The Rev William Frederick Mellor remains the longest expatriate serving British Methodist minister in Remoland. His legacy beyond the chieftaincy title he bagged, “The Asiwaju Muleoruwa of Remoland abides till date. The Very Rev. Emmanuel Aiyetowo Okoosi remains a testimonial to the legacy of Rev Mellor in Nigeria. Very Rev Okoosi and many others has had a great impact upon me, encouraged me into the Methodist ministry, and to reach this world for Jesus Christ. Their fingerprints are all over me. From a personal perspective, their love of the Lord Jesus and their hearts for the lost have given focus to my Christian life and ministry.
To Baba Okoosi as a church historian, history “is vital to the health of the church.” According to the great 17th-century historian Thomas Fuller, who wrote in the preface to his History of the Holy War (1639): “History maketh a young man to be old, without either wrinkles or grey hairs; privileging him with the experience of age, without either the infirmities or inconveniences thereof.” Baba Okoosi is privileged with the experience of age and Methodist ministry, without either the infirmities or inconveniences. History for Baba Okoosi ‘provides not only lessons from the past but also likely patterns for the future.’ History “not only maketh things past, present,’ it enables Baba Okoosi ‘to make a rational conjecture of things to come. Where others are startled by the strangeness of modern events, the historian has already seen precedents. Where others make shipwreck, because they sail without a map or compass and so perpetually repeat the mistakes of their ancestors, the historian “makes the shipwrecks of others sea-marks to himself.’ Through his mentoring under Rev Mellor and the annals of evangelicalism, Baba Okoosi ‘distils many vital lessons the contemporary church urgently needs to hear and act on’ in order not to make a serious mistake of confining ‘our view of the church to a few short and passing years.’ This calls us to see and remember the big picture of the Great Commission.
At 90, Baba Okoosi enjoys dancing for Jesus and view life through the lens of a pastor. Baba Okoosi is a prophet, contented, and anointed preacher of God’s Word. He is a faithful steward of the Gospel, and God has rewarded him with the opportunity to share Christ with people. One of his children is a minister in Methodist Church today. I pray the Lord will bless him abundantly on this special occasion, a milestone in a journey travelled with humility and grace. Baba Okoosi, born in Kweme, Badagry West Division of Lagos State on August 27, 1932 to the family of Pa Williams Okoosi and Mrs. Gbonsi Okoosi both of blessed memory was converted under the ministration of Rev Mellor.
Rev Mellor was born in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, ‘a city heavily influenced by the pottery industry; he came from a generation of potters. Mellor’s father died when he was a child and at the age of 14, he embraced his family’s career path to earn some income and support the family.’ Rev Mellor’s education and ministerial education was interrupted by the First World War. He enlisted in the Royal Navy and later ‘joined Devonport Depot and initially was posted on HMS Eclipse but when a search was done for recruits with medical degrees or who had past shown interest in medicine, his name caught the attention of the navy and he was posted to the navy hospital in Gibraltar. Towards the latter part of the war, he toured Freetown and Lagos with HMS Africa protecting convoys of cargo ships. It was at one of the stops at Freetown where he decided on missionary service to West Africa instead of India. In 1919, Mellor was demobilized and he was able to return to studies, completing his education in 1921 with a degree in theology.’
Mellor sailed for Lagos in 1921 ‘to start a career as a Methodist missionary.’ He was posted to Sagamu in March 1922 to ‘replace the outgoing priest as superintendent of Ijebu division. Sagamu was founded to replicate the structure of Abeokuta.’ Beyond some challenges, ‘Mellor’s success was visible in education; he started classes for catechists and another for new converts as preparation for induction to the Methodist Church. His job as superintendent also involved managing the church’s primary schools within the circuit.’
Mellor’s legacy in education ‘led to his appointment as the representative of the Methodist order on the Regional board of education where he was able to influence acceptance of co-education within the region. He also introduced the Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade movement to Ijebu and Remo and was an influential leader who contributed to sustain the Boys’ Brigade during the colonial period.’
Mellor used his citizenship with the colonists and friendship with Akarigbo William Adedoyin ‘to help actualise Adedoyin’s desire for an independent Remo division. In 1950, he was posted to Badagry and in 1957, he retired from missionary work.’ Upon his retirement, he left Nigeria in 1957 but returned in 1966 to work with Tai Solarin at Mayflower School, Ikenne.
