31st March, 2011
In the laymanâ€™s language, former chairman, Oodua Group of Companies, Otunba Mohammed Aliu Jobi-Fele was “hale and hearty” when he travelled to Abuja last week Tuesday for a meeting. Therefore, his immediate family, friends and beneficiaries of the business mogulâ€™s philanthropist gestures were shocked when they heard that their darling Otunba died on Thursday night, two days after he travelled toAbuja and a day ahead of his arrival in Lagos.
From Lagos to his home town in Ikare Akoko, Ondo State, there were wailing and sorrow. On Friday morning, sympathisers besieged his Imperial Lodge home, an annex of his Regency Hotel and Hall on Adeniji Jones Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos. In the traditional method of breaking such sad news, one of Jobi-Feleâ€™s childhood friends started weeping like a baby from the gate of the vast hotel. Three other friends and relations were consoling the septuagenarian who was narrating his shock in tears. â€œMany times, I warned him not to talk of death because I am older than him, at least. But I still talked to him on phone in Abuj aâ€¦â€ he said, still sobbing.
What an irony. The sobbing old man, an acquitance of Jobi-Fele for many years entered the Imperial lodge Lagos residence of his late friend to condole with his wife, Chief Mrs. Anike Jobi-fele. Some of her childen were around her with friends and well wishers. She was too shocked to express herself.
The few words she could mutter were â€œI spoke to him on phone yesterday. I never knew it was going to be the last.â€ Some of the sympathisers could not but recall one of the sayings of the late Jobi-Fele published in a booklet that was circulated during his 70th birthday ceremony. It says: â€œThe day you were born, you cried while others rejoiced. The day you die, you will rejoice while others will cry.. so live your life well.â€
And so it was the turn of sympathisers to cry and mourn the passage of the philanthrophist, a benefactor of many relations and a business entrepreneur whose many companies provided jobs for many families who in turn could afford to put foods on their tables without difficulty.
Within a few hours on Friday, the four condolence registers provided by MIC undertakers were signed by more than a hundred sympathisers. One of those who paid glowing tribute to Jobi-Fele, Tale Ariyibi, writes: â€œYou started a journey which you ended well. You came and delivered all that God sent you â€˜cause you are my mentor as you were to many others.Weâ€™ll really miss you. Please, rest in perfect peace.â€
Also, Mrs. O Akinola writes: â€œDaddy, I couldnâ€™t put myself together to accept the fact hat you are gone. Indeed, a big giant is gone. You have a big heart to accommodate everyone, a big ear to hear everyoneâ€™s predicamentâ€¦â€
Also paying tribute to him, his brother, Hajj R.O Sumbo Jobi said: â€œOtunba, my brother, my father, my friend and mentor; I call him Otunba the Great. I have worked for him for 35 years. He is too good. His qualities cannot be quantified.
â€œAs large as he is in frame, he was larger than that in philanthropy. We will miss him. But God loves him more. He was healthy before he travelled to Abuja for a meeting. His death has taught us a lesson that anyone 60 or 70 years and above should expect anything to happen. He has not developed any health problems since I know him. He has done well to everybody, young or old. Otunba is a fine gentleman, may his gentle soul rest in peace.â€
And to testify to his brotherâ€™s claim that the late Otunba Jobi-Fele was nice to everyone, thousands of sympathisers lined up the major road to his Ikare Akoko homestead on Saturday.
Whatâ€™s more, his late father, Aliu Jobi-Fele, an astute cocoa merchant had a penchant for providing leeway to both Christian and Muslim faithful. During his lifetime, Ikare Akoko gave testimony of how the senior Jobi- Fele was assisting churches to complete their structures as well as lending support to mosques, even as a Muslim leader.
It was not a surprise that leaders of the Catholic Church in the town as well as other Christian clerics graced the burial of Mohammed Aliu Jobi-Fele.
Leaders of the two faiths prayed for the repose of his soul. The Islamic clerics led by the Imam of the town later completed the burial rites.
Ondo state Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, was represented by his deputy, Alhaji Ali Olanusi. The first lady, Mrs. Kemi Mimiko, was also in attendance.
Others include the immediate past president of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, Mrs. Jumoke Anifowoshe, nee Ajasin, former Minister, Dr. Olu Agunloye, one-time Inspector General of Police, Mr. Sunday Ehindero and the chairman of the Labour Party in Ondo State.
The huge human traffic held up vehicular traffic in Ikare Akoko from the morning of Saturday until the guests started returning to their destinations later in the evening. If nothing else, the large crowd that held the sleepy town spell bound for hours told a story that the late Otunba Mohammed Aliu Jobi-Fele served his people well as an accomplished business man.
And the people reciprocated his good gestures with a mammoth crowd to bid him goodbye.