Adieu Professor Olusola Akinyele: University of Ibadan's Last DVC
Today in Maryland, United States, the remains of Professor Olusola Akinyele, former Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, would be interred. Yesterday at Christ Apostolic Church, Missionary Headquarters, Itabale Olugbode, Ibadan, the Church where the Late Prof Olusola Akinyele was raised and where he served as an Elder, a Service of Songs was held in his honour attended by family members and some members of UI Community including the Representative of the Acting Vice Chancellor, Prof Tunji Oyeshile (Dean of Arts), Representative of the Dean of Science and Representative of the Head, Department of Mathematics (Prof E. O. Ayoola, a former student of Prof Akinyele) and a delegation from the Department of Mathematics. Other UI Community members present were Emeritus Professor Olufemi Bamiro, former Vice Chancellor; Prof K. T. Jaiyeoba, former VC of Ajayi Crowther University and former Dean of Pharmacy, UI; and a former Council Member, Dr Gani Adeniran. I was delighted to be back to Olugbode once more!
Anyone familiar with the history of Ibadan would have known, read or heard of Oba Isaac Babalola Akinyele who reigned as Olubadan of Ibadan between 1955 and 1964. He was the first Olubadan to be addressed as Oba. Those before him were simply addressed as Olubadan. He was the first Olubadan who had Western education. He attended CMS Grammar School, Lagos. His work on the history of Ibadan, Iwe Itan Ibadan, translated into English in three parts by Kemi Morgan, remains an authoritative treatise on the history of the ancient city of Ibadan and some other neighbouring cities. Oba Akinyele was also a Christian and a pastor. In fact, he was the first President of Christ Apostolic Church (CAC). He was perhaps the second Christian to be the traditional head of Ibadan. This is if we count Bale Dada Opadare (1904-1907) as one. Oba Akinyele was one of the three patriarchs of CAC. The other two were Apostle Joseph Ayodele Babalola (First General Evangelist), a man whose impact in religious circle has remained evergreen and indelible even 62 years after his transition in 1959; and Pastor D. O. Odubanjo (first General Superintendent). The village local government of the Akinyele Family is the Akinyele Local Government of Oyo State, originally created in 1976. It is customary for most Ibadan people like some other Yoruba people to be entitled to claim two or more Local Government Areas as local government of origin. Everyone is put to an election in the matter. The choice of one local government doesn't excuse one from customary obligation in the other local government(s).
Being a CAC member, I grew up to know the name Akinyele. In some songs we mentioned the names of the Patriachs. I found it exciting that people who spoke the same language I spoke and lived in my environment had such remarkable walk with God. I am always challenged by the life history of the Oba who remained committed to His faith despite the general perception of Yoruba Obas as traditionalists. My early Pastors were persons who had personal interaction with him. I have had opportunity to explore how he maintained his Christian identity before and after he became Olubadan elsewhere. I was surprised to see his burial site at St. Peter's Church, Aremo, Ibadan after seeing his consort's vault at Olugbode. Chief John Ayorinde's book on Itan Igbesi Aye Oba Akinyele (The Life History of Oba Akinyele) explained in details what transpired. Oba Akinyele demonstrated clearly that one could be useful to one's immediate community and to humanity as well as to one's universal family of faith of eternal significance at the same time.
