When Olanipekun builds for God
His father could be described as poor as a church rat in terms of material wealth! But Pa Isaac Olanipekun of blessed memory was as rich as Croesus when it comes to the fear of God, charitable character, community service, humility, compassion and Christian eschatologies. For good 17 years, Pa Isaac Olanipekun who passed on in 1999 served St. Peter’s Church, Ikere Ekiti, sweeping the floor, planting flowers and cutting grasses without collecting salaries. This was the tradition with which he raised his children, including today’s legal titan, Chief Oluwole Oladapo Olanipekun Chief Olanipekun’s story is probably one of the inscrutable ways of the good Lord. He has got what his father lacked! Could it be said that he is reaping the fruits of his father’s good work? Today, Chief Olanipekun, who is obviously one of the men of immense means in Nigeria, is using every ounce of energy in his body, as well as his wealth to positively change the world for the better, rising everyday by lifting people and the society daily.
Perhaps, the best of the benefactions of this man of affluence and influence was his recent donation: a multi-million Naira and architectural masterpiece building, as a replacement of the church of his birth, St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Ikere in Ekiti state. The dedication of the ultra-modern building which drew dignitaries from every part of Nigeria, inc luring the Vice-president, Prof. Yemi Osinbanjo, one-time Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, almost all the governors of South West among others. The dedication ceremony which was both sober and spiritual, was also replete with pomp and pageantry. It was a day of glory to God. It was a day of honour for the legal luminary. It was indeed a great day in Ekiti!
The church, a magnificent and tastefully furnished edifice of enviable opulence solely championed to completion by a legal colossus and his beautiful wife, Lady Omolara Olanipekun, has a capacity for 1,500 worshippers with state-of-the-art facilities such as modern music hybrid, fully marbled pulpits, audio visual gadgets and new complete set of musical instruments. It is impressive, picturesque and exquisite. To say the least, the church is a beautiful place of blessing.
Interestingly, Chief Olanipekun who is regarded as a phenomenal philanthropist in the country has registered his passion in communal, educational and ecclesiastic settings, building men and institutions- all towards poverty extermination, man-power development as well as the societal growth. Perhaps to corroborate the popular saying that charity must begin at home, this modest and meticulous man of integrity begins his humanitarian activities from his state of origin, Ekiti State. For instance, in Ikere, along Igbara-odo Road, he built and donated to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Ikere Branch, in March, 2014, a 350-capacity Bar Centre and in August, 2019, he purchased a brand new 16-capacity bus for the Branch. Along Akure road (at Amoye Grammar School), a computer hub fully equipped with laptop and desktop computers was built and commissioned in 2007 and refurbished in 2019. While approaching Ikere from Ise, is the magnificent Iyaafin Abosede Amenity Ward with the state-of-the-art facilities, built and donated to the Ekiti state Government at the State Specialist Hospital in 2015. Along Ado Road, and within the premises of St. Peter’s Anglican Church, the Pa Isaac Olanipekun Memorial Vicarage building was donated by him and his wife in 2012. On the same Ado Road, is the budding FM Radio Station which was commissioned on 28 February, 2020.
In 1996, he instituted the Wole Olanipekun Scholarship Scheme, and as at the last award exercise in November 2019, over 649 indigent students from various secondary schools and universities in Nigeria have benefited from the scheme. At the same event, he paid for the 2020 JAMB fees of 94 students of St. Louis Grammar School, Ikere, 46 of whom are Ikere indigenes, while the remaining 47 are form other parts of the country.
Taking the kind gesture a notch higher, Chief Olanipekun sacrificially gave his substance ceaselessly when he was appointed by the government as Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council of University of Ibadan. He used his influence to open up Ajibode, the second phase of the institution. In 2011, when the flood ravaged the university, he personally donated N10million towards the amelioration of the situation. Before his tenure expired, he donated a 350-sitting capacity lecture theatre to the Faculty of Law, known as Wole Olanipekun Law Lecture Building.
Shortly after his stint in UI, Chief Olanipekun was also appointed as the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council of Ajayi Crowther University. Along with his wife, he has donated Wole and Lara Olanipekunn Vice-Chancellor’s lodge. According to Ajayi Crowther University VC, Prof. Dapo Asaju, “while Chief and his wife were building the lodge, I tried in a very surreptitious way to ascertain the cost from the contractor with a view to assisting financially. The contractor told me that he was under strict instruction not to disclose the cost to anybody. Chief Olanipekun and his wife therefore financed the lodge all alone”
It never ceases to amaze the pundits how an individual could be so generous, focused, consistent and irrevocably committed to the welfare of people. Chief Olanipekun, with his huge intellectual savvy, uncompromising sense of justice, uncommon courage and steely grit in defence of rule of law and justice has been providing oxygen for the survival of the society without an expectation of any reward in return. Mass poverty makes him teary. He is ever ready to light a candle in the darkest moments in people’s life as a result of milk of human kindness flowing in his body! He has been trained and taught to use his sweat to bind the wounds of poverty of the people, dressing its suppurating gashes with his wealth.
Without mincing words, Chief Olanipekun is a rare gift to this generation with gross benevolence, touching lives and enhancing dreams and destinies. More impressive is his humble, humane and effervescent disposition, including generosity so unstinting, gregariousness that is so capacious. He serves God with genuine, but unostentatious rectitude. He radiates so much zest in community development and human emancipation. He believes it is in giving that we receive.
Eulogizing him, Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo described Chief Olanipekun as a smart lawyer who will ever be blessed by God for building for God. Prof. Osinbanjo said God loved David for thinking about building for God. According to him, “if God loved David for thinking about building, what do we think God will do for the person who thought and built for Him?” In the same vein, the Archbishop and Primate of all Nigeria (Anglican Communion), the most Reverend. Nicholas Okoh believed the gift of the building was the best of Olanipekun’s achievements. Charity is a theological virtue by which we love God above all things and also fellow men for the sake of God. It is a supernatural gift. But unfortunately, not all men are endowed with it. Chief Olanipekun, with his selfless sacrifice and service to humanity called on other men of means to assist the less-priviledged with their wealth.
Indeed, we are all products of our backgrounds Chief Olanipekun has advertised a disciplined background, acting in the fashion of a gentleman. Hear Chief Olanipekun, “growing up was beautiful, eventful and refreshing. I had parents, who were not rich, but very rich in character and fear of God. They inculcated discipline in their children; they taught us to fear God and respect humanity, to love our neighbours and country. What we are today is the result of the training they gave us” What are the parents teaching their children today? Are the children being taught to fear God and respect humanity? Where is the place of altruism, patriotism and selflessness in our quest to make a living? These are not just rhetorical questions, but questions that must be answered by every parent, school and religious organization.
Saanu is with the University of Ibadan.