Chief Tayo Akinnibosun (Engineer)

Interviewed by Funke Olaode

What is the secret of your youthfulness at 80?
It is the Lord’s doing. I have always been active right from childhood. I exercise from time to time. I have cultivated the habit of walking within my vicinity. I trek from my residence in Ikeja to Ogba to buy newspapers and other things.

Where were you born?
I was born in Ondo Town in Ondo State. My father was a produce buyer and my mother was a trader. I am the only child of my mother. My father married many wives and had many children. He was able to control his wives. I didn’t experience the intrigues of polygamy. My mother was the first wife.

Were you pampered as an only child?
No. My parents didn’t spare the rod. I never lacked anything. My father was a disciplinarian. His decision was final and the cane was always at the corner. It was a strict upbringing and this put our rascality in check. I diverted it to sports as I was very active. I ran short distance races; I did 100 and 200 yards and sometimes up to 450 yards. In the jumps I was doing High Jump, Long Jump etc.

Did you play pranks?
Playing pranks was inevitable and one of the things we did (with my immediate brother and another cousin) earned us several punishment. I remember a day my father hosted his friends. As children, we were curious about the green bottle. They have been drinking and smoking. We decided to taste the remnants in the bottles and glasses. It wasn’t particularly tasteful. Nonetheless, we carried on and in the process we got intoxicated and when my father found out he didn’t spare the rod at all.

What is your educational background?
I had my primary education in Ondo before going to Warri for my post primary education. Ondo Boys School was in existence and Christ School in Ado-Ekiti was also popular. But when I was to go to secondary school I was allowed to take entrance examination to two places: Hussey College Warri and Ondo Boys’ High School. Fortunately, I passed and was offered admission into both schools. My father wanted me to go to Ondo Boys’ High School instead of Hussey College.

I wept bitterly when my father raised that suggestion. Why did I weep? I hadn’t stepped out of Ondo Town. I was about 14 years old then. I tried to convince my father that Ondo Boys’ High School was a good school and Hussey College too was good that I preferred Hussey College. I kept weeping and the same day my father gave it a second thought and called me that he had approved my going to Warri. This was in 1950. I journeyed out of Ondo for the first time. I was there between 1950 and 1956.

What did you experience outside Ondo?
It was an adventure. I loved it and was naturally happy. Hussey College was a mini Nigeria as pupils came from all over Nigeria. I was in the boarding house with a couple of other boys. Senior Augustus Ikomi from Sapele was there. There was Imadojemu, there were people like Aroloyes. One of them Oba Fredrick Aroloye is now the paramount ruler of Idanre in Ondo State. It was a boys’ only school when I was there and it was during my last year in the college that two girls were brought in.

What was your childhood aspiration?
I liked using my hands to do something. The fire of engineering in me was further ignited when I worked with the Nigerian Railways. I worked briefly after my secondary education and travelled abroad where I studied engineering. I worked with a couple of companies both in England and Nigeria. When I was about 60, I retired to become my own boss. I went into wine manufacturing.

How would you describe your experience serving yourself?
Having traversed different companies, I felt the time had come for me to be on my own. While I was in Britain, I joined the Basildon Brewers Association. We were making beers and wines. In those days, if I had a party I would brew beer in kegs. I was making wines in big jars. So I saw this as an opportunity to re-awaken that passion for making beer and wine. I was already doing it as a hobby and majority of raw materials were sourced in Nigeria. It was doing well in the market until the June 12. This dealt a devastating blow on that business. The business was showing sign of advancement. There was a time I went to the Federal Palace Hotel and saw an empty bottle of my wine in their trash bin. It gave me a sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately, the election drove most of my customers away and many went with my money.

Would you say you are fulfilled?
No man fulfils all life aspirations.

What lesson has life taught you?
Whatever situation you find yourself, try and rise above difficulties. Do the best you can under all circumstances. Do your best to your fellow human beings because life is a revolving stage and nobody can tell where the table will turn. Above all, serve God.