BY DAYO JOHNSON
From across the country, dignitaries trooped to Ondo town to celebrate with High Chief Ilemobayo Akinnola as he rolled out the drums for a three-in-one celebration: his 77th birthday, the 60th anniversary of the transition of his mother ‘Iye Bayo,’ as she was fondly called while alive, Princes Alice Omorinola Akinnola and the 10th anniversary of his installation as the Lisa of Ondo Kingdom.
IT was a triple celebration for the second in command to the paramount traditional ruler of Ondo Town, the Osemawe, the Lisa of Ondo town, High Chief Ilemobayo Akinnola, popularly called ‘Ojo gbogbo bi Odun’ which literarily means no dull moment.
From across the country, eminent personalities trooped to Ondo town to celebrate with this rare gem as he rolled out the drums for a three-in-one celebration – his 77th birthday, the 60th anniversary of the transition of his mother, Princes Alice Omorinola Akinnola and the 10th anniversary of his installation as the Lisa of Ondo Kingdom.
Yesterday will remain a remarkable day in the life of Chief Akinnola and the people of the town as he dedicated a Chapel by name Alice Chapel of Grace to the Wesley University of Science and Technology (WUSTO) in Ondo town in remembrance of his mother whom he said waited for 20 solid years after marriage to have him, an only child.
It was a day of joy, showering of praises, back slapping and merriment as his friends and admirers across the country joined in celebrating the three landmark events.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was not physically present, in a letter to the celebrant said : “It is not only the longetivity of your sojourn on earth so far that is remarkable but also the brilliant achievements that you have made. I would like to join you and your wife in thanking the Almighty God for his grace and favour on you and your family through these years. Without doubt your life reflect the glory of God.
”You are a model, who l am sure has been emulated by many and will continue to inspire others to follow your commendable example.
”Indeed, marking the 60th anniversary of your mother’s transition is sorrow tinged with the appreciation of mercies of God demonstrated in the life of your mother. We praise God for his eminent descendants who are keeping her memory alive and honoured throughout our land and beyond.”
Obasanjo said that his prescheduled commitment to attend the Clinton Global Initiative in New York followed by his annual medical check up in the United States denied him the opportunity to attend the triple celebration.
The host Traditional ruler, the Osemawe of Ondo Oba Victor Kiladejo was full of praise for Akinnola, saying that the town and the state were proud of him.
The Ooni of Ife Oba Okunade Sijuade who led many other Obas in Yoruba land to the ceremony agreed to contribute to the furnishing of the Chapel.
Other Obas that were present include the Deji of Akureland Oba Adesina, the Olukare of Ikare Oba Akadiri Momoh amongst others.
The Minister for ICT who is from the town Mrs Omobola Johnson and the CBN Governor, mallam Lamido Sanusi led the federal government delegation while two former governors of Ondo and Ogun Dr Olusegun Agagu and Otunba Gbenga Daniel were equally present. Governor of Ondo state, Dr Olusegun Mimiko who coincidentally celebrated his birthday yesterday sent to members of the state Executive Council Chief Akinyele Ogundipe Finance and Transport Commissioner Otunba Nicholas Tofowomo to represent him.
Speaking at the ceremony held inside the new Chapel the Prilate of the Methodist Church of Nigeria Primate Sunday Olatunji Makinde lauded the initiative of Akinnola to the things of God and prayed for long life for to enable him continue to impact lives and to serve God.
Makinde said Akinnola love for the things of God is worth emulating by other wealthy personalities in the Country.
Akinnola in his remark said that he celebrates the 3rd of October every year “”with pride and in sweet remembrance, the 60th anniversary of the transition of Princes Alice Omorinola Akinnola the mother of that only child Ilemobayo, in full assurance that she has been immortalised by the fruits of her labour even though she did not live long enough to savour them.
He described his mother as “a rare gem in almost all aspect of life. She was bold, determined and a courageous person. Her being a female in a family dominated by men did not dim her leadership capability. She was like an Amazon. She paved the way and others followed.”
Continuing, Akinnola said his mother “ stood out like a colossus in every gathering, be it religious or social with such exquisite charisma and carriage that attracted people of all climes and age to her with passion and affection.
” She was a devoted mother who doted on her only child and an admirable wife who serve her husband devotedly and faithfully throughout her life. Even when she was hurt by other peoples action, she with stoic dignity accommodated all and sundry with love as she would rather light a candle than curse the darkness, accepting always with Christian faith whatever came as her lot in life.”
Princes Alice, according to the Lisa, had a privileged childhood being the daughter of a prominent local merchant who through association with early European traders in the Riverine areas at Okitipupa in the late 19th Cebtury and early part of the 20th Century imbibed some of the benefits of contact with the European entrepreneurs that had active trading in Nigeria.
Bayo Akinnola fondly referred to as “fatty bom bom” because of his frame while young, which is still evident now was a beneficiary of the Commonwealth Scholarship for Post graduate Diploma In Education from the University of Manchester UK in 1962 after winning a scholarship of the Western Nigeria Government and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1960 at the University College Ibadan, then an affiliate of the University of London.
At age 37 he was appointed first as the Information Commissioner in 1971 and later Commissioner for Industries in 1972 in the Old Western state of Nigeria and was instrumental to the establishment of WAPCO Sagamu cement plant and Wire and Cable Industries in Ibadan and a Ceramic plant in Abeokuta and the Nigerian Romanian Wood Industries in Ondo.
He served as chairman of several government sponsored committee at various times in Ondo state and later as Federal Commissioner at the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission in Abuja 199-2004.
This only child of Princes Alice Akinnola has received numerous accolades both as an entrepreneur and community leader apart from being a conferee of two National Honours as a Member of the Federal Republic MFR and National Productivity Order of Merit NPOM and a recipient of the Ondo State roll of honour and merit award for industry,the Ondo town and community merit award and roll of honour. He is the knight of John Wesley having been conferred the honour by the Methodist Church Nigeria and Grand patron of St Johns Anglican Church Iyere Owoconfered on him by Anglican Diocese of Owo,
High Chief Akinnola is an awardee of D.Sc in Management Technology (Honoris Causa) of the Federal University of Technology Akure FUTA.
He is married to Chief Mrs Olufunmibi Akinnola FCIS, the Yeye Mojibade of Ife, a retired Chief Inspector of Taxes in Oyo State Public Service and he is the father of six children and grand father of 12 grandchildren.