By Charles Segun ADEGBITE
Remo people of Ogun State, who migrated from Iremo Quarters in Ile-Ife, Osun State, centuries ago, are blessed with a lot of illustrious sons and daughters who are prominent Nigerians and world class citizens. Among them are the current World Heavyweight Champion, Anthony Joshua, Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka (who hails from Isara-Remo), and Nigeria-born but America-based lawyer and world class investment banker, Dr Adebayo Ogunlesi who is the Chairman of Global Infrastructure Partners and a former member of the Economic Advisory Team of American President Donald Trump. Above all, Remo is the home of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) where a single family has four SANs. The first Nigerian pilot, late Dr Tai Solarin was from Remoland as well.
Published below are some of the numerous great men and woman of yesteryears who have contributed in no small measure to the development of Nigeria and made great impact during their lifetime:
Chief Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo (GCFR, SAN, D.LL, D. Litt.)
Late Elder statesman, foremost nationalist, Grand Commander of the Federal Republic(GCFR: the highest honour in Nigeria), former Vice Chairman, Federal Executive Council of Nigeria (1966-71) and former Minister of Finance (1966-71) under Gen Yakubu Gowon(Rtd) administration.
He was the first Premier of Western Region (1954-59) and the first man to mobilise and unite the Yoruba race as a nation after Oduduwa’s demise.
A legal luminary, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), teacher, distinguished politician, journalist, author and publisher. Awolowo remains the only Nigerian till date who didn’t become president of this country but was honoured with the national title of GCFR which is exclusively reserved for Presidents and Heads of State of Nigeria. He was at death described by the late Igbo leader, Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu as the Best President Nigeria never had.
Awolowo studied Laws at the University of London after he had earlier bagged Bachelor of Commerce (B.Comm) degree as an external student from this same university. His intellectual prowess earned him Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa), Doctor of Letters (D.Litt) and many others.
Born on March 6, 1909, into David Sopolu and Mary Efunyela Awolowo Family of Ikenne-Remo, Ogun State, (who actually hailed from Ilishan-Remo). He died on May 9, 1987 at age 78 and was given a state burial by the state governments of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo (and Osun), Ondo (and Ekiti) and Bendel (now Edo and Delta) with the support of Federal Govt. who named the then University of Ife, Ile-Ife after him as Obafemi Awolowo University(OAU). As the Nigeria Minister of Finance, he coined Naira as the name for the currency notes for Nigeria to replace the pound; and that came into effect on January 1,1973, at the exchange rate of 2 naira to 1 pound.
He was the founder of Action Group (AG) and the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria(UPN), through which he contested in 1959, 1979 and 1983 to be Nigeria Prime Minister and President respectively; which he lost.
Awolowo founded and became the first Chairman of African Newspaper of Nigeria (ANN) and founding publisher of the Nigerian Tribune titles.
He was until his death the Asiwaju of Remoland, husband of Chief (Mrs)Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo and their marriage produced late Barrister Segun Awolowo, Pastor (Mrs) Omotola Oyediran, late Prince Wole Awolowo, Late (Mrs) Ayo Soyode and Ambassador Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosumu.
Among his grandchildren are : Mr Segun Awolowo Jnr. (Director General of Nigeria Export-Import Promotion Council) and Pastor(Mrs.) Dolapo Osinbajo (Wife of the current Vice President of Nigeria).
Prince Adeleke Adedoyin (OFR)
Former Minister of Labour, Social Welfare and Co-operatives between 1964 and 1966. Former Speaker of the Western Region House of Assembly, a legal icon, astute politician and distinguished lawmaker.
Born on March 1, 1912, in Sagamu, Ogun State, Adeleke was a Remo prince and son of Akarigbo, late Oba Williams Christopher Adedoyin. He was before his ministerial appointment a chieftain of the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroon(NCNC). Adeleke, a law graduate from the University of London, was called to the Bar at the Inner Temple, London, in January 1940. In February he was enrolled as a legal practitioner with the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
Prince Adedoyin died at age 87 and was succeeded by two wives and successful children, among them; Princess Agbeke Oladayo Oluwole (his first daughter and first female Comptroller and Commandant of the Nigeria Prison’s Staff College) , Otunba Adetokunbo Adeleke Adedoyin (his first son : an ebullient lawyer) Princess Adetoun Adeleke-Adedoyin (a judge) ; all deceased, and a former Commissioner for the Environment in Ogun State, Prince Dr. Olukoya Adeleke Adedoyin.
