Abiodun Oni

Father’s Day: An Homage to My Father, Prof. Michael Abiodun Oni

While the name Michael Abiodun Oni may not resonate within your memories, I promise that your journey into this narrative will leave a lasting imprint of his life upon your heart. Professor Michael Abiodun Oni is not just a name, he is an embodiment of resilience, determination, and intellect; a distinguished scholar of political science with a focus on Electoral Politics and Management.

His life began from the humblest of origins, where poverty wore him like a second skin, shadowing him like a church mouse in the corners of destitution. His past is a book sealed with impenetrable locks, a testament to the agonizing recollections and haunting torment hidden within its pages. The only keys he ever allowed were mere fragments of his narrative; one such being that his own father was a shadow figure, a nomad who returned intermittently, solely to father another child before disappearing again into his peripatetic life.

Raised by his stoic grandmother, my father’s youth was a tapestry of discipline and austerity. His luxuries were non-existent, including the ability to pursue education. I recall a time when, at 25, I lamented about the seemingly endless road of my master’s program. His response was a soft laughter followed by a sobering revelation: at my age, he hadn’t even set foot in a university.

Once known as ‘Biodun Eleko’, ‘Biodun Elekuru’, and ‘Biodun Oni igbalo’, my father wore these monikers like badges of honor. Each translating respectively to Biodun the pap seller ‘Biodun the banana pudding hawker, they represented the grinding struggle of his early years. From a schoolboy without shoes, even while holding the prestigious position of head boy, to a man of varied manual trades, he carved his path through life with grit and perseverance.

Education eventually beckoned, not through silver spoons but rather the keen eyes of his uncle-in-law. Observing the young village boy-turned-house-servant fluently reading the English newspaper, he recognized the diamond in the rough, propelling my father on a journey towards scholarship.

The hardships of his early life tempered him into a man of stern discipline, so much so that he rarely engaged in the warmth of fatherly cuddles with us as children. Our home resonated more with the austere authority than tender love. Yet beneath this hard exterior was a man fueled by the relentless drive to build a meaningful life. A drive so intense, it often eclipsed the possibility of forging deeper bonds with us, his children.

Ironically, this man who had initially shunned the thought of matrimony, became a committed husband to my mother and father to us, not out of a conventional romantic tale but a sense of responsibility when my elder sister was conceived. He, a man who once clad himself in worn-out clothes as a university lecturer, was steadfast in his quest for self-improvement, often prioritizing his academic fees over personal comfort.

Despite the austerity and the struggles, my father was a paragon of moral rectitude. He refrained from vices, focused instead on constructing a life of stability and integrity. By the time he reached 40, he was a homeowner, a feat yet to be replicated by any of his siblings, alive or deceased.

His vision extended beyond personal success. He actively supported the building of a secondary school for the children of our community, providing education free of cost. He even managed it for five years before generously handing it over to the government of Ogun State.

Today, the man who once hawked banana pudding stands as a distinguished professor. The boy who had no shoes now possesses multiple cars. The once impoverished child now supports numerous students through their educational journeys.

Yes, he was strict, perhaps terrifyingly so. But as we grew older, we learned to interpret his stern demeanor as a protective shell, a result of the life he had been forced to lead.

On this Father’s Day, as Taiwo Abiodun-Oni, his favored child, I celebrate the extraordinary journey of my father. The man who taught me that life is an unpredictable rise to grace, and that one’s beginnings do not determine the height of their flight.

10 thoughts on “Father’s Day: An Homage to My Father, Prof. Michael Abiodun Oni”

    1. Prof Oni! An upright and meticulous man indeed.
      A great role model.
      I’m glad I worked under him during my NYSC days at Babcock University.
      I’m also wishing him an happy Father’s Day.

  1. Oluwafemi SOYEWO

    Dad is a true inspiration. He has lived through some of the most tumultuous times in history, but has never lost his sense of hope or his love for life.
    Looking back to those early years of us attending PHS, his love for us excel can’t be forgotten.
    On this day, I’m also wishing him a happy Father’s Day for being a true example to many people.

      1. I can relate with his stern but disciplined nature and resilience and also an epitome of knowledge.
        He’s currently my lecturer- political science and wisdom oozes from this man of impeccable knowledge.

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