Albert Aduloju Agbaje, first bishop of Sabongidda-Ora Diocese and the first archbishop of Bendel, was born on June 12, 1937 to Jacob Salami Agbaje of Ibillo Akoko-Edo and Rebecca Agbaje of Oka-Akoko. His father was an active police officer in Ikare and he was the third child in the family. The young Agbaje started his primary education late because he preferred to go to the farm and eat yams. Later, he was educated at St. Stephen’s School and Jubilee School, both in Ikare, from 1946 to 1951. He had his secondary education at Victory College, Ikare, after which he opted for ministerial training at Immanuel College of Theology, Kudeti-Ibadan in 1960. He graduated in 1963. Agbaje later married Mabel and the two were blessed with children.
He was made deacon in Benin Diocese and was sent to St. Michael’s Church, Uzebba-Iuleha to serve as the vicar. He applied to and was accepted by the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. This act irritated his supervising bishop, who later withdrew his license. Thereafter, Agbaje remained a deacon until 1974 and took a teaching position after completing his degree program. He later obtained his master’s and doctorate degrees at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University).
Thanks to his aptitude for teaching he was transferred several times and appointed head of various departments in the Ministry of Education and lastly provost of the Lagos State of Education Ijanikin, Lagos in 1982. Apart from being provost, he was in charge of St. Michael’s Church, Ojoo, and supervised well over thirteen other stations. In 1984, he began full time church ministry at the request of the bishop of Lagos, Rt. Revd F. O. Segun.
Agbaje was in charge of St. Jude’s Church, Ebutte-Metta, when in 1993 he was elected as the first bishop of the Sabongidda-Ora Diocese. He held this position until 2003 when the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) was restructured into ten ecclesiastical provinces, and Agbaje became the first archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bendel. This province included eight individual dioceses. He held this position until his death in January 2005.
The testimonies of those who worked with him reveal that Agbaje touched the lives of many in both academic and ecclesiastical circles. Despite the challenges he faced throughout his ministry, serving as a deacon for eleven years instead of the usual six months or a year, for example, he approached his twenty years of secular work and later ministry within the church as an opportunity to serve in God’s vineyard.
James D. Adewale
Nigeria Evangel, A Publication of the Church of Nigeria, 1995.
Funeral service pamphlet in honour of the most Rev. A. A. Agbaje on March 5, 2005.
“The Life and Times of the most Revd Dr. A.A Agbaje in the Diocese of Sabongidda-Ora (1993 - 2004),” unpublished B.A. Essay by S. A. O. Oluajo, supervised by the author.
This article, received in 2007, was researched and written by James D. Adewale, at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, under the supervision of Rev. Dr. Deji Ayegboyin, DACB liaison coordinator.