Where were you born?
I was born in the Ilorin Maternity Hospital in 1941.
How do you know the time you are born?
I have the certificate issued by the hospital and another one issued by the church, that is Anglican Church in Edidi, Irepodun local government area of Kwara State.
You said you were born in Ilorin, are you from Ilorin?
No,I am from Edidi in kwara State and my father was resident there. Only my mother came to Ilorin, so after my birth she took me to our town which is Edidi for my naming ceremony.
How was your life journey?
It has been a good history but with the divine control. I was sickly in my first year by what my father told me. He was a carpenter. I am the second born in the family, they didn’t know whether I was going to survive and my immediate younger sister came to life the following year. I started schooling at Offa St. Mark Primary School in 1949 but my intention was to come and live with my father’s good friend who was a mechanic, resident in Ilorin. He was always visiting my father on his way to buy spare parts for his mechanic works in Lagos and I took interest in him. I told my father I would like to live with this man but I had Lagos in mind then. Fortunately in 1949, one of his apprentices took me from Ibadan to Ilorin but my mother scuttled it as she wanted me to stay in Offa, so I had to stay in Offa for one year but when I went back I told my father that it was your friend I wanted to stay with not my grandmother. So in 1950 I was brought to Ilorin and I attended St Barnabas Primary School from 1950 to 1956. When I was in Standard 5 because that was what we used then, my father wanted me to go to Osogbo Grammar School but I told my father he should let me go to Standard 6 so that I could now go to college by God’s direction. He wanted me to go to Osogbo Grammar School where his in-law was the principal and I know he gave me money to bribe him and the man did not issue any letter of admissions and I was not even ready to go.
I came back to Ilorin in1956 to write common entrance examination and I wrote entrance exams to five colleges. Offa Grammar School, I was admitted; Kiriji Memorial College, I was admitted; Christ College Ado Ekiti, I was admitted; I would have been classmate with General Ibrahim Babangida at Bidda Clerical School. The day we wrote examination for Titcome College, Egbe I made up my mind this was the school I wanted. Everything had been divinely guided. In fact nobody influenced me. I only made up my mind for the school. When I was in Titcome college I was an athlete, a very successful one. The time we were writing HSC examination for allocation, I was representing the Northern Region at Ibadan in athletics, so they exempted me and two others who were representing Northern Region in athletics competition in Ibadan.
A greater divine, I was to be a medical doctor but the day we wrote HSC Biology examination, I made up my mind because, we knew we were all going to fail because we were not prepared for it. Although our teacher requested from us to teach us on how to dissect duck fish, we failed to contribute money for him to go and buy it for us and that was the only specimen we were to dissect. The moment we saw it in the examination hall, we all knew we were doomed.
The best student in our class, a very good friend who was a medical doctor at Ola Olu hospital (Ilorin) and died recently did not go into the examination room laboratory. He sat by the door and the WAEC supervisor asked for his notebook and reported that he collapsed. He was the only fellow in our class who was given pass in Zoology; all others, 29 of us were given subsidiary pass which was not acceptable for further study. That day I made up my mind I wasn’t going to do repeat and I would not do preliminary and that I was going to be a teacher and I would teach Chemistry and I thank God I am very satisfied and fulfilled to be a Chemistry teacher.
Which other institutions did you attend?
Indiri Secondary School in Plateau State, near Jos, near Bariki Ladi – 1952 to 1963, the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria- 1964 to 1967 for my Bsc, then ABU, Zaria,1968, then the University of Ibadan for my PhD, 1969 to 1971.
When did you start work?
My employment was another divine guide. I did my Masters for 10 months and my supervisor was from India. He came to work in ABU, Zaria but there was a dispute between him and the head of department who was a Briton. And I was the only student, he said he would see that I concluded the work so that they would have something to report back at home because he was leaving in January 1959.
