My father was from Ijagbo, his father whose surname was Aina, was also from the same place. They were descendants of the first settlers in Ijagbo. Oluwole, the younger brother to the man they called “Olu ode wo ibi ti Aja ti n gbo” because he was a hunter when he left Oyo, he came over to that place passing through Igosun, he settled there, when the family did not hear from him, they sent the junior brother whose descendant I am, to go and find out, and they found him. Because he was a hunter, he had a dog, he tied the dog to a tree so whenever there was somebody the dog would bark and he would know that someone was waiting for him.
By the time the brother came back, he went back to inform everyone he has found him, this is where he is and he will go and join him there too, one or two other persons followed him, but the responsibility of guiding the small community rested on Olu Ode (Ajagbade) and of course since he was a hunter and people at that time trusted themselves, there was somebody else who was also a prince from where he was coming, he was in that community. Olu Ode told the prince if he is not around and there is something wrong, he should settle them before he comes back from his hunting, and that was how the family took over; which was a huge mistake on the hunter’s part, we started rivalling, we went to the supreme court, we won the argument but we lost the case because politics came into it. So we have a good background as it were, we were the lineage, we have produced the first six of Onijagbo before this crisis.
On my mother's side, she came from a village name Koko - they have connections with Ijagbo too because they have related uncles, she had married someone before but there were no children between them, then she married my father and God blesssd her with children, so in that family, I have four seniors - the first son is Samuel Adeniran Odewale followed by Joseph Ebun Adepoju Odewale followed by Mrs Abigael Mopelola Odewale, followed by Juliana Omolayo Odewale, then came myself of which we are of the same mother. We have a stepmother too, and she had 5 children - we all grew up together but later went our different ways because an adage says “20 children can not play for 20 years”.
Our father worked in the railways, he became enlightened, he could write and speak despite the fact he didn’t go to school, but because he was the cook to an English man who was in charge of the railway station he was encouraged. We were 12 in the family, and only one of us refused to go to school while others went to school. But it is a pity he didn’t eat the fruit of his labour as much as we wanted because he did a lot for us, we were not pushovers, I’m not exaggerating to say that because in Ijagbo, at a time people will look at our family and say, “I wish my own will be like that”. But because this jealousy and envy came in from the families of my father due to the progress we, the children were making, I am not saying they are responsible for what happened, but the family just went down, but glory to God the children are picking up. The second born of the family I mentioned earlier, came to pass in 1979, the community said they would have him as the King and he was installed but his Dad insisted that there will be nothing unscriptural, unchristian that will go into that installation, so they swear on the Bible and made use of traditional leaf to do the installation, but unfortunately because the family that has been ruling for many years now have a connection with the Fulanis, there was an enquiry from the 39 compounds in the community where the support of all but 2 only did not vote for us. When the report was out, they did not release it to us, they just manoeuvred it and announced the other man by decree, so we went to court but it was futile, we are still battling we have not given up yet.
So the background is such that, my parents started being not Christian but ended up being Christians and they did everything they could to raise us in that way, we were given a good legacy to follow.
What I remember about my early years is that I was loved and because of that, I enjoyed it. My Father’s siblings do send their children to our house either from Lagos or Ibadan, and all my cousins and I grew up together under the same roof, we ate together from the same plate. I was able to play some pranks, I didn’t like farming, whenever we were told it was time for farming, I would act sick. Even when I started school, every weekend, starting from Friday to Sunday, I would tell them I have a slight headache and they would be so concerned to get me a cure, that way I would miss farming for Saturday, it was such a pleasant time.
I remember I was beaten only 3 times. I remember the offences I committed. I was sent on an errand and I said I won’t go, on one occasion like that after school, when we got home, I realised our lunch would be ready anytime soon, that was when I was called upon to go on an errand about five houses away from our house to go and relay a message to someone living there, and I responded I wasn’t going unless I ate, so when the food was ready, I was not given the food but of course, I was disciplined for that. On another occasion, I was asked to look for my junior ones who went to the farm because I wasn’t with them and it was getting late, after I left, I dodged at the building and started playing in a corner, little did I know that my grandfather was following me from behind when I caught a glimpse of him, I was shocked, within myself I knew I'm in for it that day, so, he went quietly and said, so this is where I was looking for my brothers right? he left after that, when I got home, I got a beating for it, the others were something like that.
Every time I did something wrong, I would be called and told what I did and why I shouldn't have done it, and that touched me more and shaped my life. My children know that whoever I beat among them, he/she has done it to the extreme, mostly I talk to them because it has helped me and it helped them too. So, I had a good time. We were loved, myself and the last born of my stepmother, being the last in the family, we were enjoying everything and we had nothing to worry about, the early childhood was pleasant.
I started school sometime in 1949, that was about the second term in the school at that time. The name of the school is Ijagbo Baptist Day School. I spent 8 years there. It used to be 9 years but in the first two years, I got a double promotion. I finished primary school in 1956 December.
