EMERITUS PROFESSOR AYO BANJO, JP, CON, NNOM
A Distinguished and Successful Administrator
Professor Ladipo Ayodeji Banjo was born on 2nd May, 1934 in Oyo town, Oyo State. He was born into the family of late Pa. Reverend Samuel Ayodele Banjo, a graduate, an educationist and a teacher at St. Andrew Primary School, Oyo, a period when Professor Ayodeji Banjo was born. He is a native of Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun State.
He started his education career at the St. Andrew Anglican Primary School where he did standard One (1) to three (3). On transfer of his father to Christ Cathedral Primary School in Lagos on same mission, he completed his Standard Four (4) and Five (5) at St. Aroloya and Christ Cathedral Primary Schools both in Lagos. He attended Igbobi College, Lagos from 1947 to 1952 for his secondary education.
Following his sound academic background and excellent performance at ‘A’ Level Class at the Nigeria College of Arts Science and Technology, Ibadan, on nomination, Professor Ayodeji Banjo was awarded the British Council Scholarship in 1959 to study Master of Arts (M. A.) in English Language at the University of Glasgow, Scotland. He thereafter proceeded to do Post-Graduate Diploma in education (PG in education) and Post-Graduate Diploma in English Studies at University of Leeds in England and came out, with distinction.
In 1966, he was awarded a scholarship by the American State Department to study Master of Arts (M. A.) in Linguistics, at the University of California, Los Angeles, United State of America (U. S. A.). He got his Ph.D with specialization in English Language at the University Ibadan, Ibadan in 1969. Professor Banjo’s work experience was garnered across several countries of the world. He was:
- Education Officer and rose to the post of Senior Education Officer, Western Nigeria from 1960 – 1966.
- Lecturer II and rose through the ranks to the post of Senior Lecturer, Department of English Language, University of Ibadan, from 1966 – 1973.
- Associate Professor (i. e Reader), University of Ibadan from 1973 to 1975
- He became a Professor of English Language, 1975
- Visiting Professor, University of the West Indies at Cave Hill, Barbados, 1980 – 1981.
- Visiting Fellow, University of Cambridge, England, 1993 – 1994.
- Visiting Professor, Agder College, Kristiansand, Norway, 1993 – 1994.
- External examiner in various Universities in Nigeria, Swaziland, Sierra-Leone, Botswana just to mention a few.
- During Summer, he was consistently travelling to the Oxford University press, England, to write English Course Books and Oxford Dictionaries at primary and 4 secondary levels. This work, he did from early 70’s until he was appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Ibadan in 1981.
- Professor Ayodeji Banjo has to his credit, over 55 publications (books, chapters in books and articles in learned journals). The publications cover the following areas:
- Contrastive studies in aspects of the syntax of English and Yoruba, both as an aid to more effective teaching and learning of the English language among Yoruba-speaking Nigerians and as an enquiry into language universals.
- In Sociolinguistics seminar work in the area of the definition of English as a second language in the country, suggesting a mode of classification of varieties of the language in the country and a principled way of choosing and developing an endonormative model to replace the exonormative model received in the 19th century. This work has strongly influenced subsequent research in the area.
- Stylistic studies of Nigerian literature of English expression.
- Issues in the area of language policy, with particular reference to the place of the English language in such a policy in Nigeria.
- A book-length overview of the English Language in Nigeria.
- Nigerian Higher Education.
- English Course Books at Primary and Secondary levels.
In 1981, Professor Ayodeji Banjo delivered his inaugural lecture titled “The Grammar and the Grammarian”. The glamorous inaugural lecture was enthusiastically attended by people from all works of life. Professor Ayodeji Banjo through hard work and total commitment to his sacred calling as an academia has successfully produced many Ph.D holders and professors in Nigeria and abroad.
He has always been an innovator, a foresighted academic and administrator. In addition to his academic and research engagements, Professor Ayodeji Banjo held several administrative positions in the University of Ibadan. He was:
- Ag. Head of Department (HOD), Department of English Language from 1971-73.
- Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of Ibadan, 1977 – 1979.
- Chairman, Committee of Deans, 1978 – 1979.
