Reverend (Comrade) Folorunso Oginni is the Lagos  Zonal  Chairman of     Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association, Pengassan. He is also the Vicar of St. John’s Anglican Church, Aboru, Ipaja, Lagos State. He was born into the family of late Samuel Oginni and late Mrs. Beatrice Oginni from Okesa Street, Ilasa, Osun State. He is the first child in the family of eleven children.

He is combining both activism with priesthood in the Anglican Church, a call  he believes was ordained by God for him to be fulfilled in life. As a priest, he is serving both the people and God  and as an activist, it is a call to agitate for better life for the masses. He is our guest in this edition of Past Perfect.
EXCERPT

Life has been wonderful and interesting. Growing up was fun. I remember in those days of our growing up that we didn’t have the luxury of what today’s children have. In those, farming was the basic thing. We were mandated as  children to help our parents on a daily basis.

We were taught virtues and morals. Our headmaster in the school was also our choir master in the church and anyone who failed to come to choir meeting on Saturday would have to serve the punishment on Monday during the morning assembly in the school. So, both western and moral education were inculcated into us.

Comrade Oginni

There was a day we were going to the farm. There was nothing to eat and we were going to stay in the farm till evening. So, my father decided to buy yam and he dropped the money at the same spot where he bought the yam. Others who bought things at the same spot did the same because the  owner wasn’t around. Few days later, the monies were still there because the owner hadn’t come to pick them. But, today, the story is different. Criminality has taken over the country.

People  were orderly in those days and they reverenced  God. There was  communal relationship but today the story has changed.

The challenges of my life started when I was to write my primary school leaving certificate  in 1972. My father told my that he wasn’t ready to pay two children’s examination fees which was 10 shillings each. And one of my brothers from another wife was to sit for the examination too. He had set up a standard that he would only train the first child of all his wives who in turn would be responsible for his younger ones.

 

My mother had seven children and I was the last child. So, I had to repeat the class in 1973. And in 1974, I was admitted into a school known as Ayedade secondary modern school, Ikire, Osun State. And after my secondary, I came to Lagos through one of my elder brothers. But instead of helping me get a white collar job, he offered me a job as a conductor. I had wanted to be a teacher with my  modern three certificate.

And before I knew what was happening, I was already a bus conductor. And I did that for two years. After that  period, the UPN government came  into power in the Western states and late chief Bola Ige declared free education. I sat for the examination and I was admitted.

Then, I went to the University of Lagos for my first degree. I got a job after and everything changed.

The  most pathetic story of my life was when my mother was left alone to cater all her seven children. My father had decided that he was going to train only  the first child of  each of his wives.

This made my mother go through hell on earth. I was told that my mother went to the farm on the day I was christened. My mother had to put me at her back and went to the farm in search of  food. There was no food in the house and my father couldn’t help the situation.

 

My mother took it up upon her shoulder to take care of her children and she was always in the farm in search of what her children were going to eat. She did all that and we all survived. But unfortunately, in 1982, when we ( her children) were trying to stabilise, this woman died. And on my wedding day when others were rejoicing, I was crying because I couldn’t imagine my mother not being alive  to reap the labour of her hands. I had always prayed that God should  preserve  her life to enjoy the fruits of  her labour.

Another challenge I faced was our struggle of June 12. We did what Nigerians expected us to do and I remember that we were all tortured. I went through series of torment especially as an activist. We were persecuted, detained and tortured. And after going through that experience, we expect that our leaders of today would do what is right but unfortunately, it is a different story.

I was transferred to Sokoto State whichwas my punishment for fighting  the cause of the people during June 12. I was in Sokoto State for five years and in the  desert ,the voice of the Lord came to me.

And Right Reverend Akinfenwa of the Anglican Commission in Ibadan ordained me as a Priest in December 2001. I was christened by late Right Reverend Samuel Bala, the first Bishop of  the Anglican Church.

In those days, our fathers took pride in farming and the Ijesha people are known to be enterprising. And because of the number of wives they married, education wasn’t the priority.

My father never bordered to send me to secondary school  but I thank God that I am a product of free education by late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Bola Ige.

Government of those days was proactive. They looked into the future. They looked at the problem of the people and worked to solve them.

My father had five wives (those who had children) regardless of others who couldn’t give birth to children. The level of civilisation then was that people took  pride in having many wives and children. The more your children, the  more your farms. That was the basis of life then.

 

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