EVANGELIST OLUWOLE BOLADE AKANNI AWOLOWO
Born at Ibadan on the 3rd day of December, 1942 into the prestigious family of the Ikenne Sage, he is the third child and second son of Papa Obafemi Awolowo and Mama Hannah Idowu Didolu Awolowo. He grew up amongst his grassroot generation of the era without any elitist trait from his parents. He never discriminated against friends and relations who knew him as “UNBREAKABLE”, a title given to him by Papa Awolowo himself for his tenacity of purpose.
His contemporaries always describe him in the superlatives as kind, considerate, compassionate and diligent. Studious and enthusiastic in sports, his main forte was the game of soccer.
At the tender age of twelve his independent mind led him into joining the youth wing of the NCNC, the political party led by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe which was opposed to his father’s Action Group. This was not an act of rebellion, but freedom of expression and association which in fact Papa Awolowo admired in his son.
From Ibadan Grammar School, he proceeded to Leighton Park School, Reading, Berdshire, England for further studies. He was admitted into the famous Leeds College of Commerce where he graduated in Business Studies in the early sixties.
After sojourning abroad successfully he returned to Nigeria when the inclement clouds were gathering on the Action Group Party and his revered father was unjustly being befitted by the perfidious political turbulence of that era. Making a virtue of the necessity, Oluwole took his destiny into his own hands and set to job with several organizations at the middle level managerial cadre at the Nigerian Tobacco Company, Ibadan, the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation and the Nigerian Television Service, Lagos. Having acquired experience in the public service, his entrepreneurial spirit propelled him into the business of Transportation, Petroleum Products dealership and Estate Management and Development amongst others.
In keeping with the title ‘UNBREAKABLE” given to him by his visionary father, the responsibility of manning the family fort fell squarely on his young shoulders when his father was incarcerated and his beloved elder brother – Lawyer Segun Awolowo, passed on in terrible circumstances in 1963. Those were the difficult times that tried men’s souls; but in spite of the gloom that encircled the Awolowo family, he still managed to put up appearances to remain undaunted and UNBREAKABLE.
This was when he became very active in politics. He joined the UPGA and effectively participated in the successful election of Chief TOS Benson as an Independent United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA) in 1964.
With the emergence of the military on Nigeria’s political landscape in 1966, he veered away completely from politics to active full-time business. Apart from transportation, petroleum products dealership and Estate Development, he was also a Director of Dideolu Stores Limited, Sopolu Investment Ltd, amongst others.
As a committed socialist, he has always regarded service to the generality of the masses as a primary importance. He said in an interview – “For me, politics has always been a subject concerned not with theory but primary with human beings, what service one can render to alleviate their suffering.
He won his first elective office in 1975 as a Councilor representing Apapa in the then Lagos City Council. For discharging his responsibilities creditably in various city council committees, he had virtually no rival when the time came in 1979 to pick a UPN candidate for the Lagos State House of Assembly to represent Apapa Constituency. He won a landslide victory and remained a Member of the Lagos State House of Assembly till 1983 when the military came calling the second time in the chequered history of Nigeria.
A successful parliamentarian, he had a reputation as a smart political operator. With a high sense of responsibility and unusual capacity for hard work and vigor which are the hallmark of the Awolowo family, he was able to head several Legislative Committees on Environment, Education and Health.
He led the delegations that visited UK, Canada and USA on special assignments. Little wonder why a famous Nigerian politician remarked that “Wole is the best politician in the Awolowo family”.
When in 1984, the Board of the African Newspapers of Nigeria Plc appointed him Publisher/Vice Chairman of the Tribune titles, a position which he still holds; he took up the responsibility with his characteristic sense of duty that has become legendary.
As he became a Publisher, he said “I am not really interest in sitting for hours in office doing paper work,. But rather to put in place strategies that would encourage all staffers from the Managing Director to the Cleaners to see themselves rather as one family who are joint owners of the business than employees.
His style of leadership by example, predicted on this characteristic sense of duty, has brought love, direction, discipline, unity, loyalty, positive progress, service and propriety to the tribune family. An unbreakable heritage.
