For this week’s Katanga Spotlight, Indy Press interviewed Pastor Silas Ajimijaye Omomehin, the Manager of Research and Statistics at the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, and the Chairman of the Indy Hall at 60 Anniversary. The old Katangite spoke about his life as a Katangite, the influence his stay in Indy Hall had on him, the Alumni reunion, and the alumni association’s plans for the hall. Enjoy!
Good afternoon, sir. Welcome to Katanga Spotlight. Can we meet you?
Yeah. Thank you very much. My name is Pastor Ajimijaye Silas Omomehin. I entered the University of Ibadan in 1987. I was in the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, where agricultural biochemistry and nutrition and graduated in 1992. Right now, I work for the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, in the management of that regulatory agency of the Nigerian government. I am a proud Katangite, and I lived in the hall for the five years I spent in the hall, starting from my year one in E Block. I was the block representative for E Block then, in the Indy Hall Legislative Assembly. I was also president of the Indy Hall Literary and Debating Society, and an award-winning pro of that debating society. We represented the hall wherever literary and debating was mentioned in the university. For three years, I was in the Students’ Representative Council. I was the Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Students’ Union SRC. In the hall too, I was in the Indy Hall Assembly for virtually all the years I spent in the hall. I was a notable kingmaker, a member of Indy Press, and an elder statesman of the hall during our season. So, starting from AG Akinyede, Tola Ifafore, and several AGs like Jackson Epochie, who was a good friend of mine and my junior in the faculty too. In fact, he wanted me to be the speaker of the Indy Hall Assembly during his time, but I had to concentrate on my studies in my final year.
I was in Indy Hall for five years, and my things were never stolen. I was so much loved and respected in the hall. And I feel that I have it as a moral duty to give back to the hall. I had been to several institutions before I came to UI, but I had complete peace in Independence Hall. I also served as the Editor-in-Chief of Agro Press, and had other positions in the university, based on the support I got from Independence Hall. Anything I wanted to do, whether at the Students’ Union level or even in my faculty, with the support of Independites, I always had favourable outcomes. So, I am really a very happy Independite. Right now, I am the Chairman of the Independence Hall Alumni 60th Anniversary Committee.
We have really seen the good works of the alumni association. We saw the renovations and reunion. What were the key ingredients that made an Independite in your days?
Well, let me first of all say that the renovations are only our pilot projects. We are still going to do more. That’s just the pilot project to test the waters and to bring more of our people on board. To your question, I am going to give you an example. Look at how one of us at this event asked that we have a one-minute silence for Dr. John Soyoye, popularly known as Big Jay. Big Jay was our contemporary. I was even surprised that he met Big Jay.
You know, after we graduated, he had some challenges with the school authority, which made him come back to complete his studies. You must have seen the love for Big Jay in what transpired today. So, the key ingredients are: number one, the unity of purpose. Katangites of my time were very united. You know I mentioned it, I was called an elder statesman because even if there was an election in the faculty, they would come and meet me because they know I know Independites. If anybody was going to campaign for anything in the Students’ Union, they would come to us, and they knew that we spoke with one voice. That brotherliness and unity of purpose distinguishes Katangites. And then, another thing is resilience. You know, the way Independence Hall is is a bit different from the way halls like Kuti and Bello or Tedder were built, and it gives us that resilience.
We are able to adapt to different situations and circumstances, light or no light. We had more people in our rooms than those other halls, but we were still able to cope with the challenges that we found ourselves in, unlike those other halls. That is what we call resilience. And it is very important in life. And then, the last thing I want to say is political awareness. Independites are very politically aware. That is why, the name Katanga is derived from what happened in another country. You know, I’m not going to give you the story and all that, but you see that it is peculiar to our hall, and we are global citizens. That awareness helps us to be aware of what is happening within the halls, and within the university environment, and the society at large. That was one of the problems that people like Big Jay, Sina Odugbemi and some other people who passed through the four walls of Independence Hall faced. And that is why you find some Katangites who are senior police officers and various walks of life. I work with the Nigerian government, and I didn’t start from there. It is that awareness that made us get into such organizations, and as you can see, so many other Independites here to are politically relevant. One of us is an ambassador. All these are derived from the kind of environment that Indy Hall offers. So, unity of purpose, resilience, and political awareness are hallmarks of an Independite.
Thank you, sir. When do you think the next alumni reunion would be?
The Hall Master said we are coming back next year, by God’s grace. And then, we are going to have bigger projects, and we are even going to have Great Independence Hall Historical Project. We already have Dr. Badru, who is a historian, as one of the programme managers of that project. So, we are coming back bigger by the grace of God. It’s part of that resilience. You can see how, within one year, we were able to bring this together. It is that resilience we are talking about. You know, that focus. And then, you can see people greeting each other. That is the brotherliness, which rarely exists in other halls where people are somehow individualistic n nature and may want to form porsche. Nobody forms porsche in Independence Hall, although we have people who are from powerful backgrounds, but in Independence Hall, we are all one.
Thank you so much sir, for granting us this interview. And, welcome back home.
Yeah. Thank you.