Adisa Adeleye: Last of Ogbomoso titans who died in a row
Greatness comes in various moulds. A class comes in strident form while another is quiet. Pa Adisa Adediran Adeleye who passed on, on January 17, 2022, hugs the second kind. His strides and achievements in both private and public life cast him in the mould. Adisa Adeleye, undoubtedly is a great man on account of what he did. Patriotism for his roots combined seamlessly with irredentism to make him inexorably what he was. Natural to him was leadership, he was often pulled in to lead and he always played the role extremely well. Ogbomoso Parapo and Ogbomoso Pivotal Club Lagos are two extant organizations set up to promote and defend the interests of Ogbomoso; these are strong and influential bodies whose membership cuts across the foremost and most vibrant sons and daughters of the community, at different times this man of valour and vision was thrust forward to sit atop them to steer them towards meeting their objectives. He did not let down. He was a man capable of imposing his will and this he did incredibly, fashioning inflexibly the organizations he led after the perspective he created. Leading excited him, not to wangle personal aggrandizement but to serve in the best tradition and in most honourable way he could muster. Writing and publishing also caught his fancy. In this area, he similarly attained renown, giving Ogbomoso a bi-lingual magazine that is the pride of the city from 1986 till now – Irawo Owuro magazine. He was an author with insightful and analytical bend and added to the literary world several books on socio-economic cum historical developments as they relate to Nigeria and Ogbomoso. He was a national newspaper columnist for several years. He was an economist par excellence, whose contributions to the emancipation of Nigeria economically remain ineffaceable. He was many things and a man of many parts; his talents were exploited to bestow quantum benefits on the world; he rose to becoming an immortal through his writings which are bound to be accessible to a thousand generation in the future. A titan in the true sense, an anonymous hero, an unsung ikon. The dinosaur, he unusually shared death season with the most iconic figures this generation could produce in this clime – Soun Oladunni Oyewumi Ajagungbade (December 12, 2021) and Christopher Adebayo Alao-Akala (January 12, 2022). He started humbly but his intrinsic endowments which found outlets in many forms amid a dominant fortune impelled him with robustness to a pedestal of eminence. Our anonymous hero. Adisa Adeleye.
Mogaji Adisa Adediran Adeleye was born on April 4, 1934 at Baale Maya compound in Masifa area of Ogbomoso. The Masifa people have a long laudable tradition of bravery in the face of battle; they apply themselves assiduously and with passion to any enterprise they are drawn into. The Maya people too are no less in the demonstration of pluck. Thus, Mogaji Adisa Adeleye was compelled by birth to attain great things except he belonged to the few exceptions that always dog general rules and principles. With him however, there was no immunity against success. He was propelled to greatness right from childhood. His academic career started swiftly in Jos, the famed Cold City, which is today’s capital city of Plateau state. He was enrolled first at St. Luke’s School and then at Baptist Day School, for his elementary education. By 1947, he was done with primary school education. In 1948, he was in Ogbomoso to attend the Continuation Classes at the Ogbomoso People’s Institute, the forerunner of Ogbomoso Grammar School (the premier secondary school in the city). From here he proceeded to the Eko Boys High School, Lagos, in 1953, where he again marked his passage with excellence.
He was destined for a life of glory. UAC beckoned on him and he joined the conglomerate in 1954 to work at its account section. At this very juncture his life’s trajectory took a new turn, as in 1959, he got an opportunity created for him to travel abroad to continue his education. And so between 1959 and 1964 he bagged two certificates, one at the University of London (United Kingdom) and the other in journalism. He obtained B.Sc. degree in Economics and Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism.
This was a catalyst for opening of more doors as he got several enticing offers but returned to the UAC. He also worked with the British Civil Service as a registrar, in the ministry of housing and local government. He gained valuable experience in these remarkable workplaces, which grounded him for future challenge. But the pull of home was too strong, consequently, he returned to Nigeria in 1965 to pursue his dreams. He did not allow the allure of Europe to overshadow his goal of contributing his quota, by leveraging on his experiences, to the development of Nigeria economically and in the media sector. His return to Nigeria was another turning point. Many corporate organizations ferreting out the potentials embedded in him swooped on him, making him a beautiful bride sort of. He had problem choosing where to pitch tent with and so started out first with the Daily Times Nig. Ltd, in 1965, where he rose to become within a short time the head of features. His star was on the ascendancy. He proved his mettle as a journalist and writer and soon was made the commercial editor. He brought his vast knowledge in economy to bear to significantly improve the fortunes of the leading newspapers in Nigeria at the time.
A gold fish has no hiding place. In 1967, Shell Nig. Ltd pulled him out of Daily Times to head its economic and trade relations department. He continued to be rewarded with deserved promotions as after 5 years (in 1972) he was uplifted to the position of district manager, Warri. A good workman is bound to enjoy steady rise. He was reposted to Lagos and appointed head of industrial relations. He was firm and strict but had a way with both his bosses and subordinates. Overall, he was a no-nonsense officer but was borne by considerateness and buoyed by passion and constantly and relentlessly driven by a sense of purpose towards notching the corporate goals. His next posting was to become the Ag. area manager (north), Kaduna. At other times he was made office services manager; regional liaison manager Lagos; area manager, east; Ag. area manager (west); supply and distribution manager, head office. After 22 years of meritorious service, it was time to call it quits and so, he finally retired as trade relations manager, in 1989, at the age of 56. He left a huge mark in the annals of the company.
