Prof. Steve Afolami has expressed his heartfelt joy at the surprise birthday and book launch organised for him. A Professor of Nematology in the Department of Crop Protection, College of Plant Science and Crop Production (COLPLANT), stated that he was overwhelmed with the great birthday package, noting that he never thought a day like this would come where he would be celebrated in this manner.
According to him, “I am simply overwhelmed and had to battle tears for the surprise and ‘coup plotting’. Coming here after the mass and seeing the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Kolawole Salako and everyone without any hint that this would happen; I am so short of words. You all have given me a challenge, despite not leaving the world yet, though I am not departing now, but you have painted a picture as if I should leave now because I am now afraid. If you all think this is the way I am, then you can see that you have to pray and support me for the rest of my life. I will not disappoint you. I am prepared to stay longer and be with you. So, you better join me in praying that through your support, I will neither falter nor disappoint God. And as you have written and spoken well of me, I pray that God thinks of me in like manner”.
He commended his mentees and those present at the event for considering him worthy of celebration, stating that he was completely taken unawares as it was expected that when one is 70 years of age, a biography or an autobiography was supposed to be written, but none had been done. “Normally, when one is 70, it is either you do an autobiography or somebody consults you to do a biography on your behalf, and none of these has taken place. My mentees got together with all of you and some that are probably not here. The ‘coup’ is total and nobody warned me that this was going to happen. So, I am completely taken unawares and I cannot believe that after so many years, you still considered me worthy, not only of this sacrifice, but for the higher sacrifice of even trying to hide it from me”, he stated.
He appreciated the Vice-Chancellor and members of the FUNAAB community for their support over the years, stating that he had always thought he was hated by all as a result of the way he had conducted his affairs while in the University. He lauded former Vice-Chancellors of the University that he had worked with for entrusting him with many responsibilities and assignments, and members of staff for honouring him with great responsibilities alongside his wife, Prof. Carolyn Afolami. He thanked all for seeing him, not just as a colleague, but as a friend, father and mentor, stressing that they had helped in enlarging his coast, praying that they would live long too to be celebrated.
On his upbringing, Prof. Afolami revealed that he was privileged to be one of the first few students to benefit from the free education system designed by late sage and Premier of the Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, stressing that despite being born into a family where his parents had no formal education, they still took education seriously and made much sacrifice to ensure that himself and his siblings went to school. He commended the late Chief Awolowo, the Catholic Church, and his siblings for good mentoring from the secondary school till later in life. He said was filled with joy and hoped to put down some things together for posterity now that he had retired from active service.
Prof. Afolami informed of his willingness to engage in positive tasks that come his way in a bid to serve humanity better. He appreciated his wife and children for standing by him through the years and that, despite having to work in the same institution and environment with his wife, God had been there for them. He specially thanked her and the Onitori, Oba Adebayo, whom he described as his boss at the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), Ibadan, Oyo State and a former Rector in the then Ogun State Polytechnic, now Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta, Ogun State for his love, for believing in him and contributing immensely towards his academic pursuits.