I walked into Prof Eddy Omolehinwa’s (then Dr. Omolehinwa) office on the first floor of the Business Administration Faculty building in September 1986 as a fresh student of the Department of Accounting University of Lagos. An uncle of mine, Mr. Osewole Modupe, who belongs to the same club with him, had told him that I just got admission by Direct Entry through the Advanced Level GCE. He was very receptive and lively, with a very good sense of humour. He loves excellence! The fact that I made enough A/L points to secure admission by direct entry into Accounting Department thrilled him. It therefore took a short time to establish a cordial relationship, as student to Lecturer. He was quick to add that I must study hard to meet the high rating and expectations of the Accounting Department which happened to be the most sought-after course in the Faculty of Business Administration then and still now.

The Eddy I know is noted for being frank, plain and objective in his dealings, always standing by the truth irrespective of whoever is involved in any matter. He is a man of high integrity who maintains a very simple and contented life worthy of emulation. He made learning fun for us and any serious and discerning student in the area of Cost Accounting and other subjects he taught. The books he authored have become renowned reference materials in Accounting in Nigerian Universities and beyond.

A lover of truth and justice; he hates any form of injustice being meted on any student or person around him and is always ready to fight for the cause of the masses. I think this is what earned him the name “Eddy for the masses” from his co-lecturers, friends and even students alike. Prof is a friend of all. His arrival at any scene or venue is bound to throw the place into ecstasy with the shout of “Eddy for the masses”. I wonder if he has any enemy except perhaps, the man or woman who is against the interest of the masses or the person who wastes “what the workers produce…” Even at that, such a man or woman would still call “Eddy for the masses” because of the crowd of eddy’s disciples. I also suspect that this was what endeared him to his fellow lecturers for many years when he served as Secretary General of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Unilag Chapter (ASUU).  

He maintains a disciplined and principled life (even almost to a fault). He believes that with a disciplined life, there are some risks that one can avoid or at least mitigate. I remember some years back when I asked why he always maintained a constant speed range (even below the prescription of Nigerian Road Safety Corps) when driving. His response: with a steady regulated speed, the probability of having an accident and hitting another man’s car is remote; and if any vehicle hits his car, the owner would be responsible for any damage. With that, all that he needed was a third party insurance cover which he had to statutorily procure for his car. This principled lifestyle permeated his administration when he served as Head of Department as well as Dean of Faculty.      

As his office was for the masses, so also was his residence: at least, I know about the former Akoka Quarters where I was privileged and forever grateful to have lived with the family for some period. I also worked with him as Research Assistant during Semester breaks on some of his research projects. Then, many people would take their manifold requests to his house alike during weekends. His wife (of blessed memory) was a kind and caring mother to all, very receptive and accommodating.  Yet as a matter of principle, Eddy would not allow the children and the wife to accept any thank-you parting gift from such visitors who felt indebted to the man of the masses for defending their causes.  

A man of the people, defender of the interest of the poor; a great teacher and leader! His legacy will continue to remain indelible not only in the academic circle, but also in the Nigerian business environment and political arena which are filled with students who had at one time or the other passed through him at various stages.

I rejoice exceedingly abundantly with Prof Eddy Olajide Omolehinwa as he marks his 70th birthday which incidentally coincides with his retirement from the University of Lagos as a Professor after a glorious and meritorious service in the public service of Nigeria. Baba, Prof, I celebrate you Sir. Congratulations as I wish you a happy birthday and happy retirement.

Lana Loyinmi