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Asuretete nii woju ojo, aringbere nii woju awon ero

Since he marked his birthday a few days ago, my imagination has been buzzing with the much I know about whom and what this man has become. The more I try to evade writing about him, the stronger the feeling became. What qualifies me to put pen on paper about him? My first contact, which was formal in every sense of the word, took place in 1982, when the late John Famadeji, alias Charity Photo took me there to 'see', Mr. Kola Owoeye, the owner of Mak Owoeye Pharmacy. 

Four years later, I was there again, this time as a friend of his nephew, Yinka Owoeye. Since then, Ayo Owoeye has taken as his blood-brother. At a time I was in the valley as a laundry man, he was my number one customer. 

When I dabbled into book-selling, he patronised me. The bottomline is that egbon Ayo has never behaved as a big man to me. He has always and is still warm and accommodating consistently towards me. Anytime, any day, we discuss as chums. Why he is like that I do not know but I cherish the relationship. And I know he does too.

   Life offers man opportunities in varying degrees. Opportunities to see, observe, partake and learn. What is learned comes handy everytime and serves as a guide. Such is more of a teacher that reverberates in our memory daily. Our youthful days might make life seem endless or a very long stretch of road. There are two sets of people. Many do not go through a lot of experiences as they are allowed to have just one line of lifestyle.

    Ayo Owoeye belongs to the latter group. When he was brought to Akure as a youth to join his uncle, Kola Owoeye, the Chairman and Managing Director of then popular Mak Owoeye Pharmacy, he did not know that  path to a steady future was being set before him. It was the ending of phase one and beginning of another in his life. 

   He imbibed so many things from his God-sent brother. Mr. Kola encouraged the young Ayo to further his studies as he went for his Advanced level at FSASON, Ondo and tertiary education at the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU). All this while, he combined working at Mak Owoeye with schooling, as he was helping his uncle to manage the pharmacy. Upon completion of his education and the compulsory National Youth Service, he became the Chief Executive Officer running the pharmaceutical shop exclusively. The shop was everything to him. He had no social life, so to say. Everyday, except Sunday, you would see Ayo Owoeye in his trademark short sleeve shirt and trouser with sandals, overseeing selling of drugs as well as negotiating with drugs sales representatives. I knew him there for about fourteen years. If you are looking for absolute loyalty to the boss, total commitment and unyielding dedication to duty, he exemplified them all. Let me chip this in: give it to Mr. Kola Owoeye, whom his brothers nicknamed Super, he allowed Ayo to run the gigantic shop without interference. However, as powerful and influential as he was, Ayo did not get involved in any sharp practices that could have derailed the shop. Neither did he enrich himself in any manner. Whoever thinks he did not do well, should go and find out what became of Mak Owoeye Pharmacy about three after his departure.

     The only asset Ayo had on leaving Mak Owoeye Pharmacy, was the Toyota Car he purchased while serving his brother. His exit was not planned, as the relationship got scuttled over a matter of principle. The Manager left his duty post even without any saving in his account, except his last salary. 

Ayo, who had never been jobless in his life found himself unengaged for the first time. Devil finds a fertile land in idle hands. The man had to become an emergency contractor to make ends meet. He was getting small jobs of removing debris from gutters for between two thousand five hundred (N2,500.00 and three thousand naira (N3,000.00.) 

   After some months, a friend found him performing the strange duty and asked what led to it. Ayo explained that he was not buoyant enough to start a pharmacy shop and he had to make ends meet. 

That God-sent friend gave him a loan of 1million naira to pay back in ten months without interest. That loan gave birth to Matador Dafon Pharmacy.

      Back in his elements, Ayo buried himself in his job. His car became his drugs car. He would travel to Lagos to procure drugs at least 4 - 5 times a week. Any drug people demanded and was not available would be there the following. He obtained a loan of 150,000.00  from a man in Lagos. The loan attracted N9,000.00 interest on a month basis. He used the money for 10 uninterrupted years. When I asked him the wisdom in paying such a huge sum as interest, he replied, "aburo the money is yielding more than the interest."

    A few years into running his own business, he took a giant stride to cement his seriousness.  In retrospect, I remember the day I had visited him at his former shop behind where his Matador Dafon now stands. He called me aside and said: 

"Edobor, I have bought this place", pointing his finger at the motor park occupied by drivers plying Akure-ldanre road. I replied, "egbon, I don't get where you are talking about." He drew me to the edge of the railings, saying, "this place where drivers are, I am now the owner. I want to erect my office there. Two weeks after, he had taken over the place effectively as it was enclosed with iron sheets.