Ambassador Segun Olusola
Former Nigeria Ambassador to Ethiopia and the Organisation of African Unity(OAU) in 1987, Founder of Africa Refugees Foundation (AReF), veteran actor, a seasoned television producer and celebrated broadcaster.
Born on March 18, 1935,in Iperu-Remo, Ogun State, he attended the University of Pittsburg, Pittsburg, USA, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree.
Olusola was the writer and executive producer of The Village Headmaster, Nigeria’s longest running television soap opera, in 1964, the year he became Executive Producer, which ran through 1970s and 1980s.
He worked with the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) and later joined the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) in 1959, where he worked for many years until he became General Manager and later Director.
He died on June 21, 2012, at age 77, after a brief illness.
Chief (Mrs) Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo
Mother of the Nation, as she was described during her burial , Mama H.I.D. Awolowo (as fondly called), was the only wife of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
Since her husband’s death in 1987 till she passed on 28years after in September 2015 (few months to her centenary birthday), no woman in Nigeria, dead or alive, was able to command the attention of most Nigeria leaders, politicians and women as she did.
She succeeded in turning the Awolowo’s House in Ikenne to a Mecca of sort as politicians thronged the place, especially Nigeria Presidential standard bearers and Ogun governorship candidates who went there for her blessing and support whenever they were seeking election or re-election.
From General Yakubu Gowon to President Olusegun Obasanjo, Gen Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua,
Goodluck Jonathan till the current President Muhammadu Buhari, no Nigerian leader had stayed in office long who had no respect for her .
She succeeded in filling some of the vacuum created by her husband’s death in 1987 as everyone mentioned above had at a time or more visited her Ikenne home to either pay homage, seek her support for electoral victory, attend post-humour birthday of her husband or for other reasons.
HID Awolowo was until her death the Chairman of African Newspapers of Nigerian and publisher of Nigerian Tribune titles.
When her efforts to reconcile warring factions of the Afenifere, a pan Yoruba socio-political group failed, she formed the Yoruba Unity Forum, with Bishop Bolanle Gbonigi as Vice Chairman. Through this Forum they sought solution to the incessant killings of Yoruba along with other Southerners living in the North when the massacre began in Jos, Plateau State after the 2011 general elections. And she continued to clamour for Yoruba unity and continuously prayed for peace in Nigeria till she passed on in Sept 2015.
She was given a state burial on her centenary birthday in November with Nigeria President, Vice President, Senate President, governors and other senior government officials, top politicians, captains of industries and other creme de la creme of Nigerian society in attendance.
Mama HID Awolowo was, until her death,the Yeye Oodua of Yorubaland, the Iyalode of Remoland and head of Liyangu-Akarigbo Ruling House of Sagamu/Remo, Ogun State.
Dr Tai Solarin
First Nigerian pilot, Augustus Taiwo Solarin, (a.k.a Tai Solarin) was a renown educationist, author, an outstanding social activist/critic in Nigeria, was the Founder and first Principal of Mayflower School, Ikenne-Remo, Ogun State. He later became Chairman of the defunct People’s Bank of Nigeria (PBN) which Federal Government established during Gen. Ibrahim Babangida’s regime.
He was born a twin in Ikenne-Remo, Ogun State, Nigeria, in 1916 (assumed year, since he didn’t know his birth date). He attended Wesley College, Ibadan, Oyo State, and later enlisted in British Air Force as a navigator in the Second World War.
He remained in Britain after the war and studied at the University of London. He married an English-born European, Sheila Mary Tuer in affairs of 1951 and then returned to Nigeria.
Solarin established his own secondary school, Mayflower, in his home town, Ikenne on January 27, 1956, which is known for its high moral and academic standard, with a lot of successful graduates.
He was a social activist and became a renown critic of government, along with other activists like late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, late Dr Beko Ransome-Kuti, Prof Wole Soyinka (who are all from Ogun State) and late Gani Fawehinmi which fetched him arrests and incarceration, series of assaults by the then military government in Nigeria, from the time of Gen. Yakubu Gowon’s regime till he died on June 27, 1994.
Following his relentless opposition of military rule in Nigeria, advocacy for people’s welfare and the SAP riot of 1989, the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida set up the People’s Bank of Nigeria (PBN) and made him the Chairman, for the purpose of disbursing soft loans to the poor and artisans, to start their own businesses.
