By Dapo Ogunwusi
He had just been appointed the Chief Scientific Officer of the federation and he needed to resume work at his new office in Lagos. Dr. Victor Omololu Olunloyo chose that fateful day to resume in Lagos. He packed his family from their Ibadan home in two cars and headed out to another national assignment.
An award winning Senior Wrangler from St. Andrews University, ground-breaking engineer and mathematician, Olunloyo already had a string of public service appointments from which he came out in brilliant colours. The record is in public domain.
On that fateful day in 1978, the Olunloyos encountered a horde of rioters at the approach to Lagos. It was the infamous Ali Must Go riot.
One of the cars carried the federal government CVU plate number. The evil rioters saw red and descended on the convoy. Someone climbed to the top of the car bearing a massive boulder which he brought down aiming for the owner’s corner of the car. Obviously he reasoned in his demented mind he was attacking one of the oppressors. Meanwhile, fate played a trick. Victor Olunloyo had exchanged places in the car with Aknitayo, his smart 8year old carbon-copy son. The rock came down on Tayo’s head beginning one of the most remarkable events of personal tragedy.
A strong young fellow for his age, Tayo fought valiantly remaining in coma for 16months. He was wheelchair bound henceforth. His mother, Chief Mrs. Funmilayo Olunloyo literally lived by his bedside all through the stay at the University of Lagos teaching hospital ward.
While Tayo fought on in his comatose state, several remarkable events took place. One was the account of a military officer called Ibrahim Babangida, who among others, paid regular visits to his bedside. Sometimes according to reports, Babangida rode down on a motorcycle.
With characteristic good humour and unmatchable courage, Tayo lived through these events. Everybody marveled at how much he had gone through and survived. His grip was firm, his mind was razor sharp. Tayo Olunloyo lived like the true Christian soldier he was. His was a significant story of fortitude and humour.
The family suffered even more seeing a stalwart son on the wheelchair going through so much. Tayo was a major focus at family occasions. Usually smartly dressed with a smile, he made his zest for life clear to all.
A guest was said to have asked him on an occasion “what can I do for you?” Tayo asked for LEGS! It was one of the things the wicked world had robbed him of.
Tuesday, 28th September, 2021, the story of Akintayo Olunloyo came full circle as he breathed his last and departed the world that took so much from him in ruthless and unprovoked violence.
His father, now in his old age, must mourn a favorite child who had to bear on his shoulders such a great burden in a bitter struggle he confronted so valiantly. Akintayo succumbed to the cold grip of death at the age of 51. Tayo came and saw so much of the evil of this wicked world and is now reunited with his maker.
Boundless courage is a family tradition with the Olunloyos. It was the same quality that saw the mathematician trawl life and stay on top on momentous occasions. That steely quality stood Tayo in stead all through life before last Tuesday.
Perhaps one of the most frequently officed persons in the country, Tayo is arguably the heftiest price Victor Olunloyo had to pay for his charmed life.
A cross between the patrician looks of his own dad, Horatio, and himself, Tayo was a price too many to pay for the former governor. On many occasions, the old politician took great pain to humour the young fellow and try to bring out the true colours which he was robbed of 43years ago on the outskirts of Lagos.
Tayo represented a sad testimony of how terrible human beings could be. He lived that experience and watched the world go by having taken from him so much of what he could have been.
Soldiers go to war and sometimes die or get wounded. Tayo was only an eight-year-old when the world took so much from him.
We unfortunately must now bid him a sombre farewell from a life that showed him such great turpitude.
Adieu Tayo, rest on in the bossom of your maker.