In February 1957, I gained admission into Gindiri Secondary School (a mission school in Plateau) I never knew anything about the school, it was one of my brothers who was in Kaduna who heard about the school and got the form for me. I filled it and I was admitted. I was there from 1957 to 1961.
The favour of God still followed me, I got to Case Western Reserve, Cleveland Ohio and I was taken to a hall where they house all the students. In that hall, just like in secondary school, the beds are created as bunks, you can't cook in there. So I decided to rent an apartment on the University road and I was paying $150 per month - it was a room with a kitchen and bathroom attached to it, it was a complete one for me, and I had a sofa that I turned into a bed at night, I do my cooking and I eat at the time I wanted, my colleagues will come and eat, my house became a meeting point for new student whereby we advise and put them through accommodation and other things.
So, maybe because of the reputation I built up at the North-Western, I was treated with a margin of respect. I was given privileges to choose selective courses that I wanted while they made it mandatory for other students, they said I am a special student, and I was frightened having the thought of maybe they wanted to recruit me to the CIA as an agent or something. My professor offered me accommodation which I refused, he offered me money basically to help me because he liked my personality, with the way I contribute in the class but I still refused to collect the money. One thing I noticed with the Americans is that they are more open, if they don't understand things they will ask questions. We had a seminar some time and we were to go one by one, nobody was willing to go first, then I volunteered to go first, I went and I came out the first place, I had an argument with the professor on a particular word and we kept arguing while others were amazed at my confidence. When we left the seminar, they said "where did you learn English, anyway we didn't know how to present our case, we couldn't volunteer for anything, now that you have presented yours, we have seen what you have done, we will go and do it the way you have done yours" they were more open and it helped.
Surprisingly, my photograph was used in the school brochure where I was putting on my native wear with a native cap, I wasn't the only one there but it was Grace all along.
After I left school, I was working here and there for 6 years. I went to North West Polytechnic (now University of North London) in the year 1968 to 1971. I came and worked at home. After that, I had the opportunity of being sent to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland Ohio in the USA, for 15 months, from April 1976 to the 27th of May 1977. When I retired from the Civil Service because I was already heading the church here, I went to Nigeria Baptist Theological Seminary for my Masters in Theology in the year 1996 to 2002 - it was supposed to be one but because I was sick and hospitalised I missed part of the session, I had an extra year but graduated in 2002 with my Masters in Theology.
My take on what has changed in Education.
Education is an ongoing thing, what we learnt that time, the quality of it was more then. For instance, when I was in the US and we were discussing things in class, the Americans will be amazed and ask where did I get all these information, I responded I got it in my primary school because we learnt about other places, towns and countries. All those books we read at those time, we knew everything for example "Around the world in 40 days" even the colonialist made us know more than we needed but proof useful to us, so when we go out we were not inferiors but now that they've modified it, they are debarring the children from knowing some things, that they should know that will help them in future. I know they are teaching the children many things that we never knew, so I'm not in support of those that say the standard of education has fallen. I think the quality of teachers will determine the quality of students produced. When you go to University you don't have facilities, it is only what you have you use for training. Education is broader and more technological in nature, I believe it is a bit helpful in people determining what they want to be. They were more flexible at that time and it was still up to the need, for instance in primary school at that time, there is a particular named Christian Home and Marriage for students, some of who are 20+ years of age in primary, who would go and marry after leaving primary school, they were taught how to manage the home, how to handle the home. It was a separate course and this helped them a lot because many of them married immediately after primary school, during our time in the class, we were more than 30 or less, the teachers knew us and we dare not misbehave. There was more respect for teachers, but in this modern day, we have 60 or more numbers of students in a class and the teacher is not able to cope, even to the extent of seeing a student in a car and the teacher walking to the school, these causes less respect for teachers. So I believe education is not going down it is getting broader, I pity the children these days what they have to learn and I appreciate what they know that we don't know. It is an ongoing thing, if properly managed, we will develop a lot.
Moreover, the vocational studies that are included in the curriculum for the University students help a lot, so that when you come out, you don't depend on your certificate; anything that comes your way, you can grab as an opportunity. Some people have a certificate that they are not using but they use that vocational certificate to earn a living. That was not available for us at that time but because it is necessary now, it is being done.
I want to repeat it here that I'm a product of Grace. The secondary school I attended was a mission school and the highest I paid was £16+ per year and it covers my WAEC fees, I was in a boarding school throughout, and I was given free school uniform, sports uniform, Sunday uniform, free exercise book, ruler, pencil, textbooks and I was being fed three times a day for 5 years, it was more like a scholarship, my final year was the only time I can say I paid more money. All other years were not up to that.
