The media is currently inundated with the news of the impending reconstruction of Agbowo Shopping Complex, UI, Ibadan. I recall, with nostalgia, the contribution of Shop 16, Okay Pharmacy owned and managed by Pharmacist Clement Banji Okunlola, to my life from about age 10. I remember vividly that the only science course I ever desired was Pharmacy because of Daddy’s life.
People from Okeho, a town in located in the Northern Hemisphere of Oyo State, live together both within and outside the community as a family. All I know is that my parents refers to Daddy Clement Okunlola as their brother. As such, I see him like a father too. As a matter of fact, my mum’s interstate transfer of service from Lagos State to Oyo State was facilitated by Chief Oyemonla Okunlola, Daddy Clement’s elder brother.
From the time in which the transfer was effected, I followed my mum to the shopping complex from time to time till I gained my own “freedom of movement” within Ibadan metropolis and this made me visit the complex at will.
Before the introduction of GSM, as a boy who had a distant father resident in Port Harcourt; I usually follow my mum to receive the timed phone call of my dad. This is the model, he would have pre-informed them in the complex that he would be calling at a particular time on a particular day and we would go there with excitement to waiting for the proposed phone call. There are times when Daddy Okunlola would make the call whenever there was a delay.
As I frequented the complex, I had the opportunity to meet different notable people from Okeho, because Daddy Okunlola ‘s pharmaceutical shop is the rallying point of Okeho people. I met a lot of notable people from Okeho, this including the Onjo of Okeho, HRM Oba Rafiu Osuolale Mustapha, Baba Babalola, late Dr Ladeji and many more. Daddy in his characteristic manner would introduce me to them.
Whenever I took ill, I preferred to walk the distance to Agbowo Shopping complex to complain. Daddy would give me all the needed medications. Asides this, he gave me a lot of multivitamins because of the regular blisters in my mouth. Daddy Okunlola took full responsibility of our medical prescriptions. Also, at every visit, Daddy would engage me in a discussion centred on my life. I remembered going to the cyber cafe with him during the early days of the Internet in Ibadan.
Ten years ago, I had restlessly made an attempt at the organizing an International event, when Jeanette Slootbeek of Youth Incentives was to visit Nigeria. The platform of invitation was Youth Alive, a radio magazine programme of Radio Kwara, Ilorin comprising of Mojisola Komolafe nee Odedele, Dr Tunde MF Ojo, Pharm. Dapo Ipadeola & Tunde Olusegun. We agreed to converge at the complex for a meeting and Moji complained of stomach cramps; I was helpless but in a fatherly way, Daddy Okunlola asked her what was wrong and she said it was menstrual pain. This was a first experience for me; he gave her drugs; she rested and we finally held our meeting.
During my postgraduate studies in the University of Ibadan, I usually keep my bag in the complex while I run in and out of classes. Even if I had a cause to buy foodstuff at Bodija market, I would keep it in the complex. If anyone needed to drop anything for me, I tell them to drop it at the complex.
I met a lot of people who worked with Daddy, Daddy had a lot of competent and loyal staff over the years who had progressed greatly in life. His leadership style made his staff faithful to him, such that the store was not shut down when he relocated to the United Kingdom. We met whenever he is within the shores of the country.
My heart is overwhelmed because with the impending reconstruction of Agbowo Shopping Complex, Shop 16 might eventually become history but the opportunity of having a part of my life modeled within the premises by Daddy Pharm Clement Banji Okunlola is a memory to always treasure. If Shop 16, Agbowo Shopping Complex is repossessed by Okeho, I would rejoice!
October 14, 2016
(c)Olutayo IRAN-TIOLA, Lagos, Nigeria