For over 30 years he has been in the civil service plying his trade as a teacher. Now nearing the statutory retirement age of 60, pastor Gbolahan Oludele Oladoyinbo the Principal of the legendary Federal Government College Odogbolu in this chat with our man,Debo Akinyemi, recalls how providence took him to the zenith of his career.
My name is Gbolahan Oludele Oladoyinbo.I am a native of Abeokuta but my village is that lovely place known as Apomu in Ewekoro Local Government of Ogun state. My grandfather Chief James Alabi was the Baale of the town because his own forebears were the first settlers in the place.
My grandfather, though a very successful farmer, stood out in the crowd as he decided to marry one wife unlike his peers who took many wives and raised large number of children. My father was his only son who enjoyed good life growing up with his three siblings
Growing up was fun. I remember how we used to go to the village to visit Grandpa in Apomu. The fact that he was the Baale added to the fun. During festivities, we would go round the village catching fun and receiving gifts everywhere. But at a point, my parents Elder Nathaniel and late Madam Fehintola
Oladoyinbo travelled to the UK in search of the Golden Fleece and left us in the care of our maternal Grand parents, Pa and ma Osinkalu. They were leaving then at Lagos Street. Ebute Meta. We continued to have more fun in Ebute Meta. Grand Pa who was a Railway Service retiree always sought to spoil us with goodie- goodie. Our parents returned about ten years later to take us to Ibadan. While in UK my father worked with the popular Mark &Spencer.
TEACHING AS A CAREER.
I think that was purely an act of God and the influence of my dad. I was a brilliant Science student and had the Requirement to study medicine or Engineering. But my father goaded me towards teaching and today I have no cause to regret. After Secondary School I was offered admission at the same time to pursue my HSC and the Advanced Teachers Certificate. My father counseled me to go for the latter since it would launch me on a career path. Afterwards I went to the University Of Ilorin to obtain BSC in Biology.
JOB AFTER GRADUATION
It was not that easy. By the time I graduated the economy of the country had started showing signs of crisis under the military men that over threw the regime of Alhaji Shehu Shagari. The military government made some policies that forced more graduates to scramble for elusive job opportunities. For some time I nursed regrets for failing to follow a white lady to her native country, Canada. We met during my Teaching practice and became lovers. When she completed her mission in Nigeria and was ready to return home, she made plans for me to go with her. All was set for me to jet out with her but my father did not give the arrangement his blessing. He felt such plan did not bode anything good for me and I did not want to disobey him. Thank God I did not disobey .How would I have met the beautiful woman I later married in Nigeria.
My wife Omowunmi is the best thing to happen in my life .I have lived happily with her since our marriage .We have two sons and they are doing well overseas. One is in America and the other is in South Africa. I am grateful to God eventually got a job but it marked the beginning of a bitter-sweet experience for me.
SERVING IN BORNO.
I saw a vacancy notice by the Federal Ministry Of Education and put in my application.I went for the job screening and was shortlisted.But to my huge surprise, a letter of appointment came from Borno State Government, directing me to go and resume duty as a teacher in a town called Biu.It was then it occurred to me that the Ministry just helped Borno State to handle the job screening process. I was distraught and I decided not to take up the job.But my dad again advised me to accept the offer. His arguement was that I needed the job at that crucial time that my first child was on the way. As God would
have it, I did not wait to pick my first salary before I got another job in Ogun State.
FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE
It was a sad experience that led to that in my days at the Federal Government Girls College Sagamu. We had a terrible principal then who was playing kite with staff welfare. She was diverting staff salary into private account. She did that for five months before we discovered. It was during the struggle to seek justice that I emerged as the Union leader. At last we chased her away but not without some personal consequences.
In the wake of the trouble we made with the principal I was transferred to Keffi like many of my colleagues who were also thrown far to other parts of the country. That was not all. I also was denied my salary for eight months because the embattled Principal ensured that my name and that of others who participated in the struggle disappeared on the payment voucher. In addition, leaving far away from my family and aged parents was another pain I had to bear. But thank God I survived and here I am today.
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LIFE AS PRINCIPAL
I like what you called it. It is really a hot seat. It involves managing material and human resources and that is not easy. First and foremost, you are made to manage insufficient funds in the face of growing and challenging needs. Our students must be fed daily as and when appropriate. We must see to their hygiene and security and this gulp plenty of money and attention. For instance, we were forced to get prepaid meter because the DISCO office in charge of Odogbolu was slamming us with Bill of N300k every month. Just imagine that. Not that we have supply of electricity regularly. We pay humongous amount on fuelling and maintenance of the generator. The challenges of running the school keep you on your toes because nothing must go wrong for a second
MY RETIREMENT PLAN
I have a lot of things I am looking at. But I plan to slow down on life struggles and concentrate more on the work of God. I am an ordained pastor of CAC so my retirement will give more time to serve God.
Let me start by saying that government is doing a lot in the education sector. What students are getting almost for free in terms of quality in the Unity school is what private schools takes high school fees for. But for the government, many children would have suffered academic deprivation. But government still needs to do more in the area of finding .UNESCO says 25 percent of the budget of the country should go in to education funding but what the sector is now getting is a far cry from that. This is creating a lot of gap in our developmental programmes. With better funding the schools will be well equipped and have more capacity to deliver better values to our children.