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LIFE: Aare Arisekola Alao (1945-2014)

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Quintessential Aare Arisekola

Biodun Akande in this piece examines at the Life and Times of the late Aare Arisekola

 

He lived for the people, for his people, no wonder his death engendered heartfelt sorrow and agony. Men, women, young and old, were wailing and crying. As the people were drenched in their tears on Wednesday, moments after the news of his death had hit town, a vehicle conveying a large consignment of food and other items was driven in. Many wailed more. One top politician said with Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Alhaji Azeez Arisekola Alao’s death, Ibadan would know what had hit it. “If you know the number of people he fed and clothed daily, you would know what I mean”. Arisekola’s Orita-Bashorun, Ibadan residence is the go-to-place for most Ibadan men and women, some of who even lived with him. It was there that their daily breads are buttered. He solved their domestic problems and provided for their domestic needs.  His residence was always a beehive of activities, with people crowding around him, eating and having something to drink, not alcohol though. So you can them imagine their agony at his death. Arisekola died in his sleep in London on Wednesday. He was billed to return to Nigeria the day he died. In fact, he was said to be waiting for the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saa’d Abubakar who was also in London at the time. He was Sultan’s deputy, as the Deputy-President General of Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs. His remains were brought to the country on Friday morning, and after a memorial service at Lekan Salami Sports Complex, Adamasingba, Ibadan, he was buried beside his mother’s grave at his residence. Oyo State Government had declared seven days of mourning in his honour and observed Friday as a public holiday.

 

Life and Times

Arisekola-Alao, billionaire businessman and philanthropist, was born on February 14, 1945, to the family of Alhaji Abdur Raheem Olatunbosun Olaniyan Alao and Alhaja Rabiatu Olatutu Abegbe Alao. They hailed from Ajia in Ona Ara Local Government Area of Oyo State. He had his elementary education at St. Luke’s School, Adigun, and later ICC Primary School, Igosun, both in Ibadan. On completion of his primary education in 1960, he sat for the entrance examinations into two of the notable schools in the old Western region; Christ School, Ado-Ekiti and Lagelu Grammar School, Ibadan. He was the best candidate in the Christ School examination, while he emerged as the third best candidate for admission into Lagelu Grammar School. But he did not go further due in part to the poor economic background of his parents and also because he himself preferred Islamic education to Western education.

After his Islamic education, Arisekola-Alao ventured into business. He had a brief stint with his uncle as an apprentice at Gbagi Market, Ibadan before going solo in 1961, selling Gammalin 20. But he was soon to become an agent of Imperial Chemical Industries. He soon grew to become a major businessman in the old Western region. He traded in hardware and merchandise. As his business grew, his commitment to philanthropic activities and to religion grew. He was also involved in politics, working in the background to sponsor people into public office. He was to become a political godfather of sort to many in Oyo State and beyond, installing governors and removing governors at will.

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