My name is William Olorunfemi Adeduro. Welcome to my greatest day of joy so far. Thank you for coming to celebrate God for lavishing His love on me for eighty eventful years. By the grace of God, I am 4,171 weeks and 4 days old today. I have lived with a frail body for forty-one years but I have never suffered for a day.
Despite being seriously sick since I was 39 years old, I have slept and woken up for 29, 201 days. My book of chronicles is coloured with chapters of how God healed me from the conspiracy of afflictions. My frail but freed body, is an aged tapestry with variegated marks hewed with the rampaging fingers of malaria, fever, cataract, hypertension, diabetes, prostate cancer, heart issues and associated discomforts.
Yet in all these I am more than a conqueror through my Lord Jesus Christ. A glorious joy overwhelmed me when my saviour found me and saved me after 60 seasons of dryness. I am glad to be a disciple of Jesus Christ by whom I have done greater works. I have struggled across many rivers of uncertainties and limitations. Still my unlimited redeemer ensured that I have never been limited in life. With a limited education that formally ended at Standard 6, I rose through the ranks in the Federal Civil Service. Having no godfather, the everlasting hand of God the father and the hand of diligence, propelled me to retire at level 13 in 1997. I was an Assistant Chief Superintendent of Press over graduates who possessed master’s degrees from world class universities. Just yesterday I turned eighty with a joyful heart. Today I shall sing even if my vocal cord sounds odd. Let me tell you my story when things went awry. Indulge me to write about life just before things went right. I was born on August 4, 1937 to the family of late Samuel Olugbemisoye Adeduro, the late high chief Adaja of Ondo Kingdom. My father was a successful farmer and produce merchant. My mother was Madam Oladimeji Adeduro, nee Akinkugbe.
I started my educational career between 1945 and 1955 in Ondo kingdom, Ondo State. I attended All Saints School, Ogbonkowo, Ondo and Ansarudeen Primary School. In those days, a pupil was promoted from Primary 1a to 1b to 1c, unlike today when pupils proceed from Primary 1 to Primary 2 in that order. So, we spent eight years in primary school. I left school with a Standard Six certificate.
Out of his love for me and his hope of a business succession plan, my father desired that I worked with him on the farm. However, my inquisitive and restless mind yearned for the bustling city of Lagos. So, in less than two years I found my way out of my father’s Owena farmland and village in Ondo State. I boldly came to Lagos in search of a greener pasture in March 1959.
On my arrival in Lagos I attended a private school called the Odunfa Commercial Institute. There I studied shorthand, typewriting and accounting respectively. I also studied photography at Ola Photo Studios in Ebute Metta. The commercial education I had then qualified me to secure my first paid job as a clerical typist with Guinea Insurance. After sometime, I got another job as a daily paid worker as a graphic arts attendant with the Graphics Section in the Federal Ministry of Information. After some time, God granted me favour to be converted to a standard scale on a permanent job as a civil servant.
Through the mercy of God, I was able to work with supervisors who appreciated my diligence and promptness in reporting for work. I was always willing to go the extra mile to satisfy my supervisors. God used this disposition to secure extra favour for me. In my determination to make a difference despite my limited formal education, I devoted myself to God and the study of many books on literature, philosophy and religion. This paid off, as I became intellectually strong enough to compete with colleagues who had university education, during promotion tests and came out tops.
Although my income was meagre, raising a family was a joy for me. My wife stoutly stood by me and for me to make me a successful husband and father. I am grateful to God for giving me a great woman who is caring, courageous, passionate, diligent, and determined to raise a godly family. My better half, Julianah Ibilola Adeduro (nee Adenodi) from Ondo kingdom is a rare gem and a virtuous woman who every family needs to blossom. Without this woman blessed with boundless energy and the gift of an incredible memory (my wife can still recall the telephone numbers of more than two hundred people without consulting a diary or contact book) I am sure I would not have gone this far in life. Thanks to the long suffering of my wife, we were tenants for twenty-five years in a room apartment (the face-me-I-face-you type) at 86 Eleshin Street, Obalende, Lagos, yet we were able to successfully raise five children to become tertiary graduates, who are now home owners in Nigeria and the USA today. To the glory of God, my wife and I own two houses in Nigeria.
My wife is very spiritual without being fetish, even before we became born again Christians some decades ago. Both of us successfully completed the School of Disciples’ programme about twenty years ago in The Redeemed Christian Church of God. Through my experience, I can boldly say that any man who marries a wrong wife cannot live long and have good success.
My experience of living in Obalende since 1964 makes me realise that we should not compromise the unity of Nigeria. All those who are clamouring for a break up and war do not have an understanding of the ravaging effects of disunity and civil war in a nation. Living and working next door to Dodan Barracks made me a living witness to the 1967 civil war and all the coup detats in Nigeria. I am still terrified till date each time I remember what happened on the day General Muritala Muhammed was assassinated near my office on Ikoyi Road, Lagos.
