Sir Dr Olatunde Aiyedun Agbato ‘a three time Farmer of the Year Award’ at the state and national levels, and a Class Leader and Knight of John Wesley, Methodist Church Nigeria was born Friday, August 4th 1950 at Ogere Remo. His parents Chief Awomosu Agbato was a native herbal doctor and his mother, Madam Dorcas Gbeminiyi Agbato, alias, ‘Iya Elewa’ was a big time trader in food stuffs commuting between the western and middle belt of Nigeria. Sir Agbato attended Ijebu Ode Grammar School and was admitted to the Nigeria premier university, University of Ibadan, where he graduated with distinctions in Veterinary Pathology and Veterinary Parasitology in 1975. Sir Agbato received the University’s prize for academic excellence and was thereafter called by the University to serve as a lecturer with the Department of Veterinary Medicine between July 1976 and November 1977.
In 1978, five years after the commencement of the programme of a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA), University of Lagos, designed specially to meet the requirements of Nigerian Business Executives, Sir Olatunde Agbato made history when he bagged an MBA as the first veterinarian in Nigeria. Enhanced with the management skills necessary for more effective leadership, Sir Agbato’s critical managerial skills and mastery of practical applications provided the necessary foresight, hindsight, formation, direction and the ability to overcome complex problems when Animal Care was finally established with his wife Dame Ayodeji Oluwafunmilayo Agbato. Dame Agbato, the Methodist Lay President, Diocese of Lagos North, a graduate of Poultry Science from Harper Adam Agricultural College, (Now Harper Adams University) Newport, England, and also as a Poultry Technologist specialised in providing veterinary consultancy services to poultry farmers. To the glory of God, Sir Agbato, receiving beyond Dame Agbato’s veterinary consultancy services, are together blessed, changing the world, the church, families and societies for the common good and for Kingdom purpose through their legacies.
Sir Agbato served as the Technical Commercial Manager with SEEPC Nigeria Limited, ‘a French Agro-Allied firm before he later set up their own venture, O.A & O.A. Associates, with his wife in 1979. The venture developed into a new name Animal Care Services Konsult Nigeria Limited (Animal Care) with Sir Agbato as the President and Chief Executive, and Dame Agbato as the Executive Vice President. Sir Agbato’s leadership and managerial skills, ‘vision, dynamism and industry’ continue to ‘earned him and his organization recognition nationally and internationally … culminated into many honours and awards for exemplary contributions to the livestock industry, veterinary profession.’
Sir Agbato is a ‘Fellow of the College of Veterinary Surgeons in Nigeria, the first recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Ibadan, and also a recipient of the Distinguished Veterinarian Award of the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association … has led his organisation to win the Farmer of the year award of the Central Bank of Nigeria twice in 1987 and 1989 at the state level and once in 1992 at the National level in terms of loan utilisation and repayment. It has also won the National Best Farmer award of the National Council of Agriculture – the highest agricultural policy organ in Nigeria in 1995. ‘ Sir Agabto as ‘one of the major pillars of private veterinary practice in Nigeria,’ with ANIMAL CARE SERVICES KONSULT (NIG) LTD as one of the ‘largest private employer of Veterinarians in the country with more than 21 qualified veterinarians in its employment,’ is a fellow, Farm Management Association of Nigeria, and member, International Egg Commission (IEC).
With over 40 years of leadership ‘in the business poultry farming, commercial feed-milling, procurement/distribution of innovative veterinary medicament and vaccines, and technical and extension services,’ Sir Agbato and his wife are not relenting on their sterling legacies. On the potentials in the egg industry and government on border closure, Sir Agbato rightly advised the Federal Government of Nigeria. According to Sir Agbato, “The potential for egg production is phenomenal in Nigeria and the country can create millions of jobs through egg production. It is a veritable way of lifting people out of poverty … China lifted over 700 million people out of poverty. About 20 years ago, people saw Chinese as a country ridden with poverty, but today they are exporting eggs to other countries. We can encourage local production. China closed its borders for several years … After independence, India closed its borders. Today, India is a world power. We need to close our borders. We need to endure some pains to reap gains. But everything has been politicised. We need to get our acts right if we want to move out of poverty.” In his own contribution to meet up with high egg demand in Nigeria where the supply is astronomically lower, Animal Care, the parent company of Funtuna Ventures, under the leadership of Sir Agbato is producing the popular, medium, household brand, Funtua Eggs. According to Sir Agbato, the innovations that ‘set the company’s FUNTUNA eggs apart in the market,’ is ‘environment-friendly and create local jobs for the economy through import substitution.’ While Sir Agbato ‘charged Nigerians to eat more egg as a rich source of protein for human wellbeing, disclosing that the per capita egg consumption for Nigeria, which currently stands at between 60 and 80, is far below the globally recommended 365 eggs per year per person,’ his wife Dame Agbato debunked the ‘myth hitherto associated with the consumption of eggs.’ According to Dame Agbato, ‘scientific researches by renowned global nutritionists had debunked the linking of egg consumption with high cholesterol,’ hence the need for ‘the young and the old-to consume more eggs for growth and development of brains.’
Sir Agbato’s commitment and vision together with his wife, Dame Agbato describes them not just as poultry farmers but as entrepreneur and philanthropist. They are also not just mentors of scholars, they are marriage counsellors, mentors and benefactors of many veterinary professionals, specialists, business men and women home and abroad. Sir and Dame Agbato, both serving as Methodist Class and Society leaders within their local churches are first and foremost model of Christian marriage, Christian home and kingdom treasurer. In Methodism, the class leader is a crucial position – as the spiritual leader of the people in his or her class meeting, a group of people in the church. Sir and Dame Agbato as class leaders are disciples who disciple others. Both blessed with spiritual gifts: servanthood, teaching, exhortation (encouragement), leadership, administration, helping, and shepherding, they continue to serve through numerous roles within the Methodist conference, dioceses, circuits, and congregation’s mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Sir and Dame Agbato despite their business commitments and itineraries remains faithful in providing support and encouragement as needed by their ministers (at all church levels), class members, church members and community members in Ogere and Lagos.
Sir Agbato’s Christian leadership example and even in the face of challenges is worthy of emulation. Through Sir Agbato, I have rekindle my Christian journey by reflecting more on a particular phrase in a hymn, ‘Faith can sing through days of sorrow.’ Indeed, Sir Agbato’s Christian faith can sing through days of joy and sorrow. Sir Agbato knows, deep down, that God’s steadfast love is good, even in the dark day. Sir Agbato’s authentic, maturing faith in God trusts Him with all of life and business. Sir Agbato’s faith rests in God’s arms all the time. Living and enjoying the sweet prophetic meaning of his name, ‘Aiyedun,’ Sir Agbato and his wife Dame Agbato are making life sweet for many people and organisations. Today, let us give praise to God for the past 70 years of our father, Sir Agbato and pray for mighty things for the rest of his years that God will bring in Jesus name.