Tuesday, March 27, 2018 8:41 am
By Bayo Adeyinka
The initial meeting was very brief as Mrs Xtiana Ojo and I saw him off to his vehicle after the Afenifere Oyo meeting last week. He told us he was just recovering from an illness and that he was robbed. I was alarmed. Are we so godless that we now rob octogenarians? As he sat in his vehicle that afternoon, he extended an invitation for us to visit him the following Saturday at 10am.
So last Saturday, through the assistance of Mrs Ojo, I honored the appointment. Coming into the very modest Oke-Ado living room of Dr Victor Omololu Olunloyo, I opened my mouth as I saw rows of books. There were books everywhere- on the shelves, table and even on the floor. We just barely sat down. Dr Olunloyo came in, walking slowly with the aid of a walking stick.
Dr Olunloyo was the Governor of Oyo State for just about three months in 1983. It was the military regime of Mohammadu Buhari that truncated his government. As we settled down to discuss, I would soon discover that his mind has not lost any of its fervency. I was actually in the presence of a genius and a living legend. The more Dr Olunloyo answered the questions we posed to him, the more I realized that if this nation fails to realize its potential, it will be the 8th wonder of the world. Nigeria does not lack the human resources to take it to greatness. So why are we still on this level?
How does one begin to describe him? Dr Olunloyo reeled out dates with ease. He recalled names and incidents without batting an eyelid. He read books to us without using glasses. He sang the Halleluyah Chorus to us. He showed us his undergraduate thesis and his PhD thesis. He actually knew where he kept them among the thousands of books on the shelves. One of us had to ask if he worked as a librarian before. At a point, he showed me a letter written in 1957 by the University of St Andrews in Scotland recommending the renewal of his grant. We went through his collection of original Shakespeare album and Dr Olunloyo effortlessly recited some portions from Shakespeare’s works such as Hamlet, Richard 11 and many others. We saw his collection of Yoruba books and he actually read the first page of Igbo Eledumare to us. When I told him I had my first degree in Mechanical Engineering, he brought out an engineering textbook and our discussion shifted to strength of materials, beams and columns and Castigliano’s theorems. Dr Olunloyo had a First Class in Mechanical Engineering.
He showed us his music collection- we saw the works of classical artists, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frederick Handel, all the works of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Hubert Ogunde and so many others. He pointed at a particular collection and said the singer was Hitler’s favourite composer. He took us on a tour of his garden and showed us some very unique trees. There was a particular ‘agbalumo’ tree whose seed was brought from the West Indies. He also showed us a hybrid orange tree and informed us the seed was developed at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. In his garden, he plucked a flower and demonstrated how a spaceship generates energy in space. He had asked me initially how a spacecraft is able to generate energy while in space for such a long time. I couldn’t answer. I took his hand as he stepped on a concrete slab and dropped the flower which went into a spin as it descended. He explained how energy is generated through centrifugal force as the space craft spins.
Dr Olunloyo told me his family was the first to go to school in Ibadan in 1853. The first person was a woman called Yejide Olunloyo after whom Yejide Grammar School was named. He explained that that was when David and Anna Hinderer came as the first missionaries to Ibadan. I never knew St David’s Cathedral, Kudeti was named after David Hinderer. Neither did I know that St Anne’s Church, Molete was named after Anna Hinderer- until Dr Olunloyo told me.
I opened my mouth agape as he told me that in 1947, a total number of 2,002 students applied to Government College, Ibadan. One Ademola Idowu came 1st. Chief Lekan Are came 2nd during the entry tests. Dr Olunloyo was 10th. The first 10 were given scholarships. Among the top 10, the young Olunloyo was the only one who came from Standard 5. All others had passed through Standard 6. He told us Ademola Idowu is the senior brother of Laide Idowu who would later become Wole Soyinka’s wife.
In his first year at GCi, he was 21st out of 23 students when the result was released. But subsequently, he was 1st until he graduated. Dr Olunloyo was an ace cricket bowler at GCI. He described himself as the terror of the team and reminisced about how they beat Kings College and Igbobi College home and away. Before then, Kings College had beaten them for 5 consecutive years. He mentioned Philip Asiodu as one of the outstanding Kings College cricket players of that period. He said one Dr Coker who was a member of the Kings College team would later become captain of the national team. Other names he mentioned as good cricketers are George Ogunlusi of St George’s Hospital in Ibadan, Solomon Akenzua who would later become Oba Erediauwa. He also mentioned Chief Kola Balogun as a good cricketer who taught Bola Ige spoken English. Chief Lekan Are was centre forward for GCI and wore the jersey number 9 for the football team. Dr Olunloyo decided he would specialize in cricket and mathematics in his final year. He treated us to an incident when the mathematics teacher set 8 questions on calculus for the class. He answered the 8th question as the teacher was writing the last question.
Dr Olunloyo’s father could play 5 instruments. Unfortunately, he died at 42. Dr Olunloyo’s father built the first house at Oke-Ado in Ibadan. He only slept in that house for one night as he passed on the next day. His father was the first person to pass the London Matric exam in Ibadan. Dr Olunloyo told us that the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo taught his father Latin.
Dr Olunloyo did his HSc (Higher School Certificate) in 3 months. It was meant to be for 2 years. He came 1st in all of Ibadan province and got admission to study Mechanical Engineering at the oldest Scottish university, the University of St Andrews. The university was established in 1411. When he arrived at the University, he requested that they should allow him to start from 2nd year but the Senate declined. It had never been done before. He went to a professor’s house on a rainy day and pleaded that they should give him a test within 7 days. The University agreed and gave him a test on Physics, Chemistry and Maths. Each test was for 3 hours each. He got 84 in Physics, 88 in Chemistry and 98 in Maths. That was how he was allowed to skip year one at the University. So he started from year two.
Next: I will write about how he got 132% in a subject, how he was exempted from BSc and MSc and went straight to do PhD in Mathematics, how he graduated with a First Class in Mechanical Engineering, his relationship with Aare Afe Babalola, Bola Ige, Segun Awolowo and all the people he taught when he was a lecturer.
(I shot so many videos and will release them periodically).
-Bayo Adeyinka is a banker and motivational speaker.
Mail: [email protected]