…Honoured with AgriBusiness Excellence Recognition Award (AERA)
By Charles Segun Adegbite
The Late American President, Abraham Lincoln, once admonished: “Don’t worry when you are not recognised, but strive to be worthy of recognition.“ This aptly describes the secret behind the lifestyle and persistent efforts of Pharm. Olumayowa Okeowo Odunlami, who was conferred with AgriBusiness Excellence Recognition Award (AERA) on Thursday, 28th November, 2019, at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Ogun State.
This sexagenarian pharmacist, citrus farmer, agribusinessman,
veteran administrator and human resources manager, doesn’t struggle for awards. Instead, he does always what makes him to be worthy of recognition.
Consequently, that Thursday was a day of honour for him and 17 others, because he was inducted there and then as African Food Survival Ambassador(AFSA) by a non governmental organisation, Save-an-African Child Agricultural Education Mission (SACAEM), which gave him the award.
Born in Ibadan, Oyo State, on February 14, 1952, to the Family of Chief G.B.S Odunlami of Ode Remo, Ogun State, Olumayowa attended Agodi Methodist School, Ibadan, for his primary education. He thereafter proceeded to Methodist High School, Molete, Ibadan in 1966. But just a year after, he sought for and got transferred to Remo Secondary School, Sagamu, Ogun State, where he completed his secondary education in 1970.
In 1971 he gained admission into the then University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Ile-Ife, Osun State, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy in 1977.
He started practicing pharmacy since that 1977, with internship at the Lagos State Health Management Board. This led to his working with Lagos State hospitals like the Island Maternity Hospital, General Hospital, Ikeja, among others.
This pharmaceutical practice with the Lagos State was interrupted for a year, during which he went for his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Programme. This was done at the Kaduna State Hospital Board, during which he worked with the Funtua General Hospital (now in Kastina State).
After his return to Lagos State Hospital Management Board after the NYSC programme and brief service with the Hospital Board, he joined CIBA-GEIGY, a notable pharmaceutical company.
In 1982 he went into private pharmaceutical practice, which enabled him to venture into agribusiness as well. He embarked on cassava farming, and also went into poultry, fish and snails farming; although on small scale. As he continued in the agribusiness he kept on making progress, and also faced the challenges involved; which added to his experiences in the agribusiness.
In view of his numerous iconic contributions to the growth of medical sciences in Nigeria, especially pharmaceutical industry, he was honoured with a merit award by the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Ogun State council, in 2000.
His leadership and managerial skills also paved way for him to become the President of the Owolowo Makun Sagamu CTCU Ltd, a prominent cooperative union in Remo, Ogun State.
As the President of the cooperative Union, Odunlami influenced his members by encouraging them to venture into farming.
The outcome of those efforts was the recognition this fetched him from SACAEM that Thursday.
Why The Award?
According to the SACAEM’s reports, the induction and award given to this veteran pharmacist, were to reward his efforts for owning citrus and cassava farms, through which he has been contributing to food security in Nigeria. Moreover, for influencing his cooperative union members and non members to venture into agriculture.
Through that influence, his members, both individuals and group, got involved in agriculture, and consequently have been adding to agricultural productivity of the country.
It was disclosed that some members were trained by a German NGO, GIZ in Agric Ventures.
The award and recognition were to spur this man who has distinguished himself as an award winning pharmacist, agribusinessman, to continue to do more.
Going by the reports, a group among the cooperative unions, has about four hectares of cassava plantation and three hectares of maize farm. Odunlami has been encouraging his members to go into Plantain and Palm Tree plantations in the coming years.
The Award Day
For this veteran pharmacist, it was a day of glory for him when the man anchoring the program, Pastor Segun Ogunaike, called him to come out for his award and investiture.
As he walked out majestically to the podium, a round of applause from the undergraduates of the FUNAAB rented the air.
His citation was read by Mrs Adesuwa Ejhoyokar, and the investiture was done thereafter. This was followed with the presentation of the award plaque.
The investiture as African Food Survival Ambassador (AFSA) which was done inside Prof Mamood Yakubu Lecture Theatre of the FUNAAB, had a retired Director of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Dr David O. Akinsola as the chairman of the Organizing Committee. While Professor Oluwalana of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, was also there with other university staff and students who made the aesthetic auditorium to be filled to capacity.
Of course, guests of the awardees, students of the secondary schools invited for participation in the Agric Quiz and other guests and host were there, making the event colorful and successful.
The Chief organiser and CEO of SACAEM, Mr Oladele Awoleri disclosed that the award was to spur the awardees to keep contributing to food production in Africa.This will also let anyone who aspires to be inducted as AFSA to begin to contribute to the development of agriculture and food production in Africa now.
Through that commitment and persistent efforts many farmers who have not been recognised now would become food ambassadors in the nearest future.