The Ogun State College of Education was named after him as Tai Solarin College of Education(TASCE) after his death, in view of his immense contribution to education development in Nigeria. However, the TASCE was later upgraded to Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED), which was the first university of education in Nigeria by the Ogun State Government under the administration of Governor Gbenga Daniel.
Solarin was survived by his wife (Sheila, who later died in October 21, 2012) and two children, Corin Solarin and Tunde Solarin.
Chief Olu Awotesu
This legal luminary was the Minister of State for Agriculture in the Second Republic when Alhaji Shehu Shagari was the president of Nigeria(1979-1983).
A native of Iperu-Remo, Ogun State, Awotesu attended Remo Secondary School, Sagamu. He was twice the Secretary of Nigeria Bar Association(NBA).
He died in a controversial circumstance on 29 October, 2011, while looking forward to his 80th birthday scheduled to hold in November.
Chief Olu Fadairo
Former General Manager, Daily Times of Nigeria(Publication Division), the first Secretary of the Nigeria Institute of Directors(IoD), President of the National Youth Council of Nigeria for 20 years and former Vice President, World Assembly of Youths (WAY). Chairman, Organising Committee of International Youth Year(IYY) held in Nigeria in 1985, and Member of the Order of the Niger (MON)
Before he retired in 1984 as GM, after 36years of meritorious service the Assistant Chief Executive, Daily Times of Nigeria Ltd (1969-70) Director and Sales Manager, Nigerpak Ltd.- a division of Daily Times Ltd. (1970-77), Director and General Manager, Times Leisure Services Ltd; a division of Daily Times Ltd. (1977-81) General Manager, Times Publications Division; a division of Daily Times Ltd. (1981-84)
Former Managing Director, Republic Publishing Company Ltd. (1986-87), Chairman, Board of Directors, Ogun State Radio and Television Broadcasting Corporation (OGBC/OGTV) , Chairman, Federation of Boys’ and Girls’ Club, Nigeria (1960-72) President, National Youth Council of Nigeria (1964-86) Vice-president, World Assembly of Youth (WAY; 1975-78), Chairman, National Advisory Committee for International Youth Year-1985.
Born in Sagamu, on March 14, 1930, to the family of Benjamin Ajayi Fadairo and Mary Olubomeyin Olubowale Fadairo, he studied Newspaper Management at Columbia University, New York, USA. He embarked on other certificate courses in management at the Nigerian Institute of Management(NIM) and University of Lagos.
Fadairo was the Ogbeni Oja and Oluwo Offin, Sagamu. He was Secretary, Young Men Christian Union, St. Jude’s Church, Ebute Metta (1965-74) and later the Chairman (1977-81)
He was survived by wife, Elizabeth Oluremi Fadairo,and children: Bayo, Wale, Bola, Popo, Bose, Gbenga, Yemisi, Idowu and many grandchildren.
Prophet Josiah Olunowo Ositelu
He was the founder and first Primate of The Church of the Lord (Aladura) Worldwide. The church that became famous for its annual Tabeorar Festival held in August 22 till date. A native of Ogere-Remo, Ogun State, he was born into the Ashaye Onakoya Ositelu of Lisa chieftaincy family on 15 May 1900.
Ositelu started demonstrating his spiritual gifts at a tender age, predicting events and telling people about their future.
He attended Church Missionary Society(CMS) School, Ogere-Remo and Christ Church School, Porogun, Ijebu Ode. He became a teacher after finishing school and was trained to be a catechist.
He founded the Aladura church in 1925 and inaugurated it in Ogere in 1930. He organised open crusade across the Western Region of Nigeria, especially in the districts of Lagos, Ibadan, Ijebu and Remo. Consequently many people were coming to Ogere to worship God and sought spiritual solution to their problems.
The church’s fame came with its first Tabeorar festival held between 10-12 August 1937. The church thereafter spread to many nations like: Lome in Togo, Kumasi in Ghana, Wellington in Sierra Leone, London, New York, Luxenmberg in Ireland, Spain, Belgium and others where it has branches.
Before Ositelu died in July 1966 he was said to have predicted his transition in the last Tabeorar he organised in August 1965 where he reportedly disclosed that angels in white robes surrounded him and were telling him that it was time for him to go. And consequently, few days before he died he ordered that a thanksgiving offering be made to signify his gratitude to God for a life well spent.
