Remembering Chief Ignatius Aker Gajir

Chief Aker Gajir

In his classic, Twelfth Night, the famous English playwright, William Shakespeare noted that some people are born great, some achieve greatness and others have greatness thrust upon them. Bearing in mind this immutable submission, it may not be out of place to emphasise that late Chief Aker Gajir achieved greatness through hard work and the enormous grace God bestowed on him.  

A thorough-bred educationist, an astute entrepreneur, a community mobilizer, a philanthropist and a seasoned politician, Doctor Aker Gajir was born on the 9th December, 1939 in Lessel into the family of Gajir Angulugh and Nguamoga Gajir of Mbagwa-Ukan, Ushongo Local Government Area of Benue State.

The young Aker Gajir who lost his father at a tender age of eight, began his elementary education at the Roman Catholic Mission Primary School, Abuul in 1951 and later attended Saint John’s Roman Catholic Mission Primary School, Gboko obtaining his First School Leaving Certificate in 1957.

He proceeded to Saint Francis College Otukpo between 1959 and 1961, where he obtained a Grade Three Teachers Certificate in History, Rural Science and Teaching Practice and later a Teachers Grade Two Certificate from the same College in 1964. He acquired a Certificate in English as a Second Language through a correspondence course from the Regent Institute, London in 1966.

Doctor Gajir attended the Rural Education College, Minna, Niger State graduating with GCE Advanced Level papers in Agricultural Science, English and Education in 1967. He also attended the Advanced Teacher’s College Kano between 1968 and 1970.

Chief Gajir attended the Ohio University, Athens, United States of America where he acquired a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Education as well as double Masters Degrees in Education Administration and Political Science in 1972. Determined to reach the climax of his academic pursuit, he earned a Doctorate degree in Education Administration from the same Ohio University where he briefly taught as a graduate assistant in the Faculty of Business Education during his studies.

Doctor Gajir was a national figure who served the country and state in several capacities at various times, some of which include; Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Governing Council of the University of Maiduguri, Chairman, Advisory Council, Federal Government Girls’ College, Gboko. He also served as member, Federal Low Cost Housing, member, Implementation Committee on the New National Policy on Education, member, Governing Council of Benue State Polytechnic Ugbokolo and member of the Professor Daniel Denga Education Review Commission in Benue State, among several critical functions.

Doctor Gajir taught in several schools in Benue State. And it must be emphasised that his most cherished legacies are manifest in his revolution in the educational sector, as amply demonstrated in the several schools he established to empower the people with knowledge. Some of the schools include: People’s Comprehensive High School, Lessel; People’s Primary School, Lessel; Gajir City High School, Abunde; Mbakuha Technical College, Abunde; Mbagwa Community Secondary School, Lessel and Ukan Grammar Secondary School, Kartyo which he established on behalf of the communities.

To fondly remember the release of Nelson Mandela, the South African nationalist from prison, Chief Gajir again established the Nelson Mandela Nursery and Primary School. He also founded the Lessel College of Education. These institutions are thriving and contributing significantly to human capital development in the state and country.

As a member of the generation of entrepreneurs in Tiv land, Chief Gajir exuded a hallmark of excellence, starting as a patent medicine dealer with medicine shops in Gboko and Lessel towns, a business which grew into the Aker Gajir Hospital in Lessel. The hospital organized routine medical outreaches during which treatments were administered to the people of the community free of charge. He also founded the Lessel Motel and the Abunde Farm Centre where young farmers are trained.

Chief Aker Gajir was a key political actor in the politics of Benue State and Nigeria, with decades of experience. He mentored many young people into becoming successful politicians and was fortunate to witness his son, Cyril Gajir serve as a Caretaker Chairman of Ushongo Local Government Council. Until his death, he was the Zone ‘A’ Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party Elders’ Forum, a position he effectively used in securing electoral victories for many candidates of the party during elections.

Chief Aker Gajir was a devout Catholic and was initiated into the Catholic Knighthood of Saint Mulumba. A tireless community mobilizer who participated actively in the affairs of his people, he was the National Auditor of the Mdzough u Tiv from its inception to 1989. In recognition of his tremendous contributions to the socio-economic development of Tiv land, the Tiv Area Traditional Council during the reign of Tor Tiv Ochivirigh Akawe Torkula, conferred on him the honourific chieftaincy title of the Ikpamkor i Tiv.

Doctor Gajir lived a peaceful life and promoted the causes of peace and social justice at all times. His belief as succinctly captured in his personal motto which was let your opportunity be your people’s, clearly portrays him as a man who had a heart for the common good of his people.

Chief Gajir died on 16th December, 2019 and was buried on 31st December, 2019.

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