AFONJA Johnson Ayinde Biyi












Biyi Afonja, born over eight decades ago, is a retired Professor of Statistics.Although, he lost his father at the tender age of five, he was able to have a good education through the assistance of the extended family and various scholarships.

He attended All Saints’ School, Araromi Orita, (1942-1949) where he showed early signs of brilliance by being at the top of his class in his examinations and earning double promotion from standard 3 to standard 5 in 1947. He had his secondary education at the Government College, Ibadan - GCI (1950-1955), school number 615 and was Head of Carr House. For his undergraduate studies, he attended the University College, Ibadan – UCI (now called the University of Ibadan - UI) (1955-1960). While at the UCI, he won the prestigious and much coveted college scholarship as a result of his brilliant performance in the Intermediate BSc degree of the University of London. He holds the University of London’s BSc Degree in Mathematics obtained through the UCI; a post-graduate diploma in Statistics from the University of Aberdeen,Scotland (1961-1963); and an MSc and a PhD, both in Statistics, from the University of Wisconsin, USA (1967-1970). At the University of Wisconsin, he was granted an unusual exemption from writing a project/thesis for his Master’s degree because of the high quality of his already published works.

For his Graduate studies at the University of Aberdeen and the University of Wisconsin, he won the British Council and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) fellowships respectively.

His career life which spanned over three decades, had been mainly in teaching at all the three levels of primary, secondary and tertiary education with a spell of a few years in the United Nations (UN) system; he also had a stint in educational governance in government and tertiary institutions in Nigeria. As an accomplished statistician, author and scholar of international repute, he has served in various capacities at both the national and international levels. In these capacities, he has positively imparted knowledge to humanity and contributed to policies in statistics, education, community and the church.

He became the first Nigerian professor of statistics in the University of Ibadan in 1977 being the second one in the whole of Nigeria, after J. N. Adichie; Ag. head (1975 - 1977) and head (1977- 1980, 1984-1987), Department of Statistics; Chairman, National Advisory Council on Statistics (1977-1980); Editor-in-chief, Journal of the Nigerian Statistical Association (1983-85), and president, of the association (1985-1987);Chief Statistical Training Adviser, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (1980-1981); Senior Statistician, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), New York (1988 - 1992); Consultant to some other United Nations organisations such as, Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), World Health Organisation (WHO), Department of Technical Cooperation for Development (DTCD) (between 1980 and 1990); External examiner to a number of universities in Nigeria and some other African countries, (between 1976 and 1990); Visiting research staff, University College, London (1972); First Nigerian president of the African Statistical Association (1987-1989); First Nigerian Vice-President of the International Statistical Institute since it was founded in 1885, over twelve decades ago (1987-1989); First Nigerian to be elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, London, established in 1824, over fifteen decades ago (1988 for life); this qualifies him for free copies of three of the society’s journal for life; Recipient of la medaille de la ville de Paris (Medal of the City of Paris), as a Vice-President of the International Statistical Institute (1989); Recipient of African Statistics Award, UNECA, in recognition of life long services to the development of statistics and nurturing of the statistics profession in Africa (2012); Recipient of Award of Icon of Outstanding Public and Civil Service by the Ogun State Government in recognition of pioneering effort in the creation of Ogun State of Nigeria (2016); Co-winner of the Nigerian Book Fair Trust Victor Nwankwo Book of the Year Award 2007, for the book, In His Hands: The Autobiography of a Nigerian Village Boy; Recipient of Yewa Royal Platinum Award of Excellence in Academics, by the Yewa Traditional Council, in recognition of outstanding and distinguished service to Yewa People, Ogun State and Nigeria (2016).

He has won many other awards and honours from several organisations both within and outside Nigeria in the areas of statistics, education and community development including the church.He is a versatile writer, scholar and author, having published three books,three monographs and many scholarly statistical articles in reputable international journals such as:Journal of the Royal Statistical Society (London); Biometrika (Oxford); Annals of the Institute of Statistical Mathematics (Tokyo); Biometrics, Journal of the International Biometric Society (Washington DC).

Other positions of responsibility and services to his country include:
Head of Carr House at the GCI; Scribe (Secretary) and later Chief (President), Sigma Club UCI, (1957-1958) and (1959-1960); Chairman of the Ibadan branch of Government College Old Boys’ Association (1989-2001); Commissioner for Education and Cabinet member, Western State of Nigeria (1973-75); Chairman, Governing Council, Ogun State College of Education (now called Tai Solarin College of Education) (1985-1988); Pro-chancellor and Chairman of Council, Ogun State University (now Olabisi Onabanjo University) (1999-2007).

Through the Ezekiel Adediran Afonja Foundation jointly established in1996 with his brother, Dr Abel O. Afonja, he has been offering humanitarian services in the award of scholarships to needy students. The Yewa Education Trust Fund established by the Yewa Think Tank while he was the president of the association has also been offering such scholarships.

He is a sports enthusiast having played soccer for all the three primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions that he attended in Nigeria. These institutions are: All Saints’ School, Government College and University College. He also played cricket for the last two institutions.

He is widely travelled and has visited all the continents of the world except Australia. He has been happily married to Yewande Ayoola Olusola for over fifty years and is blessed with five children and five grandchildren.

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