Tony Elumelu Celebrates Father-in-Law, Israel Ogbue, at 90


In youth, he belonged to a temperance society and wore the badge of honour in the shape of a bow of ribbon to show that he would never cave to unrestrained hedonism and other afflictions of youth. In his twilight, Israel Ogbue stuck to his creed. Never for once did he waiver in morality and personal ethics. Hence as he clocked 90 last Saturday, his daughter, Awele, and son-in-law, Tony Elumelu, spared no expense in celebrating him.

Yes, Israel Ogbue is Tony Elumelu’s father-in-law and among other things, he is a worthy inspiration to the incumbent Chairman of United Bank of Africa (UBA). What many people do not know is that, Ogbue also served as UBA Chairman for six years before he retired to rest and enjoy the fruits of his labour. Thus it was understandable that Tony and his wife would celebrate Ogbue as he turned 90. Trust Tony, he doesn’t do things in half measure, it was a big party.

So breathtaking was the party and consumption of continental cuisines and drinks that the rivers of champagne and expensive alcoholic drinks thinned to a tributary. Good money was put to great use for Pa Ogbue, no doubt. Dignitaries at the event forgot their worries and ditched the family challenges of the mundane to rejoice with the Ogbue’s on their patriarch’s 90th birthday. The sound of the bass reverberated in their chests as they cheered and celebrated the old man. It was star-studded. Who wouldn’t pray to have Tony as a son in-law?

If you look closely enough, you would find that Sola Adeoti dwarfs countless Amazons in womanliness, valour and character. Like a battle-hardened general, her exploits and scars commands random tributes of interminable sighs. The former managing director of the distressed City Express Bank is a champion no doubt. She has been rocked by one catastrophe or the other, and on every occasion, she emerged stronger and wiser. Not one to dwell on any unsavory experience, the ordained pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God has had to do battle with the much-dreaded cancer disease, twice.

The first time was when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and on the second occasion it was her son, Solomon, who was diagnosed with cancer of the brain that could terminate a life. With unprecedented faith and towering resilience, Adeoti survived the deadly disease on both occasions. She would later arrive in the waiting hands of EFCC for interrogation over her alleged involvement in financial malpractices at City Express Bank, then chaired by her father, Samuel Adedoyin. But Adeoti remains strong and imbued with wisdom to deal with all that. Today, the good news is the fact that Sola has remarried a new man, Otunba Sola Alao, quietly and she is happy for that. A lot of people in the society didn’t know that she has remarried. Very few people knew that Sola and Sola were an item. Nobody knew when or how the duo encountered each other and fell in love.

Nothing lasts forever; as the seasons turn, so does human life wither to age and disease, everything vanishes like morning dew. This grim reality currently benumbs the hearts of Jennifer’s family members.

Jennifer is dead. But tragic as her demise is, her family, friends and other loved ones may seek consolation in the fact that even in death, the infinitely generous woman has gone on to join the heavenly choir invisible of the immortal dead; the souls who pass on but continue to live in minds and lives made better by their presence.
Yes, Jennifer became born again before she died. She was even a Pastor at Spirit and Life Bible Church with headquarters in Benin City
Without doubt, her death once again emphasizes the fleetingness and fragility of human life. No one would forget so easily, Jennifer Madike, the popular drug baroness in the 80s. She was once notable for living out loud but no sooner than the NDLEA started querying and clamping down on moneybags whose sources of money seemed suspicious, Jennifer beat a hasty retreat from the fast lane.

It would be recalled that she painted the town red and rocked every city she visited to the hilt back then when she traversed the fast lane in the 80s. Jennifer partied hard and wild at home and abroad. She remained prime favourite of high society as the society courted her and local artistes sang her praises endlessly, until she passed away some days ago. The story of love-gone-sour between the then chairman of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Fidelis Oyakhilome, and Jennifer, generated interest nationwide between 1990 and 1991. The incident that felled Oyakhilome from his Olympian height was his alleged complicity with Jennifer, in offering bailout to drug barons under the influence of Jennifer’s undue closeness to him is well documented in the media. The specific banana peel upon which Oyakhilome stepped and tripped, as it were, was the case of a suspected drug baron, Gregory Odilibe, whom the NDLEA had declared wanted over drug offences. The anti-drug agency under Oyakhilome had placed a newspaper advertisement, declaring Odilibe wanted. But before then, series of events had thrown up delicately pretty, suave and charming Jennifer as a special friend of the NDLEA boss.

There are moments in history when brooding over tragedy and its’ dark shadows can be lightened by recalling great moments of the past. Such fruitless pastime has no doubt become the lot of Omolewa Ogunlesi, the estranged wife of Fola Ogunlesi, Chairman of Fantasyland. Until recently, her outfit, Balloons, in Ikoyi, Lagos was an instant success and preferred place for Lagos high society. Like a ghost town, the Balloon highrise, Opebi, Lagos, owned by Chief Ogunlesi, has descended into the back waters of the entertainment world. Before its descent, the entertainment haven, especially for the kids, was unarguably one of the busiest in town, courtesy of its capacity to retain a core section of the jet-set by its offerings. However, these days, the place is fast losing its appeal as one of the front runners in its area of operation in Lagos.

Regular patrons of the centre have stopped patronizing it since it was locked up. Information on what led to the development is still very sketchy, although a number of people have attributed the development to failed marriage of Mr and Mrs Ogunlesi.
Old grief casts long shadow. Often times, it rankles and hurts like a fresh wound. Ask Fola. Investigations revealed that things got awry between the estranged couple after an acrimonious divorce that saw Omolewa relocate to London. This was after the divorce she reportedly instituted while on a supposed leisure trip abroad with Ogunlesi (to Canada). However, many months after, the building remains nothing short of a ghost town, attracting curious stares and pitiful glances and questions bordering on why Fola would flagrantly abandon his property which could well be cash cow if it’s in use.

It has been taken over by weeds and ‘area boys’ of all hue. When this writer visited the place last weekend, what greeted him was an environment akin to a graveyard. There was no trace of business going on at the place anymore, except the signboard detailing the services offered by the outfit.