Man, Religion, His God/god And His Fraternities
I came across a directive by the Babalaje of Remoland stating "Let no one say I renounced my fraternities when I’m gone"
The Babalaje of Remoland and chairman Cashcraft Assets Management, Otunba Joseph Adediji Ogunfuwa, according to reports, is a staunch Christian and at the same time a prominent member of a number of fraternities, which includes "The Reformed Ogboni Fraternity". He celebrated his 75th birthday sometime ago with a lecture. Otunba Joseph Adediji took time then to share his stories with a journalist named Adetutu Audu.
According to the report, JM Royal Haven, Sagamu, was the venue for the birthday and it played host to people and dignitaries from all walks of life.
It was the occasion of a lecture to commemorate the 75th birthday of pioneer chairman of Ode-Lemo Local Council and Chairman, Cashcraft Assets Limited, Otunba Joseph Ogunfuwa, and they had all come to felicitate with the ‘birthday boy.’
Topic of the day were as follows:
1) Religious intolerance; The Christian view point, 2) Religion and fraternities and
3) Religious Intolerance -The Muslim point of view.’
The discussants for the lecture part of the event included Prof. Dayo Adekole, Prof. Rom Kalilu Rom Kalilu, professor of Art and Art History as well as the former Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso and then the convener of the event, Otunba Joseph Ogunfuwa, who was the celebrant.
All the Royal fathers in Remoland attended the unique event and billionaire businessman, Olorogun Moses Taiga, who is the "District Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of England" chaired the event. The moderators of the event were Mr. Taiwo Alimi, former Director General, Voice of Nigeria (VON), Professor Okanlawon Odusoga and Professor Tunde Ogunsanwo.
The celebrant, Otunba Joseph Ogunfuwa, while speaking on what inspired the choice of a birthday lecture, said he conceived the idea 15 years ago when he clocked 60years. For him, 60 was a ripe age and it wouldn’t have been premature if he died at that age. Hear him, “My late father died at 62, so for me, when you clock 60 and die, it is not a premature death.”
The lecture, he stated was initially restricted to just his family and close associates but at 65, he was advised to extend invitations to a wider audience. “Because of my experiences of knotty issues like world peace, religion; as well as others that will always give people food for thought, people thought it would benefit more people and become like a legacy that would pass on to generations," he said.
So he changed the pattern of the lecture. According to him, he saw the need to invite well-qualified and more knowledgeable persons to partake in the discussion. Prof. Dayo Adekole talked about ‘Religion and Fraternities, Any Conflict’, while Prof. Rom Kalilu spoke on ‘Religious Intolerance -The Muslim point of view.’ the celebrant himself spoke on ‘Religion Intolerance-The Christian view point and Religion and world peace.’
Otunba Joseph Ogunfuwa was of the view that none of the fraternities that he belonged to was ever against any religion or government. They all affirm to the supremacy of God and opposed to any kind of discrimination in religion.
The celebrant also said that “The entire world needs peace and not insurgency. And the battle for 'God' among different religions must stop if the world must know peace." But did he envisage he would live this long?
Otunba Joseph Ogunfuwa’s terse response to such question is that “Nobody knows how old he would live.”
He said people die of different causes. “One can even have the best of health and still die young. At the same time, when you abstain from what is not necessary, one can live long. For instance, I gave up smoking over 30 years ago. I was a bad drinker, and my elder sister was always warning me and weeping. Today both of us are alive.”
As a child, he explained that he was sickly and had medical constraints and his parents thought he’d never attain adulthood. “My grandmother was however fond of me and always prayed for me to survive her. My mother, by the way, died of Asthma at 32. The doctor advised me to stop smoking, but I didn’t. I eventually gave it up because of my asthmatic condition."
On growing up and the challenges he faced, Otunba Ogunfuwa revealed that his school education was of two types, and in three stages. The first was the formal, while the second was informal.
He attended CMS School (now St. John’s Anglican School), Ode-Lemo between 1945 and 1953, graduating with a Standard Six Certificate. Thereafter, he worked as a pupil teacher in 1954 under the guidance of his paternal uncle, Rev. Canon J. S. Odususi. “My uncle wished that I would eventually become a secondary school principal or more appropriately, a bishop. So he advised me to go through the teachers training colleges and eventually to a university to earn a degree, without which it would be impossible for me to become a bishop.”
However, his uncle’s plan only worked up to a stage.
He got admission into St. Paul’s Teacher Training College, Abeokuta and completed the Grade III Teachers’ Course in December 1957. He was adjudged the youngest student, not only of his set but in the entire College. Records indicate that some of his classmates were almost of his father’s age. He was also nicknamed “Small Yonco” because of his rascally nature
Related: Money-making Rituals: Real Or Imaginary?
That notwithstanding, he was lucky to be guided by two of his classmates, Sola Ogunade now Justice Bashola Ogunade (retired) and one of his seniors, Alfred Abolade Ehindero, “the Only Eligible Northerner”, who particularly prevented him, on three occasions, from abandoning the course.
