Money. Power. Respect. Chief Bode Oladimeji Akindele had it all. For more than six decades, Chief Akindele was reckoned as one of Africa’s richest individuals. From Europe to America; from Asia to Africa and back home in Nigeria, he achieved greater heights as a man of business and industry. The Ibadan, Oyo State-born billionaire industrialist came, saw and conquered the world till he breathed his last on Monday, June 29, in his Apapa, Lagos palatial mansion. Aged: 88. Spotlight gathered that the Octogenarian billionaire had a business meeting on Sunday, where he sealed a major business deal but when his prospective business associates called on Monday for an update, they were told that the entrepreneur had died. In the last one month, several high profile Ibadan indigenes had passed on. From the legal luminary, Chief Richard Akinjide to veteran journalist, Chief Areoye Oyebola; business mogul, Chief Muritala Adetunji; renowned educationist, Chief Emiola Adesina as well as renowned agronomist, Dr Lekan Are. But the persistent cases of death of Ibadan elders became worrisome when in a space of four days, reports of the demise of Chief Akindele streamed in barely 24 hours after the burial of another prominent Ibadan son and immediate past governor of the State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi. The passage of Chief Akindele, holder of the prestigious title of Parakoyi of Ibadan Land —head of business people— and that of others of his illustrious sons and chiefs got the Olubadan in a state of shock and disbelief. Thus the monarch called for prayers to temporarily cease the incidence of these deaths in rapid succession.
Late Akindele can be described as one of the few authentic billionaires —real old money— who contributed significantly to the growth of the Nigerian economy. With an estimated wealth of over $1.2 billion, he was one of Nigeria’s foremost business figures who operated in a world of challenges and surprises. Yet he grew to become an international man of influence whose success built on integrity, hard work and divine grace. His Modandola Group, the holding company through which the billionaire mogul coalesced his business interests covers a wide range of activities including banking, real estate, shipping and manufacturing. He is also the founder of Fairgate Group, a United Kingdom-based holding company with significant interest in properties. His company owns, among many others, the seven-storey imposing building on Bond Street in London, with Sainsbury and ASDA Walmart as his tenants. Throughout his life and business dealings, Chief Akindele built a reputation on the singular conviction that integrity is the main protection for any businessman. His long and rewarding relationship with his foreign partners notably Joseph Farsha, Nahman, Kemmons Wilson and most especially the Rothschild Family, are tied to his conviction. It would be recalled that late Akindele was one of the original founders of the defunct controversial Bank of Credit and Commerce International, BCCI, in Nigeria —which later became Africa International Bank with the likes of late Sultan Dasuki and some powerful Northern oligarchs as co-founders. But having observed that he could not stand the conduct of the other partners, namely their lack of regard for ethics and integrity, the tycoon opted out of the business, only for the BCCI scandal to break into the open shortly after his exit.
There is something incredibly alluring about having a multiple billions in the bank. Hollywood has us living in a fantasy world of champagne, diamonds and bank notes thrown around like they are monopoly money. Sure, there’s the glamour of Valentino suits and Prada shoes, most billionaires don’t spend their day playing dress up and going out to parties. For late Akindele, he was not just a businessman who worked hard, but who also lived well and adjusted properly to society. The magnate lived an entirely interesting life. He was a real purveyor of money, luxury and fame and tended to be a bit showier with his wealth. He lived like an Emperor in his magnificent Ibiyemi Villa in Alomaja area of Ibadan —the magnate built the sprawling and imposing edifice in the early 1960s while in his late 20s. The mansion has an imprint and signatures of affluence: exotic chairs, artworks, chandeliers, and a beautifully decorated banquet hall.
Born into the family of Pa Joshua Laniyan Akindele, a Chief Tax Clerk for the entire Western Region and Alhaja Rabiatu Adedigba, a wealthy Ibadan trader who was politically influential and had the record of being the first woman to visit Mecca on pilgrimage from Ibadan. A very quiet philanthropist and warm business bridge builder, Akindele single handedly built a sprawling state-of-the-art well-equipped medical facility on the Ibadan end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.