Victor Omololu Sowemimo Olunloyo
Born: 14 April 1935 in Ibadan, Nigeria
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Victor Olunloyo is the son of Horatio Vincent Sowemimo Olunloyo and Alhaja Bintu Tejumola Abebi. Horatio Olunloyo, a scholar, organist and administrator who also served in the Nigerian Army, died of high blood pressure on 29 December 1948 at the age of 42. He was Christian and was buried in St David's Church Kudeti. Horatio was married to Alhaja (died October 2013 at the age of 102) who was a Muslim and they had five children; three girls and two boys. Victor, the subject of this biography was the oldest of the children while Vincent Olusegun Sowemimo Olunloyo (1943-2017), or Segun as he was known, was the third born. Segun became an engineer and a very popular lecturer at the University of Lagos.
Victor Olunloyo attended Holy Trinity Primary School, Ebute-Ero, Lagos in 1939, a school founded by Anglican missionaries in 1888. In the following year he attended Olowogbowo Methodist Primary School, Lagos, before attending St Peters Primary School, Aremo, Ibadan between 1941 and 1946. He completed his primary school education by attending St Paul's Anglican Primary School, Gbongan in 1947 and, after passing Standard 5, he applied for a place at Government College, Ibadan. He was one of over 2000 students who applied for this secondary school and was placed 10th. The top ten students were awarded a scholarship so, in 1948, he began his studies at Government College, Ibadan, funded with a scholarship. Olunloyo was the only one in his class who had come after passing Standard 5, the others all having passed Standard 6. Being less well prepared than the other students he struggled in his first year coming 21st out of 23 students in his class, but he quickly made up the lost ground and for the rest of his time at Government College he topped his class.
Horatio Vincent built a house in Molete, Ibadan, which was completed in 1948, one day before he died. Victor was in his first year at Government College when his father died in December 1948. Among his dormitory roommates at that time were Sulaiman Botsende Lagundoye, who became a radiologist and medical professor, Akinwande Oluwole Babatunde Soyinka, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1986, Oladipo Olujumi Akinkugbe, who became a professor of medicine, and Olalekan Are, who became "Nigeria's foremost agronomist, civil/public servant, philanthropist." Not only did Victor Olunloyo excel at mathematics at Government College, but he was also an excellent cricketer, an outstanding opening bowler, who played in the school team. Bayo Adeyinka reports on Olunloyo's time at Government College, Ibadan, in the interview :-
While at Government College, Ibadan, he actually challenged the teachers to give him a full year's course which he finished and passed in three months. Yet, he decided to wait for his mates in the class to complete that year's course of work. When I asked him what he did during the period of waiting, he told me he taught as a pupil teacher in another school. At another period, he solved a mathematical problem given by the teacher through another method that was not taught by him. When the teacher called him up, he showed the teacher that his own method was simpler and faster than that of the teacher.Coming top in Ibadan province in the Higher School Certificate (HSC) examinations, he entered University College Ibadan in 1953 and studied privately for his A-levels which he was awarded in 1954. He applied for scholarships to fund his university studies in Britain. In , Olunloyo spoke about Obafemi Awolowo, his father's friend and lawyer. He related how he came to be a student at the University of St Andrews in Scotland in 1955:-
I am a special beneficiary of Awolowo's excellent administration. I applied for two overseas scholarships, one Engineering, the other Mathematics. I came first in both interviews with A+. Lady Kofo Ademola, who headed the Students and Scholarship Section, asked me surprisingly one day which of the two would I like to use. I told her "both." She was very fond of me and was a kind of tranquiliser on me whenever I was in her presence. With three A's and a needless C in Chemistry, she got a place for me where her husband, Chief Justice Adetokunbo Ademola, graduated in Selwyn College, Cambridge, which insisted on 3A's in the HSC. We were being prepared to enter BSc the equivalent of HSC. I crossed the HSC barrier in 3 months. I chose to use the two scholarships which was a rare honour and Mrs Kofo Ademola agreed that in my case, it would be permitted. I could not wait a year before taking my place in Selwyn College, Cambridge, so I opted for the oldest university in Scotland, St Andrews.Today the University of St Andrews is located only in the town of St Andrews but, when Olunloyo began his studies there, Queen's College, Dundee, was also part of the University of St Andrews. Mathematics was taught in both Dundee and St Andrews and students sat common examination papers. Engineering and applied sciences were only taught at Queen's College, Dundee. With scholarships in both mathematics and engineering, Olunloyo was a student in Queen's College, Dundee. We note that six years after Olunloyo left the University of St Andrews, Queen's College, Dundee became a separate university in 1967, the University of Dundee. Today it is possible for well qualified students to enter the second year of the four year B.Sc. course at the University of St Andrews, but in the 1950s this route was not available :-
When he arrived at the University, he requested that they should allow him to start from 2nd year but the Senate declined. It had never been done before. He went to a professor's house on a rainy day and pleaded that they should give him a test within 7 days. The University agreed and gave him a test on Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. Each test was for 3 hours each. He got 84 in Physics, 88 in Chemistry and 98 in Mathematics. That was how he was allowed to skip year one at the University. So he started from year two.His advisor of studies was John Meadows Jackson (1907-1998) who, after a B.Sc. in Physics from the University of London in 1927, was awarded a B.Sc. in mathematics in the following year. Jackson had obtained a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in 1933 for his thesis Exchange of energy between inert gas atoms and a solid surface. After teaching at the University of Manchester and Westfield College of the University of London, he had been appointed as a Lecturer in Mathematics at the University of St Andrews in 1946. He taught in Dundee and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in Mathematics in 1953. Head of Mathematics in Dundee at this time was Murray Macbeath and Henry Jack was a lecturer in the Department.
