He would have been 80 on Friday November 2, 2018 and we; his children were already planning a simple, albeit symbolic commemoration to coincide with that date.
He lived a strikingly simple and exemplary Christian life and the envisioned event was to reflect these attributes, which he worked hard to impact in his offsprings, wards and mentees.
The plan was to work in conjunction with his church and have as many of his relatives and friends who could make it from their respective abodes at home and abroad, to be in attendance.
Man had his mortal programme, the Almighty Creator had His divine designs.
Saturday August 25, 2018, less than three months to that milestone, however, Jacob Adeniyi Olusunle, an ordained Pastor of the Christ Apostolic Church (CAC), breathed his last. That ended the life, career and times of an uncommonly good, distinctly inimitable and exemplary personality. Happily, he did so in the presence of his loved ones who had been with him and by him in the months and weeks preceding his eventual demise.
Entrepreneur, farmer, clergyman and community leader, Olusunle, was the last in the family of five children, born November 2, 1938, by Daniel Arowosegbe and Maria Igunnu Olusunle. Before him were two brothers and two sisters: Moses, Elizabeth, Michael and Janet, in that order.
His father, who was also a Pastor of the CAC and one of the progenitors of Christian evangelism in modern day Okunland in Kogi State, hailed from Isanlu, Yagba East local government area of Kogi State.
He began his elementary education at the Anglican Primary School, Ijowa, Isanlu in 1945, continued at the Anglican Primary School, Mopo, Isanlu and completed that phase of his education at the Baptist Primary School, Zaria, in present day Kaduna State in 1952. The itinerant character of his early education was understandable since his parents were practicing clergy who moved frequently from one community to another, in the course of missionary work.
In January 1955, Pastor Olusunle obtained a scholarship into the Government Trade Centre, GTC, Bukuru (an institution that has since been rechristened Government Technical College), in present day Plateau State for his secondary school education, completing his studies in December 1959.
He led his class convincingly and had a ‘First Class’ endorsement on his certificate. His teachers and instructors regarded him highly as ‘a well rounded student’, given his active pursuit of spirituality as leader of the Christian Students’ Association at GTC, Bukuru; his abiding interest in sports as vice captain of the table tennis club and his dogged commitment to his academic pursuit.
Between 1959 and 1963, he worked as a civil servant in the Ministry of Works of the erstwhile Northern Region in Kaduna, as a Technical Assistant (Hydrological). He was soon head-hunted by the former Northern Nigeria Spinning Company, abbreviated ‘Norspin’, as Trainee Supervisor, from 1963 to 1966.
With the establishment of its presence in Northern Nigeria to boost agro-care, the primordial Pfizer (now Neimeth) Livestock Feeds Ltd, appointed Olusunle its Mill Supervisor in 1966. By dint of hard work, exemplary carriage, sterling discipline and commitment to duty, he was promoted substantive Mill Manager in 1970, after the Nigerian civil war, which he witnessed substantially from his vantage domicile in Kaduna.
Side by side with his secular engagements, Olusunle took his spiritual development very seriously. His deep involvement in church work was recognised with his ordination as an Elder of the Christ Apostolic Church, CAC, Kaduna, in 1968, when he was just 30 years of age.
His elevation as Mill Manager of Livestock Feeds Ltd, Kaduna was followed by his redeployment to Aba, in contemporary Abia State, at the heartland of the former East Central State, in the second quarter of 1972, Livestock Feeds Ltd made a foray into the heart of the primordial Midwestern State, establishing an ultra-modern feed mill in Benin City, in present day Edo State. From its crop of young and dynamic managers, the Board of Directors of the company deployed Olusunle to pioneer the setting up and entrenchment of the new concern. He was appointed the substantive manager (later redesignated Area manager), with concurrent responsibility for production, administration, marketing and sales.
He built the new business branch, located on Sapele Road, Benin City, into a flourishing venture, second only to the Lagos plant, in terms of profitability.
Having aggregated nearly 15 years of active and eventful service with Pfizer Livestock Feeds Ltd, Olusunle retired voluntarily in 1979, to set up his own privately-owned, small scale feed-milling outfit in Ilorin, Kwara State, as a franchisee of his former employers.
He christened his agro-based business concern, ‘Gladsome Enterprises Nig Ltd,’ when the company was incorporated, a name, which was an agglomeration of the initials of all the names in his nuclear family: his wife, children and himself.
He always had an entrepreneurial desire and had first established a printing press in Kaduna in 1970, which was simply called Emmanuel Printing Press after his first child.
While the business flourished on one hand, the name Gladsome rapidly developed a life of its own, true to its dictionary meaning, a haven of joy and mirth.
Olusunle’s house, located within the physical premises of his business, would rapidly become a melting pot where his relatives: nephews, nieces, in-laws, distant acquaintances, children of his friends, friends of his children and more, found happiness and fulfillment under his accommodating, selfless, God-fearing, strict and inspirational guidance, as they variously pursued their education, professional careers and vocations.
He was a stickler for justice, equity and fairness even in the family.
In the course of his service in the private sector, Olusunle attended several courses, conferences and seminars at home and abroad. These include: Supervisors’ Training Course at the Technical Institute, Kaduna, October/November 1965; Supervision and Supervisory Techniques Course at the Continuing Education Centre, University of Lagos, July 1971, and an Effective Marketing Skills Course at the Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM), Lagos, February 1973.
Determined to pursue a post-retirement life in the full service of God, Olusunle, in 1989 attended pastors’ training at the CAC Seminary, Ile-Ife, Osun State and was ordained a substantive Pastor the same year, 39 years after his father was ordained a Pastor of the same Ministry.
Pastor Olusunle was wedded to his wife, my mother, former Miss Elizabeth Ajayi Ibilola, Saturday April 26, 1964, at CAC, Kaduna. The union was blessed with seven biological children, several grand children and many more spiritual and adopted children.
My father encapsulated decency, modesty, and humanness among several other attributes. He taught us the fear of God and the virtues of diligence, industry, integrity and honesty.
– Olusunle, member of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, was a presidential aide in the Obasanjo/Atiku administration from 1999 to 2007
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