Olubamwo Oladimeji one of the assisting priests in St. Jude’s Church Odo Olowo in Oshodi area of Lagos . He is a nephew to Adetiloye. He started living with him when he was 10 years. He recalls some of the great moments with the late primate
How was it like growing up under the tutelage of the late primate?
For me the years I stayed with him were the defining years of my life. We lived on Pisgah top that was the bishops court in Ado-Ekiti. I was the one doing all the work in the house. We had gardeners and some other domestic helps but they use to go and come. But I was the only one living in the house.
I was suppose to work in the Bishops court when I completed my secondary education but baba felt it was not proper that it would appear that he was taken undue advantage of his position as Bishop of the diocese so I had to look for work elsewhere. I was with him till we moved to Lagos .
By that time his wife had taken ill and was not around as she was being attended to. So he was the only one taking decisions on how to run the house. Though we had a cook but Baba was the one that ensured that things work in the house. Pounding yam was like a hubby for us.
From my reading of him he is another angel that have come to live in this part of the world. He is a human being created from a different perspective. He was not ordinary. Whatever he wanted to do he did it with passion.
What are the things that made him really different?
For me it may be difficult to explain. He just had that grace around him. When he is driving for instance he always kept a cutlass in his book and would stop on the road to clear trees that have fallen on the road. He will pack his vehicle and cut the trees obstructing traffic because in those days we had such instances where trees fall on road part. Instead of just trying to manovoure and get out of the debris, he would literarily come down, take his cutlass and clear the place. In those days, bishops were well revered. He was very humble.
He did not focus on his own challenges, rather he was always focusing on the challenges of other and encouraging them. He does a lot of farming and you don’t have a dull moment with him.
How was it coming to Lagos as Bishop of Lagos and then Primate of All Nigeria ?
He was to come to Lagos on the day babangida staged a coup against Buhari. The archbishop then had preferred him bishop of Lagos . But there were agitations, He was not allowed to enter the Bishops court. At the end of the day God took charge. He was always praying and fasting. He can do without food for days. I experienced it first hand. One of the things that is outstanding about him was his prayer and fasting life. And when he is fasting and praying he may not change his cloth for days. By the time you see his eyes and hear him talk you will feel the presence of God. The glory of God was so strong upon him. The way he handled issues was peculiar.
Tell us about the crises he faced?
Anglicans are human beings and there is tendency for man to misbehave. So I don’t think the crisis in the Church then was peculiar to the church. It is something common to most human organisations. In the case of baba Adetiloye, he did not give attention to challenges rather he was always thinking of making progress. He was always thinking about church and church. That was the zeal he brought to Lagos. He was always talking about planting church and visiting the sick. There are many priests that he made sure were trained.
How about his relationship with those in government?
There is no leader that he was not a friend to. When Obasanjo was retiring from military he came to Odo Owa in Ekiti from shortly after he retired. General Adeyinka Adebayo was also his very good friend and a number of people. He had been a chaplain at the Cathedral Church Christ earlier before he was preferred as a Bishop. He was always advising those in government. There were many times he ran away from home. There were times armored tanks were stationed at the front of the cathedral.
Initially baba was not used to going to the press. He was always counseling leaders of the nation privately. He did that much and he prayed a lot for the government but he had to start using the press heavily because there were threats to his life.His phone was being bugged. SSS people were always on his trail.
There was a day he had to disguise to run away from the house when it was clear that they wanted to kill him. He dressed like a female in the Bishops court and we stationed two buses and tried to guard him and make him escape from the cathedral. I didn’t know where he ended that day. He believed he could die anytime but he was also careful about his life that was why he had to apply wisdom sometimes.
How would you assess his relationship with his priests?
He had a away of calling and advising priests. He did not engage in side talks. If he hears anything from you he would confirm and invite you. Then there were all kinds of doctrines being brought into the church which he tried to stem.
There was a day I climbed on a pot of sacrifice I just came in contact with the sacrifice as I marched it I was no longer myself. Something happened to me and I was confused I ran to him and he prayed for me and shortly after I became normal again.
What would you consider his greatest achievement?
He was able to unite Anglican churches. He was ready to quell crisis as they emanated. He was always on the road traveling seeing to the needs of the parishes and settling one crisis or the other. By the time he was leaving as primate he had been able to stabilize a lot of things
Can you recall the last moment with him?
He asked me to see him. That was early December. We were two with him and he insisted that we should have launch together. We ate together in fellowship. He was very okay till he died but because of old age he could not do a lot of . When I would repeat my visit he said he hoped that I would meet him. He asked after students of Babington Macaulay and that was how we left that day. Few days after he died.
What makes him sad and what makes him happy?
He was not happy when he sees a church not doing well or churches where people complain a lot. There is never a dull moment with him. He wants people around him. He was interested in solving country’s problem. There is no dull moment for him. He wanted the church to grow and make more impact. He was not interested in lobbying for positions. It is difficult to fit into his shoes.
Finally, what will you consider his greatest contribution to the church?
That is a difficult one because contribution to the church will be putting it mildly. He actually gave his all to the church. He was so passionate about the church that he forgot to attend to himself and his immediate family. He did not settle himself. Those of us who were his relations were also made to go through that sacrificial life he lived. Baba at the end of day had no material gain. His treasures I believe are in heaven. By now is resting with God.