Nigeria’s former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo joined eminent Nigerians including the former governor of Oyo Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, Dr Oba Otudeko and others who payed their last respects to the late Tejumade Durosomo Alakija, the first Nigerian female Head of Service.
The former leaders and eminent Nigerians attended a commendation service held in honor of the late first daughter of Sir Adesoji Aderemi, the late Ooni of Ife. She died at the University College Hospital, Ibadan after a brief illness. She was 88 years old.
Described as a woman who achieved what many men could not achieve, she led a very fruitful life and did her best to serve the nation and her family.
“She was a family woman in all respects. We thank God for her life,” Prince Aderemi said.
The commendation service featured hymns and special numbers. It started with the Hallelujah hymn, other songs include ‘Who are these like stars appearing’, ‘Forever with the Lord,’ before the recessional hymn – We speak of The Realms.
Various societies which the deceased served as member, patroness or contributed to made special renditions.
Dignitaries at the occasion included former President Olusegun Obasanjo; former governor of Oyo State, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala; Ambassador (Dr) Tokunbo Awolowo Dosunmu, Professor and professor (Mrs) Akinkugbe, Dr Oba Otudeko, Chief Adebayo Adetunji, Ambassador Ronke Adefowope and Oloye Lekan Alabi.
Others are Chief Kola Daisi, Chief (Dr) Femi Majekodunmi, students of Anglican Girls School, Ijebu-Ode, students of Queens’s School, Apata, Ibadan and students of St Annes School, Molete, Ibadan.
Born on May 17, 1925 in Ile-Ife, Osun State, into one of the most ancient and distinguished of royal families in Nigeria, she received her early education at Aiyetoro Primary and Central Schools, Ile-Ife, from 1933 to 1937; also at Kudeti Girls’ School, a private boarding primary school in Molete, Ibadan.
Alakija obtained her B.A Honours (History) at Westfield College, University of London, England, between 1946 and 1950. She proceeded to Oxford University, where she received a post-graduate diploma in Education (1950 – 1951). Alakija was a member of the G.D.H. Cole Group, a body reputed for its intellectual and international activities.
As a graduate teacher, she joined the Nigerian Civil Service, and was posted to Queen’s School, Ede, then a new government girls’ secondary grammar school, between 1951 and 1953. She was a foundation staff member and one of only two Nigerian staff members at the time.
In 1953, Alakija founded a girls’ secondary grammar school at the invitation of the Anglican Mission in Ijebu-Ode Diocese, Western Region of Nigeria. This school, which is now in Ogun State, is classified as category ‘A’, and several of its old girls are highly successful professionals in various walks of life.
Between 1956 and 1958, she taught at the Abeokuta Grammar School and assisted in establishing a five-year programme for the School Leaving Certificate to replace the existing six-year programme. She rejoined the Western Nigerian Public Service as an Assistant Secretary, and was later posted to the Western Nigerian office in London, England, where she gave new direction to the students’ affairs department in England. Back in Nigeria, from 1960 to 1962, she was an Assistant Secretary (finance) at the Ministry of Works, and then training officer in charge of the Region’s Public Service Training Programme.
From 1962 to 1964, she was the Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and industries in the region. She was later appointed Secretary of important commissions — Committee on Development of Training in the Western Region Civil Service; and also Committee on Technical Education in Western Nigeria.
Princess Alakija became the Chief Investment Officer in the Ministry of Trade and industries in charge of Industrial Promotions, 1969-1972. During this period, she led the negotiation, promotion and establishment of many major industrial projects now flourishing in the four states of Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ogun, which made up the old Western State.
Alakija also served the nation as Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, 1976-1978. As the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, 1978 to 1979, she helped streamline the central admission system. In the Second Republic, Mrs Alakija served as Head of Service of the old Oyo State.