IJEBU SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF DISTINCTION
TRIBUTE to Senator OLABIYI DUROJAIYE
Prof Ayo Ogunye
(Olabiyi Durojaiye : Molusiani Octavus No 54
Ayo Ogunye : Molusiani Octavus No 467)
Senator Biyi Durojaiye was admitted into Molusi College in 1949 with the 1st set and was given the College number 54. Molusi College Motto is “Only the Best Is Good Enough for Molusi College” Senator ‘Biyi Durojaiye epitomized the College motto: “To excel, to excel and to excel” in anything he did and because of this, some people misinterpret his intentions sometimes.
I was admitted as part of the Molusiani Octavi, the eighth set into Molusi College in 1956. I never met this icon in Molusi College. I joined the barbing and the debating societies of the school. During debates amongst us or between Molusi College and other schools, whenever any Molusian debater made a good point, Bernard Shaw, Bernard Shaw would rent the air. I asked the seniors who was Bernard Shaw. I was answered that one old boy, first set called Mr. Olabiyi Durojaiye. Why? I was told he read all Bernard Shaw books, a good debater who read an average of 100 novels per year while he was in the school. At this time also, the picture of this Bernard Shaw – Olabiyi Durojaiye – was always advertised by Wosely Tutorial College as a brilliant distant learner reading tutorials by Wosley to pass four A-levels from home learning. I wanted to meet this man. Finally, luck ran in my favour. His school son, late Mr. ‘Segun Sosanya introduced me to him. Since the introduction, about 60 years now, I had been part of him and he had been part of me. I am accused that I never saw his faults. It is true; I did not see his faults. He had motivated me to excel and this is the reason why I did not see his faults.
He continued private studies at home while on full time work. By 1960, four of them from Molusi first set had passed their degree examinations, three of them in the Sciences: Late Professor Osiyale Molusian N0 47, Late Mr. Jonathan Rowaiye Molusian N0 46, Late Mr. Olatunde Balogun Molusian N0 57 and in Social Science, Mr. Olabiyi Durojaiye Molusian N0 54. The self-made man continued to read at home, preparing for a professional career after retirement as Director of Administration from Central Bank of Nigeria. Again, he studied law at home and put in for University of London LLB examination. Alas! He was the only candidate to pass the Law degree in Nigeria as an external candidate of the University of London that year.
I remember in December 1960 or 1961, at the Ijebu Students Association Congress at Molusi College, he appeared with late Chief Akinola Adaramaja who made a First-Class degree in Law from University of Hull. Everybody was milling round them. It was there I got the inspiration to read and become a graduate. Owing to my studying outside Ijebu-Igbo between 1961 and 1970, I had no contact with him. It was after my return to the country after my PhD that he looked for me to congratulate me. But I told him that he inspired me and since then he had been my mentor.
Senator Durojaiye is Molusian personified. As a MOCOSA President, he moved the Association forward and I became a strong supporter of the Old Students Association. Until recently, the Senator would not miss the meeting of the Association. I remember a particular incident on December 1, 1996 when the MOCOSA AGM was on and the ordinary meeting of another organisation which he mid-wifed in Ijebu-Igbo was going on. Both of us were jostling between the two meetings.
The establishment of the Congress of Ijebu-Igbo Community, CIC, was his baby. He consulted late Dr A K Fasina and me before other people were invited. The CIC is the most elite organisation in Ijebu-Igbo today. He was the pioneer President of CIC. He readily hosted the Congress and contributed cheerfully to any cause the Congress might be pursuing.
He loved me. He was a great encourager. I remember an incident in 1983, when the company I was heading – General Oil Ltd – needed to repatriate the proceeds of a purchase of lubricating oil from SUNLUBE to USA. This was a time when foreign exchange allocation was very stringent through Form M. He was the Director of Administration of the Central Bank then. I put our case before him. He said, ‘Prof., the Director of FOREX was my Deputy before his current position but I had made it a principle not to ask him for FOREX favour.’ Reluctantly because of his love for me, he called the Director of FOREX to his office. He opened by telling the Director that he had made it a principle not to ask for FOREX favour from him but this man with them i.e., me, is very special to me and he was going to ask for the first favour from him since he left him about 18 months earlier.
