John Kwao Amuzu Aggey
His Grace, Most Rev Dr. John Kwao Amuzu Aggey, DD, OON was The First African Archbishop of The Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos.
Born to Togolese parents on 5th March 1908 at Anecho in Togo; he was brought to Lagos as a mere child. He had his primary school education at St. John’s Junior Primary School, Obalende, Lagos Island in 1916, concluding it at St. Francis Senior Primary School, Lagos Island, in 1924.
Between 1924 and 1927 Late Archbishop Aggey attended St. Gregory’s College, Obalende, Lagos Island; where he bagged his HSC. He then worked as a Clerk in the Accounts section of the General Post Office Lagos between 1927 and 1930. For several years, he lived with his cousin, Mr Bernard Fadonougbo, (a civil engineer working with CFAO) at their family house situated at 2, Obalende Road, Obalende, Lagos Island; where he grew up.
The young John Kwao Amusu Aggey could have had a glorious career in government service; however, having heard The Call, he opted for the priesthood. John Aggey began his Seminary training at St. Theresa’s Minor Seminary, Oke-Are, Ìbádàn, between 1930 and 1933. He studied Philosophy at St. Francis of Assisi Major Seminary, Okpanam, Delta State, Nigeria, from 1934 to 1936. John studied Theology at the SS Peter and Paul Major Seminary, Bódìjà Road, Ìbàdàn, from 1938 to 1943. During the intervening year of 1937 to 1938, John Kwao Amusu Aggey did probational work which span his Theological Apostolic up to the year 1940.
Archbishop John Kwao Amusu Aggey was raised to the Priesthood in 1944, in Lagos by Archbishop Leo Hale Taylor; a rare event in Nigeria of his days. He was popularly known and called the ”Bush Priest” because he was able to penetrate into the remotest areas that some Priests ordinarily may not have liked to go. He journeyed to all those remote areas on his bicycle. He served in many remote areas of the Diocese, especially in Esure, Ijebu-Mushin where he and his bosom friend, then Rev. Fr. Anthony Saliu Sanusi, inspired many altar servers to embrace the Priesthood; notably among the young lads is His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Archbishop Felix Alaba Adeosin Job, Emeritus Archbishop of Ìbádàn Archdiocese.
After a long spell of priestly toil among his people in various Parishes of the Archdiocese, John Mwao Amusu Aggey was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Lagos and was consecrated on Sunday, 4th August, 1957, by the Late Archbishop Leo Hale Taylor; whom he later succeeded as the Metropolitan Archbishop of Lagos in 1965.
A great preacher in both English and Yoruba languages, Aggey was a great asset to the Church in the area of evangelization. When the Holy Cross Cathedral was under renovation, His Grace, Archbishop John Kwao Amusu Aggey was resident at Regina Mundi Catholic Church, Babaolosha-Mushin as the Archbishop of Lagos; making Regina Mundi a pro-Cathedral. It is on record, also, that he founded the Ave Maria Society that spread from Lagos to Abeokuta and Ijebu-Ode Dioceses.
The last public engagement of the late Archbishop John Kwao Amusu Aggey, after the National Episcopal Conference of 1972 was on Sunday 27th February when he performed the ceremony of the coronation of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima and the investiture of Mr. Gabriel Dotse, then Deputy Superintendent of Police as a Knight of St. Gregory the Great (Military Class), at the Holy Cross Cathedral, Lagos Island. During the Mass, he gave a memorable homily which many people later interpreted as a foretelling of his own demise.
It was a sad day for the Catholic Church in Nigeria when Archbishop Aggey died at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba by 3 am on Tuesday, 14th March 1972, during a brief illness. He was 64 years old. At the time of his death, he had served as a priest for about 28 years, and a bishop for 14 impactful years. The loss of Lagos Archdiocese was the gain of Heaven.
The late Archbishop was honoured in his lifetime by the Federal Republic of Nigeria with the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON). He also held the chieftaincy title of Baba-Suwa of Egbaland and the Togolese Honour of Legion d’Honor. Anthony Cardinal Okogie who succeeded him as the Metropolitan Archbishop of Lagos, renamed the prestigious Pope Pius Secondary School, Mushin, as Archbishop Aggey Memorial Secondary School, in honour of the great man of God. The school is now the proposed “Archbishop Aggey Technical College, Ilasamaja, Mushin”.
May the soul of Archbishop John Kwao Amuzu Aggey and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.