So, luckily I had a result that excited him. In fact I would say that he wrote my Master’s thesis for me because I was not ready for it. Then I had to take my Master thesis to examiner in Ibadan instead of examiner coming to ABU to examine me. I went to him and he examined me and said congratulations you are successful, then I went to him for my PhD but he said the field I wanted was not available then, and he gave me to a Nigeria person, Professor Ekong , he was my supervisor and I work on Dogoyaro, the leaves of Dogoyaro, a compound in the list and I got my result just like MSc. My supervisor was excited by it and he sent the result to Italy for analysis and he said he was satisfied with the result that was in 1970, a second year.
Then, there was a lady, Dr. Gauges, who was lecturing Pharmaceutical Chemistry in the faculty of Pharmacy, University of Ife. She had motor accident in Ibadan and died. At the time, final year students had written their papers and they did not see anybody to mark it, and they consulted my supervisor and he said he was too busy to do it and said this young man had finished his bench work only waiting to defend his thesis, he would mark it for you. They gave me to mark without any condition and I gave them when I finished. They were satisfied and few months later, I got a letter of appointment without writing application for appointment in the University of Ife, 1971 in Pharmacy department.
That was my first appointment without any application or interview. Then I was there, then my colleagues in Pharmacy told me I could not rise unless I did some courses in Pharmacy. But the politics in the university, I was considered a foreigner because I was not from the South-West. So, I steered clear of the politics in the campus. C O Adebayo was teaching in English Department then, his brother Otun Adebayo came to him and told him that they were about to start Kwara Technical School, so he invited me too along to come and be a staff there. It was supposed to be University of Technology, State University of Technology that could have been the first in Nigeria, Governor George Innih was the governor then. Innih said where would he get the money to fund the university. So, C O brought me to Ilorin. I was here with him, Oguntebi who was a registrar who only had Bsc and we had concluded arrangement with ABU to start the University College of Technology affiliated with ABU , Innih said he couldn’t get the money.
Oguntebi was also unable to get the necessary documents, but, Innih then workout to get a Federal University College, that is how University of Ilorin started. Innih negotiated for it at the University of Ibadan. I moved from Ife to Kwara Technology School. I did not give three months notice of resignation and I asked for my transfer. Kwara Technology paid my money in lieu of three months notice which was unusual then. By the time the college paid the three months salaries in lieu of notice my service was transferred. Since Kwara Tech was not going to be a university and university was coming and we left Ife to start a university, so all of us that came from Ife and ABU moved to be part of pioneer members of the University of Ilorin. So I was a foundation member of the University of Ilorin in 1976 and I retired in 2007. I had to leave 2007 June 30, another divine intervention, because I did not want to go into contributing pension. If I had waited till July 1, 2007 I would be caught in the web of contributing pension which many people are not happy with today. I was the last to retire from old pension scheme.
When did you get married?
I got married on January 6, 1968 then I was still doing my MSc and my wife, a native of Edidi like me, was doing her Bsc Agric in ABU, I did not know her before, we met at ABU.
What enticed you to her?
Her hairstyle. Her hairstyle attracted her to me.
How many children are you blessed with sir?
Five, four girls and one boy.
How was life in service?
I have been very fulfilled. I enjoyed my service both in Kwara Tech, where I had a very interesting experience that frustrated me from friendship.
How is life in retirement?
I am coordinating three organisations, Moringa Development Association which we started here in 2011 and we hosted the second national summit. The first summit was organised by Raw Material Research Council to inaugurate and put executives in place. We could not get who would sponsor the next one but fortunately the commissioner for Commerce was in Abuja. I interacted with him and he volunteered to come and host it, when he told us we took it up and he hosted it in 2012. We mobilized people to see opportunities in Moringa tree, we shared seeds for people to plant in their houses. This is why you could see Moringa in many houses in Kwara today. We promoted it, and turned it to what many are now importing now. Seeds are what people are after because they sell at higher price than leaves, but leaves are more nutritive than any other vegetable one can think of. Countries like India in 2015 were interested in moringa seeds for biofuel and it made it more lucrative.