On the morning of that fateful Friday, February 13, 1976, my colleagues and I were settling down in my office at the Graphic Arts section of the Federal Ministry of Information on Ikoyi Road when we heard gun shots. Initially, we thought it was the regular shots we often heard since were directly located behind Dodan Barracks. In fact, we used to pass through Dodan Barracks from Obalende to Ikoyi in those days. One of my junior colleagues soon ran inside to inform us that some armed bandits had killed a man in a big Mercedes Benz at the junction of the road that takes one to Ikoyi Club. Since there was no fear of armed robbers or kidnappers, as it is rampant today, we all trooped out of the office towards the direction of the scene. In our innocence, we wanted to go and offer help.
But another series of gunshots suddenly ensued as we trooped towards the location. Suddenly, we saw many fiercely looking armed men in army uniform threatening to shoot us. It was then that we realised that a coup detat had occurred again. There was pandemonium as all my colleagues and I took to our heels.
That day I ran home with only a shoe on my left leg. I did not know when and where the shoe on my right leg fell off.
Coup detats and wars are destructive to human lives and values. It is better to dialogue and resolve our challenges as a nation than going to war. A united Nigeria is better for the future of our children. Personally, I believe that the journey of Nigeria to greatness, strategically charted by our leaders in the First Republic was truncated by the long years of military rule. Unfortunately, what we have today in our democratic dispensation are people who rule without the fear of God and an eye for the future.
I cannot truly tell what I have done to live this long, if not for the mercies of God that have preserved me through the different storms of life. However, I believe that every human being who hopes to see the future should be fastidious in doing certain basic things. These include having a strong relationship with the almighty God. Without God, you are empty and an empty vessel has no value. When you don’t have value to God, He won’t bother much about keeping you in a competitive world.
Second, you must be careful to be moderate in everything you do. You must also live a life that is devoid of giving offence to God and man, by pursuing peace in all situations. Third, working hard and smart, on the basis of knowledge is desirable for anyone who seeks to have good success.
In addition to these three things, one must learn to be patient and delay gratification. One of the reasons why most people have integrity problems is because they are in a hurry to achieve certain things. For me, being slow and steady with a determined pursuit of purpose will ultimately win the race. This is why I was a tenant in a room apartment for 25 years, despite the fact that I could, at some point, afford to rent a flat or what my peers called “a more decent accommodation”.
But I needed to be sure that I could train all my biological children to become tertiary education graduates. I remember that my first born once requested, when he was in secondary school, that I should rent a flat because he saw that one of his classmates had a personal room in the flat that his parents had rented in the Akoka area of Lagos. I promptly told him that we would not move out of the rented one room apartment until I was able to see him through university education. That was the end of the pressure. To the glory of God, we stopped living in a rented apartment after my first son graduated from the university.
Looking back, I am grateful to God that all my five children are successful graduates now, with the eldest possessing a PhD degree. My first two children are pastors in the Redeemed Christian Church of God. My eldest child, Pastor (Dr.) Wale Adeduro, has grown to become an Assistant Pastor in Charge of a Province in Ikoyi, Lagos, while his brother, Pastor Bolaji Adeduro, is a pastor in California, USA.
The fifth thing an individual should do is to be fully responsible for members of one’s immediate family. We should ensure that we have bonds of love and unity with our spouses and children. This will happen if we endeavour to love all our children equally. Personally, I love my children in the same way and I have never given any of them preferential treatment over the others. This largely explains why there is a high degree of unity among my five children. Parents should avoid treating their children differently. The older child is not supposed to be treated better than any other child. It is an error to give preferential treatment to any child.
At the end of the day, it is only one’s family that he would have when the chips are down. An individual with a loving family will ultimately triumph in life.
We have to take care of our health by watching what we eat and drink. Regardless of the taste it leaves in our mouth, the classic unprocessed Nigerian meals remain the most nutritious and healthy food. I recommend that Nigerians who want to live well and long should go back to the meals our parents ate before Nigeria’s independence in 1960.
The final responsibility we have is to pray and trust in God for a long life. If I had died at the age of fifty, I would not have become a landlord in Lagos. If I had died at the age of sixty, I would not have become an American citizen.
As I take stock of my life today, I feel fulfilled and indebted to God for His loving kindnesses towards me. As I grew up in life, I realised that one’s name bears a lot of stories about one’s destiny. My parents named me Olorunfemi. This name simply translates to ‘God loves me’. Having woken up this morning, a day after I turned eighty years old, I am truly convinced that God Loves Me. I pray that God shall also show love to my children and their spouses, my grandchildren to my fourth generation. Including all my well-wishers and helpers.