Prince Adebanjo Babington Ashaye ( FCA)
He was the 48th President of the Institute of Chartered Accountant of Nigeria (ICAN) between 2007 and 2008.
He was the Founding Chairman of Babington Ashaye & Co,( a flourishing Auditing, Tax Consultancy & Insolvency company). He was the President of the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club (the oldest sports and recreation club in West Africa, founded by Nigeria’s first Governor General, Lord Frederick Lugard) between 2006 and 2008.
He was the son of late Monarch of Ogere-Remo, and husband of the current President of the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN). His first wife, Mrs. Morenike Babington-Ashaye was the Chairman of Ogun State Internal Revenue Service (2003-2011). He died and was buried in January 2012.
Oba (Dr) Michael Adeniyi Sonariwo (CON, FCA, KJW)
He was the past Akarigbo and late Paramount Ruler of Remoland, Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (FCA), an accomplished administrator, Knight of John Wesley (KJW) and Doctor of Civil Laws(Honoris Causa) and holder honour of the Commander of the Order of Niger, (CON).
Born in Lagos in July 28, 1936, into the royal family of Prince Shehu Tijani Sonariwo, a descendant of Akarigbo Erinjugbo (1) of Sagamu, Ogun State,
He attended Blackburn College of Technology, England and Harvard Law School, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. And post graduate studies in Tax Administration and Policy, and Senior Management course at Pittsburg University.
Deputy Chairman, Federal Board of Inland Revenue, FBIR (now FIRS). He represented Nigeria in many international tax conferences in Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela.
He was later the Director of Finance and Accounts of Post and Telecommunication Department as . He was as well Nigeria Representative for the United Nations’ Model Convention on Tax Treaties between developed and developing countries held in New York and Geneva in 1974, 1975 and 1976.
Sonariwo was as well a member of the Governing Council of the University of Maiduguri between 1973 and 1975.
He was installed the Akarigbo of Remoland on July 14, 1990. In 1996 he was appointed member of the Vision 2010 by the Federal Government under the leadership of Late Gen. Sanni Abacha, set up to plan a better economic goals and framework for Nigeria.
During his 26 years reign, before his demise in July 2016, he was chairman of Ogun State Council of Traditional Rulers many times, being one of the four paramount rulers in the state among whom the chairmanship is rotated annually.
Chief Kehinde Sofola
A legal luminary, prominent Nigerian jurist, Senior Advocate of Nigeria(SAN) and Commander of the Order of Niger (CON), was the Minister of Justice during the second republic.
Born in Ikenne, Ogun State, on March 10, 1924, he was the founder of Kehinde Sofola’s Chambers in Lagos, where Ayotunde Philips, the Chief Judge of Lagos State began her career in 1976.
He was the elder brother of Chief Idowu Sofola (SAN), another legal icon.He was Father of Kayode Sofola, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria(SAN). He was former Chairman of the United Bank for Africa (UBA). Chief Sofola died at age 83 in April 2007.
Sofola family is the most prominent family in Nigeria with highest number of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) which are four. With two brothers (fathers) and their two sons.
Akogun Segun Okeowo (Ph.D)
He was the “Ali-Must-Go” Hero and foremost ex-students union leader in Nigeria who, as the National President of the proscribed National Union of Nigeria Students (NUNS) now National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS) who shook Nigeria and the military government of headed by the then Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo in 1978 during the students unrest.
He was chairman of many national panels of inquiry set up by the Federal Government to investigate and resolve students crisis in Nigeria. He was Commissioner in Ogun Sate Teaching Service Commission, between 2003 and 2011.
Born in Sagamu on August 5, 1941 to the Okeowo family of Makun, Sagamu, Ogun State. He attended the University of Lagos (1975-78) and University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State, where he completed his degree programme (1981).
He was the Principal of Remo Secondary School, Sagamu (1995/1996) and some other secondary schools in Sagamu and Ikenne Local Government Areas of Ogun State.
Okeowo bagged the chieftaincy titles of Akogun of Makun, Sagamu,(1994) and was also installed the Obamuwagun of Iperu-Remo and Bobajiroro of Idewa-Iperu same day; Dec 18, 1998). And he was installed the Olotu Omoba (Head of Princes) in his homestead, Simawa, a fast growing town in Sagamu Local Government Area of Ogun State.
