By Remi Olowude
When you see or speak with a man regularly for 25 years, it is hard to imagine that a day will come when conversation of whatever kind will forever cease. Even if one could imagine it because it is the portion of every man to die, you shudder to even let the thought cross your mind. I visited him and his entire household on Wednesday September 26th 2012. For about 45 minutes, he kept saying that all members of his family should give thanks to Almighty God. This we did at his instance, seven times on three occasions. He prayed for IGI, our families, his children and the entire nation. He also asked me to pray as a man of similar conviction but different faith. Little did we know he was saying ‘good bye’
Where do I begin to speak of Dr. Lateef Adegbite? In what capacity do I speak of him: as a big brother and confidant? As a consummate boardroom player? As a man deeply committed to his Islamic faith? As a patriotic bridge builder who was uncompromisingly committed to national unity? As a legal icon who could not stand injustice in any form or who had an ingrained sense of corporate governance? Or as a humanitarian who could not stand the suffering of fellow men?
I practically can write a book on each of the aspects I have mentioned in relation to Dr. Adegbite. Suffice it to say that he was a man of exemplary character; one whose word was his bond; one who walked his talk and helped others to walk the straight and narrow path. This was not just because he was an eminent legal practitioner who rose to the peak of his career and was an Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice at a time that brilliance and the content of character were parameters of accomplishment in public service. His strength of character derived from an upbringing that sought wholesale pursuit of truth as a way of being at peace with oneself and with the world. His spiritual quality influenced his decision.
Dr Lateef Adegbite was a founding shareholder, promoter and director of Industrial and General Insurance Plc. He always ensured that IGI from inception complied with statutory regulations and good corporate governance. He was a sincere, dependable and public spirited philantropist with a courageous disposition. He also was a detribalized, patriotic and an avid sports lover.
I cannot speak enough of Dr. Lateef Adegbite. A man whose name evoked heightened sense of national unity and pride regardless of diverse religious, economic and political orientations. A man who has devoted the most part of his life to promoting the growth and practice of Islam, even endangering his own life in the process and at a great financial loss. His practice of Islam warmly and sincerely accommodated and appreciated every other faith. He was at once comfortable with Christians as he was with other religions. I recall that on the occasions of the wedding of my daughters, he stayed in church all through the events. Nigeria will miss this servant of God who led a purpose driven life.
Seriki, thank you for the life you shared with me without considering the age difference; for all your well-considered pieces of advice and abundant love. May God’s perpetual light continue to shine on your soul. You taught us to say ‘Thank you, God’ no matter the circumstance or situation.
May the Lord console the Adegbites, the IGI family and the entire nation. May He grant his great soul sweet repose and eternal rest.Fare thee well.
• Olowude is the Executive Chairman, Industrial And General Insurance Plc