We now have another group that is called Ranch and Livestock Cooperative Society, and we are meeting here in my house every Tuesday to sustain the plants. We are now using the leaves to feed animals. So, we have goats and sheep which I keep for the group here (about 12) and I had interest in keeping goats because I don’t want to have problem in disposing waste from my kitchen. Because before Moringa, my morning activity was to keep my surrounding clean. I now hoe the grass, dry it and give it to the animals. I noted that my goats when I give them Moringa leaves, the one that was giving birth to two before started giving birth to three. So I said it is important, therefore, we put it in research and then do research on fertility in effect of Moringa . Even human beings that are infertile have hope in Moringa.
What other things do you do apart from Moringa?
Before the COVID-19 I had a coaching centre in Oja-Iya, Ilorin. We are even planning to send a letter to Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq to suggest to him to sanitize and open schools and bring in students in shift, like in the year, when C O Adebayo was a governor – morning and evening classes. We are suggesting three shifts, in order to reduce number of students in classes to meet up with protocol of social distancing. Classroom of 60 to 70 students can be in three shifts – 20/20/20. Teachers will then be moving and teaching multiple without, having to increase the number of hours. Each teacher can be coming to school like three times in a week but he will teach three times in a day, instead of once and at the end he or she will be teaching eight periods which is the normal during the school hours and no teacher will complain of over burden. Then students instead of eight hours a day would have three hours and if in our coaching centre we were able to teach the syllabus content for SS1, 2 and 3 in five months and I have been able to raise fortune of those who used to make F in their first attempt in five months. A teacher should be able to accomplish one-year syllabus in two to three months. So if the government considers that, it means the session that ought to end last month and new one to start now can be contracted to September and part of October and new session begins in October and this can go on.
How would you consider life during your time and now?
There is a large difference. In my student days, it was automatic scholarship for us to go to the university. Ibadan offered me admission to read Biochemistry, ABU offered me admission to read Chemistry and I said, I want to be a teacher, if I go to Biochemistry in Ibadan would I be a teacher in school? I want to be a teacher. And my scholarship was available for either two. No sooner had I finished my first degree my Masters was also scholarship in ABU. After my Masters scholarship in ABU, they wanted me to be headmaster in the university secondary school and I said I wanted research that was how I moved to Ife for PhD. When you compare our days with your days, not even the days of your children the gap is getting wider and wider. One, we were mature in our days. My father did not know the school I attended, primary to secondary up to university and my allowance as undergraduate which was good enough I used it to train my brothers in secondary schools. I also used it to fund my marriage. I got married on the 6, January, Saturday and on 8 of January, Monday I bought a mobilet, motorcycle with cash down to mark my wedding.
My allowance was so generous. There was an occasion when I received the money I bought a pack of folder and kept all my money in the pages of sheet of papers in the folder and someone came to beg for paper, and money scattered on the floor immediately while trying to remove paper for him because I had even forgotten. In fact I had enough money to settle dispute between my mummy and daddy who were having misunderstanding then. The maturity was there, financial support was there from government and job opportunities. Studies opportunities were there unlike today when parents have to bribe the way for their children for WAEC result.
How was the student unionism then sir?
It was the University of Ibadan students who organised demonstration against the British government that hastened our independence. When I got to ABU I also spearheaded protests and participated in UI’s too. Student unionism was mature then, we demonstrated on issues that were reasonable. I was an active unionist and the same thing when I joined the service of the university as a staff. I could remember how (General Olusegun) Obasanjo wanted to kill ASUU and Professor AbdulRaheem Oba as University of Ilorin VC was also having issues with ASUU due to the way and manner he was appointed.
What is your favourite food?
Tuwo rice. Because I don’t like chewing things. I prefer swallowing.
How do you use to relax?
I was an athlete.
Do you listen to music or go to dancing party?
I listen to the music of Ebenezer Obey. Occasionally I go to the dancing party because I see it like an exercise and I started staff club of Kwara Tech, even when I was not a party man.
What is your hobby now?
Farming. I enjoy establishing farming and I derive pleasure in holding meetings.
What is your greatest regret in life?
I cannot identify one. The only challenge I had was when the people plotted against me for the examination leakage when it was not my responsibility but they deliberately wanted to use it to crucify me. In fact they recommended me to the council for dismissal for that examination malpractice but, the head of the school said, “but we gave him permission to go and bury is relative, why do you want to crucify him?” So I was safe.