The Director told me to follow him to his office. He personally received my Form M and told me to go. I left for holidays in England and I told our company Finance Manager to collect the approved Form M from our bank. After 2 weeks, the approval could not be collected by our company thinking it was not approved yet. Mr. Durojaiye was crossing from London to India. I met him at Heathrow airport and I reported. He phoned Lagos immediately. The FOREX Department trembled. I was asked to come and collect fresh Form M. My company collected new Form M, filled, and submitted before I returned to Nigeria. I personally went to FOREX Department at MANDILLAS Building to collect the fresh approval when I returned. They accused me of reporting to the Senator because they could lose their jobs. I apologized to them NOT knowing that the former Form M was delivered to our bank four days after the initial submission and that the bank was only going to release it to me personally. The bank had never seen any express approval of Form M like that and it was kept in the strong room for me to collect personally. In the end, my company, General Oil Ltd obtained two Form Ms for only one importation. Senator Durojaiye received no gratification for the approval of FOREX amounting to $1,500,000.00 in 1983. When the owner of the company imported seven Mercedes 190, I thought one would be given the Senator but none was given to him. He did not ask for gratification for this great help to the company. That was Durojaiye.
He loved me and I loved him also. He was following the progress of my house in Japara, Ijebu-Igbo when it was being built. He discovered that my 41st birthday fell on the weekend in 1983. He called me on Friday, July 29 asking that we met in Ijebu next day. On Saturday by 7pm, he called on me in my father’s house where I had been living. He told my wife that we would move to our new house which was nearly 100% complete. We went to my house with his wife of blessed memory. He had already bought a bottle of Schnapps. He prayed and that was how we moved into our house in Japara on my 41st birthday.
He was always there for me when I needed an encourager. It had never been bed of roses for me all the time. The cruel arm of business rivalry nearly cost me my life. The most precarious incident led to being accused of planning to assassinate a business associate. When the Panti Police Formation descended on me on August 30th, 2006, I asked that I be allowed to report with my lawyer the next day. The next day, I reported with my lawyer, Senator Biyi Durojaiye, and an entourage of University of Lagos Professors and my wife Mrs. Sola Ogunye. At the end of the preliminaries, the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Panti handed me over to Senator Biyi Durojaiye that I should go on my recognition instead of being detained behind the counter to be bailed. That was not all. The American partner in the business also reported me to EFCC being accused of financial crimes. When the EFCC operatives came to pick me at my Magodo residence, I asked to be allowed to report with my lawyer. The request was granted. The next day, I reported at EFCC office with my Lawyer, Senator Biyi Durojaiye and my usual entourage of Professors. The EFCC gave me two weeks to address the allegations against me. After two weeks, I went back with my Lawyers – Senator Biyi Durojaiye and Mr. Babafemi Durojaiye, the Senator’s son. At the end of the day, I was absolved by EFCC and left for my house. Neither the Senator nor his son ever charged me a kobo. Babafemi is now my acclaimed Lawyer. The Senator had a soft spot for me. I also had a soft spot for him.
I have not written on his political life because I told him that politics was not meant for his personality. In January this year my senior, Mr Segun Olusanya and I, visited him to advise that he quit politics on his 88th birthday but he decided otherwise.
When his late wife was alife, I was one of the privileged who would enter her bedroom. I am a proud uncle to all his six successful children. They mill round me.
I thank God that he talked to me on Saturday evening on the sick bed before his last breath on Tuesday morning. His voice was very sharp and I thought he had returned home for me to learn he was still in the hospital.
My mother taught me to honour anyone who does me favour. From the foregoing, people should appreciate why I did not see his faults.
To you, Bukky, Laolu, Bolaji, Babafemi and grandchildren this is the time you will enjoy the derivative of your father and grandfather. God will be with you and protect you in all you do in Jesus Mighty Name Amen.
I have lost a very dependable uncle and senior. Sleep well Senator Augustine Olabiyi Durojaiye, The Otunba Kolawolu of Ijebu Igbo. Adieu until we meet again on the day of resurrection.