Dignitaries Grace Oloye Lekan Alabi’s 65th Birthday
THAT Oloye ’Lekan Alabi, the Aare Alaasa Olubadan of Ibadanland and former Press Secretary to four former governors (one civilian and three military) of old Oyo State (present Oyo and Osun States) from 1983–1989 celebrated a high-octane 65th birthday in Ibadan, Oyo State on Tuesday, October 27 this year, is no more news.
What is newsworthy and remarkably instructive of Alabi’s birthday luncheon / book launch on a work day is the quality and mixed–grill of his guests: society’s movers and shakers, traditional rulers and chiefs, academics and the grassroots people. Guests on the day included the Governor of Oyo State whose victory at the last April governorship election was revalidated by the Oyo State Election Petitions Tribunal on Alabi’s birthday, Senator Abiola Ajimobi.
Morning shows the day. The dam of public affection for Alabi was opened by the personally-signed congratulatory letter to Alabi from a former head of state, retired General Dr. Yakubu Gowon, GCFR, in which Gowon recalled Alabi’s letter of 1967 to him while the head of the Federal Military Government which had clamped Professor (then Mr) ’Wole Soyinka in Kaduna Prison, without trial, for visiting the late Military Governor of the defunct Eastern Region who was about to secede the Region from Nigeria. Alabi, then a 17-year-old Form three student of African Church Grammar School, Apata-Ganga, Ibadan, Oyo State had written a letter to Gen. Gowon pleading for the release or court trial of Soyinka who, on his subsequent release in 1969, acknowledged young Alabi’s letter, thanking him for his solidarity.
The impressive guest list included the General Officer Commanding the 2 Division of the Nigerian Army who was represented by the Garrison Commander, Colonel Apere; the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Leye Oyebade, former military governor of old Oyo and Ogun States, who Alabi served as Press Secretary in 1984 and 1985, retired Major-General Oladayo Popoola, former military governor of Ogun and Lagos States, retired Brigadier-General Raji Rasaki and representatives of Achievers University, Owo, Ondo State which conferred an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters on Alabi in 2013.
Among the star-studded guests also were the Olubadan of Ibadanland represented by the Ekerin Olubadan of Ibadanland, High Chief Eddy Oyewole Foko, accompanied by the Iyalode of Ibadanland, High Chief (Alhaja) Aminat Abiodun and many other high/senior chiefs, Mogajis and Baales. The King of Alabi’s mother’s hometown, Elemure of Emure-Ekiti, Nigeria’s first lady Senior Advocate, Chief (Mrs) ’Folake Solanke, the first Chairman of Odu’a Investment Company Limited and Basorun of Ibadanland, respected lawyer and businessman, Chief Kola Daisi, two former Group Managing Directors of the ODU’A Group from where Alabi voluntarily retired eight years ago as the pioneer General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Chief Olufemi Adewumi, Dr. Adebayo Jimoh and the incumbent GMD, Alhaji Adewale Raji, successful industrialist and Asiwaju of Ibadanland, Chief Bode Amao, Alhaji (Dr) Murtala A.
Adebayo, another foremost businessman, the late Alhaji AbdulAzeez Arisekola Alao’s family, Chief (Mrs) Abiodun Duro-Ladipo, wife of the late theatre doyen, and Chief (Mrs) Abiodun Pomary.
Also in attendance to honour Alabi were the President-General of the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII) Chief Wole Akinwande, the Executive Council and members of Omo Ajorosun Club and many other professional/social clubs such as the League of Veteran Journalists, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria, Freelance Independent Broadcasters of Nigeria (FIBAN), Ibadan Youth Front and the Ibadan North Local Government Traditional Council.
Eminent guests who also graced the ceremony included the wife of Professor Tunji Kolapo, Nigeria’s former Ambassador to Ghana, Pastor Bisi Kolapo, retired Colonel and Mrs. Anifowose, Professor (Mrs) Lola Adekunle, Dr. (Mrs) Funlola Dare, Senior Chief Lateef Oyelade, Lady Ibironke Thomas, representative of Evangelist (Professor) Ebenezer Obey-Fabiyi whose band played at Alabi’s 40th and 60th birthday parties, Chief Niyi Adegbenro, Chief (Mrs) Joko Oni, Chief Bode Mustapha, Otunba Deji Osibogun, Otunba Jide Osunnubi alias “Sokoyokoto,” retired Major (Mrs) Victoria Bankole Ladipo, Engineer Seyi Makinde, the leaders and members of the Igbo, Ebira and Ilorin communities in Oyo State, three former Secretaries of Oyo State Government, Alhaji Diti Ladapo, Chief Adebisi Adesola and Alhaji Olalekan Alli, foremost educationist, Dr. Oluremi Atanda, Professor Dolapo Lufadeju and the first national coach of Nigeria’s Falcons, coach Niyi Akande of the former Green Eagles and Shooting Stars Football Club fame.