Random Flakes

Tribute to Chief Babatope Folayan: Our Secondary School Principal

Kayode Omoniyi (right) and I sandwiched Chief Tope Folayan (middle)

Published on 14/01/2022

In my formative years, I passed through the hands of three school principals. The first one was at Apostle Babalola Memorial Grammar School, Efon Alaaye. He was Rev. Kehinde, an elderly man, very gentle, he won’t even hurt a fly, but his Vespa riding vice, Mr Mola was a firebrand ‘chartered’ leftist who probably had a degree in flogging and ‘pankere’ manipulatives.

I spent one year in ABMGS and by providence found myself at Anglican Secondary School. My late illustrious father: Chief Joseph Oni Ige, Kenke, was the Otun Ijo of St Paul’s Anglican Archdeaconry, so he wanted it that I must attend the newly founded Anglican Secondary School newly established by the Anglican Communion in Efon Alaaye under the tutelage of Mr. R.A.Teniola.

It was early in the session, one good morning sometime around 1982, that Mr. Teniola called an emergency assembly and announced to us that he would be handing over to a new principal who will take charge of affairs of the school. The new man was Mr. Tope Folayan. (as then called). 

A few of us like Kayode Omoniyi and Lekan Ogundare knew him as they were from Ojodi/Igbehin axis of Efon and had family linkages. 

He knew my mother and called me ‘Omo Anti mi’ (my sister’s son) and that acronym earned me several strokes of the canes. I vividly remembered an instance that ‘Tope’ as we fondly called him stood on top of the hill, as our school was located on top of a hill with valleys surrounding it and there he was proclaiming “Omo Anti mi’ you better come back, I can see you down there” all explanations to convince him that I was in the early morning class failed and I got flogged for it.

We were attracted to him by his high sense of humour, and good knowledge of history, which were second to none. But behind that humorous, ‘Yes, what is it face’ was a steely no-nonsense disciplinarian who never spared the rod to spoil the stubborn boys of those days.

Now, I can confess that we nicknamed him ‘Tope’ or Rico Bey, (he got Rico Bey from Oladimeji Adewunmi, the Boys Scout’s Paratrooper and our leader in the forest) because of his trademark hairstyle that he passionately wore with pride. Just ‘Tope is coming’ or shout of ‘Rico Bey’ would make ‘a pin drop silence’ descend on the class. 

Chief Folayan, our principal could be likened to that proverbial blacksmith, dutifully hitting the red-hot iron on the same spot, just to achieve his desired shape and he did.  

As it was with students of those days, some of us were exceptional and we met our match in Chief Folayan. A disciplinarian he was, but also humane.

I remembered a particular incidence involving I and Femi Ejimokun, we were asked to pack concrete blocks meant for the building of a new block of classrooms as punishment for an offence I couldn’t really remember now. Along the line, Femi got stung by a scorpion, no vehicle to convey him to the Catholic Hospital, along Ita-Oshun road, because the only car would have been Chief Tope Folayan’s white Peugeot 504 and he left the school not quite long before the incidence happened.

The only option was, after first aid was administered, to carry Femi on my back and embark on the long trek to the hospital.

We had left before Chief Folayan returned to the school and was informed of the incident, he raced out, the impact of his screeching tyres generated dust that enveloped the whole school, he met us on the road and took us to the hospital where Femi was given proper medical attention. That ended our punishment.

Olufemi Ejimokun, I learnt, later joined the Air Force and was in one of the Nigerian contingents to ECOMOG, where he paid the supreme price. May his soul rest in peace.

Everything about him is laced with humour. Even when you are ‘chopping’ the cane, his jokes come handy, so much that even your mates who were in sympathy with you, were at the same time, laughing and you too may be tempted to laugh.

It was customary of him, during ‘prep classes’ to be seen moving around quietly and God bless you if you were caught lazing or messing around. He believed in hard work and discipline and inculcated them in his students.

He would not tolerate failure and would not accept any excuse for it. In 2011, I had a chat with him. It was the first between a once upon a time frightened student and his highly revered principal since we graduated from the school in 1985. Though the conversation took place on phone, I was still afraid to talk to him straight.

I asked him why he was so hard on us and if he felt he has done the right thing at that time? He replied ‘I have heard so much about what you are doing, and I am proud of it. If I have left you to your ways, then, you won’t become a journalist and that applied to most of you.” 

Again in 2015, we met in Akure in the company of Kayode Omoniyi at the wedding of the daughter of his junior brother and our great teacher and mentor, Prof. Adio Folayan, I remembered him saying he was very proud of what we have grown up to become describing us products of his tutelage and of course, Kayode and I made him harvested a bit of his rewards right here on earth as we appreciated him with some good naira notes.

All he taught and imbibed in us in academics and leadership, destiny threw on his laps, later in life. He went on to become the Executive chairman OF Ekiti West Local Government and he was pioneer Executive Chairman of Efon Local Government.

Not only that, but honours also came his way in recognition of his meritorious service to humanity. He inherited his renowned father’s title as Saba Obalu quarters in Efon-Alaaye, where he was also appreciated with the honourary title of Otunba Agunsoye of the ancient town. 

A man honoured at home and beyond, Chief Tope Folayan accolades came his way from far away Erijiyan Ekiti, the hometown of my very good friend, High Chief Jide Awe, former chairman of APC in Ekiti State, where our father figure and highly respected disciplinarian school principal was installed as Otunba Muwagun.

High Chief Joseph Babatope Folayan, I bear testimony that you were a great builder of men and character as epitomised in the successes recorded by those of us you mentored and produced at Anglican Secondary School, Efon Alaaye and several others that you touched in your 83yrs sojourn on planet earth. 

