Achievers agenda/family as well as his commitment to servicing humanity are outstanding.”

The Governor of Ondo State; Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu also lamented the demise of the erudite Professor.

In an early reaction to the news of the passing of the late Vice Chancellor, Governor Akeredolu recalled that on several occasions, he had cause to hold series of meetings with late Professor during the formative stage of Achievers University when they both served, alongside other eminent personalities, as members of the Board of Trustee of the institution.

In his words: “Professor Aje played principal roles in the establishment of the institution. His contributions to the birth of the University are immeasurable: We held series of meeting together while seeking license for the establishment of the school from National Universities Commission”

The Governor concluded his remarks by saying this of the late University Don:

 “He was a strong pillar behind the establishment of Achievers University. We will continue to remember him for his immeasurable service and uprightness even in the face of daunting challenges.

Elder Oluwole Olufawoye, a pioneer staff member of the Registry at the university commended the late don for his unique human management style and his deep concern and commitment to the progress and welfare of his members of staff.

Olufawoye had this to say:
”Human blood naturally flew through the veins of our beloved late Prof. Samuel Olabanji Aje when he was on earth.

This was observed in his nature for he saw everyone he worked with as a human being and treated him or her as such.

This was further noted in his dealing with everybody. He excelled others in this perspective.

He was a true and sincere epitome of humility, civility, kindness, love and uniquely cool and calm.  He abhorred pride and disdain in all ramifications.”

Olufawoye further remarked that the late Professor Aje was a highly resourceful and hardworking leader whose tenure as Vice Chancellor at Achievers University, Owo witnessed unprecedented human and infrastructural development.

Professor Samuel Olabanji Aje had his primary education at the Holy Trinity Primary School, Idoani, Ondo State between 1954 and 1960.

He immediately secured admission to Imade College, Owo, where he completed his secondary education in 1966 in flying colours.

He later proceeded to France for further studies – first at Université de Caen, Normandy and then at the Université de Paris, where he obtained his PhD in French Language in 1979.

On completion of his studies in 1979, Aje returned to Nigeria and picked up an appointment as Lecturer II with the University of Jos. In 1981, he was promoted Lecturer I and by 1983, he was elevated to the position of Senior Lecturer.

In recognition of his diligence and unalloyed commitment to his job, he was appointed Acting Head of the Department of Languages and Linguistics that same year; and later promoted to Reader and Professor of French and Applied Linguistics in 1988 and 1992 respectively.

He was Dean, Faculty of Arts between 1998 and 2000.
Prof. Aje is reputed to be the brain behind the commencement of Language Immersion Programme (LIP) in Nigeria which grew to become the Nigeria French Language Village (NFLV).

In recognition of his contribution to the birth of NFLV, the Federal Government of Nigeria appointed the visionary and initiator of the LIP as its Director-General (DG) in 2003.

As DG, Prof. Aje was able to align the programs of the institution with current trends in teaching and research, reorganizing and refocusing the programs to meet the needs of people who are desirous of learning French Language.

He also put in place the necessary infrastructure to cater to these needs. No wonder, he was rewarded with another five-year tenure.

Professor Aje, as Chief Executive of NFLV, conceived the idea of the Regional Network of French Language Centres in Africa (RECFLEA), which, in 2006, agreed to accommodate French Language centres of similar status in the continent.

The need to place RECFLEA on a strong footing must have influenced the centres in the network to appoint him the first president of the body, a position he held between 2006 and 2011.

The Professor of French and Applied Linguistics, realizing the need for upward mobility as well as rejuvenation of teachers of French in Nigeria, conceived and implemented the first online postgraduate program in Nigeria.

The tripartite online Master of Arts and Master of Philosophy programmes, which involved NFLV, University of Lagos (the host institution) and the Université de Franche-Comté, France, took off in 2010 after an MOU was signed between the partnering institutions.
At the behest of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Prof. Aje handled, from conception to implementation, the foreign language acquisition program at beginners and advanced levels in the following languages: French, Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian and Chinese.

He is currently the consultant to and technical partner at the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Foreign Language Institute, Abuja. Since June 2013, Nigerian diplomats have been undergoing training in any of the above languages before their posting on a foreign mission.

 He also designed and prepared a customized program in French language for the Nigerian Army Language School, Ovim, Abia State and ANAN School of Accountancy, Kwol, Plateau State.

He retired from the University of Jos after 40 years of meritorious service to the institution to join Achievers University as its third Vice-Chancellor.

In addition to successfully supervising many masters’ dissertations and Ph. D. theses in the areas of Linguistics, Semantics, French Language and French Literature, Professor Aje has authored many books and contributed chapters to many books, published many scholarly articles in reputable national and international journals, and has served as editor-in-chief, consultant as well as member, Editorial Board of many academic journals.

He has been, at various times, Chairman, National Universities Commission accreditation committees between 2000 and 2015.

In 1986, Prof. Aje was decorated with the Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Academiques (Knight of the Order of Academic Excellence) by the government of France.

He is one of the first set of Nigerians to ever receive the prestigious award. Professor Aje was until his demise a patron of the Red Cross Society of Nigeria, a holder of the Paul Harris Fellowship of the Rotary Club International, a Jerusalem Pilgrim (J.P) and the Afitoluwasaaju of the Anglican Cathedral of Idoani.

A candlelight procession organized by the university community and held on Wednesday witnessed a tremendously large turnout of staff and students as well as members of the community around Achievers University, Owo.

Professor Aje is sorely missed by his wife and children and a large extended family that he held together by his uniquely fatherly embrace; Management, staff, and students of the Achievers University and the University of Jos Nigeria, the Anglican church community in Ondo State and especially Idoani, where he recently hosted the annual synod; as well as a host of organizations in various parts of Nigeria, notably the Owo progressive Union, Jos branch where he served actively for many years of his highly impactful life.