It is interesting to note however that as he pursued his career in the oil company he tried his hand in several other things. He was not a man of one part. He therefore did not abandon his interest in journalism all along. And in community service, he constantly and indefatigably joined other patriots to seek ways of developing the Ogbomoso community. In 1986, he took a bold step when he commenced the publication of a community newsmagazine named Irawo Owuro, “a cultural magazine for every age.” It was a quarterly magazine published in both Yoruba and English Languages. The magazine was truly “The pride of Ogbomosoland.” Based in Lagos the magazine captures events, social and what have you of Ogbomoso people in Lagos especially and is a veritable channel of news’ dissemination to the Ajilete indigenes residing in the famed Centre of Excellence. It is a mouthpiece for Ogbomoso and it is a leader for the latter day’s newspapers in the community like The Insight. It focuses on historical issues, discourses of national importance, reminiscences, personality column, news etc. It is a popular magazine among the elites and he threw himself fully into the project serving as publisher and editor-in-chief at inception and at his demise he was publisher and editorial adviser.
He was also an author. His writings were infused with gusto. He was unbelievably the author of several books of national interest. Among his published works are, The Thunderbolt (Essays on Politics and Economics Up to April 2002), The Agenda: Yoruba Unity – Action Group Crisis and Obasanjo Factor in Nigerian Contemporary Affairs, The Yoruba in the Evolution of Nigeria’s Political Development, and My Beliefs and My Thoughts. He also edited a number of books such as Ogbomoso Pivotal Club at 35 (1982 – 2017) The Club as well as Ogbomoso Parapo at 60. These books which are products of a fecund mind unfurl his deep knowledge, his bias for research, analytical psyche and incisiveness. His prolificness similarly is expressed in his weekly columns in national newspapers such as “My Layman’s View by Adisa Adeleye” in The Vanguard on Fridays. His column was another avenue to demonstrate his versatility in national dialogues especially on issues bordering on economy. His ever dripping pen churned out many articles that could help shape the course of an ever distraught country. He was an opinion moulder and a resourceful agenda setter. Some of his articles were titled: Jonathan’s exit Buhari’s entry – A critical view; Change for political unity and economic development; State of the nation – duel between stubborn and recalcitrant forces; The condition of the Nigerian state – Contradictions galore; The 2015 elections – some unresolved issues; 2015 elections – Who will win should win; 2015 elections – some vital national issues revisited; After the 2015 elections – sweet victory and the problems; State of the nation – some controversial issues etc. These are some of his writings with which he captured the imagination of his readers.
His contributions to the evolution of Ogbomoso are also praiseworthy. He had made a mark in this wise with his many writings as he was able to draw attention to Ogbomoso that from the acclaimed Land of the Valiant hailed another ingenious personality. More directly he was a moving force behind some of the greatest forces or groups that the city could boast of such as Egbe Omo Ogbomoso Parapo Agbaaye, Ogbomoso Pivotal Club Lagos and Ogbomoso Community Foundation. These are socio-cultural organizations that had played immense and unforgettable roles in the socio-economic development of Ogbomoso at different times. To underscore his value addition strides, he served commendably as president of both the first two at different times. He was at the helms of Ogbomoso Parapo between 2007 and 2014. Many landmark achievements are his legacies such as securing approval for the registration of the association with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), the successful review of the constitution of the association, construction of the secretariat of the association named Parapo House at Apake, electrification project at Ogbomoso Girls High School, which lacked the amenity at its new site following its yielding of its old campus to LAUTECH when the latter was taking off, giving a strong financial base for the organization, shoring up its goodwill, civic reception for some past governors of the state as a measure of honour and a way to facilitate development for the community, organizing commendation services for some past heroes of the town such as Brigadier Benjamin Maja Adekunle and so on.
The late Mogaji Adisa Adeleye joined The Pivotal Club in December 1983. Ogbomoso Pivotal Club is a prominent service and charity club founded by six men of Ogbomoso stock in Lagos in 1982. Adeleye went on to serve as president of the club. The association has made significant contributions to Ogbomoso. It has boosted the educational career of many indigent students through its regular scholarship awards, donated state-of-the-art hospital equipment such as incubators to health centres in Ogbomoso among others. He served as vice president before emerging president in 1999. He was in the saddle till 2001. He was also an active member of Ogbomoso Community Foundation (OCF), which is an alternative umbrella body for associations in Ogbomoso. He was a participant in many forums on matters affecting the city. He was a giant imbued with zeal to make his hometown a better place. His contributions are numerous. He merited being accorded the status of a ‘City Father,’ apology to Chief Ayo Adelowo, the author of the historical book, “Ogbomoso: The Journey So Far.” Adeleye has done his bit. After stepping down as president of Ogbomoso Parapo Worldwide in 2014, he ensured another worthy individual was ferreted out and ‘enthroned’ against strident moves by some vested interests.
The conclusion of his tenure also marked the beginning of the end for him. He entered into a period of rapid failing health, his doctors managed the condition but he had spent the time allotted him, and inescapably, on January 17, 2022, his great heart stopped to breathe, to deservedly take his place in the pantheon of the greats.
He was buried in Lagos, at the Ikoyi Vaults, Ikoyi Cemetery, on Thursday, February 24, 2022, after a funeral service at Ikate Baptist Church, Lagos. On Saturday, March 5, a night of tributes was held in his honour in Ogbomoso to bring to the fore his many numerous deeds. In death, he deserves no less honour.