Akanni Aluko: A kind and gentle soul- By Folu Olamiti

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*Photo: The late Chief Akanni Aluko*

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CHIEF AKANNI ALUKO IS 79 TODAY 23 JULY 2022. MY TESTIMONY ABOUT HIM AT THE SERVICE OF SONGS HELD FOR HIM AT THE CIVIC CENTRE IN IBADAN ON 20 JULY.

I stand here today to pay tribute to a friend among friends, a kind and gentle soul, an indulgent heart, a disciplined mind, and one of the most precious persons in my life, Chief Emmanuel Clement Akanni Aluko.

Chief Aluko was a truly extraordinary personality. So was our forty six -year-old friendship. Between the two of us, he was always more prosperous and stronger. His life was a mixture of pleasure and pains; but he never wore it on his face. For 22 years, he suffered a debilitating health condition — stroke — but never for once betrayed emotion for the misfortune.

He would always steer his focus towards the lighter side of things and taught me to do the same. Any time I came visiting, he would welcome me with radiant smiles and shouted “Edito oooo” and coming from me effortlessly “Chief oooo”. And after our exchange of hilarious greetings he would say: “There is always more in life to be thankful for than there is to complain about,”

And even when he was really bed-ridden, he made sure he treated others in a manner that showed that they are precious too. His was a life that shined brightly so the paths of others could be illuminated. He was a philanthropist personified that could give all he had to put smiles on the faces of the needy. He was also a life that exemplified brilliance in every capacity.

With matters that had to do with all-things-life, he was exceptional in discussing brilliantly issues that bordered on political, social and economic developments in Nigeria and the world at large. Sometimes, his multi-tasking ability bemused me, especially when I was trying to make a point while he kept browsing on his I-Pad and many phones that littered his bed, looking for news break and commentaries on various issues.

For the most part of the period that we were friends, I hardly saw him got angry but the few times he did were in a fit of rage. These occurred when some of those he loved betrayed him. As open-minded he was, he could not stand liars and deceitful persons.

Chief Akanni Aluko’s friends cut across Nigeria and world over. He was a shrewd businessman and media guru. He had good and committed friends from the northern and southern parts of the country.

I remember when the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, (1990 -1993) the late Aliyu Mohammed was to be turbaned as Waziri Jema’a in Gboko, Chief Akanni Aluko, on account of his deep love for the SGF chattered a small plane of 14 passengers filled with his two wives, 10 of his children, and the remaining seats for some of his closest friends including me. Something near tragic happened, as the plane was landing at Gboko Airforce strip with full speed had burst tyres.

Only providence saved all of us from untimely death on the eve of a new year. How we got back to Ibadan was also through the intervention of the Almighty God. That was Akanni for you. He was a man with nine lives. He survived ghastly auto crash years ago when his newly bought top of the range Lexus car broke into two from a severe impact of what he described as a lone accident on Ilorin/ Ogbomoso road. Then came the armed robbers that invaded his Monatan residence. They came to take his life but they failed.

He extended this agape love to me too. At my wedding in 1980 he stood by me as his younger brother. When my father passed on 31 years ago he made sure he and Mama Kemi attended the funeral ceremonies and that of my mum nine years ago in my far away hometown Idanre in Ondo State. He ensured I got my own building before I was 40.

One thing that moved me to tears was when I saw him at my mother’s funeral with walking stick as his movement was impaired by the attack from stroke. He managed to attend the reception. He did not leave without displaying his dancing feat . He was a good dancer and loved listening to Juju and Apala music. Chief Akanni: you were a true friend indeed. He loved me so passionately and I too gave him my best of affection.

I loved the way he showered so much love and affection on his wives and children . He gave the children best of education. All the children are very relatively comfortable and you could see the modest and befitting celebration of life they are according their dear father .

Richard Russo, author and screenwriter, says and I quote, “Lives are like rivers: Eventually they go where they must. Not where we want them to.” These words have kept me going thus far. At least I know each moment has unfolded like it should have, that there is nothing I could have done to bring you back— as much as I wish I could have, and no matter what tomorrow brings, I will embrace , compassion and selflessness that you personified while you were in this divide. You served the Lord with so much tenacity to the end. I have no doubt in my mind that you are happy singing with the Angels hallelujah to the Almighty God.

As we are today 23 July 2022 celebrating your 79 post humous birthday, may your gentle soul continue to find eternal rest. Chief ooooo. Goodnight and Goodbye.

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