This week, we celebrate and commend Sir (Dr) Adeyemi Olufunmilayo Sanya to God’s arm of mercy, the joy of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light through Jesus Christ our Lord. Writing this tribute to my dear father and mentor is one of the most difficult task ever in recent time. To write and refer to Sir (Dr) Sanya, a Knight of John Wesley (KJW), in the past is so difficult for me and many others. Sir (Dr) Sanya in no doubt was one of the very silent Nigeria foremost entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and grassroots Methodist Christian soldiers. There are people who spread ideas and influence far and wide during their lifetimes. Sir (Dr) Sanya was one of them. There is no single soul connected to Sir (Dr) and his wife, Lady (Professor) Arinola Sanya that has not benefitted from their goodwill, academia, gesture and wealth, either directly or indirectly, far and near, Christian or Muslim. Sir (Dr) Sanya was that sort of a generous man.
Sir (Dr) Sanya’s “Unforgettable Knight” legacy reminds us of the development of modern philanthropy bearing in mind the importance of gift giving in Christian and African ethical traditions. With reference to the work of Marcel Mauss (1967), Sir (Dr) Sanya’s ideology points us to the significant role that “gifting” can play not only in the articulation of any society but also in the church’s social responsibility. Beyond building up personal reputation or as politics of spiritual overlords, Sir (Dr) Sanya’s charitable choice was to change the mantra and the overlords’ ideology that employs gifts as means of oppression and of building personal reputation.
As an institution in his own right, Dad Sanya was a renowned pharmacist, Counsellor, financial consultant, kingdom treasurer, and philanthropist of esteemed virtues. Sir (Dr) Sanya’s ascension occurred on Saturday June 4th 2022 at the age of 70 with his wife and children by his bedside at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, London. Dad Sanya, “Unforgettable” that is what you are to me, your wife, children and grand-children, families and many all over the world. Dad Sanya, “Unforgettable knight” that is what you are to many orphans, widows, widowers, elderly and vulnerable people, students under your sponsorship, couples, communities, organisations, and churches. Sir (Dr) Sanya’s fitting Biblical message is likened to what St. Paul said “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21). Sir (Dr) Sanya, an “extremely able and hardworking” professional, known for his sense of humour was born on January 5, 1952 to Pa Jeremiah Adenuga Sanya and Chief (Mrs) Julianah Arinola Sanya (The first Iya Ijo of Methodist Church Nigeria, Idode) both of Okebute, Idode quarters, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, South West Nigeria.
Sir (Dr) Sanya attended Imososi Wesley School, Ago-Iwoye (Jan. 1958 – Dec. 1963) and later proceeded to Christ Apostolic Grammar School, Iperu, Remo (Jan. 1965- Dec. 1965) and Ago-Iwoye Secondary School, Ago-Iwoye (Jan. 1966 – Dec. 1969) to complete his Secondary education. Sir (Dr) Sanya gained admission into the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University known then as the University of Ife, Ile-Ife “The Great Ife” in September 1971 and graduated June 1975 with B. Pharm Hons Degree at age 23. He returned to Ife now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife (Oct. 1981-March 1983) for his post-graduate degree and bagged Masters in Business Administration (MBA) with special options in Financial and Marketing Management. He pursued his Doctorate Degree in the same University (Feb. 1985 – June 1990) and bagged his Doctor of Philosophy in Management and Accounting PhD (Ife).
Sir (Dr) Sanya, a highly diversified professional, an optimist with awesome managerial and trading acumen was a Pharmacist, Management Consultant and an Entrepreneur. He worked as Hospital Pharmacist in several hospitals in Nigeria through internship, National Youth Service and substantive positions including General hospital, Ile-Ife, State Hospital, Abeokuta, Ogun State (as one of the pioneering workers in the newly created state in 1976 transferred from the Western Region), General Hospital, Bama, Borno State, State Hospital, Sagamu, Ogun State and the Health Centre, University of Ife (Obafemi Awolowo University), Ile-Ife rising to become the Head of the Pharmacy Unit. Sir (Dr) Sanya was a Superintendent Pharmacist and Director of Promore Nigeria Limited, Ijebu-Igbo (1978-1980). He was also the Regional Marketing Manager (West Africa) for Rivopharm sprl, Switzerland with his office based in Lagos.
Sir (Dr) Sanya was always thinking outside the box about how to move forward with his profession, and bringing everyone on board from all sides. He was someone who gave a compelling argument on how we need to do things – he just had great leadership qualities and was a very unassuming sort of mentor. Sir (Dr) Sanya was the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Finemed Nigeria Limited, Lagos – a Pharmaceutical outfit; Chairman, Board of Directors, Orisun Microfinance Limited (Ago-Iwoye and Sango Ota), Ogun State; Chairman, Sanpharm Nigeria Limited, Lagos; Chairman, Link and Bond Insurance Brokers Nigeria Limited, Lagos and Director, Julia (U.K.) Limited, London. Sir (Dr) Sanya, a member of Abbey Wood Methodist Church, London and Methodist Church Abule Oja, Lagos, was installed as the Grand Patron (Baba Ijo), Methodist Church, Idode on May 12th, 2018. He was a member to a number of professional organizations: Member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (MPSN); Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Management (FNIM); Member of the Institute of Management Consultants (MIMC).
