The planning of his party had been on for the past one year. His wife and kids had been meeting on how to give their father, Ambassador Femi Fowora a grand 80th birthday party.
They all believe that this seasoned diplomat who rose to the very top of his career in the foreign service deserves to be celebrated. His friends thought so too, which explains why very many distinguished Nigerians gathered in Lagos on Monday 26th December 2016 to celebrate this great Ijebu man who the Awujale of Ijebu, Alaiyeluwa Oba (Dr.) S.K. Adetona fondly calls “Ambassadoo” or sometimes Afemo.
He has a very interesting story to tell. Otunba (Amb.) Emmanuel Olufemi Fowora was born on Christmas day, 25th December 1936 at Ijebu -Ode to Pa Moses and Otunba (Mrs) R.O Fowora. He had his primary education at Emmanuel School lsonyin – a small town of a peculiar kind- which was at the forefront of education advancement in the whole of Ijebu province at that time. The Ambassador entered Ijebu -Ode Grammar from 1951 and left in 1956 and after clearing the West African School Certificate in Grade II with distinction in History and Religious knowledge.
He worked briefly from December 1956 at the high Court Lagos until July 1958 when he left for further
educational studies in North Western Polytechnic, Kentish Town, London. After an academic term 1958/59, he passed his Advanced level, General Education Certificate papers in 3 subjects at one sitting, and entered the University of Hull in October 1959 to read Law and graduated LL.B second Class Upper Division (Hons) in 1962.
Ambassador Fowora was recruited in London in 1962 into the Nigeria Foreign Service. He served in the Ministry from 1962-1964, attended the then 3- month course at Nigerian Law School in 1963, and was called to Bar, thereafter he enrolled as a solicitor and Advocate of the Supreme Court of in 1964. From 1964, Ambassador E.O Fowora began serving abroad. He was posted to Khartoum Sudan and remained there as Head of Chancery until he was moved to the Consulate General in New York 1966 as a consul. In 1967, he was cross-posted along with 21 colleagues to the Home Service during the civil war, when the Home Service was devastated by the deserting Biafran officers.
He was returned along with his colleagues to the Foreign Service after 7 months when Biafran officers similarly deserted the Foreign Service. He was posted to Dakar, Senegal in 1968, and remained there until 1972 when he returned to the Ministry as Director of Africa Affairs Department. In 1976, Ambassador Fowora was sent to establish the Nigeria High Commission Canberra Australia as Acting High Commissioner in 1978. At the end of 1979, he was assigned for the second time in Dakar Senegal as Ambassador. In 1981, he was assigned to Surinam, Guyana, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago as head of the missions to those countries with residence in Port of Spain in Trinidad, as High Commissioner. He returned to ministry in Nigeria in 1982 and remained there as Director Administration until he was assigned to Belgrade Yugoslavia in 1986. He was also High Commissioner in England between 1988/89 before moving to Senegal. He finally returned to Nigeria in 1992 and retired after 35 years in government service. Thereafter, Ambassador Fowora had a stint of 7 years in a construction company (private sector) in Apapa as Executive Director until 1999 Having finally retired from public and private sector services, Ambassador Fowora was honored with a title of Otunba Setejoye of Ijebuland in December 1996 by paramount Monarch of Ijebuland, His majesty, Alaiyeluwa, Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Adetona, CFR, the Awujale of Ijebuland.
He was later chosen as Baba Egbe of Egbe Bobagbimo, an age grade of Ijebu. He had earlier been decorated chevalier de national (knight of the National Order) in Senegal by President Senghor. Otunba Setejoye is married to Chief (Mrs) Edith Olayinka Fowora, Yeye Setejoye of Ijebuland. Their marriage is blessed with 3 children and many grandchildren. Ambassador belongs to many social clubs including Lagos Motor Boat Club. Ikoyi Club, Yoruba Tennis Club and Island club all in Lagos.
HIS WIFE REVEALS THEIR MARRIAGE SECRET
“What do you say about someone you’ve known for 54 years and been married to for 52 years? A lot but I will not bore you with that. We traversed the World from Khartoum to New York, then on to Dakar Senegal, Canberra Australia, London back to Dakar, Trinidad & Tobago and finally Belgrade Yugoslavia. It’s be~n a wonderful life! He has been a wonderful father and brother to me and a great father to his children and a doting grandfather. Let me share with you what he told me when I agreed to his marriage proposal. “You are not going to work but look after me and the children” and I agreed. I hope I have satisfied you on that.
