Prof Ayo Banjo

The National Universities Commission (NUC) family and indeed the entire Nigerian University System (NUS) was thrown into a mourning mood with the death of  immediate Past 12th Board Chairman of the Commission and former Vice-Chancellor, University of Ibadan (UI)  Emeritus Professor Ayodeji Banjo,  who died at the age of 90.

The news of his death filtered into the media space, indicating that he died in the early hours of Friday, just three weeks after his 90th birthday.

Meanwhile, President and Commander-in-Chief, Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, was among high profile Nigerians that has extended condolences to the family of the late sage  Emeritus Professor Ayodeji Banjo.  In a statement issued early Sunday titled: ‘President Tinubu mourns Emeritus Professor Ayodeji Banjo, the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Chief Ajuri Ngelale, said  “President Tinubu mourns the academic par excellence, who only recently turned 90, describing him as a stout beacon of professional and moral excellence.”

The statement noted that President Tinubu “celebrates the life and legacies of the late Emeritus Professor of English, renowned for his immense contributions to the development of education in Nigeria,’ adding that he “commiserates with the family of Professor Banjo and the academic community while praying to God Almighty to grant the departed eternal rest.”

While confirming his death, the former Vice-Chancellor, University of Ibadan,  Professor Abel Idowu Olayinka said, “I have just learned of the transition of Professor Emeritus Ladipo Ayo Banjo, the longest serving Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan (1984 to 1991).

“This is very sad news even at a ripe old age of 90 years. The end of a most glorious era. Rest in perfect peace, Baba. You will be sorely missed by all of us who knew you. ”

“Heartfelt condolences to his entire family and to all of us his mentees and academic children. We valued your wise counsel at all times. “You were highly approachable. An icon. An eminent citizen of the world. The gift of UI to humanity. It hurts very deeply to start referring to you in the past tense. Nonetheless,  we thank God for your life of selfless service and worthwhile legacies.”

The immediate past 12th NUC Board Chairman and 12th VC of the Premier University, UI, was the Emeritus Professor of English Language and the Pro-Chancellor of a private University, Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo.

While reacting to the news through a comment by the Acting Director, Public Affairs, NUC, Alh Haruna Lawal Ajo, on behalf of the Acting Executive Secretary, Mr. Chris J. Maiyaki, described the death of the late sage as a great loss to the NUC and the Nigerian University System (NUS) as a whole. He said Professor Banjo would be fondly remembered as the Chairman of the 12th NUC Board between (2018-2021), who brought to bear his wisdom, intellectual prowess and candour into the management of the affairs of the Commission.

He noted that the amiable Emeritus Professor of English Language would be sorely missed for the landmark achievements recorded during his tenure as the chair of NUC board, especially in the areas of a robust deployment of an ICT roadmap and ICT Upgrade for the NUC and the NUS and prayed God to grant his soul eternal rest.               

Born on May 2, 1934, the  Emeritus Professor of English Language attended St. Andrews Anglican Primary School and Christ Cathedral Primary school in Lagos State. He later attended Igbobi College in Lagos State between 1947 and 1952.

In 1966, he won the American State Department’s scholarship award for a Master of Art (M.A) degree in Linguistics at the University of California, Los Angeles, United State. He later obtained a Doctorate degree (Ph.D) in 1969 from the University of  Ibadan, Nigeria. In 1981, he became the Vice-Chancellor of the University of  Ibadan, a position he held till 1991.

During this period, he was the Chairman Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian universities. He served as visiting professor for one year at the University of West Indies at Cave Hill as well as visiting fellow at the  University of Cambridge, England, between 1993 and 1994. He was appointed as the Pro-Chancellor of the University of Port-Harcourt between 2000 and 2004. After his tenure he was appointed Pro-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin for two years between 2005-2007. Until his death, he also served as the incumbent Pro-Chancellor of Ajayi Crowther University.