Mystery Photographer Became My Wife

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CHIEF MATTHEW ADERIYE (ACCOUNTANT)

Interviewed by Funke Olaode

What was your growing up like?
I am from Ado-Ekiti but I grew up in a polygamous family. The dream of every child then was to go to Christ School. After I passed the entrance examination, I was asked to pay a fraction of the total school fees which was 35 Pounds. I went to my father, who was a farmer. He dipped his hands into his pocket and brought out 10 shillings. She simply entered her room and brought out Two Pounds.

How was your mother able to afford your school fees?
She was a very enterprising woman but providence also played a key role. The cook to the principal of Christ school then, one Mr. Isaac Oviri, rented a shop in my father’s house in Ereguru area of Ado Ekiti. When we started in Christ School in 1956, that man took me to Rev. L.D. Mason, the then principal of the school and introduced me, saying that this is the son of my landlord in town and that it was his mother that was paying his school fees. And because of that introduction, Mason never sent me home for school fees throughout my five years in the school, my mother only paid the school fees when she was able to pay. I left the school in 1960 and went to Lagos to work for Barclays Bank where I spent about two and half years before I travelled to United States where I had my first and second degree before I joined Ernest and Young, accounting firm in 1971.

Why did you pitch you tent with E&Y considering your banking experience?
One was always proud to come home and contribute his quota. In my own case, I was looking for an organization that would have a spread that covers Nigeria. I wrote letters to about three places and they were the first firm that invited me for interview and I was posted to an office where I was the first professional staff. After that, I worked with the firm again in Detroit. One day, my managing partner called me and asked if wanted to go back to Nigeria that the firm was planning to set up an office in Nigeria. That was in 1972. Before coming, I was told I would have to undergo a six months training in Oil and Gas in Oklahoma. This was necessary because Nigeria office was actually set up in 1972 because of Mobil. Then the office in Nigeria had no expert in Oil and Gas and they wanted somebody who would be groomed in that field to attend to the needs of Nigeria. That was how I was sent to Oklahoma for six months, where I leant the rudiments of oil and gas audit. Of course there was E&Y in Nigeria before then but with a different name. I came back to Nigeria in 1973 and worked there for 32 years, got to the level of being the West Africa Managing Partner before I retired in 2002. Since I retired, I left accounting completely and started my own business under Agro Nigerian Ventures Limited.

What are the major milestones you can remember in your life?
The first moment I cannot forget was the day I left the shore of this country. Another day was my first day on campus in August 1963, I was coming from Church wearing Agbada, when a young lady appeared from the blue and approached me to ask if she could take my picture and I said she was free. Five years later, I was sitting in my mother-in-law’s sitting room, I just got married and I saw a picture on the TV in a corner, which was mine. I moved closer to see clearly and I discovered it was a picture taken five years ago by someone I didn’t know from Adam, who is presently my wife. We have been married for 47 years and I don’t think I could have wished for someone better as a partner. She is an American from Indiana and here we are in Ado Ekiti.

Did you influence your children’s career choice?
No I only guide them. My first daughter studied Computer Engineering in Ife, where coincidentally she also met her husband. They are both in US now. My second daughter went to school in the US but she met her husband who is from Modakeke in US. My third child studied Human Resources; she is also married and based in the US. My only son studied Electrical Engineering and he is also based in US. He is not married. My last born is a teacher; she is into special education in the US.

Why did you relocate to Ado-Ekiti?
It is my place and I know there is much to do here than a city like Lagos and Ibadan. I know I can contribute a lot to the development of this place. There are no essential amenities. For instance, since I choose to be in Agriculture, I have discovered that young men are running away from farming and they must be encouraged.

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