Nigerians from all walks of life including academics, businessmen, traditional rulers, politicians, captains of industry and expatriates alike, poured encomiums on an elder statesman and Chairman, Kakanfo Inn and Conference Centre, Dr Lekan Are, as he clocked 85 years on Thursday.
The dignitaries, including Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, a former Governor of the old Oyo State, Dr Omololu Olunloyo, the host’s wife, Mrs Olabisi Are; Orangun of Oke-Ila, Oba Adedokun Abolarin; Olowu of Owu, Oba Adegboyega Dosunmu; Chairman, Continental Reinsurance Plc and former Chairman, Punch Nigeria Limited, Chief Ajibola Ogunshola and his wife, Iyabo, Pastor Tunde Lemo; Chief Niyi Akintola (SAN) and his wife, Justice Akintola; Right Reverend Jacob Ajetunmobi; historian, Prof Toyin Falola; Emeritus Prof Ayo Bamgbose and Prof Ayo Banjo, graced the colourful event held at the Kakanfo Inn.
Also in attendance were a two-time Minister and currently Chairperson, Oyo Education Trust Fund, Chief Onikepo Akande; her husband and the Maye Olubadan of Ibadanland, Chief Bayo Akande; Chairman, Punch Nigeria Limited, Mrs Angela Emuwa, Directors, Punch, Ms Lola (Ibi) Aboderin and Mrs Bunmi Aboderin-Talabi; management of PUNCH led by the Managing Director, Mr Ademola Osinubi; Managing Director, Ogun/Osun River Basin Authority, Olufemi Odumosu; Chairman, Ibadan Elders Forum, Ambassador Olu Sanu; Chief Bayo Oyero, Chief Kola Daisi, Chief Lere Adigun, Chief Theophilus Akinyele, Mr Femi Babalola, members of the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes and the Old Boys of the Government College, Ibadan.
Chief Bode Amao, representing the Managing Director, University Press Plc, Mr Samuel Kolawole; Brig. Gen. Raji Rasaki (retd.), Alhaji Lateef Oyelade, Dr Kolade Mosuro, members of the Oyo State Executive Council, members of the Oluyole Club, Lagos; the children of the host, Mr Adedamola Are and Mrs Olufunke Funmilola Igun, Prof Adeniyi Osuntogun and Ibadan Foundation members were also at the ceremony.
Speakers at the event urged Nigerians to imbibe the virtues of integrity, hard work, pragmatism, service, ruggedness, humility, sincerity, honesty and devotion to family as epitomised by Are.
The grand celebration, which featured the public presentation of a book, The Right Way, co-authored by Are and his son, Adedamola, doubled as the 30th anniversary of Kakanfo Inn on Joyce ‘B’ Road, Ibadan.
The chairman on the occasion, Mr Bisi Rodipe, who ushered in the avalanche of tributes to the host, lauded Are for his sincerity, honesty and good relationship with his friends over the years.
In particular, Rodipe lauded Are for his hard work and job creation for many Nigerians through his various businesses and investments for over 30 years.
In his own remarks, the book presenter, Mr Niyi Akintola, praised Are for ensuring that through his investments, especially in hospitality, Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, was recognised on the world map.
Furthermore, Akintola said he was indebted to Are and some other Ibadan elders for their financial and spiritual support towards ensuring that he made a success out of life.
The Chairman of Musoro Booksellers, Dr Kolade Musoro, who reviewed the book, said Are’s commitment to the development of Ibadan was unshakeable, through his great business instinct.
He lauded Are’s doggedness, perseverance and intuitiveness that kept his business afloat especially as it was threatened by lack of peace in the state and poor infrastructure.
Musoro pointed out that the 210-page book contained nuggets of information for growing business in a harsh environment like Nigeria where each day starts with a deficit as a result of running the business on a generator.
The co-author of the book, Adedamola Are, said that the book depicted the importance of having a strong character, while also discussing success in a practical way.
In a society synonymous with doing things the wrong way, Adedamola said “the book emphasised the need for Nigerians to do things the right way.”PUNCH