Monday 23 June 2008

Adedibu: Benevolence, Wills and Legacy

The man of the people
It is hardly 12 days since the strongman of Ibadan, Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu kicked the bucket and entered into history as a man who once lived and held sway in his community.
For all the opprobrium that could be mustered in the name of Alhaji Adedibu with his notoriety and menace, there was another element of his political base that did not find much commentary from persons like me.
Alhaji Adedibu was a community leader with his finger on the pulse in the heart of what affected people and a willingness to allocate resources to helping his community and constituency.
A benevolent benefactor
He was known as the father of Amala Politics; amala being a staple food of the Yorubas in Western Nigeria.
He made provision for the hungry, needy and destitute; be it the immediacy of food or money to meet other needs for life, health or education, his compound at Molete, in Ibadan, was always thronged with crowds who expected and received much of their benevolent benefactor.
Consequently, the man had the crowd at his beck and call, they responded to his desires in appreciation and gratitude such that they were willing volunteers to any cause he espoused – unfortunately, those causes when he called on his followers were not for the good of the community.
The scramble for the inheritance
With his death, it appears this benevolence has dried up; apparently, none of the children of the great man have decided to carry on his legacy and maintain this open house.
We can all assume they are in a squabble as to how to claim and share the inheritance and as one of the children said – the people should go and “find their level”, in other words, the gates are closed and the hungry might well go and die, they are no more our problem.
Is there another leader in town?
The people have now moved en-masse [Source –] to the residence of another supposed, leader in the community, the Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland – Alhaji Azeez Arisekola-Alao, a wealthy businessman whose title suggests he is the leader of all Muslims in Yorubaland.
Leader, he sure is, but benefactor, he is not – his gates have been firmly shut against the yearning of the destitute and needy that found succour in the compound of Alhaji Adedibu in the same city of Ibadan.
I do not blame the man, not everyone has the generosity of spirit, means and ways to be benevolent to strangers or to their community even if the people do earnestly consider the person their leader - at least someone conferred this title on the man with some expectation.
Preparing for the hereafter
However, the saddest part of this story is the clearly a fault of Alhaji Adedibu and many of us who refuse to prepare for our passing by not making a will and creating a legally binding testament of what should continue after we are gone.
I doubt if Alhaji Adedibu intended for his compound to be emptied of the people who thronged him for help, it is unlikely that he would have wanted for the people he fed everyday to suddenly lose that benefit so soon after his death.
If only
If he had made a will that clearly stated his intentions to continue to be a pillar of the community through his benevolence after his death, we would not be hearing such indifferent talk from any of his children.
If he had bequeathed a sum to ensure that his people were catered for after his death, or arranged with his well-heeled supporters to continue his good work in this area, his mob of admirers who are unflatteringly called “hangers-on” would still be around to keep his memory alive and compound lively.
The absence of a clear indication of intentions after death means that there are few ready to take on the mantle of leadership that Alhaji Adedibu had in terms of ministering to the needy.
That is the sad lesson that reads as part of the life that Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu lived – it is interesting to see that the hired and crocodile-tear mourners who sang his praises at death have not backed up their deluge of encomiums with banding together to continue the work of the great man.
Such is the lip-service of those who gather to mourn but disperse when the responsibilities fall to their shoulders – for that simple reason Alhaji Lamidi Akanbi Ariyibi Adedibu would be sorely missed.

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