Abayomi, I feel it is a debt to our friendship that I must part with a few words on your passing away.
Your brother, Bankole, and I had our secondary school education at the International School Ibadan in 1978, where we both started from form 1.
What excitement it was, going to a boarding house, away from home for the first time. Meeting with young boys and girls from different schools and backgrounds was a thrilling experience. On the other hand, we were also being introduced to seniors who were not particularly exhilarating. The nickname for all first formers at the time was ‘bed bug.’
Bankole was privileged to have you in the same school, especially as you were a senior boy in form 5. That being so, he was reasonably protected from many of the other seemingly predatory seniors as we liked to describe them.
Abayomi, you very quickly warmed our hearts and took most of us under your wings. You were too gentle at heart to punish any of us erring ones and we just made sure we happily did your chores if at all you had any.
You had all the boys and girls of both the junior and senior years as your friends.
We met again when we had started work, after studying Law, completing Law School and the National Youth Service Corps. Confident you could wear many hats, you decided to also pursue business.
You incorporated your company, Safequip Nig Ltd, which was one of the early entrants into providing security equipment to the corporate world.
Full of positive ideas of the future is how I would describe you. Coupled with your background as the son of the late Ambassador Olujimi Jolaoso, these helped to shape you into most ways you could be described. You were gentle and generous. Always wanting to see how you could help anyone that you could. I saw quite a number of your old friends at school using Safequip as a staging point either when they ventured into business or needed some mentoring again.
Your ability to show your resolve was tested when there was a major fire incident at your office at the Falomo Shopping Centre in those days. You didn’t let the incident get the better of you and quickly found your feet again.
Again, almost 15 years ago you came close to fate after suffering a massive stroke. You had to stay away from work for months while recuperating abroad.
For many this would have diminished their fervor but not Abayomi.
Once back on your feet, with that cane in hand, you were literally indefatigable. Climbing steps, traveling, hanging out, left me as a doctor always amazed and perpetually wondering, where this fellow found this energy.
As challenges of business did take its toll on many, you were always filled with infectious optimism. You believed in hard work and that a laborer would be compensated for that which was due to him. Many a time when the drudgery of manufacturing took its toll on me, you were always a steady hand of encouragement for me and I know for many others.
You worked hard and played equally as hard. You were animated when in the middle of good fun. The feeling was that life deserved both work and play.
You were not hobbled by the affliction but continued to walk with a cane undeterred right to the end. I did worry about your well-being as you also were concerned about mine and we discussed on occasions. However, you would say you would take things easier.
You regretfully had another stroke which proved fatal and took you away.
We are all saddened by this sad and unfortunate event, but I know you would want hard work to continue and the party not to end.
Your generosity and kindness are something I as well as many others would miss. The infectious optimism you exuded is needed now more than ever, in view of the fact that we all are facing unprecedented times as a result of the current pandemic.
You were blessed with an effervescent personality, bubbly as one of our prized beverages. Your zest for life, and desire to not only make the most but also bring the best out of every situation was on full display until you passed on to the great beyond.
I must salute our Sister Funlola, your dear wife. She was just as relentless in her commitment to your well-being.
To your children, Temitope, Olumide and Kofo, your legacy will see them through life.
May God grant Abayomi JOLLY Jolaoso eternal life in His kingdom. Amen.
Soji Akinkugbe writes from Lagos Nigeria