Professor Omotoye Olorode, A Revolutionary Bows Out Of OAU

Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU)All roads led to Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) last week Saturday. It was a celebration of service, humanity and a cause worthwhile via the personality of Professor Omotoye Olorode.

Talking of culture, principle, hard work and sound intelligence, the don is the personification of sorts. So, when he retired from the service of the university with the most beautiful campus in this part of the world, the ‘town’ and ‘gown’ rose up to give the man of the people, a humanist and a friend of nature, a befitting send-forth party.

“By their fruits, yet shall know them,” so says the creationist account. At the Oduduwa multi-purpose Hall OAU, the venue of the celebration, one would not be surprised to have seen a galaxy of stars: The president, West Africa Bar, Association Mr. Femi Falana, an international journalist, Lanre Arogundade, the Coordinator of International Workers’ Rights, Femi Aborisade, the Lagos lawyer, Bamidele Aturu, convener, United Action for Democracy (UAD), Biodun Aremu, full representatives of Academic Staff Union of the University (ASUU), Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Human Rights Communities and Student Unions across various institutions of higher learning, were pretty seated in the midst of the university’s staff, students and guests, who were very reluctant in releasing the celebrated don.

Meanwhile, the presence of the university’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Michael Faborode, Dr. Segun Osoba and a host of others on the platform popularly addressed as high-table by the locals; showed the quality crowd that trooped out to celebrate the legacy of the rare university teacher.

It was reported that Omotoye Olorode was born on 1 April 1943 in the ancient town of Ogbomoso, now in Oyo State of Nigeria. He started his primary school education in 1950 in Ijeru Baptist school, which was located within the premises of a church in the ancient town.

According to the don, his parents were Oranmiyan (an idol from Ile-Ife) devotees and there were certain tribal marks that must be inscribed on the face of an individual family member, in order to mark out that, truly the fellow was the son of his family.

But, for nine consecutive times, his mother gave birth and lost all her children, and when Omotoye was born, the mother was desperate to keep him alive. So, he consulted ‘Ifa’ divination for the atonement.

The professor in his autobiography said that the divination then warned his mother against the tribal mark for the then little Omotoye, a situation that angered his mother, who went straight to Oranmiyan idol and expressed her grievances against his (Oranmiyan’s) disturbing silence throughout her travails. But, when the priest responded with a poser: ‘Did you (Omotoye’s mother) ask Oranmiyan about your travails?) That settled it all.

The scenario painted above further showed the plausible historical background, surrounding the birth and survival of Omotoye Olorode, the dynamo and an academic giant.

It was also reported that Omotoye was taken to Lagos in 1952, where he went to complete his primary school education at Ansar-ud-deen primary school, Oke Popo on the Lagos Island.

In 1957, he applied for Teachers’ Training College, before proceeding to the Ibadan provincial Teachers’ College in Osogbo and later proceeded to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN).

Information has it that Omotoye was not to go school just like his elder brothers and siblings, if not for mother-luck. According to him, if not for the church’s school, he would have ended up in a farm- notwithstanding, his closeness to nature has gone a long way to assist him in his chosen career, which has become a blessing to the humanity today.

Omotoye said that he spent his childhood in wood and that afforded him a rare opportunity to know leaves roots, stems tubers and their uses, birds and wild animals and their purposes to humanity.

So, when he elected to study law at the (OAU), fate denied him with paucity of funds, but that became an added advantage to the study of nature, which he eventually settled for, as a Botanist of international repute. Today, Olorode has excelled in Genetics, Agrostology, Biometry, Cytogetics, Taxonomy, Biostatics, Economic Botany, Biology of weeds and pests.

One lesson that should be drawn from this, is the essentiality of perseverance in life. Imagine Omotoye Olorode, as a lawyer, surely, he stands to excel like Gani Fawehinmis, Afe Babalolas and Niyi Akintolas of this world. It is cock-sure, that he would explore the legal knowledge to champion the cause of humanity the more.

Now, Olorode, a botanist is a human rights crusader, a trade unionist, a rare breed of academic and a humanist, who has affected and is affecting the human race with his ‘seven-star’ intelligence.

Olorde started his revolution from the academic community with self-struggle, when he travelled to the University of Kansas in the United States of America, (USA), with a record-time of three years; he had finished his Masters (M.Sc) and Doctorate degree programmes, before returning to OAU, for further teaching.

Instead of sitting at the corner of the university, enjoying the breeze of nature and the quietude of the jungle, the academic environment offered, Olorode threw himself into struggle, against the oppressive ruling class the cause of the masses and in some occasions, he had paid some unpleasant prices.

It is a statement of fact that, Professor Omotoye Olorode retired from OAU, but it is still incontrovertible that he can never get tired of struggle, as his firm grip of the social order and analytical mind of raging discourses, as touching the system of government, while speaking about his sojourn in life, had further exposed his untiring spirit.

Get another snipe: “The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank are set of outside robbers, who are always on the prowl to operate with inside robbers, who wish to pay homage to mediocrity,” said Olorode.

By Goke Butika

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