When I saw Sir Remi Omotosho last, on February 28, 2020 at Ikere Ekiti, during the dedication of the ultramodern church built to the glory of God by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), he was his bumbling self, boisterous, happy and sharing pleasantries. He did not look sick; he did not look like someone going to die in another fifty years! But that is the nature of life, the power of God over our life.
By his death on Saturday, June 5, 2020, the University of Ibadan in general, and the UI Alumni Association worldwide have lost one of the greatest alumni of all time, a roaring Mellambite, an outstanding man of honour integrity, famed for his steadfastness and incorruptibility. It was under his wings that Omotayo Ikotun, Sunny Ndekwu, Kamil Sanni, Wole Oladokun, Segun Adebayo and myself, all of UIAA Ibadan Branch grew in 1988 with the rebranded and reinvigorated UIAA National Secretariat under Baba Surveyor Kunle Kukoyi as National President, UIAA.
Mr Bankole Laotan was appointed full time Administrative Secretary, an executive experiment which success or otherwise is a subject for another time. Sir Remi Omotosho was an excellent “low gister” with Baba Omolayole, Uncle Bola Ige, Mrs Ogunlade, Mrs Onafowokan, Chief Osita Okeke and others.
His love for UI is total and unassailable. You will never catch Sir Omotosho talk about any other school except UI. You will think that he didn’t attend any other educational institution before and after UI! Sir Remi Omotosho could not broach any stain or scandal that would tarnish the image of the University or the Alunni Association.
His trademark of accountability and prudence was legendary. In 1988 or thereabout, during one of the NEC meetings, a particular officer was giving a financial report; sensing that the person was being economical with figures or truth or both, Sir Omotosho cleverly asked the man to excuse the meeting, or rather, the meeting adjourned because as it turned out, the report had neither head nor tail.
Some of the members who saw through the situation could not but burst into laughter! He was unapologetic about his position on any issue and had no guile.
An apostle of hierarchy and seniority in UIAA, he never wanted to be National President until those he considered capable and senior to him had taken shots at the leadership position. He was contented to be Chairman of the Lagos Branch, arguably the largest and the most vibrant Chapter of UIAA.
When he dedicated his house at Gbagada, Lagos over 30 years ago, and also when he was investitured as the Baba Ijo of Methodist Church, Aiyedun Ekiti, I saw simplicity and humility at his best. He preferred to attend to everyone young or old personally. However, he oftentimes popularised and elevated pounded yam over and about any other food even when he was constantly reminded that on the day of judgement in the hereafter the only food that will be available is amala with ewedu and gbegiri! When he was on our Governing Council, Sir Remi Omotosho related very well with unions but abhorred being lobbied by people with questionable agendas.
He will tell you straight away that with two or three of them as alumni in good standing together with the Chairman, they cannot be fooled nor can they work against the interests of the University. He was ever proud of the selection process of the Vice Chancellor of that time.
Years after he left as Chairman, UI Ventures, he had reasons to be at UI Hotels for a function, he was so impressed with the improvement that he wrote a letter of commendation to the then Chairman, Chief Dr Adebayo Adetunji (now late).
Sir Remi Omotosho, a knight of the Methodist Church, led a complete life of service of God and humanity. I am convinced that the heavens will celebrate his glorious home call even though his transition from mother earth is very painful to us as mortals. Adieu, Egbon.
Gani Adeniran is former 2nd National Assistant Secretary, UIAA.
Department of Veterinary Pathology, University of Ibadan.