Sir (Dr) Sanya had interest in reading, travelling, football and tennis. We enjoyed watching football and tennis together. He was a member of a Campus Magazine – The Bullet from 1972/1973 and became the Editor during the 1974/1975 session when he was an undergraduate. He was an honorary member of the Staff Club, Obafemi Awolowo University awarded in 2003 and an Ambassador of the Great Ife Alumni Association (2015). As a passionate Alumnus of the Faculty of Pharmacy, Sir (Dr) Sanya ‘delivered the 2002 lecture, titled “Pharmaceutical Marketing in Nigeria: A Retail Perspective,” in memory of Late Prof. Marquis, a former Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy who supervised his undergraduate project. He was also the Guest speaker at the 2011 edition of the Induction of new pharmacists where he made a generous donation to the faculty and another donation, upon request in 2015.’ Sir (Dr) Sanya was a founding Patron, Nigerian Methodist Chaplaincy, United Kingdom/Ireland.
Sir (Dr) Sanya was a member of the Immaculate Club, Ago-Iwoye – a foremost social club for Social and Community Development in his home town Ago-Iwoye. He has served the club in different capacities including being the President on several occasions. Philanthropy across Nigeria was lucky to learn from his enthusiasm, ideology, creative thinking and deep knowledge of giving over the last four decades. Sir (Dr) Sanya’s involvement in philanthropy was not to negotiate accommodation to political values and contracts.
Sir (Dr) Sanya was born, baptized and confirmed in the Methodist Church Nigeria. He contributed in no small measure to the uplifting of the Methodist Church Nigeria and God’s mission in general. Sir (Dr) Sanya in 2009 was awarded the highest award in Methodist Church Nigeria called “Knight of Wesley” for the wonderful support he gave to his Church and the body of Christ. A few examples will suffice here: Sir (Dr) Sanya was the Chairman, Building Committee and Member of Council, Methodist Church, Abule Oja, Lagos. He was the President, Egbe Alafia, MCN, Abule Oja, Lagos. He was the Patron, Boys and Girls Brigade, Methodist Church, Abule Oja, and Patron, Wesley Guild, MCN, Imepe, Ijebu Ode. He visited the holy land – Jerusalem on pilgrimage in 2011.
Sir (Dr) Sanya met his wife Lady (Professor) Arinola Sanya, nee Akinpelu, during their National Youth Service in Bama, Borno State. On his 28th birthday, January 5, 1980, Sir (Dr) Adeyemi Olufunmilayo Sanya got married to Lady (Prof) Arinola Olasumbo Sanya at Christ Anglican Church, Bariga, Lagos. The marriage is blessed with God fearing children – Dr (Mrs) Adesola Adebunmi, Dr (Mrs) Oluwatosin Sanya-Fasuyi, Dr (Mrs) Adetutu Adeyeye, Dr Oluwasijibomi Sanya, and eight grandchildren. In 2020, His Eminence Dr Samuel Chukwuemeka Kanu Uche, Prelate, Methodist Church Nigeria, and Secretary of Conference, Rt Rev Dr Michael Akinwale celebrated and administered Holy Communion to mark Sir (Dr) Yemi and Lady (Professor) Arinola Sanya’s 40th wedding anniversary in their London house. Sir (Dr) Sanya was a gentleman par excellence. He was a good husband, father and leader. Psalm 125:4 states that “God does good to those who are good.” In all challenges of life, Dad Sanya remained a very good and responsible family man. He took keen interest in the education of his four children, in-laws and grandchildren. Sir (Dr) Sanya was a believer in Christ and a giver and even on the hospital bed before his transition, he asked for his purse in his usual manner to appreciate one of the hospital workers. He never lost hope in his Saviour Jesus Christ and the efficacy in the blood and body of Christ. Dad Sanya’s legacy is about the distinctive doctrine of dignity, integrity, making ‘a difference in lives by comforting, listening and treating everyone with sincerity and admiration.’ Like John Wesley, Sir (Dr) Sanya mantra was, “Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, to all the souls you can, in every place you can, at all the times you can, with all the zeal you can, as long as ever you can.” Sir (Dr) Sanya will be remember for his passionate advocacy for the good welfare of ministers and lay workers in Methodist Church Nigeria.
Our only consolation about Dad Sanya’s transition is in the fact that “death for the Christian is not a disaster but a gateway to a better life with God.” The Sun has set on Dad Sanya’s life on earth but it is now Sunrise for eternity for him. It is a transition from the Church Militant to the Church Triumphant. Dad Sanya lives on as a shining star in God’s mission, to his wife, children, and grand-children, to his Methodist Church, to his extended family, his local community, and most importantly to the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN). Dad Sanya was “committed to pharmacy right to the end.” We will sorely miss Dad Sanya’s indefatigable mental resilience, counsel, good humour and ever-present smile. Please, remember the family in prayer.