    I will not deceive myself to declare one or two reasons why people succeed, but I know business fails when cash outflow supercedes inflow. Matador is not given to frivolities or waste of resources. As the craze for Jeep became the order of the day, I challenged him why he had not bought one. He replied, "I service this Vboot regularly though it is doing a yeoman's job. Jeep means nothing to me."

 For over 15 years upon erection of his edifice office, he was living in a rented apartment. I often quipped, "egbon, igba wo le maa kole yin" when will you have your personal house?" After asking this many times, one day he said, "aburo ile ta ngbe onse investment, tori waa maa nawo si titi lai ni. (Personal house is no investment because you will keep spending on it forever.) This Pharmacy will build my personal house when I am ready."

     Any attempt to put him in the limelight will be rebuffed. I once invited him to a church program. He cautioned me before hand, saying, " If i come for the program, you must not introduce me. Why should I be introduced as a dignitary? Matador is not me and I am not Matador. Let people know the business outfit, not the man behind it."

   Permit to cite one or two instances that helped his business to grow rapidly. I had told him the story of two nurses, who left the state hospital and byepassed about 6 pharmacy shops to come and buy drugs at Matador at Old Garage. He smiled and said, "I can sell a drug I bought at 100 naira for 105 naira. I would have done five rounds of selling same drug over and over again before those selling at N150 or N200.00 exhaust theirs."

His business sense is astounding. One day, he told me that he liked buying drugs when their prices fall. Many people do not know that Matador Dafon Pharnacy is a tenant in that office. Matador Dafon pays yearly rent to his property arm. He said this is to ascertain maybe Matador was making profit or not.

    We talk about every issue that attracts our attention, particularly those that are topical and of which I see him going in opposite direction against popular voice. He has no interest in private schools. When his son left Secondary school, he got him enrolled in A/levels. The young man also attended Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife. On realising the disbelief on my face, he explained: "a young man needs to be well-trained and mature before entrusting him with responsibilities.  I know there are setbacks, such as strikes but then the best and most experienced lecturers are found in public schools."

  During my wedding, he did something that further made me respect his accountability. I collected the monetary assistance he rendered at the counter, where customers pay for drugs through a note he gave me. Later, he informed me that he deliberately did it that way to get the money deducted from his salary.

    It would not be out of place to also divulge one of his secrets for success. A young man had visited him in his office in an attempt to make him invest in an online program. He sized the guy up and declared, "the law of business does not encourage diversification. I don't put my money in any venture I am not familiar with. Furthermore, invest pays when it's in line with a related core area of ones knowledge."

    The novel idea of making customers make their orders, go to the cashier, pay and come back with evidence of payment was his ingenuity. The day I asked him how he came about it, he said, "I came up with it. It's meant to prevent my workers from stealing. Ironically, the system has not stopped stealing from Matador Dafon. 

  The Pharmacy shop has had its own share of rogues as workers. There was one, who built two three bedroom flats out of the money stolen from the Pharmacy. Another stole N3.5million, bought a car and erected a building. These point to the reality that, it's going to be very difficult to prevent people from stealing from there is money.

    Sometime, I get amused when people talk about this man. Very many often claim that he is of Ibo extraction. Do not blame them. His quiet lifestyle and remarkable success is not common among our people. But let me clear it here that Ayo Owoeye, Chief Executive Officer of Matador Dafon is a yoruba man. He is from Ekiti State.  

    I have laid bare only a fraction of what I know of and the conversations I have had with Matador Dafon. In all, man is the master of his destiny. The man and his achievements are a combination of divine help, tenets, core values and uncommon discipline. It takes a lot of self-denial, commitment and focus to stay in one's lane unwavering in these climes. 

With distraction everywhere from friends, families, partners and society, only the die-in-the-wool remain resolute and focused. 

     Sincerely, nobody can gage the number of talented, opportuned, well-educated and blessed individuals, who have been derailed by distraction. Distraction is the number one enemy of a bright future. Egbon, Ayo Owoeye a.k.a Matador Dafon has conquered the nemesis.

    Happy belated birthday, Egbon Ayo Owoeye alias Matador Dafon.



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