Reading for my A'level was on my own and by the time I was ready to go to Library school, a scholarship was waiting for me, at the end of the three years, my teachers felt I should stay and take a social science degree that I will qualify for a grant, that I can give it a trial but I was advised against it and I decided to come back home, I started working and I had bursary for 3 months, I went near Bedford Western Zealand, Oxford and a number of them. After that, an opportunity came for higher studies. I had two places to take my Master's degree, I took one of the two with a position I was recommended for. It was free when I got to America and my salary was going on. I could sustain my family and they paid my school fees and some money, that's why I said, I'm a product of grace.
My Education and Life in London
In London, I stayed in Islington and the road I stayed on was 26 Sheridan road, close to that place was Folon road, Caledonia road leading to the railway station. Life was pleasant, I had two brothers in Britain at that time, one in Cambridge and the other in London.
I started well there, I enjoyed the school, and I was not intimidated because in my secondary, the white had the largest population and while I where I was working, my boss happened to be white as well, I served as a Protestant Chapel Committee member and I was the secretary for four years so I spoke freely to them because I am used to being around them.
I had friends within the school, I didn't go clubbing nor did I take an alcoholic drink, my classmates didn't believe at first that I was married until my wife joined me in London and they saw her for themselves that was when they believed me. There was a particular lady whose background was Jewish who liked me so much. Whenever we went to play football, she will buy refreshments and all but I never looked at her side, there was a particular day I got injured and I didn't go to school, one of my friends Bob, came to check on me and he met my wife at home, he said, "Now I see why you never gave Stella any side look at all".
I was liked in the school, the lecturers liked me and they all had some respect for me. I enjoyed my time spent there.
How I helped form the library school curriculum for International Students
When I got to school, I was to spend 3 years and that was the term of admission, when I got there, I was not happy with the curriculum, because apart from my A-Levels, I did my first professional exam in Nigeria before I left there which was not necessary and I took it along when I was travelling but most of these English students only have A-Level and I worked in University library for four years.
I became a little bit of a troublesome student, I started questioning many things. I asked them why they had to add an extra year to the 3 years that were supposed to be spent in the school. No concession was given to someone who has a degree and applied for the same program. But because I proposed a change, the school decided to have a change. They invited me to contribute to the changes, how long I felt they should hold the international to do practicals and others, I got to Enfield, they told me, Benson we have nothing to teach you, go back to them in school, you should not be spending this year, we will allow you to go, you can stay at home because there is nothing to teach, all of these gave me strength to be able to confront the school, I made my quota, I told them what I felt could be done without frustrating us and cheating us because as an international student, the fee we paid covered for two British students.
As stated earlier, I am somebody by grace who was liked so much and I had many friends of the opposite sex. There came a time when one of them spent the holiday with me in Kaduna, her schoolmate knew her to be my friend, so I told him to help me write a letter to her with a complimentary greeting to show that he was the one who wrote the letter on my behalf. I was free with them and I knew that could be my future problem because I had quite a number of them around me, so I believe one thing that whether you are a man or a woman if you wait until you are rich, you may not get the right partner - they can get attracted to you because of what you have not who you are - I had that mindset because where I went to in secondary school, there were about 10 other institutions like Girls boarding school, GSI secondary school, the teacher training college, Women dance school, Bible school etc all these were there and by the grace of God, I was fortunate in the school, I held some positions that exposed me to all these institutions, I was the director in the school choir, I was a member of the football team, I was a side drummer in the brigade, I had a position in the fellowship of Christian students, I was shining in all these areas. When I left school, the one I befriended misbehaved somehow and I decided to keep quiet, then a brother of mine Late Deacon. Toye Afolabi then called me, he said "bro, I know somebody good for you" and I responded who is it? Then he mentioned her name, I said I have not seen her for a while now, the last time we met was when her mother died and she was about 13 years of age, My friend then said he does see her once in a while, so he gave me her name in the year 1962, I kept the name till 1963. I woke up one day and decided to give it a trial then I saw a friend who was a relation, Late Deacon Ajiboye, I asked him if he knows the name, and he responded they both exchange letters sometimes, I told him to write to introduce me and he responded whenever I am ready. Then later after seeing my friend off from where I resided on the Campus at the Institute of Administration, Zaria, I had a change of mind, why would I send a letter of introduction through someone.
On the 4th of January, I wrote a letter to introduce myself, told her who I am, what I do, my school certificate etc. I told her I wanted us to be friends and if the friendship works, it can develop into something else. When her older sister got hold of the letter, she said am I no longer with Felicia again, and that's because she knew I and the lady were classmates and we were so close. Felicia and I didn't get married but we only had a mutual relationship. She started replying to my letters, and for 2 years we kept communicating via letters. The day I was on leave, I went home and I told my Dad I was going to Ire in Osun State and my dad was inquisitive about who I wanted to see there. I told him I was going to see Baba Tade, he then said, should he write to him, I responded that would not be necessary since there isn't anything I want to write to him for. He succumbed and I informed Baba Tade of my coming. We both agreed to meet in Osun State. When we agreed, I categorically told her that the risk she is taking is that, I don't know if I will have more than this school certificate and what I will be in the future, I don't know yet and if you take me the way I am, that's the risk you are willing to bear.
