•The Story Of Late TIMOTHY & JIMOH ODUTOLA
In Ijebu-Ode their name is well known to everybody. The name Odutola is synonymous with Ijebu-Ode. In fact, once you mention Odutola everyone will tell you they have heard about them. Though they have been dead several years ago, but Ijebu people can’t forget the exploits of these 2 blood brothers in a hurry. This is because the late Chief Timothy Adeola Odutola and Chief Jimoh Odutola, dominated the Ijebu landscape big time. The late Timothy died in 1995, while his brother, Jimoh, passed on in 2010 after living for more than 100 years.
Both were great Ijebu big businessmen who dominated Commerce & Industry in their time. Both were industrialists. But the only sad part was the 2 great men didn’t see eye to eye in their later years. As at the time Timothy died, they were practically not on speaking terms. But all that didn’t take anything away from their glory. That is why till today if you visit the ancient city of Ijebu Ode and ask for one big Ijebu family that has done remarkably well, you will be told it’s the Odutola family, led by the late 2 brothers Chief Timothy Adeola Odutola and his brother, Chief Jimo Odutola. They left a formidable mark on the business sand of time. For those who don’t know ChiefTimothy Adeola Odutola, who was then the Ogbeni Oja of Ijebu Ode, was one of Nigeria’s foremost industrialists of his time. Odutola was one of the rarest Ijebu breed. He was peerless. Born in 1902 in Ijebu Ode, the late Adeola Odutola had his elementary education at St. Saviours school, Ijebu Ode from where he proceeded to Ijebu Ode Grammar school.
After his secondary education, Odutola worked briefly as a Clerk in the Treasury department of the old secretariat, Lagos in 1921 and later in the Judiciary Department of the Jjebu Ode Native Administration.
He successfully combined his love for business with politics and variously served as a member of the Western House of Assembly for 14 years. At various times in the ’60s, he was a member of the Federal House of Representatives and member, Nigeria’s Upper Legislative Chamber.
In business, he carved a niche for himself, piloting many business outfits from Infancy to Maturity. He was a dealer in gold and timber, Dealer/Exporter of Cocoa and Palm Produce and Founder of Omo Sawmill. Odutola established the first Mechanised mill with wood treatment plant in Ijebu province as well as the first tyre retreading factory in the 1950s.
As an educationist, Odutola established a secondary commercial school in 1948; the Olu-Iwa Commercial Secondary School which later became Adeola Odutola College, Ijebu Ode in 1964. In 1968, Odutola founded Adeola Odutola Elementary school and endowed the university Professorial chairs at the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, and the Faculty of Business Administration at the University of Lagos.
In furtherance of higher education studies, Chief Odutola donated generously to the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Ibadan as well as the College of Agriculture and Business Administration at the Ogun State University. Chief Odutola was reputed to have sat as chairman over numerous companies such as Odutola Nigerian Industrial Limited (Tyres & Tubes in Ijebu Ode). OdutolaTyres Soles company Limited (Retreading Automotive Tyres in Ibadan and Kano; Odutola Food Industries Limited (High-Class cookies & Table water in Ijebu Ode and Odutola farm Estate (Growing Rubber and Oil Palm trees ).
He also co-founded continental Breweries Limited in 1980 as well as Eastern Breweries Plc in 1990. The two Breweries were consolidated to form consolidated Breweries Plc. He also co-founded Crown Products domiciled in ljebu Ode. The pivot position of Odutola in the realms of business gave him rare access to the position of First Nigerian member of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industries. The first president of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria from 1971 to 1982, qualifying as the longest-serving chairman. He was also a former non-executive director of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
It is notable that it was during the tenure of Chief Odutola as the chairman of Ijebu Divisional Council that the Queen of England paid a visit to Ijebu Ode in 1956, a privilege only accorded to Ibadan, the then capital of the Western Region. He also spearheaded the electrification of Ijebu Ode Township and deposited 50 per cent of the initial fee needed for the project. He also donated the site for NIPOST and NITEL in Ijebu Ode. In April 1995, the great icon passed on. In his time, he did business with his brother Jimoh Odutola, who was not educated, Jimoh only received little Koranic education and no western education because when he was young, he regarded school as not very important. “In 1932, both Jimoh and Timothy formed Odutola Brothers. The late Jimoh once explained how it happened. In 1932, my mother spoke with me in the tone of a mother to a son and advised me to speak with my brother, Timothy, to resign from native Court Clerk and join me”, he recalled. I accepted and went to my brother as my mother advised. The reply Timothy gave was that he was thinking of resigning and moving to his farm at Erilamo. He said that he did not know anything about business, not to talk to produce buying. I promised at that point that I would think this through. My brother accepted my offer and obtained the form of partnership from Barclay’s Bank DCO, Ijebu Ode and 2 of us signed on 2nd August 1932″.
