S.T SOAP: THE RISE AND FALL OF A PROMISING INDIGENOUS BRAND
Late Alhaji Safiriyu Tiamiyu’s quality item, S.T Soap, immediately turned into an easily recognized name during the 80s into the 90s, due to its potency, packaging, and rhythmic advert jingle which practically turned into a public hymn, particularly in the South West, which obviously was responsible for the fame and excessive demand in the market by all.
In 1979 Alhaji Safiriyu Tiamiyu popularly known as S.T began what was referred to as S.T Soaps Limited with the amount of 5,000 naira (N5000). In an interview with L’abe Orun Program, Alhaji Safiriyu Tiamiyu said he got N3000 from his father after which he added his own N2000. Before starting S.T Soaps Limited, Alhaji Safiriyu Tiamiyu was buying Garri from Auchi and reselling it in Lagos.
The business kept expanding, S.T Soaps extended from the passageways of his home to raising a cutting-edge processing plant in Ijebu-Mushin, Ogun State. Alhaji Safiriyu Tiamiyu Worked and thrived from his monstrous industrial facility, with huge loads of laborers in his workforce.
Notwithstanding his small degree of Education, Alhaji Safiriyu Tiamiyu understood the significance of commercials on viable showcasing, he contributed a gigantic entirety on being noticed despite the huge amount of money it cost him, the brand’s Jingle on the then Radio Nigeria and across media houses actually inspires nostalgic musings. By the mid-’90s, the organization grew from the popular S.T Soap to making polythene products having over 1,000 labour force the majority of which were indigenes of Ijebu-Mushin.
You’ll definitely remember the S.T soap advert that goes thus:
Call: Ose S.T mare oo
Call: Ose S.T mare oo
Call: Okan dara fun we lasan
Call: Okan dara faso fifo
Call: Elo S.T ke ridi oro wa
All: Gbogbo kokoro ara ojobo, gbogbo idoti yen o le raiye, eela ishaka ewa bi gba lo, on foso mo kii jaso o sa, ole koko kii jewo o jare.
Call: Ose S.T mare oo
Alhaji Safiriyu Tiamiyu’s irregular downfall started in October 2004 when the assembly line laborers at his S.T Soaps Limited started to racket for a “staff association” with the excuse that they were being used as a slave in the manufacturing company. Alhaji Safiriyu Tiamiyu was purportedly disappointed with the possibility of a staff association inside the premises of his business, he contended that the thought isn’t proper in a sole ownership enterprise, the S.T Soaps Limited staffs who affirmed that they are being abused by the organization’s administration, started a protest by abandoning their tasks.
During the dissent, one of the staff of S.T Soaps Limited purportedly damaged a mixing machine worth five million naira. This incensed Alhaji Safiriyu Tiamiyu who welcomed the police to capture the miscreant however on getting to the scene the police terminated irregularly noticeable all around and captured everyone they discovered including non-staffs and outsiders.
One of the locals (a deaf kid) was said to have been hit by a stray bullet. The police contribution made a total pandemonium, the residents were angered, they promised to annihilate the manufacturing plant, S.T Soaps Limited if the arrested indigenes were not delivered from police custody, the old women threatened to protest naked with a left foot sandal and a left earring, realizing the consequences of his actions, Alhaji Safiriyu Tiamiyu called for the released of the protesters and everyone arrested at the scene.
Eventually, Alhaji Safiriyu Tiamiyu had to give in to the demands of his workers by giving room for a labour union despite the fact that S.T Soaps Limited was a sole ownership enterprise just to allow peace reign. However, in an interview, he claimed that allowing the workers’ association worsened the issue and the employees started feeling high and mighty.
He said they started demanding an increment in salary incessantly and they were wasting the company products unnecessarily. He gave an instant when they would mix soda used in making soap after which they would abandon the mixed soda and request for a meeting with their employer, Alhaji Safiriyu Tiamiyu himself. If he couldn’t show up due to one reason or the other, they would refuse to work and waste the mixed soda.
Alhaji Safiriyu Tiamiyu maintained that those usually spearheading such acts were the indigenes of Ijebu-Mushin, he said they had a sense of entitlement since Alhaji Safiriyu Tiamiyu himself wasn’t an indigene of Ijebu-Mushin. To curb the wastage of resources and motivate a smooth flow of activities in the organization, Alhaji Safiriyu Tiamiyu sacked about fifty of the indigenous employees encouraging the unethical acts but it only worsened the issue as the whole community was displeased with this particular action.
It took the mediation of the police D.P.O and a well reputable chief of Ijebu-Mushin to suppress the developing unsettling influence, the two players; Alhaji Safiriyu Tiamiyu and the S.T Soaps Limited staffs were called to a roundtable and a mutual ground was reached in the month of November 2004.
However, on Friday, May 13th, 2005, five policemen from the Elewe-Eran police station, Abeokuta, stormed the processing plant, S.T was arrested, one lepper from a nearby town called Baba Oníkèké had implicated him in a kidnapping and ritual case, Baba Baba Oníkèké who was a lepper asserted that Alhaji Safiriyu Tiamiyu routinely purchases human parts from him. Baba Oníkèké insisted that he sold two human eyes to Alhaji Safiriyu Tiamiyu for Two thousand naira. When Baba Oníkèké was told to identify Alhaji Safiriyu Tiamiyu, he couldn’t point out who Alhaji Safiriyu Tiamiyu was between him and his managers.
On hearing this, Alhaji Safiriyu Tiamiyu’s first house, second house, and office were scoured by the police, however, nothing was found, the legal dispute ranges for a while yet the case was at last excused by His revered, O.S Moronfolu of the Magisterial district, Chief Magistrate court, Ijebu-Ode on June 7th, 2005.
Following these occurrences, unfortunately for him, the ritual allegation case against Alhaji Safiriyu Tiamiyu ruined him. As someone who used to be very popular and prominent on the Ijebu social scene and even beyond, he suddenly went low, while his once thriving and booming soap business, S.T Soap also went under and comatose; which ultimately forced him to leave the scene, and retired into more private and secluded life for years, with nothing virtually heard about him or his whereabouts.
Alhaji Safiriyu Tiamiyu couldn’t recapture his feet, His once-mighty industry, S.T Soaps Limited became history. He went into depression, his life never stays as before. In an interview, he said his greatest mistake in life was employing a larger percentage of Ijebu-Mushin indigenes anytime he had to recruit workers. He maintained that they had a great sense of entitlement and strongly believed that they are the reason he was successful.
Affirming the toll which the ritual allegations had on him and his wave-making and profitable soap business. A case, he believed was maliciously orchestrated by his detractors, at that time but the deed is done. No one heard anything about the great Alhaji Safiriyu Tiamiyu of S.T Soaps Limited again until October 5, 2020, when the news that he kicked the bucket filtered out. The great indigenous industrialist died at the age of 64 following quite a while of engaging an undisclosed ailment.
Alhaji Safiriyu Tiamiyu was survived by many wives, children, grandchildren, with a vast estate. According to family sources, he was laid to rest the same day he died according to Islamic rites.
May His Soul Rest in Peace!
Written by Johnson Okunade
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