Theophilus Adeleke Akinyele: A tribute

November 19, 2020
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AS the Otun Bobajiro of Ibadanland, it is a duty of love and affection for me to express publicly my deep regret at the passing on of my Bobajiro, whom I have known for a long time. He served God, mankind and country as best as possible. I have known him for a long time since our Aremo days. Ajia, his homestead, was in the parish of St Peter’s Aremo where my grandfather was vicar from 1936 to 1946. It was always a joy to accompany my grandfather to Ajia where the people were very generous and hospitable. My grandfather had a funny T-Ford convertible car bearing a licence-plate L 7025 with a tarpaulin roof. Theo, as popularly called, was born in a leap year, 1932 and passed on in this leap year 2020. He was actually born on leap day 29th February. His birthdays were, funny enough, thus mathematically relatively few. He was in many ways a rare bird, rara aris! His first birthday was 29th February 1936 and his last 29th February 2020. His twenty-second and last birthday was 29th February 2020 this very year. In his eighty-eight years, he thus had only 22 birthdays which made him the butt of our jokes that he would probably die in his twenties which he has done.

Good old Theo was a man who seemed to take life at times too seriously. He had his ups and downs like very mortal. Whatever it was, he reached the top of his chosen career, indeed a public administrator par excellence. He was three years my senior at St Peter’s School Aremo. However, we entered the University College, Ibadan, the same year 1953. He was, from beginning to the end, a classical scholar. He was a dour and principled student but despite his deceptively calm, cool and collected look, he ran foul of the university authorities once or twice and he was certainly not to blame. He fought for the democratic rights of his fellow undergraduate students! Later in life, he found himself effortlessly appointed on merit as Registrar of the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) during a politically turbulent initial life of the University. He was a Permanent Secretary in the old classical mode in the class of the best you would find in Whitehall in Britain or Simeon Adebo of Ibadan and UNITAR, United Nations! He distinguished himself in another way that made us give him the nickname ‘DRUCKER’ when he stepped into the realm of Management. He did the same in the realm of Accountancy where he initially sailed in shallow hostile waters leading to the establishment of ICAN. The older rival body of Chartered Accountants was then almost a cult, even perhaps till today. I knew then of the horror of a man D…. whose six children were admitted into their body on just ordinarily impenetrable cult-like fashion. Akinyele is to be credited for ever for helping to provide an alternative, based solely on merit.

He reached the apex of the state civil service as Secretary to the Government and Head of Service where he discharged his duties with constant honesty associated with him all along his career. He, however, had a clash with the first Military Governor, Major-General David Medaiyese Jemibewon, who removed him outright and replaced him with another gentleman from his constituency, namely the experienced Chief M. S. Adigun. I believed at the time that the problem was one of poor communication. Theo complained to David that too much of choice GRA land in Ibadanland was being allocated to non-indigenes. This reminds one of Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala’s recent book in the pivotal chapter titled “Ibadan and the rest of us.” Some very strange Ibadan irredentists have so overplayed their hands that they want the Governorship of Oyo State to stay in the Old Ibadan. The present Oyo State Governor has a gentler kinder face, coincidentally an Ajia face, but what can one now say about his predecessor who, in Alao-Akala’s carefully chosen words, was an albatross and embarrassment to the palace and Ibadanland? Theo’s advice to the government on Chieftaincy matters in Ibadan was misconstrued and he said so loud and clear. He absolved himself of all blame on this.

Chief Akinyele never had a taint of corruption across his career. His record is difficult to beat. This helped him attain the position of the Adviser on Budget to President Shagari. He tried to cross over to the murky waters of partisan politics which he wrongly blamed some of us for. We plead not-guilty. The Jemibewon-Akinyele imbroglio both sides were entitled to the position they took but David was right. Anyone who is an Oyo State tax-payer is entitled in a way to a GRA plot of land. When you are, for example, in a Federal institution, of which there are many in Ibadan, you are entitled to GRA land since your tax is deducted under the PAYE system. UCH does not discriminate and patients don’t insist on treatment by Ibadan-born consultants only.

Theophilus Adeleke Akinyele was a great man, indeed a man of many parts, a classical scholar, an administrator par excellence, a management expert, accountancy specialist, university registrar and a volcanic stormy petrel of a student, budget export and above all an honest man who loved and served his country at all levels with great success. May his soul rest in perfect peace. His wife, Mojoyin, had a mysterious gift of mastery of the French language. She and her children would as all of the rest of Oyo State and Nigeria miss him sorely.