In 1955, Rev Mellor appointed Very Rev Okoosi as a pupil teacher and he taught between 1955-1958 in Methodist Primary School Vawhe, Ogun State and Methodist Primary School, Enuko as well as Agada in Ogun State respectively. Prior to Baba Okoosi passing out of the school with standard six certificate and his eventual appointment as a pupil teacher in 1955, he had an encounter with God in 1948 under the ministration of Revd. Mellor and from that day onward, he made up his mind to propagate the gospel of Jesus Christ. Coming from a humble background, Baba Okoosi’s parents were predominantly farmers and fishermen). He attended Methodist Primary School Kweme as well as in Badagry, Lagos State and he eventually passed out with Standard Six in 1954. Of particular interest to Baba Okoosi was one of the Bible passages quoted by Revd Mellor in Matthew 28 verse 19-20 which says ‘Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father….teaching them to observe all things..’ On the recommendation of the Revd Wainright, who was then the Superintendent of Badagry Circuit, Baba Okoosi was eventually admitted for a two year Programme training at Methodist Laymen Training Institute, Sagamu from January 1959 to Dec. 1960 as an Evangelist. While training in Sagamu, he worked as a book seller under the Rt. Revd. Olusola Adeboyejo. They were engaged in itinerant retailing of books with a van aptly tagged ‘Kajola Book Van’.
Baba Okoosi was posted to Ibarapa after his training as an Evangelist under Rev. F. H. Longley who was then the Superintendent of lbarapa. He served in Igboora circuit, was then transferred to Igbo-Elerin in Agbeni circuit, all in Ibadan District from 1961 to 1974. He established a few preaching stations around the villages before he went for a ministerial training programme in 1975 at Methodist Laymen Institute, Sagamu.
Baba Okoosi was ordained as a full time Methodist minister on 24th August, 1982 during the Conference at lkot Ekpene and was inferred a Presbyter in 1987. He also served in various other stations which include Methodist Church Ilorin Circuit 1983-1986, MCN, Osu Circuit 1986-1993. At Methodist Church, Oke Oja, Osu, Baba Okoosi was a grassroot pastor to the call and lover of youth. He encouraged me even when I was not trained as a local preacher to preach occasionally. At a point when I was about to join another denomination for overseas training as a minister, Baba Okoosi contacted the then Secretary of Conference, Methodist Church Nigeria (MCN), Most Rev Abiodun Omodunbi who later connected me with Most Rev Ayo Sanda Ladigbolu who was then the Chairman, Editorial Department, MCN. I went through the necessary interview and was employed as acting Conference Editor in 1993. I owe a great debt of gratitude to Baba Okoosi for the ways in which his love have fundamentally shaped my ministry outlook since we met at Osu.
Baba Okoosi also served at MCN Fiditi circuit 1993-1995, MCN, Agege circuit 1995-2001 and MCN, Ondo circuit in 2001-2005 where he eventually retired. God used Baba Okoosi to establish some new churches which include MCN Oko in Ogbomoso Circuit in 26th of June 1977, MCN Ode Omi in Ode-Irele in lgbobini Diocese on the 28th of October 1982, Methodist Church Oke-Odo in 1998 and MCN Aboru In Nov. 1999 both in Agege circuit of Ikorodu Diocese. Throughout his active years in the ministry, the very Rev. Emmanuel Aiyetowo Okoosi was known for his strict adherence to time; for him there is nothing like African Time. ‘E.A’ as he is fondly called by his closest friends and colleagues was given many meritorious service award including Fiditi Descendants Union in 1995 as ‘ACTIVE REVEREND,’ Badagry award in 2012, and Distinguished Award in 2020. Baba Okoosi is not without a mark as a Christian soldier but with his caring and loving wife, God healed and restored him.
Baba Okoosi is happily married to a very amiable, cultured, caring, loving, strong, God-fearing, hard working and a great pillar of support that is a jewel of inestimable value, Mrs. Grace Suru Okoosi, nee Wheto. The marriage is blessed with children and grandchildren. Baba Okoosi and his wife are still involved in evangelism both in Methodist Church, Igbogila and Christ Apostolic Church, Ireti Ayo, Ayobo, Lagos. Baba Okoosi, our earnest concern is to pray that Almighty God will continue to replenish you and mama with the grace of the Holy Spirit, enduing you plenteously with all heavenly gifts in Jesus’ name.