For the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji, 2020 has been a very challenging year. Successful indigenes are the pride of any traditional ruler. But the Olubadan, who has been swimming in the glory of his prominent men, just discovered that some of them have been departing too fast, one after the other. The fact is that there is no clime or season people don’t die, but when a surge seems to occur, the living get peculiarly scared.
This has been Oba Adetunji’s experience in recent times. Last week, former Governor of Oyo State, Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi, died after a fierce battle with COVID-19 complications. Ajimobi was just about a year in ‘town’ after completing his two tenures. The implication was that he was likely to have more time for cultural and community development programmes. But death never shared this sentiment, he snatched away the boisterous professional and politician. Of course, that Ajimobi and the Olubadan had a rough time as he (former governor) created more obas notwithstanding, the royal father still has to feel the loss. After all, a Yoruba proverb says a kii le omo buruku f’ekun pa, meaning that you don’t invite a lion to devour a rascally child.
While Olubadan, alongside many other people, were and are still mourning Ajimobi, another blow erupted on Monday when leading industrialist, Chief Bode Akindele, passed away. The Parakoyi of Ibadanland’s age was ripe by any standard – 87 – but the fact is, a 200-year-old Akindele, even when he would have become unimaginably weak, would be more useful than some other 100 agile but indigent men. The founder of Madandola Group of Companies was very connected, influential and was a philanthropic per excellence, to the extent that you could say he was the glory of any town or city. But, alas, the Olubadan has lost him too.
These happened after five other highly ad functionally successful indigenes – Muritala Adetunji, Areoye Oyebola, Richard Akinjide, Emiola Adesina and Lekan Are – also died within months. Are, foremost agronomist, chairman of Kakanfo Inn, University Press Plc and Director at Punch Nigeria Limited, passed on in January. Adesina, an influential educationist, died in February. Oyebola, a former Editor of ‘Daily Times’, author and publisher, died in March. Legal luminary Akinjide died in April. On his part, Adetunji, entrenched businessman and mobiliser, who was one of the brains behind the formation of the Economic Commission for West African States (ECOWAS) and main promoter of the defunct Trans International Bank, which later metamorphosed, along with others, into Heritage Bank, breathed his last in May.
There is no doubt that all of them departed the word at ripe ages – Are, 86; Adesina, 90; Oyebola, 84; Akinjide 88; and Adetunji too, 88. While Akindele was also 88, it was Ajimobi who was, indeed, the youngest, having passed on at 70, which is still a ripe age. Yet, for a king or a city which lost this crop of choice men within months, the celebration would call for a sober reflection.
No wonder, while mourning Akindele, Olubadan noted the multiple departures. He expressed worry in a statement issued in Ibadan by his spokesperson, Mr Adeola Oloko, on Tuesday.
The monarch expressed shock and disbelief over Akindele’s passage barely four days after the death of Oyo State immediate past Governor, Ajimobi. Based on the deaths, Oba Adetunji called on clerics and spiritual leaders, irrespective of affiliation, to intercede for the well-being of all citizens, particularly in Ibadanland where people had been dying slowly but steadily in recent times.
The Olubadan described Akindele as an astute businessman, entrepreneur of note and one whose life benefited many. He recalled how the late Parakoyi of Ibadanland set up business outfits, employed hundreds of people and fixed destinies of otherwise hapless citizens.
“Even though a man who lives up to 87 can be said to be advanced in age, when people mourn their losses it is because the vacuum left behind is always difficult if not impossible to fill,” he said.
As the ‘News Agency of Nigeria’ also reports, he said that Akindele bestrode the business world like a colossus for over 50 years, culminating in the establishment of Madandola Group of Companies with investment in shipping, fisheries, real estate and telecommunications among others.
The monarch prayed for the repose of the departed souls and called on men and women of God to stand in the gap for the protection and preservation of Ibadan people at home and in the Diaspora.
The deaths would also remind many people of other prominent business moguls that the city lost in recent years. These include the former Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Alhaji Arisekola Alao; and the Olowotiifowosaanu, Alhaji Mufutau Laninhun.