I found my way to his fuel station at the Abayomi Area of Iwo Road, Ibadan and from there, one of the staff took me to his house.
That interview appointment with him proved to be a strategic calculation in the trajectory of City People Magazine’s growth in Ibadan then.
I was ushered to a seat and in came Chief Lateef Oyedoyin Oyelade.
He told me about his foray into business; publishing, oil and more, family and his unofficial advisory role to the Government at that time. Of course, the Supremo, Mr. Seye Kehinde was pleased to hear that Wole interviewed “Baba Oyelade”. The transcription had to be done as quickly as possible.
Shortly after, one of his children was to get married and he booked two pages of coverage for the wedding.
From then, he provided unflattering support for the Ibadan Office of City People. His presence was conspicuous at the commissioning of the office on Ring Road, back then.
I knew he was close to almost everyone that mattered in Ibadan but I would later find out that his closeness to General Raji Alagbe Rasaki (rtd) was extraordinary.
One of the General’s sons was about to wed and he wanted City People Magazine’s exclusive coverage. The arrangement was to be sealed by the retired “Action Governor”.
Dipo Ashaolu, the photojournalist attached to the Ibadan office and I moved to the Rasaki’s Bódìjà residence. Since the groom had convinced his Dad, we believed it was a done deal.
We arrived so early that the gateman told us ọgá was still upstairs and by his timing, he would not come to the living room until another half an hour. We thanked him and told him we would wait.
In an unprecedented avuncular manner, the gateman warned us in Yoruba that if we came for a matter concerning money, we should not discuss it in “Oye’s” presence. Dipo and I looked at each other in amazement and wondered who Oye was. The man quickly chipped in, “his friend, Oyelade”, he would likely oppose you. Again, we thanked the man and continued waiting for General Rasaki to come downstairs.
He came exactly at the time the security man gave us and when we stated our mission, he said “ah, City People, yes, we want you to cover the ceremony but let’s wait for Alhaji Oye. I won’t discuss with you until he arrives. In fact, he has an axe to grind with you guys”.
Again, Dipo and I exchanged glances that heralded another round of waiting.
Bringing out the advert rates and explaiing that Chief Oyelade’s daughter’s coverage came with a discount did not avail much. When our efforts to convince the two friends were no longer paying off and it was beginning to look like we were constituting wilful nuisance, I nudged Dipo to let us go.
Typical of him, he came close and whispered to me that he had already negotiated for the photo album and video coverage contract. He needed me to help him plead for that too.
We didn’t leave without escalating the matter to Bola Davies, our Bureau Chief who waded in and resolved the matter.
We decided then that the incident should stay within us in the office and the dramatis personae, Dipọ and I managed it till now. No one spoke about it after.
We however concluded that “Baba Oyelade” as we called him in our office then was a perspicacious businessman who had eyes for the minutest of details. After the interview he granted, while he took time to tell me some things, a cheque was brought in from one of his retail outlets and he was quick to spot an error on it. In less than a minute, he was on the phone with the Manager who promised to ensure its rectification.
For years, after the incident at General Rasaki’s house, I wondered why Baba Oye almost marred our mission. As I grew older however, I realized that apart from being an astute businessman who watched out for his friends and protected their interests, he was a mentor to many.
Needless to say he supported Islam with every ounce of strength and other resources, with his status as the Baba Isalẹ Musulumi, he couldn’t have done otherwise.
One other part of him I was privileged to see first hand was the well-wisher in him. On a certain day, I was walking behind Oloye Lekan Alabi at an installation ceremony when he and Chief Oyelade met. After they had greeted each other, I could hear Chief Oyelade saying “Olubadan a kàn ẹ o” (you will have your turn as Olubadan) to which we said amen.
With the demise of Chief Oyelade, the Ekefa Olubadan, Ibadan has indeed lost a man of many parts.
Adejumo sent this piece from Ibadan