Conversations With A Genius: A Day With Dr Victor Omololu Olunloyo (2)

Conversations With A Genius: A Day With Dr Victor Omololu Olunloyo (2)

Monday, April 2, 2018 6:41 am

Dr Olunloyo, second tight, Bayo Adeyinka, third right and two other guests

By Bayo Adeyinka

One of the stories Dr Omololu Olunloyo shared with us during our visit sounded like fiction. But it was not an empty tale. While at Government College, Ibadan, he actually challenged the teachers to give him a full year’s course which he finished and passed in three months. Yet, he decided to wait for his mates in the class to complete that year’s course of work. When I asked him what he did during the period of waiting, he told me he taught as a pupil teacher in another school. At another period, he solved a mathematical problem given by the teacher through another method that was not taught by him. When the teacher called him up, he showed the teacher that his own method was simpler and faster than that of the teacher.he told us that Wole Soyinka was two years ahead of him at GCI.

While at the University of St Andrews, his class was given a particular mathematical problem which he tried to solve for days. He finally had to approach the white professor to tell him the problem had no solution. Truly, there was no solution to the problem at that time. He would later solve the problem as part of his PhD thesis which he showed us. Everywhere he went, his brilliance shined forth like a million stars. He showed us a letter dated April 4, 1957 where Professor JM Jackson who was his advisor of studies at the University of St Andrews wrote a recommendation supporting his application for the renewal of his grant. He was described in that letter as “outstanding, able and hardworking. His ability in mathematics is exceptional and he has taken first place in all his mathematical classes”. The letter was addressed to the Students Officer, Western Nigeria Office in London. Suffice it to mention that Dr Olunloyo was given two scholarships in mathematics and engineering by the Western Nigeria Development Corporation (WNDC), the precursor of the present day Odua Investments Limited which was headed by the late Alfred Rewane. It is testimony to the hand of Providence in the life of Omololu Olunloyo that he would later become the head of the same WNDC and award scholarships to several people, one of whom was the present day Governor of Oyo State, Isiaka

Read the first part here:
There were two incidents that happened to him in the University that attested to his unusual brilliance. The Mayor of the town where that Scottish University was located needed a tutor for his son who was deaf and had written the Dean of the Faculty for one. The Dean recommended the young Omololu Olunloyo. Armed with his recommendation letter, the young Olunloyo knocked on the Mayor’s door and handed over to him the letter. The Mayor looked him over and thought there must have been a mistake. How can a black boy from Africa be recommended to teach his boy? He sent Olunloyo back and called the Dean. The Dean responded that Omololu Olunloyo was his best student and sending him was not a mistake. He coached the deaf son of the Mayor who later graduated from the University with a Second Class Lower Division.

Furthermore, during his final year as an undergraduate student at the Scottish University, an event he would never forget happened. The University had a system that allowed students to take on more questions than necessary in order to win more medals. In essence, if you were asked to answer just four questions in your final paper, you were at liberty to answer an additional three or four so you can win more medals. Consequently, the young Olunloyo broke records by getting 132% in Mathematics. The next person to him got 89% and the third person got 66%. He wasn’t just all about books on campus. He was also the President of the Musical Society. He still has that music in him as we listened to him sing the Hallelujah chorus to us. Dr Olunloyo later graduated with a First Class in Mechanical Engineering from the University of St Andrews.

Olunloyo and Adeyinka

Due to his exceptional brilliance and his flair for Mathematics, he was exempted from BSc and MSc in Mathematics and went straight ahead to do his PhD in Mathematics from the same University. He completed his PhD in two years. He showed us his PhD thesis and read out the foreword and acknowledgements confirming same.

On his return to Nigeria, he joined the University College, Ibadan on February 1 and by May 5 he was already promoted. At that time, the University College, Ibadan had no Faculty of Engineering so he taught Mathematics as a lecturer. The University College would later become the University of Ibadan in 1962. He would later transfer his services to the University of Ife for a few years and came back to Ibadan again. Dr Olunloyo taught logic and abstract algebra. Among those he taught were Ajibola Ogunshola of Punch fame, Pastor WF Kumuyi of the Deeper Life Bible Church, former Inspector General of Police Sunday Ehindero and Olu Layinka who would later marry Engineer Vincent Maduka, the first Director General of the NTA. Olu Layinka is the first female COREN registered engineer in Nigeria. He also taught the late Major General Omojokun who would later become a Director General of the NYSC. He mentioned one Tersil from Plateau who was wrongfully executed as part of the Dimka coup as his former student. He reflected that WF Kumuyi never got less than 90% in his courses while a certain Adepoju from Ogbomosho was exceptionally brilliant. It was a serious moment of deep reflection for me when he stated that four people that he taught now worked for the NASA- National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States.