In  a citation for Olunloyo explains that he:-
... graduated with B.Sc. (General Engineering - Civil and Mechanical Engineering) in June 1957 having notable first in First Class in Theory of Structures and all Mechanical subjects and First Class in Mechanical Design.John Jackson wrote to the Students Officer, Western Nigeria Office in London, on 4 April 1957 supporting Olunloyo's scholarship being renewed. Jackson wrote that Olunloyo was :-
... outstanding, able and hardworking. His ability in mathematics is exceptional and he has taken first place in all his mathematical classes.The citation for Olunloyo continues :-
In July 1958, this rare gem achieved yet another feat by bagging B.Sc. (First Class Honours) degree in Mechanical Engineering. He was treated to an adoring and high profile graduation ceremony. The young engineer was specially transferred from the Faculty of Applied Science to the Faculty of Pure Science for a Ph.D. in Mathematics straight away. He completed his PhD. Mathematics in 2 years including 2 summer vacations.You can read more of Olunloyo's reminiscences about his education at THIS LINK.
Olunloyo was not only interested in his mathematical studies for he was also the President of the Musical Society. He graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of St Andrews after submitting his thesis On the Numerical Determination of the Solutions of Eigenvalue Problems of the Sturm-Liouville Type. He returned to Nigeria and was appointed as a lecturer in the Department of Mathematics of University College, Ibadan. The University College, Ibadan was established in 1948 as a College of the University of London, England; it is the first university in Nigeria. It became an independent university, the University of Ibadan, in 1962 after the country gained its independence from Britain. Later he taught at the University of Ife, Ibadan Branch, Nigeria and he was there when he submitted a paper in June 1964. The University of Ife opened in Ibadan in 1962, brought about because the University of Ibadan had no Engineering Faculty and lacked other areas such as law. In 1967 the University of Ife moved to Ile-Ife and in 1987 was renamed Obafemi Awolowo University, the name by which it is known today.
By 1966, Olunloyo was back at the University of Ibadan. Let us note at this stage that there seems to be quite a lot of confusion between Victor Olunloyo and his brother Vincent Olunloyo. Both have the same initials, V O S Olunloyo, and both wrote papers under this name. MathSciNet believes that both Victor and Vincent are the same person and various others have made this error. Vincent Olunloyo spent time at Cornell University in the United States and wrote papers on ordinary and partial differential equations, fluid mechanics and numerical analysis. Despite his engineering scholarship, Victor Olunloyo seems to have only published papers on pure mathematics.
Interestingly, Victor Olunloyo, the subject of this biography, does not seem to have published papers on the results of his Ph.D. thesis and his first papers are on number theory. Rather strangely, his first two papers are identical. They are written with A D Weiss as co-author and have the title On the completeness of the totitives of a natural number. One of the two identical papers appeared in the Journal of the London Mathematical Society in 1965, the other in the American Mathematical Monthly in 1966. He published two later papers on number theory.
Olunloyo did not only have a career as a mathematician, he also had a political career. Moses Adekoyejo Majekodunmi (1916-2012) was a gynaecologist and obstetrician who was elected to the Nigerian Senate in 1960 and appointed administrator of Western Region in June 1962. One of Majekodunmi's first tasks was to appoint Olunloyo as Commissioner for Economic Development for the Western Region. Nigeria had seen increasing unrest since independence which was intensified by elections in 1964 with widespread reports of electoral fraud. A military coup in 1966 was put down but resulted in the army taking over. Adeyinka Adebayo (1928-2017) became governor of the Western region and he re-appointed Olunloyo as Commissioner for Economic Development. He also served as Commissioner for Community Development and, on two occasions, Commissioner for Education. He later served as Chairman of the Western Nigerian Development Corporation.
