My friend, Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, popularly called “Juli,” was born on 2 August, 1940, while I was born on 1 October, 1939, therefore, I am ten months older. He chaired my 70th birthday celebration in 2009 and also my 80th birthday celebration last October.
Juli is like the proverbial elephant, which some blind men tried to describe, according to the part of the body each of them touched. In the same way, no one can know all about Juli. Even though I have known him since when we were both Pharmacy students at the then University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) in the ‘60s and we have continued to relate (for about 60 years now), there are some aspects of this Juli that I would still need to conduct a research on before commenting.
For example, I may not be able to say much about his sojourn in Amsterdam, Holland, immediately he graduated in 1965. But l know that, while there, he worked for some years as the secretary general of the World Student Movement, which gave him the opportunity of travelling to many countries of the world and speaking many languages.
Catalogue of landmarks
Juli studied at the Faculty of Law of the University of Lagos and later emerged as the best student at the Nigerian Law School in 1987. If you talk of Rotary International, he was the first District Governor of District 9110. At the Nigerian Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies in Kuru, Juli excelled and was the president of the alumni association afterwards. The congregation of St. Leo’s Catholic Church, Ikeja, will also testify of his commitment and contributions to the Church.
In business, his company, Juli PLC, was the first indigenous company to be quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. In several organisations, such as the Nigerian Institute for International Affairs, the Nigerian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Nigerian Institute of Management, and the Institute of Directors, Juli left indelible marks. In his days in government, he served as the Minister of Health. He is indeed the first and only pharmacist in the country that has occupied the post.
As a professional colleague, I am not even competent to write about his life as a pharmacist. There are many facets of his pharmaceutical life. During important occasions of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, we sing the Pharmacy Anthem. This anthem was composed by Juli. He was instrumental to introducing the award of fellowship of the PSN in 1972. He served as the national secretary and later the president of PSN.
Juli is the pioneer president of the Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy (NAPharm). He came up with the idea of bringing together the national pharmaceutical associations in West Africa, which was launched as the West African Pharmaceutical Federation (WAPF) in Monrovia in October, 1976. It was also Juli who introduced Nigeria to the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), which now attracts hundreds of pharmacists to its annual congresses in various parts of the world.
I first met Juli (known then simply as Julius Adeluyi) at the Ibadan branch of the University of Ife in 1961. He was a pre-Pharmacy student, while I had direct admission with HSC for Pharmacy. At that time, the Department of Pharmacy had only 60 students, with 20 in each year of the three-year course. The relatively small number of students enabled us to be close to one another and even with the lecturers.
Juli was a popular student – handsome, smart, fluent and very actively involved in several extracurricular activities. He was a noticeable figure on campus. Having been an ardent Catholic, he led the Pax Romana, a Catholic organisation on campus, as the president. He introduced the International Pharmaceutical Students Federation (IPSF) in Nigeria and participated in their international meetings. He was the vice president for International Affairs of the then National Union of Nigerian Students (NUNS). By virtue of this position, he travelled extensively and participated in international students conferences.
Apart from NUNS, Juli was involved in the All Nigeria United Nations Students Association (ANUNSA), an agency of the United Nations and served as the president. Again, this caused him to travel a lot.
It was only when we heard Juli broadcasting news at the Western Nigerian Broadcasting Service (now NTA, Ibadan), that we learnt that he was a news broadcaster before coming to study Pharmacy. As a student, he still found time to do some broadcasting.
People who got to know Juli in later years may not be aware that he was an accomplished dancer. In fact, he was an instructor for “twist” and “Madison” dance. In those days, “twist” was the hottest dance that involved very active twisting of the body. Twist music was meant for young people. The wordings of the music in Ibo language are, “Twist bukwa egwu oku o. Welukwanu nwayo…” (“Twist is a hot and dangerous dance. Take it easy so you don’t break your waist”). At that time, the late Victor Olaiya was the leading highlife musician and was around for some functions.
Juli was also an active journalist. He was the founder and editor of the most dreaded campus weekly newspaper called “Spitfire”. His dangerous cartoonist was Frank Effanga. You would be miserable if Spitfire cartooned you.
In games and sports, Juli was in lawn tennis and football. He was also in music and musical instruments. Pharmacists know full well that our Pharmacy Anthem was composed by him.
As a brilliant student, Juli successfully combined these extracurricular activities with his academic work. However, he missed some lectures and practical work whenever he travelled. But he made up by copying the lecture notes from other students like Ajibola Ojo (now Prof. Olaniyi) and reading late into the night.
The life of Juli as a pharmacy student reminds me of this refrain from his PSN Pharmacy anthem, “Pharmacy…we are there”. Juli was everywhere. In fact, he was a hyperactive student.
Juli has been a mentor to many people – always advising, guiding and encouraging others. Let me mention only two instances of how he has touched my life. In 1974, he was the outgoing national secretary of the PSN. That same year, the editor-in-chief of the PSN journal, Pharm. Peter Ekwunife, was sick and could no longer carry out his duties. Then, at the PSN conference, held in Kano in November 1974, a replacement for Peter was badly needed.
It was then that Juli came to me at the bar of Lake Bagauda Hotel, the venue of the conference. As I stood at the counter with colleagues, sipping cold beer, Juli approached me, gently clasped his right hand on my shoulder and said, “Atus, there is something I want you to do for us.” I turned to him and asked what it was. He said, “You know Ekwunife cannot continue as the editor-in-chief and I want you to take over from him.”
It was a surprise to me and I instantly rejected the suggestion because I felt that I was not competent to do it. But he pleaded with me, assuring me that he would work with me but that I should first accept the nomination before the AGM. I lost appetite in my beer as I thought of how I could handle Ekwunife`s heavy responsibility.
However, from that moment, it appeared I received anointing for journalism. From 1974 to 1978, I put in my best into the journal and it generated a lot of revenue for the Society. I changed the name from Journal of Pharmacy to Nigerian Journal of Pharmacy and also increased the frequency from four times to six times a year.
At that time, I never thought of running my own journal but I managed the journal as if it was my personal business. By divine guidance, I found myself establishing Pharmanews in 1979. When I received the vision for Pharmanews, the first person I shared the vision with was my wife and the second person was Juli. From that beginning to date, he has been my mentor. Through Juli, I discovered God’s plans for me.
Secondly, the Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy (NAPharm) was inaugurated in 2014, with Juli as the pioneer president. Before the inauguration, Juli invited me to his office to help him identify a suitable colleague for the position of vice president. I spread my search to all the states and universities and mentioned several names for consideration. At the end, he asked me, “Atus, of all these names you have mentioned, who among them is better than you?” Then he dropped the bombshell, “You are the Vice President of the Academy.”
Working closely with Juli in the Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy for the past six years has positively influenced my life. Juli is an institution of learning himself. There is no better person to work with than Juli.