For his relentless humanitarian services to various communities he has been rewarded with many chieftaincy titles amongst which are – The Ajiroba of Ota, Lagos State; the Sbolaloju of Ijanikin, Lagos State, the Babajiro of Isolo, Lagos State, the Odofin of Owo, Ondo State, the Ogboye of Ijeun, Abeokuta, A prince of two Royal Houses in Remo land, his mother Mama HID Awolowo is the present head of Liyangu Ruling House, the House that produced the current Akarigbo of Remo land.
Institutions and organizations have equally honoured him with several and various awards as follows:
1. The Association of Nigeria Theatre Arts Practitioners in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization presented as a Special International Theatre Arts ITD Award to him as the Most Distinguished Publisher of the Century in Africa and Distinguished Fellow member of ANTP
2. The Commonwealth Journalists Association, London awarded him a Fellowship.
3. The Association of Post-Graduate Communication and Language Arts Students, University of Ibadan, presented him with a Merit Award as the Publisher of the Best Managed Newspapers in Nigeria
4. The Rotaract Club of Lagos, University of Lagos, Akoka presented to him a Distinctive Service Award in recognition of his outstanding service to humanity.
5. The National Union of Printing, Publishing and paper products workers, Oyo State coordinating, council presented a Merit Award to him in recognition of his excellent performance as the Most Acknowledged Administrator of Print Media House in Nigeria.
6. The Nigerian Association of Special Education Students, University of Ibadan gave him a merit Award in Recognition of his contributions toward the upliftment of the disabled in Nigeria.
1. The Kontakts Klub of Nigeria conferred on him the Grand Patronship of their Klub.
2. The Anglican Youth Fellowship Aiyepe-Ijebu Branch presented an Award to him in Recognition of his immense contribution and his outstanding performance as the life patron of the year 1998-1999.
3. The Oyo State Games and Sports Teachers Association appointed him their Grand Patron.
4. The Nigerian Tribune and Benevolence Treasures Ltd presented an Award to him as a Facilitator in the 2-day National Conference on Managing Democratic Intrigues in the Legislature.
5. The Youth Hunters Association of Ikenne Remo conferred on him their Grand Patronship for Outstanding contributions towards the development of their town.
6. The Ambassador Club of Ikenne appointed him their Grand Patron.
He is also a member of several organizations and societies like the Island Club of Lagos, Founder and first President of Doma Club, Lagos, Apapa Club, Abeokuta Sports Club, Special Marshall Road Safety Commission. He was 2nd Vice President, Newspapers Association of Nigeria (NPAN) between 1984 and 1986. A member of International Press Institute, Vienna, Austria, Patron, NUJ and several philanthropic organizations.
On national assignment, he was a delegate to the Constitutional Conference in Abuja. He was also the member of the Transition Implementation Technical Committee, Abuja.
In recognition of the fact that the ultimate purpose for which we are created is for the glorification of God, he decisively gave up all things regarded as worldly pleasure to surrender his whole being completely to the Almighty God, the Creator and Maker of Heaven and Earth. In quest of the true knowledge of the things of God, he attended the All Neighbours Institute of Theology, an affiliate of Faith University Incorporated, Columbia, Missouri, USA and Accredited Member of Pan African Accrediting Association of Fundamental Institutions of Christian Colleges of Theological Seminaries.
In recognition of the satisfactory completion of the prescribed courses of study was conferred Degrees of Bachelor of Theology (B.Th) and Master of Theology M.Th) respectively.
In the commercial sector, the Institute of Commerce of Nigeria have presented to him his certificate of a certified commercial administrator (CCA) Prior to this, the same institution had awarded him Associate Diploma (ACIN).
Oluwole Bolade Akanni Awolowo. The high and the mighty, yet the meek and gentle. A special, patriotic Nigerian whose love for his fellow compatriots transcends the frontiers of tribe, creed and race. An unsung philanthropist whose kind heart is filled with the liquid of affection for the down –trodden and the wretched of the earth. A truly certified commercial Administrator whose trend of leadership by example has brought his Midas touch to bear on the Tribune titles. A publisher extra-ordinary with various soul-sttiring books and papers to his credit. A genuine Samaritan who in true Bible injunction has helped very many political, economic and social lame dogs over the stile. May the Almighty God who sent you to this world on a rescue mission lead you safely to the terminal of your destination.
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