AS the Otun Bobajiro of Ibadanland, it is a duty of love and affection for me to express publicly my deep regret at the passing on of my Bobajiro, whom I have known for a long time. He served God, mankind and country as best as possible. I have known him for a long time since our Aremo days. Ajia, his homestead, was in the parish of St Peter’s Aremo where my grandfather was vicar from 1936 to 1946. It was always a joy to accompany my grandfather to Ajia where the people were very generous and hospitable. My grandfather had a funny T-Ford convertible car bearing a licence-plate L 7025 with a tarpaulin roof. Theo, as popularly called, was born in a leap year, 1932 and passed on in this leap year 2020. He was actually born on leap day 29th February. His birthdays were, funny enough, thus mathematically relatively few. He was in many ways a rare bird, rara aris! His first birthday was 29th February 1936 and his last 29th February 2020. His twenty-second and last birthday was 29th February 2020 this very year. In his eighty-eight years, he thus had only 22 birthdays which made him the butt of our jokes that he would probably die in his twenties which he has done.

Good old Theo was a man who seemed to take life at times too seriously. He had his ups and downs like very mortal. Whatever it was, he reached the top of his chosen career, indeed a public administrator par excellence. He was three years my senior at St Peter’s School Aremo. However, we entered the University College, Ibadan, the same year 1953. He was, from beginning to the end, a classical scholar. He was a dour and principled student but despite his deceptively calm, cool and collected look, he ran foul of the university authorities once or twice and he was certainly not to blame. He fought for the democratic rights of his fellow undergraduate students! Later in life, he found himself effortlessly appointed on merit as Registrar of the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) during a politically turbulent initial life of the University. He was a Permanent Secretary in the old classical mode in the class of the best you would find in Whitehall in Britain or Simeon Adebo of Ibadan and UNITAR, United Nations! He distinguished himself in another way that made us give him the nickname ‘DRUCKER’ when he stepped into the realm of Management. He did the same in the realm of Accountancy where he initially sailed in shallow hostile waters leading to the establishment of ICAN. The older rival body of Chartered Accountants was then almost a cult, even perhaps till today. I knew then of the horror of a man D…. whose six children were admitted into their body on just ordinarily impenetrable cult-like fashion. Akinyele is to be credited for ever for helping to provide an alternative, based solely on merit.

He reached the apex of the state civil service as Secretary to the Government and Head of Service where he discharged his duties with constant honesty associated with him all along his career. He, however, had a clash with the first Military Governor, Major-General David Medaiyese Jemibewon, who removed him outright and replaced him with another gentleman from his constituency, namely the experienced Chief M. S. Adigun. I believed at the time that the problem was one of poor communication. Theo complained to David that too much of choice GRA land in Ibadanland was being allocated to non-indigenes. This reminds one of Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala’s recent book in the pivotal chapter titled “Ibadan and the rest of us.” Some very strange Ibadan irredentists have so overplayed their hands that they want the Governorship of Oyo State to stay in the Old Ibadan. The present Oyo State Governor has a gentler kinder face, coincidentally an Ajia face, but what can one now say about his predecessor who, in Alao-Akala’s carefully chosen words, was an albatross and embarrassment to the palace and Ibadanland? Theo’s advice to the government on Chieftaincy matters in Ibadan was misconstrued and he said so loud and clear. He absolved himself of all blame on this.

Chief Akinyele never had a taint of corruption across his career. His record is difficult to beat. This helped him attain the position of the Adviser on Budget to President Shagari. He tried to cross over to the murky waters of partisan politics which he wrongly blamed some of us for. We plead not-guilty. The Jemibewon-Akinyele imbroglio both sides were entitled to the position they took but David was right. Anyone who is an Oyo State tax-payer is entitled in a way to a GRA plot of land. When you are, for example, in a Federal institution, of which there are many in Ibadan, you are entitled to GRA land since your tax is deducted under the PAYE system. UCH does not discriminate and patients don’t insist on treatment by Ibadan-born consultants only.

Theophilus Adeleke Akinyele was a great man, indeed a man of many parts, a classical scholar, an administrator par excellence, a management expert, accountancy specialist, university registrar and a volcanic stormy petrel of a student, budget export and above all an honest man who loved and served his country at all levels with great success. May his soul rest in perfect peace. His wife, Mojoyin, had a mysterious gift of mastery of the French language. She and her children would as all of the rest of Oyo State and Nigeria miss him sorely.

  • Engr (Dr) Omololu Olunloyo, a former governor of Old Oyo State, writes from Ibadan.

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