Meet 86yrs Old Man Who Issued Buhari His WAEC Certificate

Baba Alex Ajayi is the first graduate from Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State. He's also the first WAEC registrar from Nigeria. He talks about his life with Punch's Kamarudeen Ogundele. Read a brief excerpt:

How was growing up like?
I was born on June 28, 1930. I was privileged to come from a literate family. My father worked with missionary priests who were Oxford-trained. Ado Ekiti, as a metropolis and occupied by agrarian people, did not develop as fast as it should be in the beginning. Many towns and villages near and far from Ado produced graduates decades before our own time.

My father combined teaching with evangelism. He was in charge of three schools and three churches in Ikere in the 1920s. He and one other person established the first Olu Scout Troupe in Owo where I also became a member in 1941. My mother was also trained by the missionaries. My parents travelled to different parts of the country.

Buhari's Certificate: Can you give insights into your career in the civil service?

I was the principal of Fiditi Grammar School, Oyo State, at age 26 in 1956 and produced the first set of students in 1959. I ensured that the school was stabilised before I joined the West African Examinations Council. I also established a football team and the late Teslim (Thunder) Balogun came from Ibadan to train my boys. They went on to win all their matches in the western region and even defeated the University of Ibadan football team 12-0. With that level of achievements, I joined the West African Examination Council as a pioneer staff. 

I was the first substantive Nigerian Assistant Registrar. I took over the control of the examination from the University of Cambridge. I took examiners to Cambridge for training across 10 years and trained them in Nigeria. I had the opportunity of issuing WAEC certificates to three former Heads of State: Buhari, Abacha and Babangida in the 60s

When I was in WAEC, I was put on the council of the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) in 1966 by the national government of Aguiyi Ironsi. I was put on three important committees. The vice-chancellor and others were interested that I became a full staff of the university which I was not really keen about. But I finally accepted out of pressure. When I was serving on the council of the University of Ife, I was among the three-member committee selected by Chief Obafemi Awolowo as the first chancellor. I was on the council that installed him in 1967. 

From the early days of my life, I never applied for jobs. I was just invited. I stayed at the University of Ife before I left for an examination correspondence college as a director and controller producing lectures for professional courses and involved with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, Institute of Insurers and Institute of Bankers. I had the joy of launching these new lecture courses in the universities in Lagos, Ife and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Thereafter, I went into private business with the late of Oni of Ife and Leventis. I established a factory at Ibadan where I was a director and subscribing shareholder.

In those days, we produced carpet used by the Senate, the Nigerian Stock Exchange and others. The carpet companies in Lagos then were just distributors; we were the real manufacturers.

Did you hold any public office?
I served as the local government chairman of Ado Ekiti between 1973 and 1983 first under the military and again invited under the civilians without receiving a kobo. That was when I gave out my house as Senate to the then Obafemi Awolowo University, Ado Ekiti. I’m used to giving to charity. I have instituted a scholarship for the best final year student in Christ’s School since 1967. These are just some flashes of my public and private life.