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Ven. Godwin Adebayo Ogunlowo (JP): Celebrating a Life Devoted to God and Humanity

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By Jide Afolabi

His life was remarkable and notable – an ancient landmark that no one can shift. No wonder he chose a very special day to join host of heavens to shout Hallelujah, Hosanna in the Highest to the Lord.

On May 29, 1999, Nigeria got her independence from the shackles of the dictators who had ruled the country most, since the official independence in 1960 from her colonialist who had hitherto ruled the nation since 1914 when the Amalgamation of the Southern and Northern protectorate was completed by no other person than Sir Lord Lugard. It was that day that Nigeria welcomed her 4th Republic; a democratic government was sworn in and referred to as “Democracy Day” until recently.

Death is the end of all mortals – rich or poor. It is a factor that equates everyone. We all fear death. However, we fear death not because we do not know we will die but because we are unable to answer the basic questions of How? When? and Where? One may add, where I am heading to even after death.

The Yoruba’s belief is that there is life after death. In fact, in Yoruba folklore, it is believed that there is incarnation. Both Christianity and Islam believe that there is death and after that, it is judgement. Naturally, we fear death because we do not know how we will die; when we will die, where we will die; and where we will end up after death. This is not so for Venerable Godwin Adebayo Ogunlowo (JP). He knew the how, when, and where.

He was waiting patiently for death to come and when it finally came, he welcomed it with all enthusiasm. He shamed death by looking at it in the eye. He knew it was the passage to eternity.

In the twilight of his ministry and life, Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7 said “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand”.  He continued in verse 7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my race, I have kept the faith”. He also knew when the time of his departure was near and prepared for it. He guided his loins and never loses guard. He did not leave without a goodbye.

According to Dr. Aderonke B. Ajav (Nee Ogunlowo, the popular ‘Beere’, and the Chief of them all according to Baba), “About two weeks after his ninety-first birthday, daddy called as many of us (children and others) as he could to thank and pray for us one by one. He also uttered some sentences that both amused and scared us, for example “Awayemalo ko si, eyin ni ki e se okan giri; (No one lives on in the world forever, brace yourself up for the eventuality). “Laala alagbase tan!” (The task of the labourer is over) “baba ti lo”; (daddy has gone) “aku ara feraku odun ajina si ra”. (We shall miss the departed, may deaths be far and in-between).

He continued, “Tell the eye doctor that I won’t be able to keep his appointment, you will explain why to him when you see him”. According to her, he also said “the greatest guest I am expecting has arrived. I want to celebrate it with Holy Communion, tell Venerable Akinade to come and give me communion at 5pm this evening.” And during the communion, he told the Venerable “you will preach at my Commendation Service”. When I said daddy where are you even going, he said heaven. Are you afraid? He said no”. That was Venerable Ogunlowo – Brave, pious, visionary and heaven-conscious. He knew where he was going while on earth.

She further narrated the scare that the family had after that encounter. She said “About a month after the scare, daddy started requesting to go home saying “take me home so that I can go home. I want to go home, to my house, where my room is, where I sleep. Take me home so that I can go home.” When it was obvious that he meant it, he was finally taken home (Iwo Road) on the 28th of May 2021 at about 9pm. And he went home (Heaven) at about 6am on 29th of May 2021 after singing songs of victory throughout the night.” As requested, The Venerable I.O Akinade truly gave the exhortation during the Commendation Service held at Bishop Akinyele Memorial Anglican Church, Ibadan, Oyo state on Friday, June 18, 2021. Truly he went home!

His wife of many decades, Lady Evangelist Patience Diekola Ogunlowo described him as a “beloved husband, a true friend and a loving and caring companion, a passionate sharer and lover of the word of God.” Hon. (Pharm) Leke Ogunsola said, “he was exemplary character personified.”  Mrs. Adenike Omolara Olayiwola (Nee Ogunlowo) described her father as “a prayer warrior, caring, loving and dedicated”. His son, Olufemi said he was “a wonderful father and counselor” who gives “advice and direction”. He described further that his father taught them “contentment and sacrificial” life and that “God is God irrespective of the situation, circumstances, or incidences of life”. He concluded by referring to him as a man of “ceaseless prayers”.

Bishop Akinyele Memorial Anglican Church described him as “a loving, amiable and humble servant of God” who “lived well in his entire in the service of God and humanity”. The Rt. Revd. O.A. Fabuluje, The Diocesan Bishop, Diocese of Oke-Osun, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) said, “The humble servant of God was a strong leader in the Church and a gallant soldier of Christ whose exit will inevitably be felt for a very long time”. He added that “He lived a fruitful, purposeful, and fulfilled life” while admonishing children and relatives “to emulate his exemplary Christian life”.

