•As He Retires From Active Service
Chief Olajide Ogunleye is a top shot at NNPC. He is the Manager, Head Office Accounts at the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), a subsidiary of NNPC. He is in a happy mood right now. Reason? As you read this, he is 60 and he has also just retired from active service at the NNPC where he has put in 34 years. But he does not look 60. Yes, he is 60 and still waxing strong. He plans to celebrate it in a few days time. Its going to be a 2-in-1 celebration, namely Pen Down & 60th Birthday Celebration. Chief Edward Olajide Ogunleye will also be having a Thanksgiving Service to mark the 2 significant milestones.
All his friends and family members are rallying round him. That is to be expected. He is a nice gentleman. He is amiable and also sociable. He is a Prince of Owo royalty. That is why many of his friends call him Olowo. He is a valuable member of Ikoyi Club. He is the Chairman of the Table Tennis Section at the Club. To honour him a Table Tennis tournament was organised in his honour last week.
What gives him utmost joy is his beautiful wife and family. He is happily married to Olubukola Ogunleye (need Atoki), the Proprietress of a highflying A-Grade Crech Play Group and Primary School in Magodo, called De Beautiful Beginning School. The permanent site of the school is undergoing construction.
He is also greatly inspired by the successes recorded by his children. He has 3 great kids, namely Oluwatobi who is in a Canadian University; Oluwatimilehin (who is currently serving in Lagos) and Oluwasemilore, who is at Day Waterman College.
Chief Ogunleye is the Oladokun Agbededola 2 of Owo Kingdom. Below are excerpts of his interview with City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE.
Let me congratulate you on your 60th birthday and your retirement from NNPC after 34 years. How does all these make you feel?
Haaa! I am seriously looking forward to Tuesday 23rd July, 2019. I can’t wait. I am happy. As a matter of fact, I have been looking forward to that day since 1st of January, 2018. That is exactly 18 months to my retirement date.
Why do you sound so excited about your retirement?
It is a thing of joy to have worked in an Oil company for 34 years and you are going voluntarily. You are not being retired. You are not sacked. And you are not found wanting in any way. So, I seriously look forward to this. As a matter of fact, I have been doing a countdown, every day, to the date and it is just 5 days more (the interview was done last Tuesday).
What do you plan to do next?
That is a big question. First, I need to take off to rest, and relax and look into the future, and think of what next and what the next level is. Definitely, I know a lot of things are waiting for me to do. It’s just for me to make a choice of what to do.
You don’t look exactly 60. You are still full of life. You are still bubbling. What is the secret?
No 1, God is the secret. That is No 1. But I don’t really know what the secret is. I think probably it has to do with my way of life (my routine) contributed to it. I wake up in the morning, going to the office, after office going for my games, and exercise. But most importantly its Gods work.
You have worked in NNPC for 34 years. That is a long time. How did you end up there? How did you decide on going to work for NNPC?
It was a difficult decision because initially when I joined after service in 1986 January, the plan was for me to work for just 10 years, after which I will go on my own, and start something. I had a lot of plans then. Before then, I had worked in a place where I thought that was what I wanted to do in the future, but as time rolled by, the plans began to change. Having done the first 10 years, which qualifies me for gratuity, I thought I would go, but the job became more interesting and I decided to stay for more years. As long as I stayed, I began to get more into the job and that was it. I couldn’t leave again. It became very interesting.
Tell me about your growing up years… Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
I was born in the ancient town called Owo, in Owo Kingdom. That was some 60 years ago, July 23. I grew up in Owo. My first 15 years was in Owo, without going out of the town. I had my elementary school and my primary in the town.
I left the town after my secondary school in 1975. I came to Lagos. But I had to go back again for some months to think about what next to do. That was the beginning. My beginning was very good and very humble. I am from a big family in Owo. Its was like a communion, where we lived together as one. My father had 9 good wives. And the kids from the 9 wives lived together. We all used to sit down to eat together. That was how all of us grew up.
After secondary school, I had to go to Kaduna. My sister was working in Kaduna, she was living in Kaduna. She is my senior sister. Even though she is from another mother, she took me exactly like her own brother. She took all of us to Kaduna and I started to work with my school certificate. I was in the Ministry of Health & Social Welfare. I did about 3 years there and I had to come back South became there was no admission.
I tried to get into Kaduna Poly or the University of Zaria, probably because of where we come from, there was no admission. So, I had to come back to the South. Then, I worked briefly for another 2 years before I got admission into Yaba College of Technology. I studied Accountancy. Thereafter I went to the University of Abuja for a Post Graduate Diploma in Finance. That was a pre-requisite for you to equate your certificate to a B.Sc. in NNPC, if not you won’t be able to move to managerial level.
Everyone calls you Olowo. How did you get that nickname?
I am from a Royal Family in Owo, the Oladokun family, our own palace is directly in front of the Olowo’s palace in Owo. As a matter of fact, any Olowo that will be installed will have to come to our own family house on the ceremony day. Part of our family is the Osuro family. It’s a rite that the Osuro family will perform on any Olowo.
It was when I joined Ikoyi Club that the name actually because popular. In 2010 when I lost my mother, we had lost our 1st Oladokun, that is Oladokun Agededola 1 from our own family and there was a need for us to have a new chief. So, the Kabiyeesi then, late Oba Olateru Olagbegi now demanded that the family should bring forth their next chief, so I was brought forth. I was installed as the Oladokun Agbededola 2 of Owo from that royal family. My friends that came from Lagos attended the burial and they saw the installation and the chieftaincy and when we got back to Lagos they forgot about my name and they started calling me Olowo, Olowo. There are so many people in the club who don’t even know my name.
That was how the Olowo nickname overshadowed my name. As a matter of fact, when the late Olowo, Olateru Olagbegi joined his ancestors a few months ago, people were asking me if I was going to be the next Olowo. I had to tell them I am not qualified to be Olowo. I am just a Chief from Owo. That is how popular the name is.
(Part 2 Next week)