The exit of Bode Akindele

THE recent demise of the Parakoyi of Ibadanland, Chief Bode Akindele, certainly signalled the end of an era, especially in the real sector of the Nigerian economy. A captain of industry, Chief Akindele had, since he was a young man, demonstrated an uncanny ability to invest and make money work for him. He was born into a unique family setting in which his father, Pa Laniyan Akindele was a Christian and his mother, Rabiat Adedigba, a wealthy and politically influential woman  from Ibadan,  was  a Muslim, and on record as the first woman to perform the Hajj pilgrimage from her part of the Western Region as it was then known.

Akindele attended Olubi Primary School in Ibadan and then Lisabi School, a commercial school in Abeokuta, now in Ogun State, for the Higher School Certificate education. He had planned to read law in those days like many of his peers but he was eventually swayed by the lure of business. He worked at different posts, serving as the secretary of a manager in the United African Company (UAC) and as a worker with the Western Union of Exporters and Importers. It is on record that the money given to him to obtain a passport to travel abroad turned out to be the seed capital with which he bought a sewing machine, which he sold for good profit. His initial commercial activities included establishing a warehouse to accommodate his stock of items, from pharmaceutical drugs to odds and ends. He had registered his own company as early as age of 20.

Akindele birthed his own coastal services company and engaged in clearing and forwarding business, which eventually morphed into a bigger concern doing full shipping and maintenance. He used his school connections to access the facilities for his businesses and toiled to expand his capital base and before long, he had become fully established as a business magnate whose Modandola Group of Companies was involved in a myriad of economic activities headquartered in the United Kingdom.

An ordained knight of the Methodist church, Sir Akindele was a business mogul with a large heart: he mixed business with philanthropy, giving generously to public causes. As a matter of fact, with the onset of the coronavirus, he was named as a major and critical donor to the government in its war against the pandemic. He was also involved in the development of youth empowerment programmes under the aegis of the Bode Akindele Yield Initiative (BAYI) which he ran in collaboration with some institutions of higher learning. The programmes are concerned with the development of entrepreneurship among the youth population in the country. Part of the objectives of BAYI is the impartation of solid societal values like patriotism, innovation and creativity to the youth population in the country and the rehabilitation of miscreants and their restoration to more meaningful lives. This is without prejudice to his scholarship programmes from which tens of thousands of students have already benefited.

To be sure, the business environment in a country like Nigeria is strewn with landmines of sabotage and subterfuge. Deals and offers fail regularly and Sir Akindele was not unduly protected from such sour experiences. But he took these experiences in his stride, prevailing eventually over many of them. He believed that there was nothing impossible to achieve by the determined human mind and that probably accounted for why he was hugely successful despite the limitations of his relatively short exposure to education in his early years.

Many people, including President Muhammadu Buhari, governors, other members of the political class and captains of industry, have paid tributes to his memory, detailing his immense contributions to the national economic and philanthropic life. There cannot be any doubt that the Parakoyi of Ibadan lived a fulfilled and impactful life worthy of emulation. He will be sorely missed. May his soul rest in sweet repose.



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