Professor Gabriel Adebayo Omolewu, today would have been your Eighty birthday; we would have loved to roll out the drums in Ile Aragbada, Isemi-Imoba, Okeho, Oyo State; Lagos, Nigeria where many of us his extended family reside and Xenia, Ohio, United States of America where his immediate family resides. Unfortunately, you bowed to the call of your maker on July 24th 2017 and you were interred on July 29th 2017. With all sense of appreciation to God, you lived a great life.
I am your son on many sides. I am privy to these archival information that your father, late Pa Samuel Aiyedogbon Omolewu and my paternal Grandfather, late Pa Joseph Owolabi Irantiola Ologbin were members of the same society, Egbe Agba in Araromi Baptist Church, Oke-Ogun, Okeho. Before, the eventual creation of Ife-Oluwa Baptist Church where he was a church leader. Equally, on the maternal side, you were my Grandpa’s classmate, Revd John Adegoke Okesiji, JP, at the Olivet Baptist Boys High School, Oyo, Nigeria. So, I am definitely sure that when you caught wind of my parent’s relationship, you would be extremely glad because you know the pedigree of both families. Despite the distance, you remained a father to hundreds of people till you died.
Your journey in life was not without storms and, in fact, torrential storms. You bravely conquered all the storms. Academically, I heard a story that you were a student at the University of Ife where he resumed with the 1966/67 set but by 1968 he left the university because of some challenges. However, he gallantly scaled the hurdle by completing a four-year curriculum in Wilberforce University, Ohio in two years and he graduated with a degree in Economics; he finally proved the world that any determined man has the potential to reach the peak by having two Masters’ degree and a Doctorate of Business Administration and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Education. I am sure that some people would be of the opinion that it was a mental disorder.
You were the forerunner of many young people from Okeho who desired to seek greener pastures in Lagos. With a sense of brave, you defiled this Yoruba proverb, ibiti agba ba dagba de lomo a ba by proceeding to the United States of America in 1976 with your nascent family, during your stint in Lagos, you were a Senior Tutor at Premier College. I would not forget to add that you still created the opportunity for them to join you in the United States. This is rare because many people would assume that the single opportunity that has been created is enough or the ‘golden fleece’ should be for his family alone.
You were a nationalist as far as Okeho is concerned, you were thousands of nautical miles away but close in thought and heart. Before your children became finally independent, you brought them to your country home on various occasions. They knew the community where you were born and raised, they came to their grandfather’s house, and you made them see another side of life. In order to understand that thus far they have enjoyed luxury and peradventure, they had been told that Africa is a dark continent; they would be able to correct that notion.
With a mindset of creating opportunities for others, you established Omolewu Academy in your private home in Okeho. You knew what it meant to be a seasoned Educationist and you were ready to make it affordable by subsidizing it. Also, after the death of your father Pa Samuel Aiyelogbon Omolewu on the 22nd of November 1999, you established an Educational Funds for Medical Students in Okeho, not less than 15 medical students benefited from this good gestures.
You did not stop at that level, you should have been one of the pioneers of American education in Nigeria. You wanted to use your net worth to network an international tertiary institution of repute that would have finally brought Okeho to the world after the renowned Iseyin-Okeho Rising of 1916. You bought 312 acres of land from Imoba Community with the intention to build the university but due to many reasons, you were unable to achieve this dream till you yielded to the call of the Master.
Professor Omolewu, you were a devoted Baptist all your life. From First Baptist Church, Isia, Okeho, Oyo State to Araromi Baptist Church, Oke-Ogun, Okeho to Yaba Baptist Church, Sabo, Yaba, Lagos and from First Baptist Church, Xenia, Ohio where you were a former member and Deacon to Dayton Avenue Baptist Church, Xenia, Ohio. With your ardent Christian faith you summoned the courage to live life after the demise of two sons, Daniel Omolewu in 2011 and Jacob Omolewu in 2013. These were two fatal blows that had crushed the faith of others.
You were blessed with good life no matter short it looked to us because you passed the Biblical 70 years of age. you were blessed with lofty heights in the Wilberforce University, your Alma Mata; you received many laurels such as Faculty Merit Bonus Awards for outstanding teaching and University service; you were received NISSAN fellowship for excellent teaching; you were recognized by the Governor of the State of Ohio for developing and teaching Business Ethics at Wilberforce University and you were recognized by the Wilberforce University Alumni Association for your 26 years of dedicated service to the institution. You wrote many books that will continually be relevant in the area of Business Management that would be used by many generations. You were successful on many fronts; you broke many jinx and records.
I will end this short note with my personal experience, in 2008, I made an attempt at gaining admission into different University in the United States. I was applied to the University of Wisconsin-Madison; he made the first payment of $45 but because the details of the applicant and that of the person who paid was different, the payment could not be reconciled. He made another payment. Unfortunately, the admission was denied. We kept in touch, he wished me well at all times whenever we exchanged e-mails. He told me that he was coming to Nigeria that year and during his last trip to Nigeria in 2015, we were in touch on phone. What more would I want from a father?
Professor Gabriel Adebayo Omolewu, you were the precarious angelic child who set the pace for many people with a crown that brought joy to many faces. This is the honourable exit of a global citizen from Okeho, we will definitely miss your patriotism. Your unfulfilled dream is a passionate dream to fulfil. We would ensure that your footsteps is eternal engrained in Okeho and your dream will become a reality just like that of Martin Luther Kings, Jnr.