Many exceptional qualities stood him out among his peers; Chief Tope Folayan was a super dresser, outstandingly neat with his well-tailored dresses either native or English. He carries the family oriki; ‘Omopariola Iyun Baba Ileke’ in his appearance anywhere he goes.

Chief Tope Folayan has a good knowledge of history. He was a link between us (the then Anglican Secondary School students) and our past. He will relate everything that happened in Efon Alaaye to us in the assembly.

He was an orator, a smooth talker, brilliant and highly knowledgeable. Except you are not from Efon, all he needs to know is your family name or compound, he will tell you the name of your father or mother and tell you any encounter he had with any of them in the formative years.

Chief Tope Folayan was a jolly good fellow, he connected with the young and the old with ease. Every visit to his house was an opportunity to hear stories of yester years and how ‘they’ cleared the bushes at Ita-Oshun while in primary school.

Our highly revered School Principal was down to heart, straightforward and honest. He had nothing to hide: even his personal life. Chief Tope Folayan will tell us of his stubbornness in his primary school days to the extent that whenever his then Headmaster: the late Rev. Opedare wants to make a sample of how he will flog anybody that come late to school or commit an offence, he will call him out and flog him as an example. That is typical Tope Folayan for you.

He loved his family, both nuclear and extended. He loved Efon Alaaye with passion. His love was demonstrated in the roles he played in the various political, economic and social developments in Efon Alaaye in the last 3 decades

As your body will be laid to rest this weekend, we pray that your soul will find favour before God and may the lives of the multitude you affected positively plead for mercy on your behalf before God, your creator.

Baba, rest in peace. If there is any other thing, more than that, you deserved it.

Kayode Omoniyi, a classmate at Anglican Secondary School, Efon Alaaye, 1985 set, made invaluable contributions to this piece.

Two Good Nigerians and A Bad One

Published on 06/01/2022

Sometimes in December 2021, I was in Koro, in Ekiti Local Government of Kwara State for the burial of late Pa Edward Ayodele Abioye, father of my friend and neighbour, James Oyedepo Abioye.

The journey turned out to be an adventure as we forayed into the locality not minding the fear of kidnappers and gale of bank robberies that ravaged Egbe and Odo-Ere, the next towns located in Kogi State but shares boundary with Koro in Kwara.

On our way to Koro, I saw herdsmen and their cows and it rekindled my love to have a herd of my own. I stopped the vehicle, even though co-travellers were scared of the suspected risk of doing so on a bushy and lonely road.

I informed my friend of my desire to purchase some calves and I got introduced to Ayuba Abdulkadir, a Fulani man, who grew up in the area. We became an instant click. It’s as if we have been friends for ages. Ayuba took charge from that point. He took me to Iga Fulani where I inspected and make purchases. Even when I have returned to base in Lagos, Ayuba made more purchases on my behalf over the weekend and by Tuesday of the following week, he had my cows, sheep and rams delivered to my compound because the previous day, he had gone to the park, got a vehicle coming to Lagos and engaged him to commute the livestock.

Ayuba Abdulkadir, I can’t thank you enough. You are proof that trustworthy Nigerians still exist, the dubious activities of a few, notwithstanding.

So also is Tolani Rukayat Sorunke, a day old chicks merchant based in Ibadan. I got her contact from a neighbour when I was having issues with the quality of chicks I was getting from a popular farm also in Ibadan. I have had transactions running to hundreds of thousands with her, I am yet to meet her in person and my neighbour too told me he has not met her but we don’t have a bad story to tell about Tolani based on our transactions with her.

But same cannot be said of Gbadebo Agunbiade, the MD/CEO of Debis Farms based in Iyesi Ota axis of Ogun State. In June 2020, I got a link to his website through a farmers’ group’s WhatsApp platform.

On June 16, 2020, I called him but he would prefer we chat on WhatsApp. Haven visited his website; wwww.debisfarms.com, I drew up a list of exquisite fruit seedlings I wanted to buy as samples to experiment with before buying in large quantities to plant on an acre of land.

I made my plans known to him and we discussed them extensively and after editing the list a couple of times, we concluded and all came to N34,200. He sent his Polaris Bank account to which I paid and he acknowledged.

Mr. Agunbiade later made me understand that he was hooked in Malaysia as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown and that around that time, he even lost his dad. He gave my contact to his staff, Segun Biade to handle my orders.

Most of the items he initially claimed were available which I paid for were not available for delivery and he attributed it to because he was not around. The order itself suffered several delays and a couple of delivery dates failed without any explanation.

Eventually, the order was delivered on July 21, 2020. What was delivered as Wambugu apple was a withered stick which he said I should be watering every day and I kept sending pictures to him every now and then till it eventually broke into pieces.

We did the calculations and what was supplied was N19,000 worth of seedlings. Since he said I could not get Wambugu apple due to restrictions because of COVID-19, I demanded a refund of the N15,200 outstanding and that was where he began to show his true colours.

Since September 2020 and throughout 2021, except for once that he picked the call and promised to get back on the matter, he has stopped picking my calls and would not respond to my messages on WhatsApp and even SMS.

I called Segun Biade, his staff who handles the transaction. He told me he has left Debis Farms. He could only sympathise with me and encouraged me to keep calling Gbadebo Agunbiade. From the way he spoke, my story appeared not too strange to him.

I have a complete backup of my chats with Agunbiade on WhatsApp which I have sent to him once. Yet he would not pick calls or reply to my messages all because I am asking for a refund of my N15,200.

This is dubious.

Jide Ige can be reached on nationalinfinity@gmail.com or 07080114549 (SMS or WhatsApp)