Joseph Ushigiale in Lagos and Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari last night described the death of foremost philanthropist and entrepreneur, Chief Bode Akindele, as an irreparable loss to the country.
The president, who described him as a man of many parts, noted that “he was a creator of jobs who demonstrated untiring love for the down-trodden,” and “his philanthropic gestures knew no bounds, intervening especially in critical sectors of the economy.”
According to a statement by his media adviser, Mr. Femi Adesina, the president remembered that the late industrialist was one of the early groups of private individuals who supported government intervention in the fight against the COVID-19 scourge by making huge donations to the fund.
The president condoled with the government and people of Oyo State, particularly the Olubadan-in-Council on the loss of the Parakoyi of Ibadanland, whose immeasurable contributions to the development and progress of his community and country, he said, remained paramount till the very end.
Buhari also commiserated with the organised private sector on the departure of its key member, whose imprints in various sectors, he said, would remain indelible.
He urged the family, friends, and associates of the deceased to take solace in the fact that Akindele touched lives, wrote his name in gold and lived a life of accomplishments, praying God to grant his soul eternal rest.
The accomplished Ibadan traditional title holder, a foremost industrialist with chains of companies, philanthropist and versatile business mogul died yesterday at 87.
Announcing his passing yesterday, the family, in a statement said: “It is with heavy heart and gratitude to God that the family of Chief Labode Oladimeji Akindele announces the peaceful passing of our husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, which took place on Monday, June 29, 2020. He was aged 87.”
Born in 1933 as a privileged child to a well-known Ibadan family of the Laniyan Akindele, the first Chief Tax Officer of Ibadan Native Authority, and the Alhaja Rabiatu Akindele, a prominent merchant and the first lady in Ibadan to go on Holy Pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, Akindele’s journey through the university of life was in reverse mode. Rather than coming from grass to grace, his was a grace to greater grace story given his already privileged background.
Unlike his peers, who craved for university education, after his primary and secondary education in Ibadan and Abeokuta and thereafter, he, like the Bill Gates and Mark Zukerberg of Microsoft and Facebook of today, who dropped out of school, chose to enroll for overseas tuition correspondence courses in Secretarial skills, Accountancy and Business Management.
Rather than bask in his privileged upper-class background, Akindele chose the uncharted path of striving to be self-made. It was, therefore, not long that his gamble paid off handsomely and he was acknowledged as a respected industrialist.
But Akindele’s rise to prominence was not just a stroll in the park. He first served under the tutelage of several multinational and blue-chip companies from where he gained experience in accounting and marketing.
Between 1952 and 1956, he worked in various commercial enterprises including U.A.C Limited as a Trainee Manager; Ibadan Traders Association Limited as Personal Assistant to the Managing Director; Ibadan Bus Services Limited as an Assistant Accountant and later also as an Under-Secretary of the Western Nigeria Union of Importers and Exporters (Incorporated).
Having done work for people and armed with the requisite experience that would guide him in his personal business, Akindele founded Modandola Group, one of the largest Nigerian-owned conglomerates with interests across agriculture, beverages, food processing, manufacturing, maritime, and real estate and transportation sectors.
His company has its international headquarters in the United Kingdom where another of his companies, Fairgate Group, deals mainly in commercial properties and counts retail chains like Sainsbury’s and Asda Walmart as tenants.
As a man with deep foresight, Akindele visualized far into the future and founded Modandola as a commodities trading house in the 1950s. When the Nigerian government enacted an indigenisation decree in 1972 that mandated British companies to transfer some equities to local businessmen, Akindele acquired a stake in Umarco, a leading shipping company controlled by the Rothschild family.
He was also part of a consortium that acquired the Stockholm-based tobacco company, Swedish Match in 1990, a company he later sold to Procordia two years later. Furthermore, he holds significant stakes in blue-chip companies in the US, as well as a sizeable real estate portfolio in the country.
Within this same period (1956 and 1962), he established Oke’Badan Brothers & Company (Produce Merchants), moved its headquarters to Lagos as he felt that the then Western Region, consisting of what is now known as Mid-west and Delta States was becoming too small for his business.
He also ventured into property by establishing Modandola Investments Limited, which is into property development and later transformed to become the flagship and holding company of the following companies: Associated Match Industries (Nigeria) Limited, Coastal Services (Nigeria) Limited, Obelawo Farcha Fishing Industries Ltd, Standard Flour Mills Ltd, Standard Packaging (Nigeria) Ltd.
Encouraged by the huge success that greeted him at home, in 1983, he set his sights on much higher business stakes, deciding to establish various businesses in Europe, Eastern and Southern Africa and the Pacific Regions.
By 1990, he confounded his competitors by successfully acquiring a major international conglomerate called Swedish Match, the world’s largest manufacturers of Matches and lighters with operations in sixty-two countries covering the five continents of the world.
He was also the founder of Bode Akindele Foundation (BAF) for Charity and Alhaja Rabiatu Adedigba Akindele Medical Centre (ARAMED) and served on the board of several international companies in Europe, Eastern and Southern African Regions.
He was the Parakoyi of Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State.