By Wuraola Ajanlekoko
January 22, 2016
A torrent of tributes filled the air in Queen’s College’s auditorium on Thursday in Lagos, as colleagues, friends and students united to honour Mrs. Modupe Ademide Ladipo, who died on December 22, last year at 61. Ladipo was the college’s 21st Principal (PQC 21), between 2011 and 2012.
Ladipo’s three children sat quietly in the front row as former colleagues and friends took turns to recount their diverse pleasant experiences with the college’s late former Principal. No tears were shed on this special occasion tagged Day of Tributes; only praises, with many individuals basking in the euphoria of what they described as cherished memories.
Former Queen’s College principals present included: Mrs. Theresa Chukwuma (1977-1982), Mrs. M.T.F Sojinrin (1996 – 2001) and Mrs. Euler-Ajajyi (2001 – 2004).
A former Permanent Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education (FME), Prof. Oladapo Afolabi, described Ladipo as an epitome of integrity, who never took part in any form of sharp practices as a civil servant. He noted that while she faced her health challenges (that eventually took her life), Ladipo never betrayed any emotion, but bore her pains with grace and charm.
Former Principal of King’s College, Otunba Dele Olapeju, told the audience that Ladipo saved his career by hinting him of a deadly plot by a former Minister of State for Education to remove him from office. “Mrs. Ladipo called me at the nick of time to intimate me of that plot. She saved my career as a result and I thank God that instead of that Minister succeeding in removing me, he was the one that was removed.”
In his tribute, Olapeju said: “My first encounter with her (Ladipo) was in 1993 at the international Education Desk under Mrs. A.A. Kafaru. She was perusing some texts from Life Application Bible. Her life was a true application of the vicissitudes. Despite her Midas touch, she opted for the teaching profession. At Queen’s College, she was a student under Mrs. Abisogun Alo. She came back to the same college under the smile of providence and emerged as the 21st Principal.
“Her death is indeed painful, so painful that we had wished it did not happen so soon. She indeed was a very dear colleague, a mentor, counsellor and mother.”
Pastor Itua Ighodalo prayed for the family, imploring God to give them the fortitude to bear their loss.
Queen’s college’s current principal, Dr Lami Amodu said Ladipo’s colleagues would never forget her commendable contributions to the development of the college. She described Ladipo’s death as shocking and regrettable, adding that she wished the occasion was for a more joyous event than what it turned out to be.
Queen’s College’s students also put up a spectacular drama, where one of them mimicked Ladipo’s actions as Principal. King’s College’s students also rendered an emotional song in her honour.
In her interview with The Intellectual back in July 2012, Ladipo, among others, had argued for better conditions of service for teachers. She had said: “Honestly, teachers need to be better paid. No child of today will take the kind of salary we started out with. Most teachers, even here (Queen’s College), their husbands are well-to-do, occupying prominent positions in different parts of the country. But the women stayed back in the teaching profession, so that they could take care of their children.
“We need to look at the pay and some other things to encourage them. Before now, we used to have accommodation in the school. Long ago, civil servants were given cars, and other incentives. The incentives must continue. I like the idea of “HATS”, Housing for Teachers. Build houses for teachers, so that as you retire, you will have somewhere to live, a shelter. Most children use teaching as a stepping stone. Ooh, you don’t have any job right now, why don’t you go and teach for a while until you could get something better. That shouldn’t be it. But now, we thank God, the profession is insisting that if you don’t go for the Post Graduate Diploma in Education, you can’t teach. You must go for training before you can teach.”
Born on December 31, 1954, Ladipo attended Corona School Apapa and Queen’s College, Lagos, where she obtained her West African School Certificate in 1972. She also studied English at the University of Ibadan, graduating in 1977. She later obtained a Master’s degree in Educational Planning and Administration from the University of Lagos in 1990.
She began her teaching career at the Federal School of Arts and Science, Lagos in 1978 and rose through the ranks until she retired in 2014 after 35 years in service.