In August 1983 Olunloyo, as a member of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), stood in the election for Governor of Oyo State. The man holding the position was Bola Ige of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN). Olunloyo won taking 58 per cent of the vote against 40 per cent for Bola Ige. The Unity Party of Nigeria disputed the result and the case went to the High Court :-
Bola Ige the UPN petitioner failed to provide polling station totals but relied on those from the collation centres. It was found that over 1 million votes from his home town of Ilesha had been omitted, as had those from Ibadan ... A majority found for the NPN on the grounds that Bola Ige had not proved his case beyond reasonable doubt and had not alternatively sought that the election should be declared void. The minority, including the chairman, held that, in accordance with the Electoral Act, a civil law balance of probability was sufficient and that the criminal law rule of proof beyond reasonable doubt did not apply. ... Olunloyo did not even appear in court.Olunloyo's victory was, however, short lived since three months later there was a military coup. Major General Muhammadu Buhari (born 17 December 1942) was announced as Head of State and made a speech to the country on 1 January 1984 :-
The last general elections could be anything but free and fair ... There is ample evidence that rigging and thuggery were related to the resources available to the parties. This conclusively proved to us that the parties have not developed confidence in the presidential system of government on which the nation invested so much material resources.It is interesting to note that Buhari was elected President of Nigeria in 2015 and re-elected in 2019.
To read Olunloyo's account of this election and other political adventures, see THIS LINK.
In November 2002, Olunloyo decided to run again for political office :-
Ibadan - Former civilian governor of old Oyo State Dr Omololu Olunloyo at the weekend gave reasons why he is contesting the governorship seat of the state 20 years after he left office. Dr Olunloyo while addressing a large crowd of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) faithfuls and residents of the state that thronged the historic Mapo Hall for his public declaration for the governorship race stated emphatically that he remained the only aspirant without any record of corruption having held eleven different executive offices in the past. Said he, "I am an aspirant simply because the degree of decay and deterioration in nearly all facets of our life needs to be arrested swiftly and efficiently calling for as it does, a seasoned, experienced hand". Dr Olunloyo who paid a glowing tribute to the founding fathers and previous political actors of the state said, "at times such as this, there should be no room for new comers to governance. ... I am for efficiency, prompt solution to problems, probity and transparency. All these are better said than done but I believe I have been fully tried and tested. .... I am for peace, love and unity. I am for the protection of the rights of all people, foreign or national, North, East, South or West to live in peace here".Olunloyo was not chosen as PDP candidate, however, the choice being Rasheed Ladoja who was duly elected governor of Oyo State on 29 May 2003. In 2009 Olunloyo was chair of a panel set up to investigate the collapse of a part of the Pharmacy section of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology. The report was controversial :-
While Olunloyo, who chaired the panel allegedly indicted the state government and the contractor who handled the project for poor execution, the state government on its part said the report was shoddily prepared and cannot stand. A newspaper report had quoted the former governor as saying that the government and the contractor handling the project failed to follow the right procedure in the execution of the project. This was said to have angered the governor, Adebayo Alao-Akala, who allegedly moved to prevail on his predecessor to reconsider its position and rewrite the report, but Olunloyo refused.Olunloyo was elected chairman of the PDP Planning and Strategy Committee for Ibadanland with the aim of promoting the Party's success in the 2011 Nigerian election. In addition he chaired the PDP Media and Publicity Committee for the state. It was a difficult Presidential election with arguments over whether the agreement that the Muslim north and the Christian south would alternate was being broken. Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP was elected President. In 2012 Victor Olunloyo left the PDP political party and joined the Action Congress of Nigeria party. Dejo Raimi of the PDP blamed his party for Olunloyo's move :-
For a very long time, nobody talked to Olunloyo from PDP. Nobody gave him what to eat. My friend is hungry and he needs food and relevance. ACN promised to give him what he wants; food and other things and as a result, he dumped PDP and went to ACN. Don't forget that a hungry man will eat from his enemy. It is very careless and stupid of PDP to leave its elder statesmen like Omololu Olunloyo ...The Action Congress of Nigeria merged with other opposition parties in 2015 to form the All Progressives Congress.
Finally let us note that Olunloyo was married to Funmilayo, who worked in the Civil Service, being there when she met Olunloyo, and they had ten children. The second of these children was Kemi Omololu-Olunloyo (born Olukemi Omololu-Olunloyo, 6 August 1964) who became a journalist. She became controversial and has been involved in public arguments with her father. In fact recently the family have been involved in many accusations and counter claims which we choose not to report on here.
Article by: J J O'Connor and E F Robertson
List of References (9 books/articles)
Mathematicians born in the same country
Additional Material in MacTutor
- Victor Omololu Olunloyo - Interview
- The Sun Nigeria interviews Olunloyo in 2009
- Entry in the list of African men PhDs
Other Web sites
- Mathematical Genealogy Project