From the college, he was posted to St Peter’s Anglican School, Isara as a teacher. He was later transferred in 1959 to head the St. Peter’s School, Atoba in Orile Oko, Ogun State. By this posting, he became the youngest headmaster in the entire Western Region of Nigeria and was superintending over teachers who were about his father’s age, an experience he said he did not enjoy. He was later transferred, on classroom assignment, to Christ Church School, Ogere also in Ogun State.
While still working at Ogere, he gained entrance into Ijebu-Abeokuta Colony Grade Two Teacher Training College (IJABCOL), Sagamu. Despite the fact that he came first in the entrance examination and was doing very well in the course, he had to voluntarily withdraw from the college in April 1960 when the government stopped the full salaries they were paying to “Return Students”, of which he was one, and replaced it with allowances only.
From this point, his formal education stopped until several years later. On the encouragement of one of his friends, he decided to study Accountancy. He prepared for series of examinations through the Rapid Result Correspondence College of London.
His performance at the Institute of Bookkeepers Fellowship Examination underlined his brilliance, as he emerged the only West African that passed four subjects at a sitting in that year’s examination. That efat also earned him a sport pen from his coordinator, the Late Rev. J.O. Lucas. He also performed excellently in the Association of International Accountants Intermediate, winning the second place prize of Fifteen pounds sterling (£15). He completed the final examination of the institute in June 1964. That same year, he passed the final examination of the Institute of Cost and Industrial Accountants; coming second in the final examinations.
Quite uncharacteristically however, he attempted and failed the ACCA Part II final examination twice. With determination and encouragement from his Dr. Francis Owosina, he was able to surmount that obstacle and pass the examination in 1969.
Ogunfuwa’s career in the corporate sector started with the RSA Stage II Certificate, as an Accounts Clerk in the Nigerian Produce Marketing Company (NPMC) in 1963.
He later joined the Nigerian National Shipping Line Ltd (NNSL) as an Accounting Assistant Grade I. In 1968 the Board of Directors of the Nigerian National Shipping Line Limited sent him to England to understudy the Branch Accountant in Liverpool, from whom he eventually took over in November 1968. He therefore became the first Nigerian to head the company’s Accounts Department in Liverpool.
He was transferred back to Nigeria on promotion as Senior Accountant in 1971. Regrettably however, he had to resign in 1972 over what he describes as unfair treatment from his immediate boss then, the Chief Accountant of the NNSL.
He subsequently worked as Chief Accountant with several other organisations including the West African Technical and Engineering Company Ltd (WATECO), Iganmu; the Nigerian Securities; and John Holt Group Holding Company. He was Finance and Administrative Manager to Cornerstone Organisation, Dorman Long, a subsidiary of British Steel Corporation, and Amalgamated Engineering Company.
An educationist per excellence, beyond being an accountant, he was also a guest lecturer at the Nigeria Institute of Management, before joining Bolaji Finnih and Company as a Consultant.
So was his wealth of experience, the reason behind his title of Babalaje of Remoland title? Ogunfuwa who is principal partner, Ogunfuwa and Ogunfuwa and Company, an auditing firm said "I don’t know why they conferred Babalaje on me because I told them I don’t want. Babalaje is given to people who are rich. I am not. I know those who are stinkingly rich but are afraid to spend N20; and when they die people who don’t know how they made their money will fritter it".
He said people tend to relate fulfilment with wealth, but revealed that he had been fulfilled right from when he clocked 60. “It is whatever you set out to achieve that makes you fulfilled. I set out to be what I am, to be kind to people to be generous and to be able to live according to my conscience. I listen to advice but I don’t take all advice. I am not rich and I don’t have to be rich to be a fulfilled man. I have 14 children and 23 grandchildren. I have always told my children, what I have done for you go and do it for yourselves.”
Otunba Joseph Ogunfuwa is both a Christian and a fraternity man at the same time.
Coming from a strong Christian lineage, Ogunfuwa confessed that he is an active church-goer from youth. He was until December 1957 a member of the church choir. He also served as a member of the Parish Church Committee (PCC) and as Diocesan representative for many years. He is currently one of the joint Auditors of the Church accounts. Despite this however, he belongs to several notable international and philosophical associations such as the Reformed Ogboni Fraternity (ROF), the Free Masonry, the United Brothers of Friendship and Sisters of Mysterious among others.
On the possible clash his involvement with these groups might cause after his demise, he said ‘I have told my children and I have said it openly. Nobody should say I renounce any of the association of fraternities that I belong to. I am a Christian of Anglican Communion, when I die members of my fraternities should come in their full regalia and if the church will not permit that, let my fraternities bury me.’
Indeed, man, his religion, his "God/god" and his fraternities, can there actually be a meeting point for coexistence and harmony?