Indeed, a candle misses nothing but illuminates more by lighting others. The candle that illuminates others in the Nigerian Livestock Industry, Sir Dr Olatunde Ayedun Agbato, the co-Founder and President, Animal Care Konsult, lives on. Sir Agbato left behind unquenchable fire army of young Veterinarians and not just ashes of joblessness and poverty. Sir Agbato as a candle that lightens others resonates with the role of John Wesley, co-Founder of Methodism and the vessel behind the 18th century awakening in Europe. Based on his spiritual upbringing and conversion, Wesley not only made difference in people’s lives, he mentored his followers. John Fletcher was an example, mentored and chosen by Wesley as his successor to continue the holiness movement into the 19th century, but Fletcher died suddenly. What Wesley did in the spiritual realm, Sir Agbato, a distinguished Knight of John Wesley, Methodist Church Nigeria did it more in the business world, especially within the global Veterinary fraternity.
The spiritual upbringing of Sir Agbato points to the applicability of Biblical mentoring relationships in the secular and business circles and its challenges in the 21st century. Sir Agbato as a Methodist Class leader aptly applied Christian mentoring to promote general mentoring relationships within his family, class members, and most importantly among his staffs at Animal Care Konsult. Hence as a natural mentor and pace-setter in private Vet practice, his relationships with people lives on even after his transition on January 7th, 2021. Sir Agabato mentorship style in the footstep of Wesley provides windows of opportunities for learning as his mentees learnt and were guided by Sir Agbato’s experiences, supporting his mentees in their business, ‘career development, induction programmes and internships.’
Dr Onuora, a former worker at Animal Care Konsult and a leading member of the Agbato Brought Ups (ABU) comprising over hundred of former veterinary doctors and workers at Animal Care presented a glowing tributes about Sir Agbato during the Wake Keep at Ogere Remo yesterday. According to Onuora, Sir Agbato, the man with power of mentoring showed them the way. Dr Belgore, a veterinary doctor described Sir Agbato ‘as perhaps the greatest individual contributor to this noble profession. What a loss!’ Bafjat said, “I and many others are eternally indebted to Sir (Dr.) Olatunde Agbato for all he did to and for us. He paved the way for what many of us have become today. We have lost a rare Gem. As we are fondly called, the “Agbato Brought-Ups” have lost a Father, a Mentor, a visionary Leader, an astute Entrepreneur, a Giver, a Light that rekindled and brightened our paths, a kind-hearted personality and a man with so much passion for the Veterinary world. Our “Hero” has gone to rest. Our “fire” has quenched. Our “Light” has been put off. And our “world” has gone dark.” Frederick Ezema described Sir Agbato as ‘an icon. This great man built a great structure called Animal Care that cared for not only for animals but young graduates especially Veterinarians who came out of School to meet the harsh reality of unemployment in Nigeria … a good and detribalised man.”
The “holiness of heart and life” that formed the strength and Christian maturity of Wesley resonates with what empowered Sir Agbato made difference in people’s lives. The principal factor hindering Nigeria development points to our national spiritual deficit and hypocrisy.
Wesley’s word to Fletcher, “Come while I am able, God assisting to build you up in faith, to ripen your gifts, and introduce you to the people” summarised the mentoring legacy of Sir Agbato. Many came to him while he was able. With the help of God he built many up in order to develop and ripen their gifts, and introduce them to the world. Sir Agbato aptly described by Dr Sunday Dosumu as ‘a Movement, a trail blazer, a boss of bosses, a leader of leaders, an entrepreneur who gave birth to many … who creates path where there is none, but leave a road unfound for all to travel … Because of you, many have hope
Because you lived many have a future. Because you lived many lived. In your death, many have purpose for living.’
In Nigeria, Animal Care Alumni, an association of past workers under Sir Agbato mentoring leadership with over 10, 000 workers and farms in all the regions in Nigeria is a challenge to leadership development in Nigeria especially where leaders are looters and where lawmakers are lawbreakers. Sir Agbato in the mentoring footstep of Wesley is a testament that one can do clean and transparent business in Nigeria and be an employer of labour without going into politics or steal public money. Sir Agbato in the mentoring footstep of Wesley provides an attempt to address a crisis of organisational bureaucracy and leadership in Nigeria for conceptual change.
It is not only the Nigerian poultry industry that will missed Sir Agbato. The church, families, friends, Ogere community, and other international associates will miss him. I remember, Sir Agbato and his wife, Dame Oluwafunmilayo Ayodeji Agbato during the 2000 Methodist Convention at Orimerunmu, despite the state of the road and the Camp, they drove through the rough road to attend the Convention. Very late in the night, they volunteered to give a lift to Bro Gbile Akanni and other guest speakers back to the guest chalet at Redemption Camp. During my last visit to Nigeria in March 2020, it was Sir Agbato who informed Mum Dame Agbato about the government plan to close the airspace and the need for her to get me at a programme at Methodist Theological Institute, Sagamu, to change my ticket so as not to be stranded. On my way to the airport the second day, my last point of call was to see Dad and Mum Agbato without knowing that would be my last time to see him. Dad, indeed, ‘you are a true light bearer for several generation.
Sir Agbato lives on….