His eldest son, a prominent drama evangelist and movie producer in Nigeria, Evang. Kolade Segun-Okeowo, who founded the first Drama Village in Nigeria, located at Simawa, was the National President of All Nigeria Conference of Evangelical Drama Ministers (ANCEDRAM) in 2010/2011.
Until his death in January 2014 at age 72, Okeowo’s maxim was, “Live Or Die: Don’t Subsist Like A Living Dead”
Sir Anthony Oladipo Adegbite(KJW, JP)
Former National President, Men’s Fellowship of the Methodist Church Nigeria, late nonagenarian author, a Knight of John Wesley (KJW) who retired as Assistant Director, Dept. of Post & Telecommunication (P & T, now Federal Ministry of Communication ).
Born in November 13, 1924, in Sagamu to the Adegbite Dynasty of Sagamu, he grew up in Lagos where his father(the last-born of Chief Osho Adegbite ) was based then.
He studied Industrial Relations at the University of Ibadan in 1964 and Administration at the Royal Institute of Public Administration,(RIPA) London in 1975, before his compulsory retirement as Assistant Director by the Gen. Murtala Muhammed led Federal Government in 1975.
Adegbite had in the 1950s played a lot of roles in Lagos politics with the likes of Alhaji Ganiyu Dawodu in the Nigeria Youths Movements(NYM) and later Action Group. As a freelance journalist, he was known as Anthony Junior, after the fame of the then popular journalist late Chief Anthony Enahoro.
He rededicated his life into serving God and became a Lay Preacher . He later represented the Methodist Church Nigeria at the British Conference held in Plymouth, England, and Methodist World Conferences in Kenya,(1984), USA (1986), and World Council of Church in Geneva(1986). He as well went on holy pilgrimage to Israel in 1981, 1993, 1995 and 2005.
He was the State Treasurer of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Lagos State, and later the National President of the Men’s Fellowship of the Methodist Church Nigeria between 2001 and 2006. Adegbite was as well knitted KJW by the Methodist Church Nigeria on November 2006.
Among his published books are his autobiography, “MAN, KNOW THYSELF” and the last one, “STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESS IN LIFE” which he launched during his 92nd birthday in November last year. Of course, that was his last gift to the world as he died early this year(2017).
Sir Olaniwun Ajayi (KJW, FCIS)
This late elder statesman and a legal icon was one of the lieutenants of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo. He was a chieftain of Afenifere, a pan-Yoruba socio-political group and founding member of National Democratic Coalition (NADECO). A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Secretary and Administration(CISA),
Born in Isara-Remo on April 8,1925 to the family of Pa Benjamin Awoyemi Ajayi, he went to the United Kingdom where he studied Law and was also trained to become a chartered secretary at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Ajayi returned to Nigeria and worked with the UAC where he rose to become the Assistant Group Legal Adviser of the company, with Chief Ernest Shonekan (who later became the Head of Interim National Government,ING, of Nigeria) as his junior in the legal department of the UAC then.
This legal icon was the Commissioner for Education in the Western State of Nigeria . He was later appointed Commissioner for Health before he resigned to start his own law firm to continue his legal practice. Of course he succeeded in establishing one of the top legal firms in Nigeria today, with his son, a legal luminary, Prof Konyinsola(SAN) as the Managing Partner. He was until his death in November 2016, the Chairman of Remo Council of Elders.
Sir Hassan Olusola Odukale (Dr, KJW)
Foremost insurance business magnate, philanthropist, Knight of John Wesley, Founder and Late Chairman of Leadway Assurance Ltd
Late Odukale was born in March 1926 in Ilishan-Remo, Ogun State.
He revolutionised the insurance industry in Northern part of Nigeria when he established the Leadway Assurance Company Ltd in 1970 to fill the gap of an indigenous insurance company that would compete favorably with the foreign at the time.
As the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, he built the company on solid reputation of integrity and excellence such that by 1976 when the insurance decree was made by the Federal Government, Leadway was one of the reputable indigenous companies in the industry.
Before he died on May 3, 1999, he had earlier trained two of his sons, Oye Hassan Odukale and Tunde Hassan Odukale (who graduated with master’s degrees from USA and UK respectively) to takeover leadership of the company. And at his death the company was already a foremost and highly reputable insurance company with branches across Nigeria. Today his company is still waxing stronger as one of the top players in Nigeria’s insurance industry.