Osogbo, the capital of Osun State, woke up on Sunday, June 19, 2022 to the breaking news of departure of the Asiwaju of the town, Alhaji Hammed Adejumo Omidiran who reportedly breathed his last some hours earlier.
Though Omidiran had lately been inactive in public affairs due to the pull of old age, his presence was radiant from the palace to the central mosque and other gatherings of importance in the town.
His recent event was visit of the Asiwaju Musulumi of Yorubaland, Alhaji Tunde Badmus to his Omidiran Garden located conspicuously on the Osogbo-Ikirun highway on invitation of the nonagenarian.
During the visit, which caught Osogbo public off guard based on an alleged feeble tie between the visibly elated host and his guest, Badmus was said to have promised Omidiran another visit to the delight of his entourage, which included the Aare Musulumi of Osogbo, Alhaji Gani Adekunle, Justice Kola Adegoke and Barrister Dawood Ajetunmobi.
Interestingly, the visit yielded the desired result as the Asiwaju Musulumi followed it up in company of Justice Adegoke few days before Omidiran’s transition, a pointer to the renewed love among leadership of Osogbo.
The Tabloid.net gathered that Badmus, though touched by Omidiran’s passage, showered praise to God for guiding him right to honour his first invite.
The chairman, Tuns International Holdings Nigeria Limited remnisced, “When I was informed of Baba’s demise this morning, I first offered prayers for his soul as Islam prescribes, then I gave thanks to the Almighty Allah for the last month’s visit to him. He hugged me and didn’t even want me to leave but his doctors were around to attend to him. He prayed for me and thanked God that the visit took place. We are happy that Baba had played his roles very well and left at a very ripe age for which we should all pray to God.”
As referenced by the Asiwaju Musulumi, Omidiran’s roles in Osogbo and its development is multifaceted. It was learnt that his exploits in entrepreneurship had positioned him to be involved in major community development projects right from when he was barely 30 years.
His Presidential Hotel, sitting beside the old Ikirun Road and commissioned in 1981, accelerated physical development of Osogbo and opened window of employment opportunities to the yawning young and hopeful old. Cinema section of the magnificent hotel was said to have been inaugurated in 1984 by the then former Oyo State Commissioner of Commerce and Industry, Dr O.A. Lawal.
It was also gathered that long before his divestment into the hospitality interest, Omidiran had hit goldmine through his large scale exportation of Cocoa, and his real estate in Ile-Ife and Osogbo. Therefore, he was always at home when the clarion calls to make financial contribution to Osogbo course came to his parlour.
In 2012, he reportedly promised the Osogbo Muslim Community an expanded section of the then chocking Central Mosque at Oja-Oba, overlooking the Ataoja’s Palace. Findings confirmed his timely honour of his pledge with a sum of N200 million, which was expended in the construction of the four-storey adjoined mosque already in use today.
The Asipa of Osogbo, Alhaji Ajadi Badmus shed more light on Omidiran’s connection with the new mosque, saying he was chairman of the Osogbo Central Mosque Management Council, the status, which, he noted, placed him in position to appreciate Omidiran’s financial contribution to the mosque project.
The former president of Osogbo Progressive Union (OPU) also recalled that Omidiran’s philanthropic gestures extended beyond the mosque to other areas and revealed he always emerged the highest donor at major fund raising occasions in the town from the 60s when fate threw him up to the limelight.
“I have known him as a big time philanthropist since when we were spending Pounds and Shillings. He was a very successful but strict business man who used his God-given wealth continously for the progress of our town. History shall be kind with him because of this reason and other things he did for this town in his private life. We shall miss his likes definitely,” the newly installed Asipa of Osogbo declared.
Vice Chancellor, Fountain University, Osogbo, Professor Amidu O. Sanni, in a statement on Sunday, also applauded Omidiran for being “a foremost contributor to the take-off of the Fountain University”.
Aside his acknowledged role in the stability of the NASFAT-owned Fountain University, Omidiran also established his own university named Hammed Omidiran University, Osogbo, thereby upping to three universities on Osogbo landscape.
While the university is yet to take off, it was said to have reached an advanced stage of its accreditation currently on temporary site at the palatial Presidential Hotel.
Omidiran, it was further learnt, was not given to a pronounced social life on account of his reported strict devotion to his business concerns and his children education. When Osogbo was showcased to the world by a vinyl released by the late Apala legend, Haruna Isola, for the Oroki Social Club in 1971, the late business man was not featured in the widely accepted elpee.
There is no record indicative of his membership of the club concieved and birthed by a group of vibrant Osogbo youths propelled by a goal to advertise the name of Osogbo beyond the fame already brought by the annual Osun festival.
He was not also linked with any known political party from the First Republic Nigeria till his exit, hence his acclaimed untainted image and indeed reverence among members of different parties.
This much was corroborated by a Financial Expert son of Osogbo, Mr Abiola Abioye, who admitted that his admiration for Omidiran is further cemented by his long distance from the political arena.
“Baba might not have got the kind of respect he recieved in the town and beyond till his last moment on earth, if he was a politician. I can, therefore, say he is a motivation and a good example that one can make meaningful contributions to his town without being a politician. Mind you, I have nothing against those in political parties, I am only making reference to Baba as your question demanded of me,” he stressed.
On the list of mourners who also made inspiring attestations to the life and times of Omidiran was the Baba Adini of Osogbo, Alhaji Olayiwola Busari, who declared that the death of the community leader is a loss shared by every son and daughter of Osogbo at home and in the diaspora.
The Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, remarked, “Baba was a strong pillar of development and growth of Osogbo across different generations. There is evidence of his contributions on the landscape of the town. We, at Muslim community, shall always remember him for his godly acts.”
The Araba of Osogbo, Chief Ifayemi Elebuibon specifically described Omidiran as a great leader and a true son of the soil for his undeniable contributions to the economy of Osogbo.
“He was example of a leader to follow; we learn from him to be modest and discipline. Despite his blessing, you would never see him to demonstrating opulence.He also contributed to the Osogbo Muslim Community at the same time lover of Yoruba culture. May Olódùmarè, our ancestors receive him well,” he prayed.
A former Chairman, Osogbo Local Government, Alhaji Teslim Igbalaye, visited Omidiran’s residence before the burial and condoled with the family with submission that “I am happy that our father lived an impactful life worthy of emulation. He was service personified; a selfless service provider to the people of our town. I grew up to know him as a philanthropist of note.”
Similarly, Principal Partner, Sola Lamid & Co (Fortune Chambers), Barrister Sola Lamid affirmed the glowing tribute paid to the deceased whom he also pictured as an illustrious son of Osogbo, business tycoon and a devout Muslim.
“In addition, he single handedly built the new Osogbo Central Mosque. He was Asiwaju of Osogbo. He was a philanthropist and industrialist of repute who touched many lives. He was famous for the building the best hotel in Oshogbo in the 80s. I will miss his kindness and the entire Osogbo indigenes will miss his contribution to the community and Osogbo and words of wisdom. May his soul rest In peace. God will reward his good works with Aljanat,” Lamid also prayed.
The Asiwaju of Osogbo was buried in his expansive residence after the obligatory janazah prayer, led by the Chief Imam of Osogbo, Sheikh Musa Animashaun, had been performed inside the central mosque.