Dr. Iyayi Efianayi: The Man, his birth and achievements
“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” —Shannon L. Alder
Dr. Iyayi Efianayi is undoubtedly a man whose life exemplified the above statement by Shannon L. Alder. Although he is gone but his works, acts of kindness and the lives he touched all over the world will forever remember him for good.
Accolades upon accolades, testimonies of the good works of the great man from Egbaland in Uhunmwonde Local Government Area of Edo State, has refused to cease since the news of his departure to the great beyond.
He was a man endowed with wisdom and humility, who despite his resounding business successes was always very quick in attributing his successes and good fortunes to the inimitable hand of God.
A writer described him as “a man who prides himself saying, I was never born great, but the Almighty had mercy on me and bestowed greatness upon me”.
Little wonder he consistently showed deep sympathy to the less privileged and extreme sensitivity to the plight and needs of others.
Late Dr. Iyayi Efianayi was born in Egba, Uhunmwonde Local Council of Edo State on January 6, 1931, it was on a quiet day in a serene environment without the usual fanfares that normally accompany the birth of princes and nobles.
His birth, though lowly and unnoticed by the world like that of our lord Jesus Christ, there were, however, obvious signs that a great man was born into a family with modest means.
Born to Aghimien and his father, Efianayi the eldest of the three children of Ogunusi; Efianayi, Igbinedion and Osayiuwu, late Iyayi imbibed the enviable virtues of kindness, hard-work and dedication to service at a very early stage of his life which later lifted him to the lofty heights.
Iyayi attended the Nigeria Baptist School, Egba (now Aguebor Primary School, Egba) up till elementary school 1 (Primary 1) before his late father for lack of knowledge of the importance of education ordered his withdrawal from school to engage him in farm work.
Young Iyayi became a farmer, animal trap setter and rubber tapper.
Despite his little formal education, Dr. Iyayi remained relentless.
Through sheer industry, perseverance, creativity and strong determination to succeed, he developed himself and built a business empire spanning several states of the country.
He started from a modest beginning of trap setting to rubber tapping at night and engaged in the purchase of other rubber tapper’s products during the day. He became the undisputed founder of a thriving conglomerate.
Later, he ventured into timber business after obtaining a loan which he later paid back as the business started yielding proceeds.
He also ventured into many other businesses such as sawmills, Iyayi seafoods, Iyayi Aluminum and Galvanized Roofing Sheets, Iyayi Rubber Products, Iyayi Agro Company, Iyayi Cosmetics, Iyayi Petroleum etc.
Dr. Iyayi Efianayi will certainly be remembered for his attainments, philanthropic gestures and moral/financial contributions towards human and capital development of Egbaland and Edo state.
It will be recalled that, late Iyayi singlehandedly built and equipped Egba Grammar School with science and introductory laboratories, staff quarters, students’ hostels and a 250kva generating set which he donated to Edo state government (then Bendel state). He was paying the salaries of over six teachers of the school and footed the medical bills of all students.
He also singlehandedly built and donated Nigeria Baptist Convention, Egba Baptist Church, Ahor Baptist Church, Egba District hospital including payment of staff salaries, constructed Adumagbae-Egba-Osasimwioba road to Akure-Owo, 19.5km Osasimwioba-Adumagbae road, with yearly maintenance of the road being his sole responsibility.
He connected Idokpa, Ogheghe, Adumagbae, Ogueka, Evbiekoi, Ekose, Uhegie, Ayen and Egba to national electricity grid and drew the 33kva high tension cable and all the infrastructure from Guinness sub-station Ikpoba-hill to Egba 24km.
Regularly maintained the power line and paid the electricity bills of all houses in Egba.
Late Iyayi built and equipped with barracks, Egba Divisional Headquarters of the Nigeria Police which he donated to the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) as well as a three hundred (300) rooms hostel worth over N30,000,000 to the Edo State University (now Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma).
He championed the establishment of Egba community bank between 1992 1993 by the Federal government which metamorphosed over the years to become Okuta Microfinance bank Limited, Benin City.
He made significant financial contributions towards the rehabilitation of various roads, Bendel State Development Fund, Old Orhionmwon/Uhunmwonde Development Fund, Bendel State Government’s re-afforestation programme, building of Multi-purpose Civic Centre, Ekpiri-Kang village in Cross-River State, building of Nigeria Divisional Headquarters, Lantang, Plateau State, building of Edo Baptist Conference Centre, building of the secretariat of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, Benin City amongst many others.
Apart from cash donations to institutions and organizations within Nigeria, he also made international donations and was awarded with the Rotary International Club’s highest honor in 1997.
In 1996, he was the single individual donor to Federal Government’s Health Campaign on River Blindness disease.
Iyayi through his company’s scholarship programme sponsored over 100 Edo state indigenes from primary school to the University level with no fewer than six of them being medical doctors today and consultants in various disciplines.
Before his death, he was an Honorary Life Member of the Nigeria Red Cross Society, Fellow Nigeria Society of Engineer, received an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Business Administration from Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma, was a life patron of Amateur Boxing Association of Nigeria and Egba Community Development Organisation.
Iyayi received certificates of honor from the Nigeria Police Force, Bendel state government (now Edo State), Egba Development Organization, Oredo Local Government Area, Edo state and many others, too numerous to mention.
He is survived by three wives and 18 children amongst which is Dr. Caesar Osaheni-Iyayi, the Managing Director of Caesar Engineering Construction Company, Nigeria.
May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace, Amen!