Venerable Lolu Akinyinka, Vicar, Bishop Odutola Memorial Anglican Church, Ibadan, described Ogunlowo’s ministry as a “Ministry of Reconciliation” while describing him as “a peaceful and easy going person from his days as a Chorister and later Lay Reader at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Yemetu, Ibadan”. Old students of his former school under the aegis of The Old Grammarians’ Society (OGS), C.M.S Grammar School, Lagos (Oyo, Osun, Ondo, and Ekiti States Branches) in a Tribute letter to the family signed by its Chairman, Professor Oladele O. Kale, called him “Chaplain Emeritus”. He said “The Venerable can be credited to, among other admirable things, with outstanding and reinforcing in our society a remarkable measure of conviviality the like of which, giving his high office in the Church, is a rare personal attribute. He was a true man of God and a devoted and loyal Grammarian”. The tribute for him was almost endless.

Born Godwin Adebayo Ogunlowo (JP), sixteen years after Nigeria Amalgamation on 10th April, 1930 into the humble family of Chief John Ogunlowo and Madam Abigail Awawu Atowuromola Ogunlowo (both of blessed memory) of Aro omo-jogunle compound, Oluponna, Ayedire Local Government Area of Osun State started his elementary education at the St. Peter’s Anglican School Oluponna in 1938 and gained admission to Ibadan Boys High School in 1945 but crossed to the Remo Secondary School, Sagamu and lastly to C.M.S. Grammar School, Lagos where he obtained his Senior Cambridge (oversea) School Certificate in December 1953.

The young Ogunlowo started work in 1954 at the then Western Region Ministry of Education Ibadan as a Clerical Officer and was posted to the Provincial Education Office in Abeokuta and later to the Planning Office, llaro in Egbado where he along with other officers worked tirelessly to prosecute the free Primary School Education scheme then newly introduced by the then Premier of the Western Region, late Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

Heeding to his calling, Ogunlowo resigned his appointment in December 1955 to start a Theological course at the Melville Hall, Kudeti, Ibadan. He later abandoned course after spending a term at the Institute due to financial problems. He was re-employed to his former post of Clerical Officer at the Ministry of Education and after a spell, he was sent along with an expatriate officer by name Mr. Boothroyd to a newly established Govt. Trade Centre (Later renamed Technical College) on Awe Road, Oyo in 1962/63.

Ogunlowo was transferred back to the Headquarters Ibadan in 1964. Being a dutiful young man, he rose through the ranks to the highest grade of Chief Executive Officer (Administration) in 1984 after serving meritoriously in almost all the ministries and Parastatals of Government among which was the Governor’s Office.

It was this exemplary service that made him to meritoriously serve four Governors, Military and Civilian namely, Col. Paul Tarfa, Uncle Bola Ige, Dr. Omololu Olunloyo and Col. Oladayo Popoola as Chief Protocol Officer. He was awarded Oyo State Govt. Certificate of Merit in 1990.

He was sent on In-service training to the Institute of Administration, University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) and the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON) (Topo) Badagry while in service. He successfully completed both courses.

Ogunlowo even in his old age never forgot the call of God upon his life. Before he retired from the service of Oyo State in July, 1991 he once again started a Theological course at the Immanuel College of Theology and Christian Education, Samonda, Ibadan which he successfully completed in 1990.

Before be bowed out from the service of Oyo State, Ven. Ogunlowo was ordained a Deacon in 1989 and later a Priest in 1990. He was installed a Canon Minister. He was on Holy Pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 2004 where he was divinely preferred an Archdeacon. His collation was uniquely performed by the Rt. Rev. Olusola Fasogbon (now retired) at the St. Paul’s Cathedral, Gbongan on 10th April, 2005 (coincidentally on his 75th Birthday Anniversary). What a happy coincidence!

Venerable Ogunlowo was an “Anglican to the Core”. He was a founding member of the Young Men Christian Association (YMCA) of St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Oluponna, his hometown. He remained a very loyal, active and financial member till death.

Also, he was one of the founding members of Immanuel Society of Bishop Akinyele Memorial Anglican Church, Iwo road, Ibadan, Oyo state. He remained a very loyal, active and financial member till death.

He was Deaconed at St. Peter’s Anglican Church Aremo, Ibadan (now Cathedral) and as Providence would have it, he was installed as a Canon of the same Church in the year 2000.

Ven. Ogunlowo had a great passion for music and he gleefully sang all parts but has preference for Tenor.

Ogunlowo was happily married to his lovely, dependable and loyal wife Mrs. Patience Diekola Ogunlowo (Nee Bolaji) and the union were blessed with wonderful, God fearing, caring and loving children and adorable grandchildren.

The revered Ven. Ogunlowo passed on to eternal life peacefully and gloriously on 29th May, 2021 while singing victorious hymns and soul lifting choruses with his wife of over fifty-six years.

He was interned at the burial site of The Cathedral of St. Peter, Aremo, Ibadan, Oyo state on Friday, June 18, 2021.

He undoubtedly lived a fulfilled life of humility and contentment of a true servant and child of God serving God and humanity till it pleased his creator to take him home so that he can take a deserved rest in God whom he had served for 91 years.

 

 

 

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