By William Olorunfemi Adeduro
My name is William Olorunfemi Adeduro. Welcome to my greatest day of joy so far. Thank you for coming to celebrate God for lavishing His love on me for eighty eventful years.
By the grace of God I am 4,171 weeks and 4 days old today. I have lived with a frail body for forty one years but I have never suffered for a day. Despite being seriously sick since I was 39 years old, I have slept and woken up for 29, 201 days.
My book of chronicles is coloured with chapters of how God healed me from the conspiracy of afflictions. My frail but freed body, is an aged tapestry with variegated marks hewed with the rampaging fingers of malaria, fever, cataract, hypertension, diabetes, prostrate cancer, heart issues and associated discomforts. Yet in all these I am more than conqueror through my Lord Jesus Christ.
A glorious joy overwhelmed me when my saviour found me and saved me after 60 seasons of dryness. I am glad to be a disciple of Jesus Christ by whom I have done greater works. I have struggled across many rivers of uncertainties and limitations. Yet my unlimited redeemer ensured that I have never been limited in life.
With a limited education that formally ended at Standard 6, I rose through the ranks in the Federal Civil Service. Having no God father, the everlasting hand of God the father and the hand of diligence, propelled me to retire at level 13 in 1997. I was an Assistant Chief Superintendent of Press over graduates who possessed master’s degrees from world class Universities.
Just yesterday I turned eighty with a joyful heart.
Today I shall sing even if my vocal cord sounds odd. Let me tell you my story when things went awry. Indulge me to write about life just before things went right. I was born on August 4, 1937 to the family of late Samuel Olugbemisoye Adeduro, the late high chief Adaja of Ondo Kingdom. My father was a successful farmer and produce merchant. My mother was Madam Oladimeji Adeduro Nee Akinkugbe.
I started my educational career between 1945 and 1955 in Ondo kingdom, Ondo State. I attended All Saints School, Ogbonkowo, Ondo and Ansarudeen Primary School. In those days a pupil was promoted from Primary 1a to 1b to 1c. Unlike today when pupils proceed from primary 1 to primary 2 in that order. So we spent eight years in primary school. I left school with Standard Six.
Out of his love for me and his succession plan in business, my father desired that I worked with him on the farm. However, my inquisitive and restless mind yearned for the bustling city of Lagos. So, in less than two years I found my way out of my father’s Owena farmland and village in Ondo State. I boldly came to Lagos in search of a greener pasture in March 1959.
On my arrival in Lagos I attended a private commercial school called Odunfa Commercial Institute. There I studied Shorthand, Typewriting and Accounting respectively. I also studied photography at Ola Photo Studios in Ebute Metta. The commercial education I had qualified me to secure my first paid job as a Clerk Typist with Guinea Insurance. After sometime, I got another job as a daily paid worker as Graphic Arts Attendant with the Graphics Section in the Federal Ministry of Information. After sometime, God granted me favour to be converted to standard scale on a permanent job as a civil servant.
Through the mercy of God I was able to work with supervisors who appreciated my diligence and promptness in reporting for work. I was always willing to go the extra mile to satisfy my supervisors. God used this my disposition to secure extra favour for me. In my determination to make a difference despite my limited formal education I devoted myself to God and the study of many books on literature, philosophy and religion. This paid off as I became intellectually strong to compete with colleagues who had university educations during promotion tests and came out tops.
Although my income was meagre, raising a family was a joy for me. My wife stoutly stood by me and for me to make me a successful husband and father. I am grateful to God for giving me a great woman who is caring, courageous, passionate, diligent and determined to raise a godly family. My better half, Julianah Ibilola Adeduro (nee Adenodi) from Ondo Kingdom is a rare gem and a virtuous woman who every family needs to blossom.
Without this woman blessed with boundless energy and incredible gift of memory (my wife can still recall the telephone numbers of more than two hundred people from her brain without consulting a diary or contact book) I am sure I would not have gone this far in life. Thanks to the long suffering of my wife, we were tenants for twenty five years in one room apartment (face me I face you type) at 86 Eleshin Street, Obalende, Lagos yet we were able to successfully raise our five children as graduates who are all landlords and lady in Nigeria and USA today. To the glory of God my wife and I own two houses in Nigeria.
My wife is very spiritual without being fetish even before we became born again some decades ago. Both of us successfully completed the School of Disciples programme about twenty years ago in The Redeemed Christian Church of God.
Through my experience, I can boldly say that any man who marries a wrong wife cannot live long and have good success.
My experience of living in Obalende since 1964 makes me realize that we should not compromise the unity of Nigeria. All those who are clamouring for a break up and war do not have an understanding about the ravaging effects of disunity and civil war in a nation. Living and working next door to Dodan Barracks made me a living witness to the 1967 civil war and all the coup detats in Nigeria. I am still terrified till today each time I remember what happened on the day General Muritala Muhammed was assassinated near my office on Ikoyi Road, Lagos.
