Dotun Ayoade: Toast to a distinguished award winner

At over seventy this General of geosciences still commands geological and mineral exploration troops into rocky and mountainous terrains of the country at national and international consultancy levels.

No, you cannot slow Uncle Dotun Ayoade down!

The more he discovers, the more  his appetite for further discovery grows. He has explored so much, seen so much and armed with much facts and figures to constantly reiterate that but for leadership and systemic problems, Nigeria should be a world solid mineral power. That he remains on the field means he keeps the hope alive.

Driven by hard work, focus and discipline, excellence hall-marked Uncle Dotun’s geological and geoscience exploits across such Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government as Mines and Power, Solid Minerals, Geological Survey,  Geosciences Research Laboratories, etc.

The reward for the uncommon dedication and impactful accomplishment came last week in Ibadan, Oyo State when he became the first Nigerian recipient of the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society Dr. J.D. Falconer Gold Medal Award for Economic Geology with the presentation done by Engr. Obadiah Simon Nkom, president of the society and the Director General of Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office.

Dr. Falconer was the first Director of the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency and the award named after him is for “consistent excellent contribution to economic Geology and mineral exploration”. The award goes to “Miners, Mining Engineers and Geo-scientists of any nationality working on mining and geological problems in Africa”.

Uncle Dotun thus joins a distinguished class of four eminent winners of the Dr. Falconer gold medal award the others being Prof. Laurence Robb (2016), Prof. Judith Kinnaird (2017) and Prof. Dr. Arno Mucke (2018).

A scion of the famous Sekoni Ayoade family of Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State which the late renowned musician I.K. Dairo once predicted would become the London of Yorubaland, Uncle Dotun had his elementary education in the town before proceeding to Oyemekun Grammar School  Akure and Government College Ibadan for his high school and higher education.

He obtained his Bsc degree in Geology from the University Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) and a Masters degree in Industrial Mineralogy from the University of Hull, United Kingdom.

To close relations and friends, the lofty professional heights attained by Uncle Dotun have not come as surprise. He works hard, strives for excellence and demands same from those around him. Any attempt to do otherwise could only earn the undiscerning a reprimand; and if truth must be told a number of we his cousins, brothers and sisters partly owe our success to this fact.

I recall how while spending the holiday in his place in Ilorin in 1977, he picked ‘Not Safe to Be Free’ by James Hardley Chase from his rich book shelf for me to read. It was my very first encounter with the famous author and the experience was a turning chapter in my budding literary journey.

In a sense, it was poetic irony that ‘Not Safe To Be Free’ was his choice. I had quickly learnt from cousin Kehinde Ayoade who used to live with him that there was no room for careless freedom in Uncle Dotun’s empire. From strategic positions in our room (the living room was mostly a no-go area), we would watch out for his Volkswagen Passat car as he returned from office and ensured we were already at attention by the time he pulled up. The ‘e kaabo’ Sir chorus would follow while he would in turn run his eyes over us to know if we had been engaging in rough play instead of reading or working. Hardly Chase, in another title, describes such act as running a microscopic eye on someone like a scientist in search of invisible germs.

From early morning chores including washing of the cars, to ironing, to being part of the preparation of meals, to following him to the farm to plant or harvest yams, etc, you really wondered how you could be safely free in his environment. Yet, it was all about putting us on the right track to success.

All said, it will be a mistake to think that Uncle Dotun’s life revolves around Geology and hard work only. A man of style and indeed a fashionista whose apparels are always tailor-fit for his six-feet-plus frame, he is very at home with nature hence in his gardens are varieties of fruits and flowers. His leisure times are not complete without listening to good country music, pop and soul and if he switches to sports, it will likely be lawn tennis or football. He is equally abreast of social, economic and political affairs; and and he writes so well that literary exploits could have been his alternative career path.

Congratulations to a dear Uncle.

  • Lanre Arogundade is Executive Director, International Press Centre, Lagos.

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