At that time, I had not started reading for my A-Levels in the same January 1964. By June that same year, my colleagues at my workplace who had HSC were discussing how they would redo their papers, right in the middle of that discussion a white man just asked me "what would you do?" I told him I would do my A-Level, so I got correspondence to a college and I subscribed to it. I had a month's leave so I came home and went back to finish my course. As of October, the last in my family lost his life, he was based in Kaduna. I was called from Zaria to attend his burial. I had to bring his things back home. I went back and started reading. After all that happened, God compensated me, I did my exam in January the following year and I made my A-Levels and I didn't do this in my O-Level. Because I had PASS in some subject areas I decided I will do them again but I never told her all of these.
We have been together during the wartime, and we got married before we travelled to Zaria to collect our marriage certificate at the registry there. All thanks to God.
Daddy talking about his wife
I want to thank God for her, as I have said, she is a faithful lady, she never gave me a problem. We may disagree five or six times a day, once we discuss it, it ends there and we pick up something else. As I have said earlier, I married her when I was nobody and she agreed to be a nobody. She has been very cooperative and gives advice. We have had many of my relations in the home and she has never complained for once.
Sometimes, we look at the weaknesses of our spouses, yes, they need to be there because they serve as our saints later. I know several times she has volunteered to go some places where I spiritually feel reluctant to go, and she would not go because she loves me sincerely. She makes a lot of sacrifices, even at her age now, she wakes up every morning at 5 am, she will do some chores, and she goes to the extreme in making me comfortable and okay. I am just a year older than her (Eleven months) people wonder because she is very tolerant, people come by the house and seek her consent to see me anytime, it is not everyone that can bear that, she tolerates, though she can get angry, whenever she says what is on her mind it ends there, whenever she says, be cautious over this issue, I will then have a rethink because ladies have the sixth sense, and I take her advice and I see that it has profited me, whenever I don't take to the advice, I give her my reasons, we are happy, that's why we can have the children sit down and trash out our differences and offences, and corrections will be given to those that have made the wrong decisions. Whenever I want to do something and they give me superior arguments, I will have no other choice than to concur.
At times she talks whenever I keep silent in some situations. She is good to her workers too, a number of times, she gives them something.
Marital life as a young couple and a young family
We were lucky to have parents who taught us well, I was 26 years of age and she was 25 years of age when we got married (7th September 1967) but we both didn't know about sex at all. For 2 weeks we could not get intimate with each other; at some point we made jest of each other, my wife will say didn't you ask your sisters how they did it in their marriage. So we started on a good foundation.
But that same year when we got back to Zaria, my scholarship letter came in so I had to leave. The governor was supposed to sponsor the trip - and this particular course was to last up to 2 years and I had the option to come for holiday and go back again which the government will be responsible for as well as provide for my spouse to come and join me there. Eventually, she came and joined and we didn't have any problem. Now that we are two, my scholarship expenses hardly sustained me considering the house rent and other bills I needed to pay; so she had to take up a job. In fact, the first vehicle we bought in the year 1971 when we return home was from her salary. We bought the car and she doesn't know how to drive till today. She was supposed to further her education at Chelsea College of Education, where she passed the exam and she was advised to get more acquainted with the lifestyle around there and the children. I asked her to stay behind while I go back to Nigeria since my scholarship has ended but she insisted that she won't be staying because she doesn't want to stay alone.
We got back to Nigeria and things changed for us, our children started getting sick, we spent one week at home, and one week in the hospital and nothing could be diagnosed from the illness. So God helped us to weather through that rough time.
We had a number of our relations staying with us before I was married and even after my marriage, it continued. Inside our boy's quarters, there were a total number of 13 people living there but she supported me throughout, I want to thank God that she never gave me problem over that, we adjusted to one another, If anything went wrong I will take the blame to have peace in the house but there was a time I took my stand and told her was wrong. When my first daughter Rolake got to an understanding stage, I will call her whenever there was any misunderstanding that she should listen to the issue and serve as a judge between me and my wife and Rolake will say her mother is guilty, I did that two times, the third time I was about calling her on another issue similar to that she voiced out her emotions and said I should not call her that she will eventually say she is the guilty one again. Since then, we don't refer to her as the guilty one again. That way, we were open to the children and we allowed them to learn as they grew, we didn't hide anything from them. Whenever I receive my salary, I will take it back home and we sit and discuss how to share it to meet everybody's needs. God has been good and we never had a crisis as such in our lives, not that we have not disagreed, but we have not disagreed to such an extent that people will come and solve issues.
