Emmanuel Akintola Ogunjumo came from Abogunde Compound Isale-Afon, Ogbomoso, in Oyo State. Though his father, Baba Zacheaus Ogunjumo, was born in a pagan home, he eventually became a Christian, but was seriously persecuted for doing so. His close relatives burned his home down three times but he did not give up his faith. Baba Zacheaus’ conversion and commitment to the Christian faith had a concrete impact on Emmanuel Akintola’s walk with God in his later years.
Akintola accepted the Christian faith through the commitment and prayers of his father. After becoming a Christian he displayed many of the virtues he had learned from his father. Though he had many friends, he made sure that he was not influenced negatively by any of them. He was ready to be alone if being in friendship with a person was going to jeopardize his faith. It was said that Chief Akintola, the former premier of the western region of Nigeria, was his bosom friend. But Akintola ended the friendship when Chief Akintola decided to become involved in politics; this was a time when anything political was regarded as sinful and becoming involved in politics meant that one was backsliding.
Akintola attended the Baptist Day School Ogbomoso, Osugba, and Baptist College Ogbomoso. He was trained both as a teacher and as a pastor at Baptist College Ogbomoso; it was the custom for missionaries to give local people dual training in order to facilitate the work of spreading the gospel. After his post-primary education, the Nigerian Baptist Convention took interest in Akintola and decided to sponsor him for further studies in Britain. He spent nine months in Britain before returning to work with the convention.
He married Deaconess Dorcas O. Ogunjumo, and the marriage was blessed with eight children, six of whom are alive (2006).
As a teacher Akintola taught in a number of Baptist schools and colleges, including: Baptist Academy Lagos; Baptist Day School Jos; Niger Baptist College Kawo, Kaduna; and Baptist College Minna (Bahaku Secondary school). While at the Baptist Academy Lagos he resigned from teaching and joined the railway of Nigeria. However one of his cousins, Rev. E. O. Agboola, invited Akintola to Jos to teach in the Baptist Day School, Jos, where he later became the headmaster. Akintola was later appointed supervisor of Baptist schools in Jos and the surrounding area under the Nigerian Baptist Convention.
Akintola founded Niger Baptist College at Kano, Kaduna, and became the pioneering principal. The school was later moved to Minna in a community that held to traditional religion. The government later took over the school because of its high academic performance and named it Amadu Bahaku Secondary School. Akintola finally resigned from teaching in Minna and returned home to Ogbomoso.
After retiring, Akintola continued to serve in various ways. Wherever he was posted as a teacher he always identified himself with the Baptist Church; while in Jos he became a committed member of first Baptist Church, Jos. He so distinguished himself in his service to God that he was among the first group of deacons to be ordained.
Akintola did a lot to evangelize the community of traditional worshippers in Minna where he was principal. He saw his teaching as a means to an end, which was to advance the kingdom of God. Deacon S. O. Amao, one of his students, said that Akintola encouraged all the students to attend First Baptist Church Minna. He assigned Christian students to preaching stations and some of the local people acted as interpreters for the students. Akintola was also the right-hand man of Rev. Dyson, an American missionary. As a principal he humbled himself and accompanied the missionary to the remote areas to preach the gospel; they visited many preaching stations and planted others.
When Akintola finally returned home, he joined the membership of First Baptist Church, Okelerin. He was so committed that the leadership of the church asked him to plant a church in the Caretaker Area of Ogbomoso. He planted the church and it grew rapidly; this church is one of the biggest churches in Ogbomoso, the center of Baptist works in Nigeria. He pastored the church from the beginning until he could no longer continue because of old age and ill-health. In 1985 Akintola handed the pastorate over to Rev. E. A. B. Olawuyi, a former student of his from Niger Baptist College. Akintola had also established another preaching station at Ayeba-Ikose, Ogbomoso around 1983 and initiated the move to start a new preaching station at the present site of Zion Baptist Church, Ogbomoso.
Akintola was a man of the people and influenced many lives. His students in particular were greatly influenced by him. As headmaster and principal Akintola encouraged excellence and hard work. He admitted students based on merit and not tribal association. This really helped students from the southern part of Nigeria to gain admission into the famous Amadu Bahaku Secondary School in the northern part of the country. Akintola lived a simple life, always willing and ready to give assistance to those in need. He was also honest and straightforward in his dealings. As a man of integrity, he lived what he preached and was committed to the spread of the gospel.
Akintola died in 1995 at a good old age. A cross-section of his former students and co-workers from all over Nigeria attended his funeral service in his home town of Ogbomoso. Akintola’s remains and that of his wife were buried on the premises of Caretaker Baptist Church as a mark of honor for a man who labored tirelessly for the spread of the gospel in his time.
Rudolf Banglis Webuin
S. O. Amao, interview by author, November 30, 2006.
T. B. Ajamu, interview by author, November 29, 2006.
Comfort Omobunike, Pa Akintola’s daughter, interview by author, November 29, 2006.
This article, received in 2008, was researched and written by Rudolf Banglis Webuin, student at Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso, Nigeria, under the supervision of Rev. Dr. Deji Ayegboyin, DACB liaison coordinator.