By Tunde Akanni
It’s da bomb”, yes, “da bomb”, I mean what Davido did with his popular ‘joke’ recently. No known joke has been louder. He called out friends for donations for what those friends surely knew he could afford. Promptly, they responded and eventually, he netted N200 million naira. Promptly too, he topped it up with N50 million naira. He raised the stakes further by announcing a gender-balanced committee of Nigerians with respectable social standing to administer the funds for orphanages and relevant foundations all over Nigeria.
Although Davido had been publicly identified with an unmistakable leader in the banking sector in the past, First Bank, he revealed yet another surprise. WEMA Bank received all the recent donations on his behalf. WEMA? How did WEMA beat others to it?
Unknown to many, Davido was just exuding gratitude and aimed to support and sustain the reliable familial ties for the Adeleke dynasty of Ede.
A few weeks back, Adewale Adeeyo, one of the most intimate friends of Davido’s father, Deji Adeleke, passed on to eternity. It was a most devastating incident for Adeleke. Indeed, some newspapers aptly noted that it was probably the most tragic incident for Adeleke since he lost his wife, Davido’s mother, Veronica, and later, former Governor Isiaka Adeleke a few years back. Incidentally, Davido’s mother appears to be all the reason for all the chain of events connected with the N250 million.
Widely revered by leading writers in Nigeria as exemplified in a short Facebook tribute by Uzo Maxim Uzoatu, Adeeyo was like the official chronicler for the Adeleke family of Ede, in spite of being worth chronicling on his own. In the review of the tribute published by Nigerian Tribune, Sulaiman Ajibade, the author noted that the 30-page tribute by Adeeyo on the late former Governor Isiaka Adeleke otherwise known as Serubawon, is about the longest known globally, in recent times. But Adeeyo, the publisher of the defunct Anchor newspapers, had done a similar honour to Davido’s mother, Veronica, when she died some years back. It was about the only media-published tribute on the woman whose death coincided with a birthday anniversary of the hubby.
Incidentally, though Adeeyo was a man of letters, not much has been published in the media to celebrate his legacy. This is why the singular intervention of a resilient journalism veteran, Olumide Lawal, deserves all appreciation. Also born in Ede, Osun state, like Adeeyo, Lawal described Sir Eyo as “an illustrious son of Edeland and a phenomenon”. According to him, the entire Ede universe stood still on learning of Dr Adeeyo’s passage. Why not?
‘Sir Eyo’ as Adeeyo was fondly hailed was as much a scholar, a philanthropist as much as he was a boardroom guru. Apart from setting up a national newspaper that thrived for some years, Sir Eyo had been a most enduring columnist for Vanguard newspaper in which he ran the popular Barka Jumat column which endeared him to several Nigerians across religious divides on account of its scholarly strength devoid of pettiness.
Believing in giving maximally to humanity, the good man, as described by Uzoatu, also offered scholarships to several university undergraduates especially those enrolled at Adeleke University owned by his kinsman, Deji Adeleke. Lawal further recalled that Sir Eyo was an uncommonly endowed boardroom guru. Adeeyo was actually the immediate past chair of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN). More important in this context perhaps is the fact that this multi-talented genius was a director of WEMA Bank. He must have ‘dragged’ Davido to that bank. Here lies the rationale of Davido’s choice of WEMA for the orphanage project funds. After all, Davido’s father, Adeleke is a major shareholder and director of Unity Bank. He had also founded the defunct Pacific Merchant Bank. Who, therefore, will not applaud Davido for this inward-looking decision? The patronage of WEMA was one loudly applauded by my compatriots from Ede.
One even asserted that “Adeeyo deserves even more from Davido and the Adelekes”. Some had wondered why Davido won’t even set up a bank of his own so that more opportunities could accrue to his compatriots from Ede who have been consistently supportive of the political bids of every Adeleke that contested in the town. Davido’s grandfather was a senator of the Unity Party of Nigeria, 1979-1983, at least. Isiaka Adeleke emerged from the blues to defeat the pre-existing political structure of the legendary Bola Ige and Bisi Akande combined at the level of the primaries during the Social Democratic Party (SDP) era. He later became a senator. The brother, Ademola, a frontline player in the PDP got massive sympathy votes from the Ede people to enable him to serve out the remaining term of Isiaka Adeleke. How benevolent and grateful my Omoluabi people were!
By the special grace of God, Davido, beyond the level of his father, has become a global player. But he shouldn’t wait to be persuaded to do more for the birthplace of the Adeleke dynasty where he is well-loved and probably being worshipped by some wannabe folks.
Hear this: In 2014 as a consultant trainer to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), I led 10 NPA staff to Accra on a weeklong customised course I had themed ‘Digital Surveillance of the Media’. Included in the team was a Philipines-born pharmacist Bakare. Midway into the programme, I overheard Bakare speak Yoruba. Surprised was the least strong expression to capture the scene. I moved closer to confirm. She noticed my countenance and spoke even more in Yoruba.
Bakare smiled at me and announced that she was from Ede! “How?” I queried. I quickly dropped it that I was actually from there. Bakare then probed: “Did you grow up there? Then you should have known my husband, Dr Bakare, now of Adeleke University. They used to call him ‘Banker’. He was a particularly famous footballer for Seventh Day Adventist Grammar School, Ede. “Who won’t know Boda Banker?” I retorted. Boda Banker was a contemporary of my uncle, Mufutau Ayinla Lawal, the inimitable goalkeeper. Pharmacist Bakare then went on to register the fact that Davido was her baby. She further recalled with relish the enduring relationship between the Adeleke brothers and her hubby which stands till date.
Same Bakare was possessive of Davido, Ademola Adeleke’s Ede-born classmates led by a medical doctor, Mukaila Olapade, who stood up the other day to take bullets for him. Ademola was in the eye of a violent political storm with regards to claims made on the school certificate result. He was to be prosecuted and could go to jail for it. “Ademola must not go to jail,” my people chanted round the town. Then came the herculean task of organising a press conference in defence of Ademola. Though now savouring his retirement peacefully in Ede, Olumide Lawal rose stoutly to the occasion defying and dodging arrests and all forms of inhibitions. The unusual press conference was held and well attended by the media that mattered.
The world finally heard my people’s side of the Ademola story. No jail term for Ademola. Ademola is not only free today, but also running around with supporters, the majority of whom are from Ede working on his next political project of the governorship of Osun. Rain or shine, Ede people are with the Adelekes. What fraction of N250 million will come home? What grander reciprocal agenda will Adelekes design for their hometown?. Will they like to compliment the recent laudable efforts of the silent philanthropist and owner of Matrix Oil and Gas? Will they revive the philanthropic programming of Yisa Yagboyaju?
May God continue to guide us all.
*Akanni is an Associate Professor of journalism at the Lagos State University (LASU). Follow him on Twitter @AkintundeAkanni