First of all, I would like to say, thank God for them, they have all given us peace and the Lord will grant them peace, there was never a time we heard a bad report of them either in school, work or anywhere associating with bad company. I want to thank God for that. Also, there is discipline among them, they are not moved by what other people have. When I was earning less than five hundred naira a month, we were about 13 then and we were all managing, whatever we could afford as parents, they accepted and whatever we could not they still understood us. I thank God for their understanding and cooperation.
I thank God for Rolake, for her leadership, I thank God for the way the Lord has been using her, she has been the pivot around her siblings, at times when things get difficult, she did not waver whenever we needed her. When her siblings were in school, she was there and she didn't complain. I want to thank God for that stability of character.
As for Folasade, she had problems that affected her, particularly going further in the education that was not straight like others. Thanks to God, she has proved herself through the Polytechnic and where she worked at an Estate Firm, the thing I wish that time when she was doing her ACCA was that she could complete it, which she did not, but I believe there were forces that entered and she had to abandon it. She has started well in the profession she is in now and her nature fits well into it. There are always challenges here and there but I know God will always grant her victory.
Then to Bimpe, every one of them is unique one way or the other, she is quiet and brilliant, she has been slowed down, she was trying to do Medicine but was given physiology, she should have been somebody who would give us a headache because she finished her school but there was no job, things didn't work out for her, but she has a heart of giving just like Rolake and Folasade, whatever little she has, she would always love to spread it out, she will approach us her parents and say she wish she could do more than that. I know and wish her the best.
I have Yetunde, thank God for her. From the beginning she has her own unique way too, she has gone through a number of things but I thank God, she speaks less and she is very active. At a stage, she was more concerned for others than herself, and I know that by God's grace, everything will not go in vain. She is doing well in Lagos, Thank God for her children and what the Lord is doing through her for the Sisters too and for us as her parents.
As for Busola, she has confidence and I thank God for her life, and this is extended to them all, if anything happens around 1 am either nightmares or something, they know they have each other, and we could talk for 2 hours, I thank God for the confidence they have to share their problems and can talk together. I thank God that they are living such a life that is not flamboyant, you don't find them at parties or wandering about. I've never heard any report from outside of any waywardness. With time I know all that God has promised will come to pass in their lives. Each of them has been doing us (parents) good, always checking after us and we are all at peace.
Thank God for Ayodele, she is also unique in her own way, she is mature and has advanced even spiritually, she listens to advise and she does not insist on doing things her own way. She has friends who could have influenced her differently but thank God she is standing.
Those who are married, will not be able to do what they are doing for us if there is no cooperation with their spouses. I want to thank God for Tokunbo, Abayomi and Olawale. We thank God for their lives, their contributions and their concern, they have taken us as their parents and they are demonstrating it. Those who are yet to settle maritally, the Lord will do so soonest in the name of Jesus.
When I finished in Britain, ABU didn't want me to come back; there was another Hausa boy that we were going to be competing together, they refused to acknowledge that I had finished and this brought me to Kwara state.
I started in Kwara State on 1st November 1971 as a Librarian gateway, gradually I rose to be the director in 1990. I used to go on tours to various local governments to see what could be done. I was in charge of the project development and I travelled around the whole place. It was on one occasion that I travelled that the British Council offered that scholarship when I came back. That was after two years of my return from Britain, so there was nothing spectacular about it again that would make me resign for it. I told the man to go back. The British Council man said I was the one doing the job they wanted to give the bursary for. We struggled on this before I later collected the form and filled it. I was in charge of budgeting, I did the acquisition, cataloguing and all. God did everything and he granted me the opportunity to build the Kwara State library, it took about 18 months, we had the ground floor, first and second, the whole money was paid and they hired the best and fastest contractor in the state. People were coming to look at the Library from all over, I hosted the Nigerian Library Association and different Librarians all came for seminars. All went well and I had a good time. I left two years before I was due for retirement, that was because the ministry administration wanted all those that were above30 years in service to go. Many people made efforts for me not to go, I declined and compiled the list in my department and I couldn't leave myself out because I was above 30 years in service, that was how I left the service in the year 1995.
