Requiem for I. O. D
Enviable is the life of Isaac Olusola Dada, “I.O.D”, MFR, pole and pillar of Obalero high chieftaincy house of Aiyede-Ekiti, notable servant and stanchion of the Anglican Church, teacher, life member of Nigerian Economic Society, master of business administration and honorary doctor of the same, master mandarin, investment banker, Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers, Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Management, Distinguished Fellow and past president of the Institute of Directors, past president of Nigeria-America Chamber of Commerce, president of Nigerian-Spanish Association, District 404 A1 Governor of Lions Clubs International, president of several social clubs and associations, Işọla, ògá ìlúmọká, olórí gbajúmọ ọkuǹrin.
Owing to his consummate charm and affable personality, it was impossible not to like him except, perhaps, if you were in competition with him.
His physical features, fine and firm, invited instant recognition and, with his good nature and sweet temper, admiration.
Although he seemed to be always around, looked and acted as if he would for many more years remain around, he was never the type of person that would throw his weight around.
Once upon a time, there were three friends, all graduates in economics: Isaac Olusola Dada, Isaac Aluko–Olokun and Rasheed Gbadamosi. Rasheed was, for about three decades, his closest friend until his demise late last year. Among them, Aluko-Olokun was the first to leave, in January 2011 at the age of 66. At his funeral service in Ilesha, Rasheed, Olusola and I sat together. Rasheed died in November last year, as he approached the age of 73.
And now, this. My earliest social recollections about Olusola were from Aluko-Olokun who had been my friend from the early 1980’s as he sometimes made references to him during our discussions. It was about the time that I became acquainted with “Aluko” that I met ‘Lola’ at a social event, which my wife also attended.
Iyabo had, of course, known Olusola and Lola before then, as Olusola and herself were both members of the University of Ibadan Class of ‘67’, of which he was the foundation president, it was at the meetings of their associations that I first began to see more and more of him and our families developed a closer relationship.
Shortly before Rasheed’s death, Sola and I had jointly visited him and it was only three of us in his study, with Tinu, his wife, occasionally joining in the conversation while also supplying veggies and victuals. We were also together at the subsequent 8th day special prayers in Ikorodu and also at the memorial concert held in his honour at Muson Centre in March.
Particularly during the last decade, both Olusola and I and our wives began to see more and more of each other, first at social events and then at interpersonal levels.
After closing from his office, the route to his residence was usually via Dolphin/Osborne area, which facilitated his visits to our residence on weekdays whenever he chose to do so. This encouraged our interaction, as his weekends were usually “full”, including the many occasions when we attended social events together. We frequently sat together in his own car while mine would follow or the other way round, if our wives were not with us.
Although Olusola’s father hailed from Aiyede-Ekiti and his mother had strong Aiyede roots, his mother’s father hailed from Supoto compound in Oke Oluokun area of Ibadan and he was buried there. Lola, though from Ede, has strong family roots in Ibadan and Lola often addressed me as “my brother”. Therefore, whenever I spoke to them in Yoruba, I fondly spoke in Ibadan-Oyo Yoruba and, for emphasis and humour, always pronounced Olusola in full, and with a soft “s”.
Whenever we were together, neither of us wanted the session to end. We discussed about anything and everything, except political analysis, in which Sola did not show much interest. From talk on sartorial refinements and our respective vanities, we invariably moved on to money matters, especially the cost of living and the rising cost of giving.
Owing to his exceptional stamina, which enabled him to cope with his extensive business, church and social activities, I often “accused” him of possessing “superior genes” as his father had lived well beyond the age of 90 and his mother nearly so, while my own parents did not live nearly as long. Olusola also exercised frequently. We therefore did not discuss personal health matters to the extent that friends of our age ought to have done.
In retrospect, we were probably mistaken.
Olusola’s early training and vocation was as a school teacher, from which he entered the University of Ibadan, graduating in1970. He joined Federal Civil Service in June 1971 and, through brilliance, hard work and wisdom, rose rapidly in the system.
This young man’s courageous demonstration of probity brought him to the special notice of both his immediate and upper superiors, particularly Mr. Ayida, his permanent secretary, who approved his sponsorship for an MBA degree at University of Lagos, even while his immediate boss was hesitant.
On his immaculate and solid Western dressing, “ I developed a strong penchant for dressing as a result of my association with Alhaji Alhaji who always impressed me with his dress style – he was always impeccably dressed. Anytime I travelled overseas with him, he would settle my hotel bills to enable me use my estacode allowance to improve my wardrobe,” he wrote in his 70th birthday autobiography. He was then an alternate director to this permanent secretary on the board of NNPC.
Olusola served and was retained as “special assistant”, at various times, to three Secretaries to the Federal Government: Alhaji Shehu Musa, Mr. Grey Longe (who combined the post with that of Head of Service) and Chief Olu Falae, an indication I believe, of the trust in his competence, trustworthiness, reliability and special ability to relate well with different people.
In 1988, he attained Grade Level 17, the highest grade for non-political appointments at the time, and held other posts in the system until he joined NAL merchant Bank as an executive director.
Meanwhile, he had decided to enter the field of stockbroking, not merely as an employer but as a chief executive officer, and went on to qualify as a stockbroker and an authorised clerk of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, following which he established Anchoria Investment and Securities Ltd.
Olusola told me that his active social life was an important concomitant of his stockbroking and other businesses. He chose as chairman of Anchoria Chief Molade Okoya Thomas whom, to quote him “I have known since 1971 when he was the head of the Corporate Affairs Department of CFAO Nigeria, Plc. He often approached me, while in the Federal Ministry of Finance to follow-up on the foreign exchange applications of his company. He became a mentor who introduced me to the Lagos social life…”
The musical concert and fund-raising for a special organ for his church, Bishop Adelakun Howell’s Memorial Church (“BAHM”) which he sponsored and hosted last year on the eve of his 75th birthday was very well attended and a handsome amount was raised. Nevertheless the money was less than half of what was required to import the organ from shop to church, and he personally funded the balance. I know because we both discussed the figures. He had also taken lead roles in fund-raising for church activities and infrastructure beyond BAHM in Lagos and at Oshogbo where he was born and raised; he single-handedly finance a new vicarage at Aiyede-Ekiti. He conducted me on a tour of the building.
On the first stay of my wife and I at his sprawling residence in Aiyede-Ekiti during the funeral obsequies of the mother of Mr. Ayo Ajayi (former chairman of U.A.C), Olusola shared his room with Prof. Kayode Odusote and I, while Lola also shared her room with our wives. They did not have to, as there were enough separate rooms to accommodate those who were there. On my second occasion, he and I also shared his room.
Iyabo and I will continue to cherish the life and times of our noble friend. I am missing already the voice in that perennial intro, slightly tilting his head to the left “Ajibola, do you know that…”, that voice is now forever silent.
We commiserate with Lola, his highly supportive wife whom he fondly describe as “sister that I never had and their lovely children Olufunmilayo, Olufunmilola, Ayotunde and Babatunde.
As Olusola transits from clubs of life to the club of no return, may his friends and associates that are coming behind remain faithful to his family, his business interests and his memory while we are still around.