On the morning of that faithful Friday February 13, 1976 my colleagues and I were settling down in my office at the Graphic Arts section of the Federal Ministry of Information on Ikoyi Road when we heard gun shots. Initially, we thought it was the regular shots we often heard since were directly located behind Dodan Barracks. In fact we used to pass through Dodan Barracks from Obalende to Ikoyi in those days. One of my junior colleagues soon ran inside to inform us that some armed bandits had killed a man in a big Mercedes Benz at the junction of Road that takes you towards the road leading to Ikoyi Club.
Since there was no fear of armed robbers or kidnappers as it is rampant today, we all trooped out of the office towards the direction of the scene. In our innocence, we wanted to go and offer help. But a series of gunshots suddenly ensued as we trooped towards the scene. Suddenly we saw many fiercely looking armed men in army uniform threatening to shoot us. It was them we realised that a coup detat had occurred again. There was pandemonium as all my colleagues and I took to our heels. That day I ran to my home in Obalende with only a shoe on my left leg. I did not know when and where the shoe on my right leg fell off.
Coup detats and war are destructive to human lives and values. It is better to jaw jaw and solve our challenges as a nation than to war war. A United Nigeria is better for the future of our children. Personally, I believe that the journey of Nigeria to greatness, strategically charted by our leaders in the first republic was truncated by the long years of military rule. Unfortunately, what we have today in the so-called democracy are people who rule without the fear of God and an eye for the future.
I cannot truly tell you what I have done to live this long if not for the mercies of preserved me through times of storms. However, I believe that every human being who hopes to see the future should be fastidious in doing certain basic things. These include having a strong relationship with the almighty God. Without God you are empty and an empty vessel has no value. When you don’t have value to God He won’t bother much about keeping you in a competitive world. Secondly, you must be careful to be moderate in everything you do. You must also live a life that is devoid of offense to God and man by pursuing peace in all situations. Thirdly, working hard and smart based on knowledge is desirable for anyone who desires to have good success.
In addition to these three, you must learn to be patient and delay gratification. One of the reasons why most people have integrity problems is because they are in a hurry to achieve certain things. For me, being slow and steady with a determined pursuit of purpose will ultimately win the race. This is why I was a tenant in a room apartment for 25 years despite the fact that I could at some point afford to rent a flat or what my peers called “a more decent accommodation”. You see. I needed to be sure that I could train all my biological children to become graduates. I remember once that my first born, when he was in secondary school, requested that I should rent a flat because he saw that one of his classmates had a personal room in the flat that his parents rented in Akoka area of Lagos. I promptly told my son that we would not move out of the rented one room apartment until I was able to see him through University education. That was the end of the pressure. To the glory of God, we stopped living in a rented apartment after my first son graduated from the university.
Look back, I am grateful to God that all my five children are successful graduates with the eldest possessing a PhD. My first two children are Pastors in the Redeemed Christian Church of God. My eldest, Pastor (Dr.) Wale Adeduro has grown to become an Assistant Pastor in Charge of Province in Ikoyi Lagos while his brother, Pastor Bolaji Adeduro is a Pastor in California, USA.
The fifth thing an individual should do is to be fully responsible for members of your immediate family. Ensure that you have a bond of love and unity with your spouse and children. This will happen if you endeavor to love all your children equally. Personally, I love my children equally and I have never given any other five of them preferential treatment over the others. This largely explains why there is a high degree of unity among my five children. I don’t need to remind you about the various court cases initiated by siblings contesting the wills of their late prominent fathers in Nigeria. Parents should avoid treating their children in equally. The older child is not supposed to be treated better than the older child. It is an error to give preferential treatment to any child.
At the end of the daytime is only your family that you have when the chips are down. An individual with a loving family will ultimately triumph in life.
You have to take care of your health by watching what you eat and drink. Regardless of the taste it leaves in your mouth, the classic unprocessed Nigerian meals remain the most nutritious and healthy food. I recommend that Nigerians who want to live well and longer should go back to the meals our parents ate before Nigeria’s independence in 1960.
The final responsibility you have is to pray and trust God for long life. If I had died at the age of fifty, I would not have become a landlord in Lagos. If I had died at the age of sixty I would not have become an American citizen.
As I take stock of my life today, I feel fulfilled and indebted to God for His loving kindnesses towards me. As I grew up in life, I realized that the name you bear tells a lot about your destiny. My parents named me Olorunfemi. This name simply translates to God Loves Me. Having woken up this morning, a day after I turned eighty years old, I am truly convinced that God Loves Me. I pray that God shall also show love to my children and their spouses, my grand children to my fourth generation. Including all my well wishers and helpers in the name of Jesus.
At eighty, I wish I were younger. I could have done a lap of honour round the stadium to celebrate my God, my father in heaven and the lover of my soul.
Rise with me as my old body dances to the new rhythm of my spirit.
I have been renewed in my body, soul and spirit. God Loves Me!!