In the year 1996, I went to the seminary, while I was there, the President of the Seminary and I had a discussion and he gave thanks to God for bringing someone like me. I was not allowed to come home again, they needed my help to restructure the Seminary Library, I told them I would need to go and think about it. In the year 1985, just when I took up the leadership of the Library, I remember I had an encounter with Professor Mila, the Registrar of the Seminary, who came round and proposed to me to come and work for them in the Seminary, I declined because I just took over the leadership of the church. I was told that the man in charge had retired and gone back to America, so when the President said he wanted me to help the Seminary two or three days a week, I was given accommodation, then, I was a student, member of faculty and that was how I did my Masters. I finished that and I decided to return to the Church because the church was in Ilorin and I always come on weekends because of the Church. In 2006, I retired from the church. In Baptist, we have the tradition of retiring at the age of 65 years of age, I was asked to stay until June 2007. So in January 2007, the Seminary came in again, they said we were offered accreditation, and that I should come and help them. We discussed it and I accepted. Then the President called me because he was around, he said won't I come again, that they were expecting me, I responded waiting for me for what exactly, he said in the Library, I told him, I didn’t think they were waiting for me, he asked why is that, I told him what is it to convince me that you are expecting me? He was surprised and said, with all our familiarity, I told him this is not about familiarity, it is not your job, you are there on behalf of the seminary, I won't be there because of our familiarity, all you need to do is to write to me, he responded surprisingly, so I will write? I told him Yes. The next day, he brought the letter to me himself down in Ilorin, at which point I gave him the full audience he had long requested. So I went back again and I spent 7 years for accreditation, there was one for African Theological Institution and there was one for the University of Ibadan and another one for Jos and I did all that. In the area where I was deficient, I would ask them to send materials to me, I recruited some people with IT knowledge and when I was between 71 and 72 years of age I told them to find someone else because I wanted to go back to Ilorin, so I left even without waiting for the new person to resume, the person was interviewed later. I realised since I changed, I only refuse appointments, even PhD offers, but I never lacked anything.
The ministry was designed by God, though I was baptised in First Baptist Church, Ijagbo 1955 by Rev. J. Egboye when I was in Standard Five. I went to a mission school where I had the opportunity to develop, I was discipled there and taught maturity, the last year, we were at a devotion one morning, and the Principal said, if any of you is led by the spirit to become a Pastor, don't reject it - At that moment, I was sweating profusely, I didn't know why. A colleague pulled me from the back and said, did you hear that? I was amazed and I never had any discussion of such with him, I was confused, I decided if God wanted me, he would call me.
I would have been one of the first set of Theological College of Northern Nigeria near Jos. I refused and I came to work in Kaduna for two years after school. I was a chorister, and I got to Zaria where I was helping the missionary to organise services for the students of Pharmacy, Nursing and those in the city. Rev J.T Kennedy was the missionary in charge of the program, we printed hymn books then. During that time, on campus, the University Institute had a committee for a protestant chapel just like the Roman Catholics. I was selected as the secretary for four years, sometimes if the preacher is not available I would be the one to preach and that developed me.
When I got to Britain, I attended a mission school where I taught at the Sunday school for 2 years, and the Girls Auxiliary group (10-13years). When I came back, I started working and attending fellowships, there was a time when I came back from Britain, every blessed day of the week I had a program, my wife was teaching in the afternoon, if I leave home in the morning, by the time I will be back, they will be at work, by the time they close and come home, I will be at the fellowship, by the time I will be back from fellowship, they would have slept, so that continued for some time. One day, it dawned on me that I would destroy my home if I continued like this, so I reduced it, at least for two days I was staying at home. All these went on, the Nigeria Christian Graduate Fellowship had a branch in Ilorin, later I became the President and we met regularly, inviting people like Pastor Kumuyi for seminars and all, I was also involved in the YMCA, where I was the leader, involved in Bible study. I was just doing my own until I was brought into the limelight, I was made the Chairman of the Men's Fellowship, the first one there, and I was also among the first set of Deacons, at some point when we were about to start a teaching point for the students of University of Ilorin because of the long-distance away from school, I was chosen to lead them, while I was doing that I was still in the Library then, the church started 1991 and I retired 1995, that was when I had the idea that, why was I given a leadership role in a church when I am not a Pastor, so I decided I had to seek for more knowledge to be able to know what I am supposed to do, here I am today, one thing after the other, God brought me where I am today.
My life has been ordered by the Grace of God. All that I find myself doing most of the time is going to church, coming back home, going to meetings that have to do with spirituality most of the time, since I don't go to clubs, I'm always at home. If there is a fault I think anybody will find with me is that, I stay at home most of the time, I don't go out - people will rather want me to visit them, but I found fulfilment in visiting older people, discussing with them and encouraging them, just yesterday, I was with Deacon S.S. Ayanda, he was the one found to be upright when NYSC was probed, he was the Director of Operation then, I spent 3hours with him, I was the one who ended the meeting he didn't want to release me. Somehow God has given me a way of instilling confidence in them. If I look into this very well, I am much younger than all these oldies yet they respect all that I say, there is a lot of pleasure in that for me. People find it easy to confide in me and discuss their problems and we try to organise ourselves. A lot of my time has been given to the church because the Lord wants it, so I retired but the Lord said I should not leave the church, and because of that I was given the role of Church Secretary. The Lord has been good and gracious.
I remember Abayomi advised me to have a game of table tennis at home. I tried it for some time, but most of the time I don't have people to play it with.
