It was a gathering of “Who is Who” in Nigeria, an assemblage of the cream of the Nigerian community from the top echelon of the Judiciary, the leaders of the political elite, the top brass of the Military and the Police both serving and retired, the leading lights in the Ivory Tower, the captains of commerce and industry, the barons of banks and financial institutions, media executives and top civil servants to traditional rulers and community leaders. The galaxy of icons at the Merit International Centre venue of the fiesta was simply intimidating.
Leading the Military class was General Oluwole Rotimi the oldest surviving former Governor of the old Western state with another Governor of old Oyo state General Oladayo Popoola, War hero General Alani Akinrinade, and General Ola Oni. Chief Adebayo Alugbin and retired Commissioner of Police Olayinka Balogun led the Police presence while the highly respected Justice Mustapha Akanbi former President of the Federal Court of Appeal and pioneer Chairman of ICPC was the Chief Presenter in what was actually billed as Book Presentation. Chief Bisi Akande, former Governor of Osun state and former Chairman of ACN chaired the occasion which was moderated by ace broadcaster Yemi Ogunyemi and Barrister Delayo Adetunji the lady with six University degrees. The Governor of Oyo state Chief Isiaq Abiola Ajimobi represented by his Deputy Otunba Moses Adeyemo was the Chief Host. The late Governor Lam Adesina’s slot was ably taken by his widow Hajia. Of course Adetunji’s only wife of 52 years Chief Mrs Oluwafunmilayo Adetunji, a retired School Principal who received copious encomiums in the autobiography and his all graduate children were on hand to add glitter to the occasion.
It was difficult to believe that it was a Book Launch, and the atmosphere got charged when Prof. A. O. Popoola mounted the podium to review the book titled Struggle to Success the Autobiography of Chief Muritala Adebayo Adetunji. At every point in the Review which read more like a citation of a most unusual personality who rose from being a barber to being District Governor of the prestigious Rotary Club International, a man who was a bicycle boy who became founder of banks and financial institutions, a man who could not complete his secondary school education due to financial constraints but who nonetheless became a decorated honourary Alumnus of the University of Ibadan and for over a decade remains the Chairman of that Institution’s Ventures Limited, and a man who has by dint of hard work and uncommon entrepreneurial skills reached the very pinnacle of commerce, industry, real estate, and construction, and thus holding the Chair of local, regional, and national Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mining and Agriculture.
The story of Dr. Adebayo Adetunji whose path has crossed those of many distinguished Nigerians during his struggles and rise to the top is worth sharing with the youth all over the world as an incomparable study in fortitude, perseverance, persistence, focus, determination and strong will. In the 82-page accompanying Pictorial Representation to the 535-page Struggle to Success Alhaji Adetunji declares “Years after years growing up from a motor boy to sales boy, to marketer of cigarettes to clerk and to a business owner, growing from strength to strength, it was a life of struggle to attain success”.
It is incredible and more like a miracle that this great man who did not have even a wooden spoon talk less of a silver spoon to start life with rose to become one of the brains behind the promulgation of the Indigenisation Decree and the formation of ECOWAS [the Economic Community of West African States]. Proud possessor of several honourary Doctorate degrees from first class Universities including the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile Ife Chief Adetunji has also recorded several laurels including top chieftaincy titles such as the Asiwaju Balogun of Ibadanland. He is also a Justice of Peace as well as a distinguished Officer of the Federal Republic.
It was little wonder that the likes of Dr. Yemi Farounbi, Former Education Minister Prof. Tunde Adeniran, 90-year-old Chief Ariyo, Emeritus Prof. Oladipo Akinkugbe who was once the Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University and University of Ilorin, former Ife University Vice Chancellor Professor Niyi Oshuntogun, Professor Tomilayo Adekanye, Ibadan Community leader and former Permanent Secretary Chief Bayo Oyero, Alhaji Adegboyega Arulogun and wife, founder and Chairman of Oluyole Chemists Chief Adetunji Amole, Chief Niyi Akintola SAN, the Iyalode of Ibadan Alhaja Aminat Abiodun, Chief Mrs Conde, Chief Mrs Oyejide and many other distinguished personalities from across the country gave colour and pageantry to the carnival-like occasion. Even from Niger state came Professor Mohammed Yahaya Kuta the former SSG to ex-Governor Babangida Alliyu while Dr Busola Olatoregun flew in from Bayelsa and Ayo A Alabi and wife came in from Canada. The Oyo state Chairman of the NUJ was visible with the huge array of Press men on hand for the occasion. Members of Bashorun Rock were present in full force.
What is instructive and noteworthy was the meritorious rise of an obscure individual who built himself up to become an icon in the society surmounting all odds and obstacles. Adetunji the old bicycle boy got himself admitted into the circle of leading academicians, leading traditional rulers, military and civilian governors, great leaders of the judiciary, virtually all the Presidents and Heads of state of Nigeria and West African states and also successfully built business empires both locally and internationally.
Dr. Adetunji has taught the world that success is not determined by your collection of certificates, inheritance, the circumstance of your birth, or by your muscle but rather by strong determination, ability to find your way even in the thickness of darkness, good character which include integrity and honesty, and of course an unflinching faith in your Maker.
His five cardinal principles also served as guide and propeller for his outstanding successes. These principles in his own words are Belief in Almighty Allah, Service to Community, Development of Society through Public Service, to be a successful family man, and to be Self-made and self-sustaining industrialist and businessman. What all these principles boil down to is that in order to be successful one must set out a goal early in life and keep steadfastly to that goal and its execution.
The youth who would benefit much from the life experiences of Dr Adetunji Adebayo would find inspiration in Struggle to Success and would find the journey of the 85-year-old business and industrial juggernaut a path was exploring.
What the book did not say is that first impression matters. The way you dress is the way you are addressed. The 6’5’’ tall Adetunji has always, from youth, been a power dresser. Tantalisingly handsome with a bewitching smile and great humour Adetunji’s erect physique even at 85 is a beauty to behold. His gait and sartorial excellence make him unmistakeable in a crowd while his confounding humility is beyond description. He cherishes friendship and will go any length to stand by his friends. Every Sunday he plays host to members of Bashorun Rock an Ibadan based Think Tank. A generous and cheerful giver his quiet philanthropy is almost legendary. Having been abundantly blessed by Allah, it is Adetunji’s abiding faith that he must share his stupendous wealth with humanity.
September 13, 2017 will forever remain a day of huge carnival for those who shared in razzmatazz at Merit International, Akobo, Ibadan, Oyo State.