NEWSZENTS: Between 1987-1989, the Oracle was a post graduate student at the University of Ibadan in Oyo State; it was the MBA program inside the IBWA building, almost opposite the Faculty of the Social Sciences.
Professor Soyode was the Head of Department Economics. We had Professors that made us to love whatever they did, like Professor Doyin Soyibo who graduated from MIT, he taught Quantitative Analysis, and my favorite then was Professor Oyejide from Princeton, he taught Managerial Economics, he was funny, and I never stopped visiting him several years after graduation, just to rub minds with him, Professor Patrick Oribabor who came for a one year sabbatical leave from Obafemi Awolowo University Ile Ife.
At one time I stayed in Patrick’s apartment and even though I was a student most of my lecturers were my friends, because we graduated High School at the same time and they knew what they wanted in life academically faster than the Oracle who was a teacher, a Binding Clerk with National Archives and Supervisor with National Bank before I thought of improving my education. Dr. Jimi Adesina now a professor in South Africa, Dr. Ogun, Dr. Oyefeso and Dr. Onaolapo Soleye who had a funny sign on his door “If you want to kill a project set a committee to advise you otherwise do it yourself” almost in his late forties or early fifties.
The MBA/M.Sc. set of that time were special, they formed the bulk of the new set of Managers and promoters of the new CBN regulation of new generation banking system which Military President Babangida foist on the nation. Two of the past Presidents of Nigerian Institute of Bankers went thru University of Ibadan, late Femi Adekanye, and Ralph Osayameh who wrote the book he used in the class “The Principle of Banking” they both established Commerce Bank in Lagos, Tunji Latinwo headed Imani Mortgage Bank in Falomo Lagos.
Dr. Ilesanmi of UCH, Dr. Santuraki currently the Managing Director of Nigeria Agricultural Bank in Kaduna, Omidiji of Ogun State Bulk Purchasing Corporation, Lemmy Omoyinmi former President of Student Union of Yaba Tech and Oraclezents (MBA) and Mrs. Obey (M.Sc.) became the first Ogun State Polytechnic graduates for the program and every one of us ended up in the banking Industry, except the Oracle who returned as the project Secretary to Gateway Pharmaceutical Company at Ikangba Ijebu Ode to serve Ogun State Government.
Somehow, I promoted the first set of Community Bank in Abeokuta which later changed to Micro finance, it was called Obantoko Community Bank then, and some of those who believed in me on the bank were, late Mrs. Martins, the mother of the Arch Bishop of Lagos, late Sobode a Permanent Secretary in Ogun State, my childhood friends from Ekotedo Ibadan, Engr. Segun Oni, Biodun Osomo, Rtd Col Atanda, Sunday Elijah who wrote the feasibility studies, Aibana now in New York, my trusted friend, Alhaji Nuru Oyedele.
Alhaji Nuru Oyedele is more than just a friend, he wanted me to be in any social clubs he joined, from Abeokuta Social Elites to the mother of all Clubs in Egbaland Abeokuta, Club, a detailed person and most of the clubs or association Oyedele was the Secretary.
When the idea of Obantoko Community came up, I needed two people to take care of the paperwork, Nuru became the Secretary and Sunday Elijah a Chartered Accountant, my Igbo Buddy from our days at Niger Cedar Industries who graduated from Ibadan Poly a completely detribalized Nigerian were my thinking tank for the project, my job was to take care of all outside needs of the project like CBN, Federal Ministry of Finance. My specialty in the MBA Marketing, and post graduate Diploma of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply IPS with emphasis in Contract Procedure and Techniques made me more of extroverted personality and that helped a lot.
After six months of meetings with others investors in the house of Eng. Oni at Onikolobo in Abeokuta and Mr. Sowande of Coopers and Lybrand lcc in Lagos, your friend the Oraclezents, a product of Ogun Poly signed and secured the License for the Obantoko Community Bank.
I was the happiest man in Abeokuta, why wouldn’t I be? The bank will provide jobs for my people, honestly, it was not about financial gains it was just about seeing the smiles on the faces of those who be working there. I could remember how I felt in 1976 when I started my first banking job with National Bank at Agodi Branch, after years with National Archives inside UI, however, the National Bank building is occupied now by Wema Bank.
Banking was funny then with the funny big tie and the way we used to count money for customers, and the luncheon ticket that attracted all my friends like late Best Ogedegbe who kept the post for National team the Green Eagles, Muda Lawal, Moses and Ashaolu they played for IICC Shooting Stars and Water Corporation at Ibadan and most of them are dead, our love was so strong, when Abiola Babes was formed by MKO Abiola, they came to join the Club because the Oracle was there in Abeokuta as a pioneer student of Ogun Poly.
Back to Obantoko Bank story, we secured a location for the bank at Obantoko, the office was ready, the Safe Room, we were on the point of recruiting the first Manager for the Bank, when CBN changed the rules, we needed more money than we had to kick start the bank, Ogun State Polytechnic license for a Community Bank inside the School was rejected by CBN and we started talking on how we could partnership the business.
The mandate to discuss with Ogun State Polytechnic was given to Nuru Oyedele and Late Mr. Sobode, by that time, the Oracle was already on the hit list of General Sanni Abacha after the first Coup in which Col Sunday Ibukun Oyewole and Col Mepaida were allegedly involved. Ibukun Oyewole was about two years older than me and he became the first Ekotedo man to join the Army, he facilitated late Col Olu Akiode and Dr. Toba Elegbe to apply to NDA Kaduna, while the rest of us were busy with the Advanced Level between 1974-76 and hanging with Sunday Oladele popularly known as “Laadoo” who was a close friend of Segun Odegbami who was then with IICC before Laadoo left us in 1977 for Yaba Tech and became the President of the Student Union or so.
I knew I had to get of the country fast, I could smell the danger coming, it was the training I had from my maternal grandfather the Chief Imam of his Village at Alagbon very close to Wasimi in Ewekoro local Government of Ogun State. Armed with the gut feelings of the likely arrest from government, I discussed my intention to leave the country with Col Olu Akiode with the Military Intelligence. He advised me to ignore the signs, or why would anyone arrest a civilian like you in any coup? He said with faint smile on his thin lips.
However, I trusted by grandfather more than I trusted Olu, who was my childhood friend, infact we lived in the same house on Ayorinde street and we attended the same Primary school and played football at Race course together every evening, along with the third pillar of our friendship Kola Bello, we shared the same year of birth and the months were very close, I was born in July, Olu in August and Kola Bello in September of the same year.
On August 4th 1996 after my birthday in July 28th, I left Nigeria and never returned for the next seven years. It was a journey that denied me of the love and affection of family and friends, few months after I left the country Col Olu Akiode, my childhood friend was arrested by General Sanni Abacha. Olu never made it out. He died in jail.
What happened to the Bank?
To be continued.
Zents Sowunmi is a New York based political analyst and author of several books “Before the Journey became Home”, Not a strange anymore” Unequally Yoking” Don’t Ask Question” The Vultures and the Vulnerable” Ogun State Policy of Manipulation since 1976, Obama: Hero or Villain of Capitalism?” His books are available on www.amazon.com and your local bookstores.