Later in life I met three elderly Akinyeles through the CAC Easter Youth Camp programme at the traditional campground, Ibadan Christ Apostolic Grammar School (also known as CAC Grammar School), Aperin Oniyere, Ibadan: the eldest Baba Elder Akinyele (Baba NEPA) who is the Church Patron at CAC Akinyele, Old Oyo Road, Ibadan; then Prof. Olusola Akinyele and then Dr. Isaac OlaOluwa Akinyele (as he then was). They were a source of encouragement to me in terms of their devotion to the cause of the gospel. My most remarkable interaction was with Professor Isaac Olaolu Akinyele, late Professor of Human Nutrition, former Dean of Public Health and former member of UI Governing Council. He was Warden, Independence Hall when I was an undergraduate but there was no reason to engage him. I took notice of the fact that he would come in the evenings to attend to the business of the office of the Warden of UI's largest hall of residence, the Great Independence Hall. I had become an Assistant Warden when he became the Hall Master after Late Prof Michael Aken'ova. I got attracted and became fond of Dr and later Prof Akinyele on account of his penchant to coin his public lectures using Biblical phrases or expression e.g. Give us this day our daily bread, Human Nutrition: The Cornerstone which was rejected. He gave practically all lectures anyone could deliver in UI including Faculty/College Lecture; Inaugural Lecture; University Lecture; Postgraduate Multidisciplinary lecture. His death in service robbed us of listening to his Valedictory lecture. He was President of Nutrition Society of Nigeria and was a committed scholar. Even after his Presidency he continued to work for the society. At a time, we were working towards getting a chartered status for the professional body of Human Nutritionists but couldn't get much headway.
My first opportunity to meet Prof Olusola Akinyele at close range was when he came to chair the launching of a Christian choral group to which I served as an organist, though in a temporary capacity. That should be between 1984 and 1985. The event held at the Church Hall of the then St Peter's Church, Aremo, Ibadan (now Cathedral of St. Peter). His humility was extraordinary. The Group leader noted the warm reception Prof gave him and other members of the group when they approached Prof to serve as Chairman, to use his words, "in his air-conditioned office in UI". He had a rare gift of interacting with both the highly-placed and lowly- placed members of the community without discriminating against anyone. He was approachable and was always willing and ready to assist guided by the important consideration of fairness, justice and equity.
Prof Olusola Akinyele served as Dean of Science from 1 August 1988 to April 1990. Before he completed his term as Dean the office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor became vacant following the appointment of Professor Peter Bodunrin of the Department of Philosophy as the Vice Chancellor of the then Ondo State University, Ado-Ekiti. Prof Olusola Akinyele along with three others contested for the vacant office and he won the election defeating the second contestant by four votes. He completed the unexpired residue of Prof Bodunrin's and later secured a fresh term of two years as DVC.
The office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor before Decree No.11 of 1993 could be described as the highest ranking office with democratic quotient in the University of Ibadan. It was under this regime that Prof Olusola Akinyele became the DVC and he was the last person to be so elected.
The election that produced Prof Olusola Akinyele was a keenly-contested election. In my discussion with the Late Prof Olaolu Akinyele of Department of Human Nutrition, he informed me some of his colleagues considered him as "anti-college" because he supported his elder brother against the preferred candidate of the College of Medicine in the race. It was tough for me to believe anyone could raise that allegation. Blood, they say, is thicker than water. In my view it was demanding too much of Prof Olaolu Akinyele to abandon his brother whom he believed was qualified and vote for another candidate. Late Pastor Sam Babs Mala, the Acting Head of the Department of Religious Studies, at the material time at the Easter Youth Camp Retreat held after Prof Olusola Akinyele's emergence as DVC also disclosed that some other contestants ignorant of his relationship with Prof Olusola Akinyele, came to persuade him to solicit for his vote. This is normal in politics. A contestant is free to seek an elector's support. An elector is at liberty to vote for a candidate of his choice.
However, it must be remarked that Prof Olusola Akinyele built a political machinery that was broad-based and cut across academics and non-academic staff of different backgrounds. It is unimaginable that one would become Dean of Science and DVC at that material time and not have some kind of political constituency. However, he saw every service opportunity as God's gift to be thankful for and to be used to make impact in the lives of others. Dr Gani Adeniran reminded me yesterday he attended the Thanksgiving Service held at CAC Olugbode after Prof Olusola Akinyele's election as DVC.
The claim that the office of the DVC was the highest ranking one in the University of Ibadan with democratic quotient may require some explanation. At the material time all Professors in the University were free to indicate inte