I was eager to ask him a few questions I’d pondered on for a long time. How was his relationship with the late Bola Ige and the Awolowo family? I’d heard rumours that Bola Ige was his personal lawyer and I wanted him to either confirm or deny him same. When I asked him, he turned to me and smiled. “Yes, Bola Ige and Segun Awolowo were my personal lawyers”, he said. I was shocked considering the level of bitterness in politics those days and even till now. He told us how he used to go to the Awolowos’ house to eat. The more I spoke to him, the more I realized why the NPN had to look for a very brilliant and accomplished candidate to contest against the equally cerebral and accomplished Uncle Bola Ige. Why is it that political parties of yonder years seemed to throw up their best while latter day parties now throw up their worst?

At a point, he asked for my town of origin and when I mentioned Ode-Omu, he laughed and told me I was a Modakeke man. He knows Odeomu and Gbongan very well. He told me he went to school in Gbongan for four months. He attended St Paul’s Anglican Primary School, Gbongan when his grandfather was the Vicar. It was from Gbongan that he came to GCI. He met Aare Afe Babalola in Gbongan and he encouraged him to study law. He showed us some of Aare Afe Babalola’s autographs on some of his books. He appointed the current Alaafin of Oyo when he was Commissioner for Local Government. He explained that there was a tussle for 4 years before the appointment. He shared with us his conflict with the late Lamidi Adedibu when he declared himself the Alaafin of Molete. Dr Olunloyo declared himself the Ooni of Molete and asked Adedibu to pay ‘isakole’, a form of tribute. Lamidi Adedibu brought two cows and N250 (Two hundred and fifty naira ) to him. He showed us the road that led from his Oke-Ado residence straight to Adedibu’s house at Molete.

Aerial view of Olubloyo’s compound: He is a lover of nature

He has experienced some tragedies and as he spoke about them, one could sense he was deeply affected by them. One was the 2005 United Kingdom bombing where he lost a son. His son was on the bombed train but he escaped only for him to take a bus that was the target of bombers again. We consoled him but that is one scar that will refuse to heal.

He is a reservoir of knowledge. At a point, he brought out Igbo Olodumare written by DO Fagunwa and told us that the first page of the book is a masterpiece of literature in that it had no full stop and was a full sentence on its own. To our amazement, we read the first page together and it was just a single sentence in spite of so many words describing several things. I’m not sure there is any other book like that in the world. Dr Olunloyo gave us his own opinion on the power situation in Nigeria and told us he advised the Federal Government not to situate the hydroelectric dam at Kainji. He said Kainji was not the appropriate location for it. He showed us some master plan for some Yoruba cities in his library. He mentioned that no one can sink a borehole in Ilesha in Osun State because of the topography of the land.

As he took us on a tour of the house, I wondered why the building could not be turned to a National Monument at best or a State Monument at the very least. His collection of books will make any lover of books green with envy. They can form part of the National Archives as he has some very rare collections. He told us that the publishers of the DO Fagunwa series had to borrow his personal copies so they could reproduce the books when they went out of print. He even brought out the very first bottle of champaigne produced- according to him. It had never been opened and had a seal of recognition underneath.

I had so many questions to ask him. What about his memoirs? Has he written any? I wanted him to tell me about the campaign days of 1983. He had shown us a spot in the expansive Oke-Ado premises where he said former President Shehu Shagari stood to campaign. Does he have any regrets? We had spent about five hours with him and we just had to allow him rest. I hope I will have the opportunity to ask those questions. As we turned to leave, we asked Dr Olunloyo to bless us. As I removed my cap and bowed my head in prayer, I heard him pray in a very unusual way. That was the first time I would hear anyone quote geometry in their prayers. He described God as having no beginning and end like a straight line in geometry. He then blessed us and we all said amen. After the prayers, one of us asked if it was only a straight line that had no beginning and end. He replied in the negative and drew a circle on the ground with his walking stick. A circle also has no beginning and end.

As he turns 83 on April 14, I pray that God will keep him strong and in better health for many more years.

(I will release the other videos we shot subsequently)

-Bayo Adeyinka is a banker and motivational speaker.
Mail: [email protected]

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