Tajudeen Fola Adeola of Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB) fame, is one of the richest Nigerians by any standard. Fola, as he is commonly called, commands awe and respect; knows for being soft-spoken, serious-minded and not given to frivolity.
He may look offish at a distance, but my close encounter with him during Ramadan when he hosted us at his imperial residence Ramadan iftar presents him as a humble, genial and extremely welcoming personage, though also a man of taste that will suffer no cost to give his blessing to any cause he believes in.
That was reflected in the grandeur of reception he gave us as members of the Forum for Islamic Education and Welfare, of which he is a pioneer member in the 90s when he was still a very young but mid-career banker.
His belief in worthy causes is reflected in his inspiration for Fate foundation and his commitment to Islamic business ethics is seen in his involvement in Lotus Capital, an Islamic oriented financial institution providing Halal investment instruments to the bouquet of financial services on offer globally to tap into the huge market of Islamic financial offers.
Really the subject of this feature is not Fola but one of his siblings, Abdussatar, a 1989 graduate of faculty of business administration of the University of Lagos who is addressing poverty with the establishment of a Good Bank, A food bank?
I have never come across such a charity initiative before. But AbdusSatar, Fola’s brother is pioneering it in Nigeria. I came to know of this noble initiative recently when I joined some Muslim professionals to listen to a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mallam Yusuf Olaolu Alli speaks on Muslims study and practice of law. This again is not my focus here.
However, as the programme was rounding off, Abdussatar began distributing a publication and I was one of the few he gave, apparently because I had introduced myself as a journalist while asking a question.
But he did not know I knew him well as an Akokite, as we both were members of the Muslim Students Society, Unilag branch when we attach ourselves to the iconic Mosque on campus. He was no stranger to me.
Flipping through the pictorial publication, I was awed by evidence of open charity or selfless. I saw their statement of account of the source of funding the innovative initiative to address poverty through mobilising fund from individuals.
I did a quick scan of the funders and I found the Adeolas dominating the list with their friends and in-laws. I did a reflection and arrived at the fact that Abdussatar must be working to sustain a worthy legacy.
From the little I gather, as I later interrogated Abdussatar my fellow great Akokite, the Adeolas are the pride of Egba origin, Oke-Ona Abeokuta whose forebears, very strong Muslims, came to sojourn in Idi Oro Mushin, Lagos.
As their parents committed them strongly in Islam and good education, they became front runners in life, not sunk in the permissiveness of the age but carrying the touch of their education, professionalism and charity
These are apparently as AbdusSatar motivation with the food bank concept. At 12 o’clock every Thursday, all roads lead to Pen Cinema, Agege area of Lagos which is bearing the trust of feeding the poor freely from contributions of his siblings, family and friends in establishing “AbdusSattar Food Bank”.
I asked him, how he hopes to sustain it? Well, so far, he is accountable and open; so far, his brothers and sisters are supporting his worthy cause; so far, the public and Muslims, in particular, understand the charge in the Qur’an that they should save for the hereafter and will invest in Saqakatul Jaariyah.
Saqakatul Jaariyah is endlessly flowing charity and the food bank will swell, especially with a sibling link Tajudeen Fola Adeola, who is evidently enjoying the grace of Allah but is silently, discreetly but bountifully expressing gratitude to Allah, the Highest.
Which of the favours of Allah can the Adeolas deny? These are children raised in the notorious Idi Oro Mushin but have distinguished themselves in goodness.
Their father, who of course, just cut the picture of discipline, firmness, faith in Allah and commitment to Islam must be the architect of everything.
On their behalf, I also glorify Allah as Muslim. Alhamdulillahi robbil aalameen. Fa bi ayyi aalaa i robbikumo tukadhbaani.
By Ustadhz Abdulwarees Solanke
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