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Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi: The man, the myth, the legend

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AS I write this piece, I am greatly humbled by the opportunity to write about the life and times of this breathing phenomenon fondly called Juli by his peers and admirers.

This would be my second opportunity to write such a piece, the first being a few months ago when I had the humbling experience of meeting him one-on-one. Months after that, we have come to develop what can be aptly described as a grandfather-grandson relationship. Not that he is so old or that I am so young but the fact that he mentors people old enough to be my father speaks volumes.

I chose to write about this eminent colossus who is a globally renowned leader, manager of men and materials, broadcaster, composer, motivator, strategist, role model and board room guru because having evaluated the little I know about him; I felt it would be selfish of me to keep this depth of knowledge to myself hence this piece.

I really do not know where to start from in unveiling this eminent personality of gargantuan proportion to you. But this scion of the royal family of Ado Ekiti clocked 70 years old on August 2. Little wonder, every cell in his body smacks of royalty. From his velvet voice to his majestic strides, he personifies excellence. Born Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, this brainy child sped through high school in Akure finishing in flying colours a year ahead of his peers.

While they were still wondering what hit them, he joined the pioneer pharmacy set in the University of Ife. As a gold fish has no hiding place, he was quickly spotted by two scholarships.

While at the university, his leadership skills flowed like breath from his nostrils as he emerged the PANS president and in no time he was spotted at national level and was elected Vice President of the National Union of Nigerian students (NUNS) in charge of international affairs. Of course, his performance was so ‘tight’ that at the New Zealand conference of the World Student Movement he was elected as the Secretary for Africa of the world student body.

He moved straight to Holland a day after his final pharmacy exams to this exalted position and later became the Secretary General of this world body for three years.

He led a delegation of students to his mother land Africa and they visited numerous countries across the length and breadth of Africa, including Nigeria. Worthy of mention is the fact that he brought this team of youngsters to Nigeria during the civil war and this moved the then Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon so much that he wrote the Prince a special letter of thanks and commendation for his significant contribution to world youth leadership.

This kind of recognition would naturally be enough to put on a tombstone as a lifetime achievement but not for my Mentor. Immediately after his tenure in Holland, he was snatched by Pfizer New York and deployed to the Lagos office as the Assistant General Manager. In no time he made his impact felt but the true Nigerian in him would not let him rest so he decided to set up his own company, the phenomenally successful and enduring Juli Pharmacy.

While neck deep in his business, he was also actively pursuing philanthropic goals under the auspices of Rotary international. His dissatisfaction with the status quo of Nigeria being merely one of the 17 countries making up one district in Rotary International made him pay his own way to the international headquarters to make a case for Nigeria to be made a district.

Despite the impossible nature of this task, his resolute determination ensured that Nigeria was made a district with him as the first district governor. His installation was graced by the then Head of State, Alhaji Shehu Shagari who was represented by Vice President Alex Ekweme.

Even the President knew the enormity of the achievement that he again, like his predecessor, wrote a warm letter of commendation to My Daddy in recognition of his leadership in voluntary service. At the end of the year as district governor he received a letter of commendation from the President of Rotary International as governor of the best run district in the Rotary world that year.

Our indefatiguable Juli was equally busy with his flourishing business and a few years later he made a daring move to join the big league by being the first indigenously quoted company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. This act of patriotic courage was recognised by the then Head of State, Gen Ibrahim Babangida who wrote him an elegantly worded letter of commendation in recognition of his contribution to the integrity of indigenous businesses in Nigeria.

Having travelled over 142 countries in his relatively short life, this icon speaks his local Ekiti and Igbo dialects very flawlessly. He also converses with extreme fluency in the Queen’s version of the English language, French, Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese.

Like you would know, he is the only pharmacist to have occupied the exalted seat of the Federal Ministry of Health in Nigeria. By the way when cometh another Pharmacist Minister of Health? He has also led several other organisations such as the Odua Group, Nigeria American Chamber of Commerce, National Council for Population and Environmental Activities and the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies .

You would expect that with this busy lifestyle he would have little or no time for other activities but what most onlookers can’t comprehend is the motivation for such a successful man to go back to school to read a parallel course such as law.

But while they were pondering on that, he emerged as the overall best student in the law school at the age of 47. Twenty three years later he still sits atop of a pro bono legal firm as senior partner of Adelusi-Adeluyi & Co. The legal firm specialises in providing free legal aid to prisoners and other under privileged persons.

Beyond pharmacy and law, he is actively involved in a number of religious, social and voluntary organisations. He is a fellow of a number of prestigious organisations such as Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Institute of Directors, and National Institute of Management of Nigeria, among others. He is an Officer the Federal Republic (OFR) and an Alumnus (mni) as well as a member of the Governing Board of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies.

As he enters the next phase of his life, he is resolved more than ever before to dedicate his life to the service of society, especially the youth. He continues to live by his basic philosophy of aspiring to inspire the coming generation before he himself expires which will be in another 70 years anyway. Knowing him as I do, I know his birthday would be spent quietly in contrast to the usual loud social engagements ordinarily associated with such events.

Mr. Opanubi, a  pharmacist, writes from Lagos.

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