The remains of Ibadan-based billionaire businessman and Muslim leader Alhaji AbdulAzeez Arisekola-Alao were yesterday interred at his “Oluwo Kekere Aso rock Villa” in Basorun area of Ibadan besides the grave of his mother, Olatutu who died few years ago.
This was after an emotional ceremony at the Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba, Ibadan.
The stadium was filled to capacity in honour of a man whose philanthropic life, many argued, would remain a reference point for generations yet unborn.
Buried amidst wailing and crying, the city of Ibadan was yesterday locked down for several hours from the Toll Gate end of the Lagos/Ibadan Express Way where hundreds of sympathizers waited frantically to catch a glimpse of the corpse of late Islamic leader.
The situation was more chaotic at Dugbe, Mokola and environs as over 20,000 mourners filled the Lekan Salami stadium and the entire main bowl.
Security agents had hectic times controlling the surging crowd in and outside the stadium as scores of policemen, officers of the State Security Service, Nigerian Army and Civil Defence corps all provided water-tight security for the burial.
At Adamasingba Stadium, prayers were held for the late Islamic leader by Islamic clerics just as the Prelate Emeritus of the Methodist Church, Sunday Ola Makinde, Archbishop Alaba Job and many others thronged the venue to pay their last respect.
Earlier in the day, the body of the late business mogul and philanthropist, which had arrived Nigeria from the United Kingdom, was received at the Ibadan end of the Lagos-Ibadan toll gate by Governor Abiola Ajimobi, his wife, Florence and other dignitaries from where it was driven to the Lekan Salami Sports Complex.
Most of the people who thronged the stadium to pay their last respect to the late Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland could not hold back their tears when his corpse arrived the sports complex at exactly 10.05 am.
On hand to receive the corpse were his children, some of his associates and religious leaders including the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Chief Kola Daisi, Mr. Oba Otudeko, Chief Ebenezer Obey, Justice Bola Babalakin, Gen. David Jemibewon, Gen. Raji Rasaki, Chief Yekini Adeojo, Senator Teslim Folarin, Chief Rotimi Akeredolu and Mr. Musiliu Smith among others.
President Goodluck Jonathan was represented by the Minister of Police Affairs, Mr. Abdul-Jeleel Adesiyan.
Shortly after the prayers, the corpse of the Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland was moved to his Oluwo Kekere residence at Bashorun Area of Ibadan with a select group of mourners where it was interred.
Speaking at the occasion, Governor Abiola Ajimobi extolled the virtues of the late religious leader, describing him as a philanthropist of philanthropists, who served the poor and also helped the rich during his lifetime.
“Aare was to the Nigerian masses what the late President Nelson Mandela was to the South Africans. He served the poor and helped the rich. He came to serve humanity and served them to his very last.
“He was accommodating, spiritual, religious and intelligent. He had been serving the poor from the age of 19. He was the greatest philanthropist of our time. Aare gave everything he had for the benefit of the people,’’ he remarked.
Governor Ajimobi said it was the good works done by the late business mogul that motivated his government into declaring seven days of mourning and a public holiday for him, a feat which he said was unprecedented in the history of the state.
In his sermon, the National Missioner of Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, Sheikh Abdur-Rahman Ahmad said that the vacuum created by the death of Arisekola would be hard to fill.
“There are so many rich people in Nigeria, and particularly in Oyo State, but not all of them have the philanthropic spirit as Alhaji Arisekola. He was generous to a fault and he lived a purposeful life,’’ he said.