Isaac Ademoye Omolaja Sodipo: Foremost Egba chief, politician and philanthropist
Hon. (Chief) Isaac Ademoye Omolaja Sodipo (1880-1966) was a pioneer member of the House of Representatives, Federal Republic of Nigeria (1954-1959). A tribute by his son, Prof. Joseph Sodipo, in his memory, made available to The Guardian also recalled that he was the pioneer Babasale of Egbaland, the Bagbimo of Iporo – Abeokuta, the Sarumi of Igbore – Abeokuta, and the Odofin of Ikereku – Abeokuta.
Sodipo, in the tribute, which started with the statement, “Men of substance are not dressed in gold, it is only when you scratch them, you discover that they are made of gold”, attributed to Anistale, described his late father as “an upright merchant and philanthropist; a man of divine wisdom and visionary Christian gentleman.”
Sodipo’s tribute reads: “My unforgettable dad was a pioneer member of the House of Representatives, Federal Republic of Nigeria (1954-1959). The Pioneer Babasale of Egbaland; the Bagbimo of Iporo – Abeokuta; the Sarumi of Igbore – Abeokuta; and the Odofin of Ikereku – Abeokuta.
“A silent philanthropist of note whose claim was helping the less fortunate and the less privileged of the society with every sense of humility and thoughtfulness,
Chief Omolaja Sodipo – our beloved father, was a gentleman to the core; a man of exemplary character.
“Not only did he cater for his loving children and distant family, he fought physically and spiritually on the side of the less fortunate of the society. As kids and youngsters, discipline was Papa’s watchword. When we behaved ourselves we got carrots and cookies and whenever waywardness held sway, of course, a resounding ‘bulala’ was in the waiting.
“I am short of words in describing my father’s tremendous influence on us. His image was very captivating as he made himself available at our behest no matter how trivial or enormous our challenges were.
“Daddy, you were very fond of us, you drew us so close to your humble self; and shared many secrets of yours with us…”
Sodipo added: “The extra care you ushered on us were rather undeserving, or so I thought; but now with the benefit of hindsight and life’s unfathomable travails, I now know better. We are very grateful to you for the good home upbringing and the way you nurtured us. The footprints and indelible marks left on the sands of time are those of a generous colossus who have become a beacon of hope and light for the children, grandchildren and great-grand children yet unborn.
“An upright merchant and philanthropist; a man of divine wisdom and visionary Christian gentleman, Papa, you proved to be a loyal father and husband and a true son of Egbaland and its heritage.
“Daddy, we thank and appreciate you for standing firm in your belief and teaching that honesty is the best policy – concern for our fellow men and the need to always be there for each other. We continue on the path you carved for us. Teaching us to stand tall, confident and independent.
“When Mahatma Ghandi of India said many years ago that “Happiness depends on what you can give, not what you can get”, he was indeed encouraging the likes of my beloved father to continue to be happy with his generous attitudes. My dad believed that kindness is a legacy understood by the dumb and spoken by the deaf. He had therefore touched many lives during his life time and later with his magnanimity without looking back for elaborate celebrations; and obviously this thoughtfulness of the late Papa must have informed the setting up of Omolaja Sodipo Anglican Memorial School (OSAMS), established two decades ago to provide an easy means of education for the less privileged members of the society. This citadel of education continues to thrive rather strongly, an eloquent testimony of Papa’s farsightedness.
“It is well recognised historical fact that OSAMS owes its existence to the posthumous generously of my father, Chief Omolaja Sodipo, a member of his Diocese (Holy Trinity Church, Ikereku). During his lifetime, he bequeathed the fund with which the school was established to the Egba Diocese in his Will, thereby leaving for the Diocese an example worthy of emulation in love, in giving and in faith to the glory of God.
“The entire Sodipo family continues to appreciate the tremendous efforts of past and present staff of OSAMS, particularly the CEO and management, since its establishment 20 years ago. The late Omolaja Sodipo of blessed memory has always been a source of blessing to hundreds of Nigerians who have passed through OSAMS and continue to do so.
“OSAMS was once crowned as the best private school in Nigeria, to the glory of God. This could not have happened without the immense concern and commitment of the School Management and all its workers. I give kudos to you all from the bottom of my heart. More grease to your elbows and God’s manifold blessings to you and your families.”
The late Sodipo is survived by children, many grand and great-grand children.