- Head of Department, Department of English Language from 1980–1981.
- Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Ibadan, 1981 – 1983.
- Acting Vice-Chancellor, University of Ibadan, 1983 – 1984.
- Appointed substantive Vice-Chancellor, University of Ibadan, 1984 – 1988
- He had his appointment renewed for second term of three (3) years as Vice-Chancellor, University of Ibadan by the then Visitor to the University, the former Head of State, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida GCFR in 1988 and Professor Ayodeji Banjo completed his term of office as Vice-Chancellor in 1991.
- Chairman, Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, 1989–1990.
It is worthy to note that Professor Ayodeji Banjo spent ten (10) Years, consistently in the University of Ibadan, managing the affairs of the University; two (2) years as Deputy Vice-Chancellor, one (1) year as Acting Vice-Chancellor and seven (7) years as Vice-Chancellor respectively. Records have shown that Professor Ayodeji Banjo is the longest-serving Vice-Chancellor in the history of the University of Ibadan, to date!
On successful completion of his term of office as Vice-Chancellor in 1991, Professor Ayodeji Banjo, humbly displayed a beauty in the academics by returning to the classroom to lecture. In 1994, Professor Ayodeji Banjo, clocked sixty (60) years of age in service and consequently retired from the service of the University. The University Management formally requested him to consider the option of staying back in service in view of the coincidental new Federal Government Policy on extension of retirement age to 65 years for academic staff, but Professor Ayodeji Banjo resolved still to bow out when the ovation was at its highest peak.
In view of Professor Ayodeji Banjo’s invaluable, unquantifiable and immense contributions to the positive development of the University of Ibadan and mankind in general, he was awarded Emeritus Professor in 1994, the highest title in academics. A title that denotes retired professor but still in service. To date, Professor Ayodeji Banjo still occupies his office, Room 67 in the Department of English Language, playing consultancy and advisory roles to the Department, Universities and mankind as a whole.
Having had a fulfilled life and work after retirement, Professor Ayodeji Banjo served in the following capacities outside the University of Ibadan:
- Pro-Chancellor, University of Port-Harcourt, 2000-2004.
- Pro-Chancellor, University of Ilorin, 2005 – 2007
- Chairman, Committee of Pro-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, 2000-2004.
- Chairman, Visitation Panel to Ahmadu Bello University, 2012.
- Chairman, Visitation Panel to Lead City University, 2012.
- Pro-Chancellor, Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, 2005 to 2014.
In addition to his academic and professional qualifications, Emeritus Professor Ayodeji Banjo has received the following recognitions and awards:
- Justice of the Peace, Oyo State, 1984
- Commander of the order of the Niger (CON), 2001
- Fellow of the Nigeria Academy of letters, 2000
- President of the Nigeria Academy of Letters, 2000 – 2004
- Chairman, Sigma Foundation, 2005 – 2010
- Chairman, National Selection Committee, Ford Foundation Teaching Innovation
- Awards Programme (FF – TIAP) 2008 to date
- D. Litt. Honoris Causa (Port Harcourt), 2005
- Fellow of the Nigeria English Studies Association, 2006
- Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM), 2009
It is often said that besides every successful man, there must be a supportive, hardworking and equally successful woman. Emeritus Professor Ayodeji Banjo got married in 1963 to a lady substance who hails from Anambra State, Mrs. Alice Banjo, who retired as a matron from the service of the University Teaching Hospital (U.C.H.) Ibadan. She died in 2014. Professor Banjo is now comforted by children and grandchildren as well as many other relatives and a host of friends.
For Emeritus Professor Ayodeji Banjo, life has become more meaningful and more significant, serving as a consultant, resource person, facilitator and agent of positive change. He is convinced that his academic background and training have been helpful, keeping him humble and ever willing to learn.
DAWN Commission celebrates this academic colossus, world-renowned English Language Consultant, International University Teacher, an Innovator, fore-sighted and thoroughbred Manager of men and materials, a Professor of Professors, a distinguished and successful former Vice-Chancellor and a lover of his people, a likeable, humble, unassuming and companionable gentleman, Emeritus Professor Ayodeji Banjo, JP, CON, NNOM.