There are landmarks in life, but God has been gracious to us, there was a storm of life when we came back from Britain, the storm that took a life but God saw us through, and there was a storm when my elder brother died (the one that was made the Onijagbo of Ijagbo) he came to me like a storm because, on a Saturday, he was hale and hearty, he was paying workers in his department, then a friend who is also a Deacon from Bida, came home to my Dad telling him his friend (my brother) was sick and had been admitted in the hospital. My Dad asked what happened, but it appears to be some forces that attacked him at midnight and he was rushed to the hospital. First thing Monday morning, I was to take permission at the office to travel to Bida to see him because the message was delivered to me at 9 pm on Sunday, little did I know that at the point the message was delivered to me my brother was giving up.
At around 2 am, I had a knock on my door, it happened to be my brother's friend that came from Bida, I thought he was planning to go back and he was told I will be going probably that's why he came to my house so we can go together, so I opened the door for him to enter, he entered with someone else and I ushered them in, when we got inside he said we should pray, I was surprised but I agreed, it was when he was praying that I noticed my brother was dead from the prayer point he laid, when he was done praying I asked him, what happened and when did it happen, he responded 9 pm. He returned to Bida, after telling my Dad about the incident on Saturday, as he was getting back there that was when it happened, so he had to go back to my Dad again, they brought my brother home in Ijagbo, and I had to meet up with them on the way there, I took the news to the Senior, Dr Adeoye, he shouted. My elder brother who is in the next flat to us was woken up, he received the news too and he was about to shout, I was able to control him because Busola was still in the womb then, just about a month left. I went to my wife but I didn't tell her the full details, I only told her those people came thinking I would be ready to go to Bida, when I woke my senior brother up and shared the news with him, he started crying, my wife became curious about what was going on, meanwhile, my wife has drawn the attention of the person that came along with the Deacon, and she asked her what happened exactly, so the person told her and she almost lost her pregnancy, so that was traumatic for me.
I went to meet with those that were bringing the corpse and the two buses which were filled up, I called them back, the corpse was taken to the mortuary, we fed those that came from Bida and we apologised to them that the burial will be done some other day that they should not take the corpse home yet. It was traumatic, more so because he was very close to me, my word was almost like a command to him and our age difference was 12 years, and he won't do any major thing without asking for my opinion.
Another experience like that was when we lost our first child, that hit me as well, on occasions when I remember, I get angry with myself that we could have made a better arrangement than we did. I was in Jos in 1982 for a National Conference because I was the Assistant National Secretary, so we left but my dad was sick at the time in the hospital in Ilorin, I got to Jos and I was not feeling fine then I went to see some of my old school mate, I saw the wife of my friend and she gave me the name of the clinic I could attend, I got there, the lady doctor that attended to me checked my BP, it was 200/160, I was to be hospitalised but there was no vacant bed, she sent me to the pharmacy, I did not see anybody, I told the driver to take me back to my hotel, I slept, I did not go down to eat, it was the wife of my friend who gave me the name of the clinic earlier that brought food for me, the next morning I was in the Evangel Hospital, Jos, I was there before the doctor when she saw me, she asked if I collected the drugs yesterday, I told her I didn't see anybody, she said so I did not take anything, they had to discharge someone and I was hospitalised for four night, the first time in my life, God saw me through that.
Years later, I became sick and I did not know what was wrong, I think my BP had something to do with it too, I was home between 24 December 1989 and January 1990, at that time, it was so severe and I did not know, Doctor was coming to treat me at home, as for my wife, anywhere she turned she will see a coffin, anywhere she went she sees coffin but she never told me. A delegation from Zion Baptist Church came on the 1st of January 1990 that a bosom friend of mine died, they came to tell me so that I won't have to hear it over the radio, so I said no wonder whenever it was news time, my wife will start telling me that I was told to be resting and all, so I later understood the reason because she had heard about it and she did not want me to know in my state, so that night when everybody had slept, I took my bible, I sat down and I confronted death, all it means was just one long sleep and when I wake up, I wake up in a paradise. I just said some things that came to me because I was the only one there, you would not believe it, but when I woke up the next morning, I was healed.
My younger brother also lost his life in 1964 in Kaduna, it was traumatic for me, we were very close. He got hit by a lorry on his bicycle on his way to his place of work, they said he was given a tetanus injection which he was actually not given, I was called to come back to check on him, I had moved to Zaria then, so I had to travel back to Kaduna to check on him, after checking him, I left his presence, he called me but I did not answer because tetanus do make someone have fist but he saw me, it was not more than 10 minutes later I was told he has given up. He was buried in Kaduna, I had to bring his property home - this was the death I said occurred when I was preparing for my exam.
In 2003 or 2004, I was sick and I had been in bed for 20 days, my legs were tied with stone because I had slipped disc that was the second time I was going to the hospital for it, the Sunday after the 22nd day, one of the Deacons in Zion Baptist Church came to see me, he said, sir, the Lord asked me to tell you to be praising Him, I left the bed because I decided I will walk but I fell twice, I was unstable, after he said that I decided I'm going home at past 9 pm. When I informed the Doctor, he said I should wait till the following day but I refused; those that came to visit me carried me from the bed to the car and straight home. When we got home, they carried me to my bed inside my room. For four nights from 12am, I kept drinking water and peeing till daybreak, then I saw many things during those periods to the extent of seeing a human skeleton - so it was just like a spiritual battle whenever I close my eyes from 12 am to 5 am.
