Adebutu @ 75: The Pearl Of Our Time


Sir Kesington Adebukunola Adebutu is unarguably one of the greatest men of our time  who discovered their purpose early in life and derive so much joy and happiness in  helping others to live their dreams and to fulfil their own purpose too. He is not  only concerned about the condition of the poor and the aggravated sense of rage of  the depraved, he is also worried about the agony of the needy, the characteristic  pain of the helpless and the unending frustrations of the man on the street. This is  why perhaps he constantly shifts focus from himself and family to others and the  society at large. Those who go through the starting gate of life like Sir Adebutu  never forget their past as they strive consistently not to make others pass through  the painful, windy and winding roads that they themselves had gone through in the  past.

People who grew up with philanthropic zeal like Sir Kesington are likely to be more  liberal than most of us. They are full of introspection because of the pain they had  suffered. They are highly focused and they make up their mind early in life about  what they will do with wealth, if they get rich. Such people do not mind the cost of  doing good. They do not count their effort but let their efforts count for them in  the way they help to move society forward. Is anyone still in doubt as to why Sir  Adebutu has done so well and indeed performed better than many of his peers  worldwide, in his chosen ‘career’ – philanthropy? In the last five years since he  set up the Kesington Adebukunola Adebutu Foundation as the warehousing route for his  social commitments, Sir Adebutu has spent no less than N3.5 billion in developing  people, building communities and integrating societies.

While several companies and individuals get involved in social philanthropy so they  can secure extensive tax rebates and exemptions for themselves and businesses, Sir  Adebutu’s involvement in this self-engaging commitment is both self-less and  natural. He has this sharp instinct and urgent sympathetic feeling for the less  privileged, so much so that he goes out of his way most of the time to look for  people who need help, an act some will cynically regard as preposterous! In the  process, he has re-emulsified the technical ingredients of corporate social  philanthropy into a refreshening and satisfying cocktail of benevolence for others  to drink from. The result is his emergence as a first rate international  philanthropist who does not bother about how much he gives but how well people’s  lives are touched by his efforts.

In the world which is populated by selfish individuals who seek wealth for wealth  sake, Sir Adebutu’s originality and creative philanthropy has pushed the boundaries  of wealth creation from the doorstep of one man into the larger public domain where  his Premier Lotto company has become the Stock Exchange Market for the masses. His  unflinching passion for supporting good causes has put him in a special class with  probably two other world class billionaire legends  – Warren Buffet and Bill Gates -  the duo who are presently involved in a joint benevolent excursion that is similar  to what Sir Adebutu is doing singularly here in Nigeria and indeed Africa today.

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He is not involved in stacato-hand-outs like some people do when they attain a  certain age or achieve a particular accomplishment in life and suddenly remember  that the poor needs help. He is fastidiously engaged in the act of giving without  looking back to seek any political benefit, social gain or subterranean returns from  anyone, institutions or groups of people. This is rare and highly commendable. Even  among his own class of social benefactors, Sir Adebutu has a slight edge above  people like Warren and Gates. While both men may be responding to regulatory  pressures for businesses to become more socially responsive and accountable to  society within their own environment in the USA, it is most unlikely that Sir  Adebutu is under similar regulatory pressures in Nigeria, except the pressure from  his background and upbringing which constantly nudges his conscience as he remembers  his late mother’s exhortation to him: “it is better for society to trouble you with  its problems, than for it to consider you irrelevant to their solutions!” Those  words remains deeply etched on Sir Adebutu’s consciousness even up till today.

His relentless pursuit of high moral values and responsible social actions without  minding the costs makes him the most engaging philanthropist in Africa today. For  Sir Adebutu, his involvement in doing public good has been a long journey, but one  with good results to show for his efforts. As the Pearl of our time, Sir Adebutu  deserved the best wishes from all Nigerians on his 75th birthday anniversary which  came up on Sunday 24 October in Lagos. A rare gem and a great role model of our time  like Sir Adebutu deserves to be warmly congratulated not only for his noble  achievements but also for his benevolence to society. He is the pearl of our time.

•Yemi Ajayi writes from Lagos

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