THE MUCH AWAITED 80th birthday anniversary of Most Rev Felix Alaba Job, Archbishop Emeritus of Ibadan has come and gone – with a bang. Yes, with as much pomp as appropriate for a man whose life and works continue to touch men and institutions. The celebrations lasted all of five days. Royals, princes - temporal and spiritual came to honour a man worthy of all that happened during those five days.

It was time to celebrate an icon who returned to Ibadan forty-nine years ago as a thirty-one years old young priest – and has not left Ibadan since then. Ibadan fittingly came all out to show that the city, and all its components has not, and will not leave him. Trust the celebrant; he was in his element. Not the softening of his voice nor the slowing of his steps – both occasioned by the number of his years – calmed his spirits.

As one went from day to day and from one activity to the other, one could not escape the feeling of it all being a grand reunion.

Many in attendance were there not because he was a priest and a bishop, and now archbishop emeritus; they came because he touched their lives in one way or the other. From the young seminarian he encouraged not to abandon his studies in Rome who has turned out to be a Cardinal; the young seminarian with whom he went to Rome and returned from Rome for ordination, also a Cardinal today; the two young boys he admitted into Oke Are who are now archbishop and bishop; the scores of priests he ordained; brother bishops whose colleague he has been for forty-seven years; collaborators in his service to the Church, etc.

Through my mind went those who have had a part in the celebrant’s life but could not be present. His parents, Pa Augustine Job and Mama Ana. I recalled Pa Augustine dropping to his knees to greet his son who was just installed archbishop. Cannot forget the look of pride in Baba Ijebu’s eyes when I went with the Archbishop to see him very close to the end of his life. Actually, the very first signs for me that Archbishop Job was getting very old was when he started looking more and more like his father.

Absent of course were Archbishop Aggey, and Bishop Sanusi – two parish priests of his childhood home parish. One ordained him a priest, the other he succeeded as rector. The only two indigenous priests when he took over in Ibadan were not there either. Nor was Baba Ojo – JB Ojo, perhaps the most prominent and most dedicated lay person ever, in Ibadan Diocese. Pa Ogunsanwo, Sir Oluwanifise, Sir Patrick Sonubi, Pa Anthony Adejinle, Sir Samuel Dele Ige, Sir Wilson Adegbesan, Mama Laleru, Pa and Mama Conde, Pa Ajayi, Mrs. Olajide, Mrs. Kassim, Sir Akinpelu, Chief Taiwo, Justice Aderemi, and many other lay persons who served the church during the long years that Archbishop Job was at the head of Ibadan Diocese. They have gone to their rewards in heaven, but any celebration of Baba Job’s work in Ibadan is not complete without recalling the memories of these illustrious persons.

If Professor Oluwande, Pa Ojo Osagie,  and Sir Ayo Fapohunda were there, I missed seeing them.  Old age infirmity, I understand kept Professor Obemeata away.

The celebrant touched on his own mortality when on Friday at the Mass of Thanksgiving made public that he wished to be buried three days after his death, and the day after if such were to fall on a Sunday.Thus, a man given to so much celebrations is calling for a check when he checks out. Anyway, one of his ‘sons’ has already declared that such a wish will be honoured in its breach. And I concur. The rule maker would not be there to enforce his rule. Baba, don’t worry about what happens when you are gone, those left behind will do the needful.

Pickpockets had a field day on Friday at Oke Ado, they took your phone within the twinkling of an eye. If you were at St. Joseph, Oke Ado on Friday June 22, and returned home with your phone; you must have kept it in the innermost of your pockets, been watchful, or you were just lucky. I wasn’t that lucky. Pickpockets are the new owners of my phone, and those of others like Professor Avose. Now, I know where not to keep my phone.

If you missed them at Oke Ado, it is my hope that you did not miss them at Oke Are. Kumapayi stood out in dance and music during those five days. So did Gegelose. The future of the Church is assured to be great given the dedication of these youths.

Baba Job, Happy Birthday once again.

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