Prof Bayonile Tolani Ademodi, a member of the now defunct Ife Collective based at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife is dead. Born in March, 1952, Prof Bayo gave up the ghost in the wee hours of Saturday, December 19th, 2020. Death came to him after a surgery that had gone well but relapsed.
He studied Chemical Engineering in Howard University and Pennsylvania State University, both in the United States of America, returning to Nigeria to join the Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University).
He and the late Professor Segun Adewoye who was also an Engineer were the young ideological turks in the Ife Collective, a strong Socialist ideological group led by the redoubtable Marxist, Dr Segun Osoba. There were others like Prof Toye Olorode, Prof Idowu Awopetu, Dr Dipo Fashina, Dr Kola Torimiro, late Dr Lee Ogunsaki, most of them still alive and politically active.
Aside from hanging around with strong ideological camps, Intervention was told Prof Bayo was a very personable fellow, humble in bearing and very keen in helping students.
He had served as a Senior Adviser to the then governor of Ondo State, Chief Adebayo Adefarati on Bitumen and was serving the current Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu as Commissioner for Integration and Special Duties.
It was also authoritatively learnt he was in the government only because it offered him a chance to add value to leadership, power and governance, with particular reference to why an oil bearing state such as Ondo may not establish and run own refinery. In other words, he felt the struggle for the liberation of Nigeria and its components was not being advanced well enough or with the urgency it deserved.
He has always thought so. He was not alone. Unfortunately, the system closed the door against him and other bright young persons who went to some of the best schools in the Western world such as Imperial College London and acquired the quality of training with transformative potentials. In his own case, he was an expert in refining and corrosion management but never really got the opportunity to put his expertise into practice in a way that could produce definitive outcome.
The late Prof Ademodi’s death is thus the passage of a man, an idea and a purposeful life. At 68, he still had a lot to offer Nigeria in an era when many presidents and prime ministers are in their mid to late 70s and mid 90s.