Before the Odutola Brothers came into existence, Jimoh had opened a bank account with Barclays’ Back DCO. He then transferred his saving of £3,000 to the new company, Odutola Brothers. The fund placed him as the Senior Partner and his elder brother Junior partner. Jimoh was the Managing Director of J.A. Odutola Plastic Foam Co. Although, Jimoh was the younger brother, he was the Senior Partner in the joint venture, Odutola Brothers, which took over the Cocoa production business of Jimoh. Jimoh was also the Practical Manager, his brother having no knowledge of the business. In 1942, Jimoh Odutola applied for a Mining Licence from the government, on behalf of Odutola Brothers, to prospect for gold in Ijebu Province. He had previously discovered the first Nigerian goldfield. Eventually, Odutola Brothers were issued a mining licence, which empowered them to prospect for all minerals within Nigeria, except coal and diamond. The company explored streams in Ijebu Igbo, Ago Iwoye, Ijebu Ife and Ijebu Ode districts, before finally concentrating its attention on the IIe-Ife-IIesha axis, which was famous for its gold deposit. In spite of the lucrative nature of the Cocoa export and mining businesses, Odutola Brothers were afflicted by internal wranglings between the partners, Jimoh and Timothy.
They had a bad taste in the mouth. The strained relationship of the Odutola Brothers reached a climax when during one of his trips to Ijebu Ode from IIe- Ife, the base of their business, Jimoh stumbled on the building foundation of his elder brother, Timothy, which he had not mentioned to him.
This led to a quarrel, which lasted for months; between the brothers. It was only a matter of time before the working relationship, which was initiated by their mother, crumbled. It happened in 1949 when Odutola Brothers were eventually dissolved.
His venture into Transportation, buying and selling cocoa, as well as Mining, was inspired by the advice of a white colleague that “real business and substantial contributor to the economy of a nation was the man who produces goods and is in the industry,” made Jimoh Odutola to venture into the real sector of the economy industry production.
The bitter and acrimonious business relationship with his elder brother did not deter him from forging ahead. He founded the J.A. Odutola & Company Limited, West African Merchants in 1950, to handle his business. In 1954, Jimoh Odutola established the West Africa Tyre Retreading & co. Limited, the first of its kind in the whole of Africa, in Ogunpa, Ibadan. He engaged the best hands from Germany to ensure that products from the company were of standard comparable to those from overseas. He also involved his son, Mojeed, in the running of the company.
Between 1954 and 1956, Mojeed was sent to many tyre manufacturing companies in Europe, to learn the rudiments of tyre retreading. As the West African Tyre Retreading and Company Limited, which used rubber sheets obtained from Gowon Estate, Sapele and Dunlop Rubber Plantation, I1ushin, as raw material, went into full operation, more patrons: brought their tyres for retreading.
The demand for the company’s products was overwhelming, necessitating the opening of another factory in Aba, in the Eastern part of the country. The factory was in production until the Nigerian Civil War broke out in 1967. The aftermath of the civil war was so strong and devastating that it ensured production did not resume at the Aba factory and was converted into a warehouse. In 1977, the West African Tyre Retreading Co. Ltd finally closed down, owing to human factors, after 23years of pioneering effort.
Way back in 1958, Jimo Odutola scored another first, by establishing the Nigerian Rubber Foam Company, which pioneered the local production of quality rubber foam products such as mattresses, cushions and other upholstery materials, with the brand name Nifo Pillo and Tola foam.
Ever thinking ahead, Jimo Odutola also established Nigeria Plastic Foam from chemicals and not rubber, in 1960. It was also the first of its kind in Nigeria. In his time, Jimoh Odutola faced challenges and difficulties which would have drowned many an individual. He confronted the challenges as they came and in all cases triumphed.
His poor educational background, notwithstanding, he ventured into giving to society what he did not have, formerly. He established the Jummah Odutola International School, a school with a bias for Islamic education. The truth of the matter was that both Alhaji Jimo Odutola and his brother were great in life, but seemed greater, even in death. Although Timothy died in 1995 his brother, Jimo, passed on in 20I0 after living for more than 100 years.