Adenrele Lekan-Salami is the founder of Adenrele Lekan Salami Foundation and the last son of the late Football icon and IICC financier, Chief Lekan Salami. He spoke with REMI ANIFOWOSE on his growing up, vision of his non governmental organisation, Oyo State government’s review of the Olubadan Chieftaincy arrangement, among other issues. Excerpts:
A stadium was named after your late father by the Oyo State government, but many people don’t really know who Lekan Salami was when he was alive. Who was Chief Lekan Salami?
I never really met him as I was just three months old when he died, but I can say where I am today is a result of the philanthrophic legacies he left behind. Helping the poor, the old and giving educational scholarships to people. All of these made tremendous impact in my life and I know this is what he would have wanted for me as his son. Oohh! he loved sports too, especially football. From history, I learnt he went extra miles for football clubs.
Growing up and knowing the kind of father figure you have, how do you feel?
I feel motivated. What I heard and read about him motivate me to do more and ttain higher. By the grace of God, I will continue from where he stopped and do even much more. Most times, I get comments on how much I look and act like him and I believe it is so for a reason.
How do the cope with being an employee and businessman?
Well, it’s not been easy, but thanks be to God who has always there for us. We have gone through thick and thin, met with different people in business, butthe experience gathered is worth it and this is what has made me the person I am . It has also helped my approach in getting things done.
We never stop learning, so I m still in the process and will always continue to make myself and business relevant.
How prepared are you for politics?
I will say I am not totally interested in going into politics. Close people know I am more of a monarchy person which explains why I have been nick-named Asiwaju Olubadan (which was the last title conferred on my father before his death. Hence I aim to become the Olubadan of Ibadanland if it is the will of God.
A lot of people think Adenrele Lekan Salami non gvernmental organisation is in existence to boost my interest in politics, but this is just about giving back to the people and like I said earlier, it is to continue the legacy my father left behind. There is nothing too little to help people, if we all take it as a point of duty, the world will be a better place.
Tell us more about your NGO and how you have been funding it?
While growing up, I knew what it meant to be greatly helped by God and people. I can say I did not grow up with a silver spoon, thanks to God, Mr Tokunbo Salami who is a father figure in my life and my mum who went through a lot to make sure we graduated, this I call the favour of God. There are also a lot of people who will do greater things if they get helped, our society willbe better for it.The NGO’s aim and mission is to help and support people, young and old, men and women, boys and girls. We also want to instil in this generation the need to go to school. On the funding, we are getting support from family, friends and the public who can relate with our mission and are willing to partner with us.
How have you been using that education to help your community, especially Ibadan?
So far, we have provided academic materials, like books, school bags, etc to some schools in Ibadan as we found out that some students do not have the basic amenities to study; some students are also under our educational scholarship. We go to some schools and communities to provide food among other things for them. We are working hard to ensure that most of our children go back to school and we hope to do much more.
Our major aims are feeding, education and youth empowerment. We believe these are some of then things that are necessities of life and will secure a good future for individuals and the country at large.
What are your contributions to Shooting Stars FC?
I have not made any major contribution to 3SC. It is best to take one step at a time as life is basically in phases, so when the time comes, I will be involved in Shooting Stars FC.
You said earlier that you are aspiring to become the Olubadan of Ibadanland, what are your plans?
The experience I have gathered far and wide will be helpful to continue fom where the others have stopped if I become the Olubadan.We have massive lands that can be used for agriculture in Ibadan, which is the next best thing in Nigeria today and if we are not fully involved, we might miss it.
There are millions of unemployed youths today and we can get them involved in agriculture for them to earn a living. This is one of our major focus in the youth empowerment aspect of the foundation.