What’s Greater than a Good Name?

Femi Akintunde-Johnson

Recently, I got a strange call from my professional friend, and long distance conversationalist, Bolu (not real name). After the usual pleasantries, he staggered me with his series of questions and comments. “When is Otunba Mike Adenuga’s birthday? I know it’s in April,” was his first salvo. Equally, straight faced, I replied: “I believe it’s on April 29”.

  “My friend, we use British English here, have you forgotten? It should be 29 April!” Slightly peeved, I retorted: “Shey, it’s a lecture you called me for, abi what again?”

 “Ol’boy, no vex… but really life is not working out well for me… I need to get his attention, so he can also be my benefactor…”. 

 Apparently, one had lost the way; so we asked: “Whose attention are you getting?” I asked innocently. “Adenuga, of course,” he snapped back at me, and continued: “I may have to use Paul Dairo’s style or one of your Angel of Hope interventions.”

  He could read the shock and confusion in my grunts, so he quickly added: “I also have a serious challenge that if well publicised, and moderated in the right quarters, could attract Adenuga’s attention, especially as the media will be awash with goodwill messages and other platitudes during his birthday week.”

  I was speechless. But Bolu was relentless: “I know the man is genuinely caring, and blessed enough to help people – remember you told me how people like Adenuga were supportive of your ‘Angel of Hope’ programmes… Well, if you still insist that your focus is for ‘hopeless children’, I do have a child who also needs medical treatment – it’s even more desperate than my own as it involves a congenital heart disease we have been dealing with for ten years.”

  Stunned and bemused at once, I tried to stop Bolu: “What are you talking about? Are you serious? Paul Dairo’s style? Angel of Hope? Mr. Man, you’re not communicating.”

  “I’m dead serious, my friend,” Bolu replied without a break in the gravity of his voice. “I will send you a transcript of Paul’s statement that you posted in April last year. I missed the live radio programme you dedicated to his 70th birthday last year…but trust you to give us a written recap. I want to be able to share that kind of statement, and speak of the man with that sort of gratitude. Adenuga must do something for me too, or more importantly, for my son.”

 My closing remarks: “Please, send it…I didn’t know your case is that serious o… you won’t believe the coincidence: we are working on the review case of the boy with a hole in the heart whom we collaborated with others to help get surgery in India in 2017. He needs another surgery. Maybe Adenuga will hear his cry, and yours too… and God will touch his heart for your sake.”

Less than five minutes after our call ended, Bolu sent me this, and republished verbatim: The story is titled ‘Incredible Story of How Adenuga Saved Me From Jaws of Death – Paul Play Dairo’ (broadcast on TopRadio 90.9 FM of Saturday, 29 April, 2023; and dubbed ‘MikeAdenuga@70 Special Episode’ on The Vintage Talkshow’)…: 

  “Paul Play Dairo: He’s my godfather; he’s my benefactor; he’s my mentor…he’s my everything. He took me a long time to be able to talk about the issue I had in 2009 in South Africa. In fact, I was at the point of death. I just went to shoot my video…the next thing I saw was that I was peeing blood…to the extent that when I got to the hospital, the doctor told me that I had only one week to survive…

  “Well, at that moment I started arranging myself, my finances…in the midst of that, while I was on my hospital bed, in the Intensive Care Unit…the Dr. (Adenuga) called me… I don’t know how he heard. He said in Yoruba, “Paul, kilon ṣe ẹ? (What’s the matter with you, Paul?) Well, I told him… I had a tumour on my kidney, and doctors say I’ve to take it out, or else the tumour would spread…and if it spreads, there is nothing else anybody can do… It was a terrible moment for me… in fact, when I was talking to him, I was crying…. He said, “ok…ma worry, everything will be okay”. 

  “The next thing I know somebody came from their office in South Africa…he brought me…I don’t know if I can mention that kind of amount…in fact, all the bills that I was piling up to pay…it was like nonsense…like nothing! Otunba Mike Adenuga paid all the bills…in fact, after the surgery, he told his manager to call me: “I want to come to South Africa to see Paul…he must not leave South Africa now…”

  “Because I was already planning how to get back to work in Lagos… he called and said, “what are you coming to do in Lagos… don’t you want to recuperate?”

  “The Chairman had booked a suite for me in South Africa… in one of the best areas of South Africa. I stayed in that suite for a whole month… I don’t want to mention the amount of money that was paid for my stay there…

FAJ: I beg don’t…we don’t want to have nightmares after calculating (general laughter).

PPD: Baba has done a lot for me…if I begin to recount some of the things he has done for me, we won’t leave here today…

  “There was a time he told me to go to South Africa…I went…you know, a lot of musicians, when it comes to dealing with people of that level…you know, elites…they might say let me take advantage, because he’s a rich man…I want to do business with him. I didn’t mention any amount… I said “Oya!”… I went to South Africa without thinking about the cost…agreement… I jumped into the plane… I was in South Africa for two weeks… then Baba sent a message to me… Paul has been in South Africa for two weeks, what is he doing? He has finished the work, and he’s still there… But I just want (to be) there to see what’s going on…

  “Baba sent $13,000 for me to go and buy peppermint…and ice cream! That’s how generous the man is… He’s a man with a heart of gold.”

  Well, in a couple of days, it will be another birthday celebration for the enigmatic business mogul famous for his philanthropic outreaches. Let us end this piece as we did 12 months ago:  “Otunba Mike Adenuga…if you get to read this article…we thank you for what you did for us (18) years ago…and (you must be tired of hearing this)… for what you continue to do for your culture, your state, your nation and your continent…including the monumental and often stupendous generosity you show to friends, acquaintances and complete strangers whose foibles and anguish touch a chord in you…to stretch forth a massive helping hand…again and again. Your years will continue to be a testimony of honour, a tapestry of inspiration and a global index of a uniquely magnificent specie divinely planted in a wan and weary nation…to give life…salve wounds…lift broken spirits…mend crooked systems…and soar over adversity and diversity as the authentic spirit of the African experience”.

  Happy 71st anniversary to the colossus bred as Michael Adeniyi Agbolade Ishola Adenuga.

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