•Natives narrate how they frantically tried to prevent sad news from getting to late developer’s father
•Seven other indigenes including Mayflower old students die
By James Ogunnaike
If there is any place where the November I collapse of 21-storey-building in Ikoyi area of Lagos echoed, it was Ikenne, Ogun State. Reason: Mr. Femi Osibona, the developer of the ill fated property and founder of Fourscore Homes Limited, who is among the dozens who died when the building collapsed on them, hailed from the town.
That said, Osibona was not the only Ikenne who lost his life in the unfortunate incident.
About seven other indigenes made up of artisans working in the collapsed building and four of Femi Fourscore’s mates in Mayflower Secondary School also died.
Without mincing words, the sad event dealt a deadly blow on the entire town.
Fourscore, as he was fondly called, was born in Ikenne about five decades ago and attended Mayflower School, Ikenne.
Coming from the town where the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo came from, Osibona, during his lifetime, was in constant touch with his root, according to the natives.
Speaking with Sunday Vanguard, Sunday Adeniyi, one of the cousins of the deceased, described Osibona as a very enterprising person.
“He was into business from his secondary school days when we were in Mayflower School, Ikenne”, Adeniyi said.
“He once sold second hand clothing, shoes before venturing into real estate business.
Femi was a compassionate person who loved to be around children and old people “He liked assisting people without attracting attention. Femi must have believed in the Biblical injunction that says ‘do not allow your right hand to know what your left hand is doing’.
“During his lifetime, Femi did a lot in Ikenne. He had programmes for both the aged and school children. He had stipends for the aged anytime he came home. He would buy uniform, sandals and books for school children in Ikenne.
“He took good care of indigent people.
He was a devout Christian and he prayed ceaselessly.
“He was very passionate about the growth and development of his hometown, Ikenne, and he was one of the shining stars that we looked up to in Ikenne.
“The entire people of Ikenne will miss him greatly”.
In the area of business, Adeniyi said his late cousin was a very strict businessman. “He has no criminal record whatsoever and he was not a dubious person”, he said.
“A generator at Obafemi Awolowo Square was donated by him.
“He also donated the first house he built in Nigeria to an orphanage home in Ogudu, Lagos”.
Speaking on how natives handled the news of the collapsed tower in Ikenne on November 1, a high chief in the town, Aare Sola Sodiyan, Akinrogun of Ikenne Kingdom, told Sunday Vanguard: “When the incident happened on Monday, November 1, we quickly disconnected power supply to Femi’s father’s house so that he would not have access to television, because he loves listening to news very well.
“We lied to him that the line that supplied electricity to his house was faulty.
“His phone was also cleverly withdrawn so that he would not know what has happened.
“All those that wanted to pay him condolence visit at the initial stage were prevented.
“But after the corpse of Femi was recovered from the rubbles, we then invited one of the clerics at Our Saviour Church to break the news to baba.
“He took the news with fortitude. When he was told, he said, ‘it was God who gave him Femi and it has pleased Him to take Femi away’”.
According to Sodiyan, Femi was a very respective, diligent and hardworking person.
He began his real estate business in the United Kingdom before moving to South Africa where he had his largest investment of over 120 structures.
He was very religious and prayerful.
Whenever he wanted to give to people, he always made sure, according to those close to him, he identified the real ‘needy’.
During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in 2020, sources said he spent about #27 million on palliatives to indigenes of Ikenne and environs.
On his birthday last June, he reportedly shared food items and money to the aged and shoes to school children.
Natives also said he contributed greatly to evangelization in Ikenne while, in the area of security, he assisted the Vigilante Group of Nigeria financially.
The Ikenne Civic Centre under construction began when he was the Chairman of ‘Ereke Day’ annually celebrated in the town and he contributed immensely towards the building of the centre.
Market women were not left out in his empowerment programme.
The deceased sponsored school children from primary school to university.
He equally supported sports development in Ikenne.
Low turn out
Femi’s untimely death really affected this year’s ‘Ereke Day’ celebration, which was held barely six days after his death, because people refused to turn out for the celebration.
A community leader in Ikenne, Sola Labiran, told Sunday Vanguard about the role he played in the late developer’s entry into real estate.
Labiran said, “Femi was with me when I was in the United Kingdom. I introduced him into real estate business in 1991.
“He bought his first property in New Cross, UK, renovated and sold it, before moving to other locations.
“He usually slept in my house anytime he came to Ikenne.
“He was in Ikenne on Friday preceding the Monday when the high-rise collapsed and slept in my house.
“He was a philanthropist who liked donating to the needy, the less privileged people and school children in Ikenne local government.
“He usually celebrated widows, the aged and school children.
“I was shocked when I heard the news of the collapsed building and that he was one of the victims.
“On the fateful day, he was on video call with me, dancing and few minutes later, I heard that the same building had collapsed.
“He intended living in the same building. To me, if he had used substandard materials as insinuated in some quarters, he wouldn’t have intention of living in it when completed.
“I want to appeal to government to do everything possible to get to the root of the matter in its investigation of what really happened.
“To me the incident was not ordinary.
“Due to his spirituality, Femi would go to bed by 7pm, wake up by 2am. He would pray from that time till 5am before going back to bed.
“He donated two buses to Our Saviour Anglican Church, Ikenne”.