Peter Akintayo
 
Eighty-one-year-old Reverend Peter Akintayo talks about his life and career with Toluwani Eniola.
 
Tell us about your background.
 
I was born on October 11, 1936. I am from Esun village in Ikole Local Government Area of Ekiti State.  My father, Mathew Ogunsakin, worked as a railway worker in Abeokuta, Ogun State. He was also a catechist and lay reader. We are from the Ogunsakin Ruling House in Esun. My mother was the late Mrs. Ruth Ogunsakin.
 
My early life was spent on the farm. I used to cook and do other domestic tasks at a tender age. All I enjoyed doing was setting traps for rats on the farm. I didn’t know there was a better way of life then.
 
When did you begin school?
 
I started my primary school education when I was nine. At the time, to be admitted into a school, new pupils were asked to move their hands across their heads until the tip of their palms could touch their ears. That partly accounted for the lateness in going to school.
 
If you were a bright pupil, you would spend at least eight years to acquire primary education. I was rascally in school. Then, it was only brilliant pupils that behaved rascally.
 
After my primary education, we faced hard times. There was no money to send me to school. I resumed to the farm after my primary education. I travelled to Ado Ekiti, the divisional headquarters then, where I spent six months as a farmer. Later, my brother, who was a teacher, took me to many towns in Ekiti.
 
At what age did you enter secondary school?
 
I was about 20 years old when I got admission to secondary school. My brother, who acted as my guardian, was transferred from Ekiti division to Ondo division. Local governments were called divisions then. He was subsequently transferred to Ile–Oluji and Oke Igbo. I started secondary school in that area at Gboluji Grammar School. Then it was class one to five. After a brief period at class one in secondary school, one of the teachers, Reverend Oni, was impressed with my performance. He asked me to join those in class two.
 
I came first in class one. I took 7th position in class two, even though I didn’t begin the class with them. I was promoted to class three. So, that double promotion affected me. Although I had good results, I didn’t go through the system long enough to learn what I needed to learn in full.  I completed my secondary school education in 1960. It was during the independence era.
 
What was Nigeria like during independence?
 
Nigeria was quite a good place. In fact, that year was my first time in Lagos. I started to teach a while after that.
 
Why didn’t you further your education?
 
I was a bright student but I had nobody to support me to further my education. Some of my mates in secondary school went to teacher’s training colleges to obtain Grade Two and Grade Three certificates. I was teaching when the then government of the Western Region said those teaching without attending teachers’ training colleges should step aside. The policy affected me because I belonged to that category.
 
I returned to the farm because I enjoyed doing it at the time. In 1962, my brother encouraged me to go to Ibadan to learn plumbing work. I discovered that plumbing job was harder than farming, so I quit. The plumbers then were the ones who dug the earth for installations. The diggers and shovels we used caused my palms to have blisters so I could not continue the job. I lost my brother 14 months after my father’s death and things became a bit tough.
 
What were your childhood dreams?
 
I wanted to be a reverend. When I took final secondary school examination in May, we were expected to be in school till December of that year. Some produce buyers and artisans came around to train us. The teachers, who were priests, wrote different professions such as farming, teaching, pastoral work and others in envelopes. They prayed over it and asked each of us to pick one in the box. We were encouraged to pursue whatever we picked from the box. I picked “reverend.” About 80 per cent of us picked what we proposed to do after school. At the time, they felt casting lot was okay.
 
We obeyed their instruction because we saw them as next to God. Others who picked farming went to the school of farming. They encouraged many of us to pursue a career in agriculture, citing the case of the United States which they said could feed itself even for the next 10 years without reliance on other countries.
 
Aside from the plan to become a clergyman, I also loved to be a geographer. I loved nature and animals. I loved voyages, travelling across the world in ships. I don’t have regrets though because what I picked was what I became today.
 
What other things did you do before you became a cleric?
 
I ran to Lagos after the coup was announced in 1966. The transport fare was 10 shillings to Lagos then. I lived with my uncle in the Jibowu area and did odd jobs. I began to save, hoping to go back school. I registered my certificate in a place and they called me to take up a job at Wahum, a Chinese firm making pots and other cooking utensils. It was hell working in the steamy plant. If you worked for an hour, you had to go to an air-conditioned room for another hour to cool the heat within. When I worked there for two weeks, I ran away (laughs). My friends looked for me at home to give me my wage. I later got a job at Apapa ports as a tally clerk.
 
A tally clerk monitored goods put on ships and those delivered. When they were offloading, the clerk wrote down the goods delivered to the shore. I was doing my job with all honesty then. I realised that if they loaded 40 items, they would want me to write 50.
 
