Hearty cheers to Dr. Victor Omololu Olunloyo at 88
Recently, Dr Victor Omololu Sowemimo Olunloyo, sterling mathematician, engineer, philosopher, connosieur, wit politician, a former Governor of old Oyo State and much more, turned 88 years old.
We wish the all-round genius, “VOSO,” who is comfortably at home with any subject, any subject at all, outside his professions of engineering and mathematics, many more seasons of wellness, joy, honour, glory and contentment.
VOSO is at home with tailoring, gardening, tradition and culture, as he is also with agronomy, music (be it dundun and sekere, sakara, Beethoven, fuji, classic, juju, congo, jazz and the like. He is a special breed.
My humble professional paths since I started my media/PR career 50 years ago in 1973, with the now-defunct Sketch Publishing Company Limited, Ibadan to the NTA Ibadan, the former Television Service of Oyo State (TSOS), now BCOS-TV, the old Oyo State Governor’s office/Government House, Agodi and the Odu’a Investment Company Limited, have, as expected, crossed Dr Olunloyo’s golden orbit, first as the Commissioner for Education in the now-defunct Western State of Nigeria in the 1960’s, till date.
My first contact, albeit indirectly, with Dr Olunloyo was sometime in 1967. He was then the radical, unorthodox, PanditNeruh-customed Commissioner for Education in the now-defunct Western State, who used to ‘jump’ on schools and teachers alike, and take over, yes, take over teaching lessons from any incompetent, sub-professional teacher. His style then was to stealthily enter secondary school premises, ‘eavesdrop’, for some minutes on lessons being taught, and, like thunder in a flash, burst unannounced into classrooms to make incompetent teachers wee on their pants.
The fear of VOSO was the beginning of wisdom for many school proprietors/principals in the 1960’s/1970’s in the West.
The Omololu Olunloyo radical treatment came to the turn of my secondary school, African Church Grammar School, Apata-Ganga, Ibadan, one day in 1967, when I was a Form Three student.
Our principal, Mr. O. O, now late, combined his principalship with his private business as a bookseller. Many of his contemporaries/parents frowned at Mr. O’s moonlighting, whereby he abandoned his duty at school in Apata-Ganga to oversee his business at Oke Bola area of Ibadan.
The principal’s stone-aged, ultra disciplinary methods, whereby students were flogged like prisoners, got to the ears of the Western State Government, nay her Ministry of Education and Commissioner Olunloyo.
VOSO’s unannounced jump on our school and principal, one day in 1967, freed us, as it were, from the brutish acts of Mr O.O. He caned us (using koboko) for the least offence! But, since Dr Olunloyo put a stop to all that enslavement in 1967, he somewhat became my hero.
My admiration of him grew wildly when I discovered that he attended the Government College, Ibadan, the school recommended to my paternal grandmother, the late Mama Asma’u Odunola Alabi, by the late Ibadan politician and genius Alhaji Adegoke Adelabu, leader of opposition in the Western Nigeria House of Assembly and the now-defunct NCNC, whose Woman Leader my grandmother was.
Adelabu was, and still remains till date, the best student of the GCI. His academic records at the school remain unbeaten.
Dear reader, Dr Olunloyo at my behest, was the Guest Speaker at this year’s Adegoke Adelabu 65th Memorial Lecture, held at Mapo Hall, Oja Oba, Ibadan, Oyo State on March 25, 2023, the exact date Adelabu died in a motor accident, 65 years ago, during Ramadan, at Ode Remo Area on the old Ibadan-Lagos road. May his valiant soul continue to rest in perfect peace. Amen. I am the founding Chairman of the Adegoke Adelabu Foundation since 1996.
As this is an 88th birthday tribute to Dr Victor Omololu Sowemimo Olunloyo, I shall jump the sour portion of my relationship with him. How and why?
I was one of the three press secretaries of the late Chief ‘Bola Ige, SAN, when he was the Governor of old Oyo State.
In the 1983 General Elections, the OYS branch of FEDECO declared Dr Olunloyo of the now-defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) winner of the state’s gubernatorial election over Chief Ige of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN).
On taking over the reins of government of Oyo State, the Dr Olunloyo-led OYSG dealt heavy blows on public/civilian servants, suspected of being loyal to Ige and his political party (UPN). I was a victim.
Exactly three months of being Governor of old Oyo State, on 31st December 1983, the military overthrew civilian governments at Federal and States levels.
The new Federal Military Government, headed by Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, the outgoing President of Nigeria, decreed that all public/civil servants dealt with by the ousted civilian governments, Federal and states, return to our former positions. I thus returned to the TSOS, where I was Senior Editor in the Current Affairs Department, before my secondment to Governor Ige in February 1983. I served Dr Olunloyo’s immediate military successor, the then Lieutenant-Colonel Oladayo Popoola and two of his successors as Press Secretary.
From being press secretary to four (1 civilian and 3 military) Governors of old Oyo State (1983 to 1989), the three military governors of owner-states, at the behest of Brigadier-General Sasaenia Oresanya, appointed me the pioneer Public Affairs Manager (PAM) of the Yoruba conglomerate in August 1989.
It was a surprise, pleasant one though, when in 1994, Dr Olunloyo kindly consented, on my invitation, to write the foreword to my 1994 book: “For Public Good.” My gratitude to Dr Olunloyo remains eternal.
Happy 88th birthday, again, to Dr. Victor Omololu Sowemimo Olunloyo.
• Oloye Lekan Alabi is the Maye Olubadan of Ibadan.
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