As you celebrate your 80th birthday, I wish you and Yinkus many many more years and healthy life. May the Almighty father continue to bless and keep you. Amen
Chief Mrs Edith Olayinka Fowora (Wife)
(Yeye Setejoye of ljebu land)
SON, ADETOLA FOWORA’S TRIBUTE
“80 Years has come and gone since you were born on this earth and not a single day goes by when I don’t think about your worth. You are the kindest man I’ve ever known And the best dad I could ever hope for. From teaching me to play with toys to reciting my ABC’s. Through your work – I saw and experienced the world. Australia to Yugoslavia and many more countries in between. You gave Deola, Femi and I the best of everything, loved mummy in the purest way possible thus inspiring me to be the best possible husband and father I can be. I have a lot to live up to. Sometimes you were tough_ on me. But you always taught me
what I needed to learn. You showed me that whatever I get in life must be worked for and it must be earned. I have admired every moment of your life and it is because of you that I have what I have. I thank you for raising me, for loving me and for teaching me your way and I wish you all the love in the world on this, your 80th birthday
DAUGHTER ADEOLA’S BIRTHDAY PRAYER FOR DAD
I’m praying a birthday prayer for you, Peace and happiness in all you do. Lord, my father gave his all for me, I pray You’ll hear my extra special plea: Keep him safe so he can still be near; Lord, my father is so very dear. Role model, an extraordinary man, He’s my dad and 11m his biggest fan. Dad, 11m praying to the Lord for you that He will give you all the good you’re due. By Joanna Fuchs My father Otunba (Amb) Olufemi Fowora is an extraordinary presence in my life. He has spent the greater part of his life loving and supporting my brothers and me unconditionally, and has spent every minute of his married life loving my mother unconditionally. He loved his late brother Eng. Chief Eric Fowora unconditionally and continues to love all my uncle’s children unconditionally. I marvel at how large my dad’s heart is. I marvel at his strength and resilience. I marvel at what he has overcome in the last 24 months. I marvel at the fact that every Sunday for the last 31 months my dad picks up the phone and calls me in Miami …. ‘rny darling daughter …. ‘1 am filled with immense joy that my dad has reached the age of 80, his Diamond jubilee. Surrounded by his wife, children and children’s children, what a blessing from God Almighty! Daddy, I wish you a happy birthday, may God continue- to bless you and keep you, may He continue to keep you healthy and may He continue to increase your number of days. Love you like kilode. Your darling daughter
FEMI (JNR)’S TRIBUTE
At certain times in the last 3 years, I thought we would not make it to this day. So, first I must give God all the Glory for seeing us through a very difficult period for both Daddy and Mummy who soldiered almost insurmountable odds to get here .1 have known you all of may 45 years on this earth. In that time I have learnt a lot of what I know and the way I have chosen to run my life. Like you, I have a wonderful loving wife and 3 lovely children. Like you, I have understood never to spend more than I have and to plan out in detail what I want to do with my life early on. I was privileged at a very early age to travel the globe, first class courtesy of a more generous Nigerian government of better days, learnt fluent French, got driven to school in Rolls-Royce Phantom VI at seven ,flown Concorde at 10 and had experiences few children on the planet could have dreamt at the time or now for that matter. (My older siblings were at boarding school at the time!)These experiences prepared me well for my latter life as it gave me an unshakeable confidence in myself in the face of much peer pressure from many who tried knowingly or unknowingly to intimidate me. For this, I am truly grateful .1 am also grateful for having a father who accumulated tremendous goodwill over his career.
As such when I got into the world of business I learnt that the mere mention of my father’s name afforded me the opportunity to be listened to and it ultimately opened many doors. This intangible asset is worth more than gold.Now as you have hit this landmark age and continue to look forward to many more years with us I would like you to stop worrying about the little details and things you cannot control. For instance, Lagos State government sending you a demand notice for land use in full even though the law clearly states that you have a concessional rate and we resolve this yearly. Don’t worry Lagos state will not possess your house! Worrying about this every year is not constructive! When I asked you why fret you told me some time ago that at this age you have a lot of time to create
problems! Now is the time to take things completely easy in the knowledge that you have created those who will resolve most problems that may arise!I congratulate you again on having made it past the finish line so well. Now you can catch your breath.To attain the age of 80 in our country in these times is a remarkable achievement and may Gods Grace and favour continues to protect you as long as it pleases Our Good Lord.