The 10 remaining items would be theirs and when I was not cooperating, they planned against me. An Ondo woman working in the place told me that they planned that when the ships were offloading contents, they would release the crane to crush me to death. The plan was to dump my corpse in the sea. The woman told me to be careful that night because they planned to kill me. I was shaking terribly when I heard about their plan. Truly that night, I heard one of them said, “Lift up the crane, the man is around.” I hid somewhere. The next thing I heard was a loud sound. The crane crushed somebody else instead. I saw them as they threw the victim into the lagoon. That night, I hid in an abandoned vehicle. I left the job on the morning of the following day.
 
What did do you after leaving the place?
 
Fortunately for me, I met a relative of mine who told me they were recruiting for the Nigerian Police College at Ikeja. The lady told me that to be among the successful applicants, I had to pay some money. They said I should pay 25 pounds as a bribe. I had saved 30 pounds so I paid. I was recruited to the Force on December 1, 1967. I began training with other recruits. After the training, I was transferred to Lion Building, behind City Hall. I enjoyed my life in the police. We were taken to the war front to maintain peace in places captured by the Federal Government. We were under the third marine commando, under the orders of General Benjamin Adekunle, the black scorpion.  I didn’t spend my salary then. Food was free. There was no corruption in the Force then. If there was a police officer at the junction, two other officials of the Criminal Investigation Department, popularly called CID, would be monittuneg the police officer to see if he would take a bribe or not.
 
I was very good at account so I was deployed into the old Federal Inland Revenue. I spent two years with the police and later left. I left because God asked me to leave. While in the Force, I was the orderly to Justice John Ojomo Agboola, the presiding judge for the case of the famous robber, Ishola Oyenusi, who was executed at the bar beach. Oyenusi and his gang robbed Wahum of a huge amount of money meant to pay the wages of the factory workers. I left the police as a sergeant with a salary of N175 monthly, which was a big amount then.
 
What’s your biggest regret in life?
 
Before I joined the police, I worked at Iltune, Kwara State. There was an experience there that I regard as the greatest mistake of my life. There was a girl from Offa town who worked in the same insurance firm I worked. It was before 1966. I fell in love with the girl. Unfortunately, I got her pregnant. She is from a strong Muslim family.
 
The family started pursuing me here and there, threatening my life so I left Iltune. I was supposed to tell my family about it but I didn’t do so.
 
One day while I was on duty as a police officer at Oshodi, a woman accosted me and told me she knew me at Iltune. Initially, I thought it was Tawa, the girl I got pregnant in Iltune. But she was not. The lady then said to me “What you did is not good. You left that girl all alone. His family was only threatening then and they didn’t plan to kill you. Tawa waited for you, hoping that you would come back. She gave birth to a boy.” I started weeping as she told me the story. The lady then told me that Tawa had travelled to Kaduna. I was sad that day.
 
Did you try to contact her since then?
 
Unfortunately, I have not met her till today. It pains me a lot. There was no address to reach her in Kaduna. I was afraid that if I went to her family in Iltune, they would kill me. That was a great mistake I made in my life. I regret it till today. I have prayed to God to forgive me.
 
What are the secrets of your good health?
 
I think it is because I don’t drink alcohol. I wanted to try smoking tobacco as a youth but I fainted after sniffing it. My mother saw me when I fainted and beat me. She was very angry with me. She said, “Don’t ever try smoking again. If you do, you will die.”  I only took palm wine and akara at a time. But since I joined ministerial work in 1978, I stopped drinking. At 81, I am grateful to God for good health. I don’t have diabetes or any strange diseases. I abide by the rules and regulations guiding the priestly life. I take care of my health. I know God heals but we need to personally watch what we eat. I go to the hospital for check-up regularly. Doctors told me four months ago to be taking a bit of sugar that I need it in my body. I am contented with the little I have.
 
How long more do you wish to live?
 
I don’t think about that. Only God knows. I can’t predict. God knows the time. The time a person will die is a secret that belongs to God. It may be possible to predict the birth of a child. But it is hard to predict which death or what time someone would die.
 
What were the major sacrifices you made in life?
 
I am supposed to be the king in my hometown now but I rejected it when it came to the turn of my family because I had become a priest. I rejected the opportunity twice. In 1990, I was already a senior pastor. They brought it to my attention in 1991.  There are about five ruling houses in our town. We are the third ruling house, Ogunsakin Ruling House. They asked me to sign that I rejected the offer and that it should go to another ruling house. I signed. God had ordained me as a priest. Why should I leave the ministry of God and engage in idol worshipping which is usually part of the life of a king?
 
What is your advice to youths?
 
They should be close to God and they should obey their parents’ advice if it’s the right thing to do.
 
***
Culled from Sunday Punch

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Peter Akintayo   Eighty-one-year-old Reverend Peter Akintayo talks about his life and career with Toluwani Eniola.   Tell us about your background.   I was born on October 11, 1936. I am from Esun village in Ikole Local Government Area of Ekiti State.  My father, Mathew Ogunsakin, worked as a railway worker in Abeokuta, Ogun...