I phoned Rolake and Sade. Sade was living with Rolake at that time, and their uncle was in London at that time too. The children became worried and asked questions about what happened. I placed the phone down because my wife and Ayo were not beside me. It was when the phone rang that I picked the call, Rolake decided she was coming home. At around 1 am or 2 am, they were able to get in touch with my wife and they asked my wife what happened, she told them there is nothing that they should calm down, but they never stopped calling. That was the last of the four days, when I survived till the next day, which was the fifth day, I said I would not die again, so I had that encounter, fighting and God gave me the victory. Glory to God.
I would like to be remembered as a person who loves God and loves his people. I want to be remembered as a true child of God, I love peace and I tried to pursue it as much as possible. I am not running after wealth or fame because God has been giving them to me before I leave. I want to be remembered as somebody who received the favour of God from the beginning to the end. Everything is by the Grace of God.
We have enjoyed togetherness and it has brought happiness. I would want unity among everyone, male and female, unity of purpose, unity of faction, I want us to be one, we are different in our ways. No two people are completely the same. Let us manage our differences maturely. You know my weaknesses, I know yours and I should respect that, where there is unity there will be love. I want that togetherness to be there.
I want you all male to be together, if there is anything wrong, you sit down, table it and discuss it and let it end there. I also want something that will unite everyone together, maybe a venture or something. The Lord will bless you all and position you all. I will desire for these things to come to be, and be close to God. One of my late brothers said, he knew I was having spiritual attacks, but thank God you have known God early in life, that is what is saving you and I know it too. Knowing God and standing with him and not playing with sin.
In 1997, I was at Ogbomoso at the seminary. I can't remember vividly what happened but I felt cold within me, no inspiration at all, I sat in the living room, when everyone had slept, and I started questioning myself, have I betrayed the Lord? So, I took the bible and I read everything on Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus, I started applying each to my own life, he was this, was I the same? Have I done this? Have I done that? At the end of the day, I came back with the verdict that I am worse than Judas Iscariot, that I was sorry I blamed Judas Iscariot before that date. So I prayed a prayer that night, if God forgave me, He should reveal himself to me that night. I went to bed at about 2 am and at about 2:30 am I was taken up, the speed was fantastic, I was sweating, and Angels were running up and down going their various ways without colliding. Then finally, the fight ended and I was free, then Jesus appeared to me, he showed me the bottomless pit for Satan and his angels and those who are living in sin, after that he took me to where those that have been saved would be, I saw myself in white "Agbada" in a mansion so bright, then he asked me a question, was I ready to go? I responded not yet - it appeared as if there was a sort of an Astronaut space shuttle that was dismantled and packaged on one side. This will be the second time I have had this experience. It happened in my house here some years ago, we were up till 4 am, we were praying, it was revealed then that we were not ready, it was almost like a chariot. I told God that I am not yet ready. Since that time, I have been careful, I believed now not because people tell me that Jesus is alive, I have seen him face to face and he has shown me the consequences of what I did, I was at the cliff of the bottomless pit, it was so dark, you can't even see anything through. He showed me where life is and said I am forgiven, sin no more. Another sin I read in the scriptures about Judas Iscariot was stealing; I thought about this and questioned myself, have I not stolen something before in my life too, then I examined myself, when I was still working in my office, we had a printing machine whereby I will print for my friends freely, a machine that belongs to my company (not personal property) of which I had no right to do that, there are times that I've gone to tour and the expense that was disbursed for the tour program, I will keep it and take it home, in order not to return the money. I will not provide the right report in regards to the proposed expense, that shows unfaithfulness too, or would I say I have not checked out a lady since I got married, that will be untrue. All those were the things I looked at and I told God, I know I am worse than this man, after that encounter I had, it deepened my faith and it has turned to my sight because I have seen the reality of it, the person we are all calling on is very real, He is alive.
Whenever temptations come, that consciousness of being careful of what I am doing so as not to end up in the bottomless pit I saw will always come to my mind. Whether someone looks at me or not, he watches and that has sharpened my relationship with people, forgive and let go - God says vengeance is mine, I do not have all the facts, but God has all the facts. He said he will take over then what is my own, someone wanted to kill me but did not succeed, due to God's intervention. Thanks to God.
So, I would want my house, number 16, Lafiaji to be a joint venture between all the children and the family, and whatever they want to do must allow that they still have a chance of meeting in the house, for instance, it can look like a guest house whereby a time is created to meet in the house as a family and deliberate on what they are doing together in joint venture. I want the unity to be pronounced so that the name of the Lord would be glorified.