FORMER president of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), Alhaji Raheem Adejumo (CON) is dead. He died today (Tuesday, June 15, 2010) at 2 Oâ€™Clock in the morning at his residence in Maindehead, Beckshire in England, United Kingdom where he has lived for many years. He will be buried according to Islamic rites on Thursday, June 17 in the UK. He was aged 89 years.
Rolake Olagbegi, a former tennis star was first to break the sad news to Vanguard from her Atlanta base in the USA. She sounded devastated while she spoke of the man who lived for tennis.
Later yesterday, the eldest son of the late NOC boss, Alhaji Latif Adejumo, confirmed the death. He said the father died peacefully in his bed.
“He was a great man and a good father. We didnâ€™t want to lose him but he had been ill and he has now gone to rest with Allah. May Allah grant him the best paradise. We are going to miss him.”
Alhaji Raheem Adejumo was born on 23 November, 1920 in Porto Novo, Republic of Benin. He later came to Lagos where he attended Olowogbowo Methodist School and Lagos Government School, Okesuna between 1933 and 1939.
Between 1941 and 1946, he did his secondary and advanced educational studies through correspondence with the Wolsey College in Oxford, United Kingdom. He enrolled in the Nigeria Police Force in 1940 and retired voluntarily in 1952. Thereafter he started a trading business which he incorporated as Adejumo Fam (Nigeria) Limited in 1962 and became very prosperous.
A consumate tennis enthusiast, Adejumo was president of Lagos Lawn Tennis Club form 1976-1979 and later Chairman of Nigeria Lawn Tennis Association for 15 years. He was also vice president of the African Tennis Confederation and member of the development committee of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) during which he helped to win recognition for tennis as an Olympic sport.
Alhaji Adejumo was president of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) for ten years between 1987 and 1997 during which he led the Nigerian contingent to several Olympic, Commonwealth, All-African Games and other international events. He was in the habit of spending his personal resources to sponsor Nigerian sportsmen to international events. The biggest beneficiaries were tennis players who he sponsored on playing tours of Britain and the United States. He also sponsored 25 players on tour of American Universities with many of them becoming graduates.
Alhaji Adejumo was an astute administrator with great foresight. He acquired a seven-acre piece of land for the NOC during his tenure as president which is now worth billions of naira and which will house itâ€™s proposed secretariat and sports complex. He was awarded the NOC Merit Award in 2003 for his conrtributions to sports and Olympism in Nigeria.
Adejumo was also a member of the Federal Governmentâ€™s team of experts on sports for the Vision 2010 Committee. He was conferred with the national honour of the Commander of the Order of Niger (CON) by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003.
Known as “International Mr. Tennis” in tennis circles because of his commitment to the sports, Adejumo single-handedly built a huge sport complex with a 24-bedroom hostel in Ejigbo, Lagos for grassroots tennis development.
Alhaji Adejumoâ€™s hobbies were reading, tennis and swimming. He is survived by his wife, children and grand-children.