Kesington Adebutu’s Social irrepressibility In The Face The ‘Pull Him Down Syndrome’
By Prof. V. O. Awonusi
Sir Kesington Adebutu, CON is some form of an enigma. A few weeks ago in the sleepy town of Ogere in Remo, Ogun State and in the scorching sun, the septuagenarian walked spiritedly from one school to another as he commissioned modern blocks of classrooms (with full amenities like toilets and furniture) which he donated to the community. Earlier on, someone had asked him what motivated his unending donations to society at large, to which he responded that it was the favour of God who endowed him with old age and the resources. He therefore felt compelled to give back to the society that nurtured him some of the blessings God had showered on him. As I left the scene, I wondered what an untiring philanthropist he is as he is always helping the needy in a society where philanthropists are great demand or need but hardly available. Nigeria is blessed with many people in the rich and propertied class who think all they have is for them and their families, friends and cronies alone and therefore social conscience, if at all such is found in them, is never activated and therefore means little or nothing.
What an irony therefore to read a few days later in the media that a businessman-cum-politician had reported Sir Adebutu to EFCC as a tax defaulter and money launderer. My immediate reaction is that windows cascading down within a relatively short time etc. the point being made is that no one argues that Sir Adebutu’s organization should pay correct taxes etc., but critics may also take note of the biblical injunction of removing what is their eyes before examining others or simply abide by the Shakespearian dictum that the physician should first heal himself.
As I pondered over the accusations, just accusations at the stage as EFCC had not charged Pa Adebutu to court or even won any case against him, my mind recollects some of the acts of philanthropy of the same man in our clime where a few venerated leaders give back to society. I recall my days as Commissioner of Education in Ogun State – thanks to God and former Governor Gbenga Daniel who found me worthy to serve in that capacity—when I witnessed or saw the invaluable contributions of Chief Adebutu to the development of the state educational landscape through his services and philanthropic gestures using the platform of his now well-known KAAF foundation. Prior to that Chief Adebutu had served as the Chairman of the state-owned Olabisi Onabanjo University Endowment Fund (a position that he still occupies till today as the university won’t let go) where he used his resources and influence to mobilize distinguished people of the State and other friends of the university to contribute to the physical and material resources for the development of the university. When Gov. Daniel established additional polytechnics and he appointed Chief Adebutu as the Chairman of the Governing Council of Sapaade Polytechnic in Remoland, Chief Adebutu mobilized and encouraged most of the members of Council and his friends like Asiwaju S.K. Onafowokan, Chief Oyedele and Aare Oyefeso etc to build or donate physical structures to the new institution, while he (Chief Adebutu) also donated a gigantic Administrative Block to polytechnic.
As if that was not enough, Chief Adebutu embarked state-wide donation of additional physical or academic structures and facilities to higher institutions, some of which were commissioned by Governor Daniel and in my presence. For example, in the Central Senatorial District where he identified the needs of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic in Abeokuta he built/donated a Science Laboratory complex to the institution. A similar Science laboratory complex was donated to Tai Solarin College of Education, Omu. I also recalled that during my tenure as Vice Chancellor In Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun, Chief Adebutu came to our aid by donating a gigantic laboratory/workshop block with facilities to the College of Technical and Vocational Education.
Chief Adebutu spread the net of his philanthropic activities, particularly in the crucial sectors of health and education, far beyond Ogun State. He donated a library complex to Crescent University Abeokuta, a high tech Maternity and child care centre to the University of Lagos apart from financial assistance to College of Medicine Dentistry for a building. He also donated to the University of Ibadan a Geriatric Rehabilitation Centre at UCH, Department of Nutrition auditorium (on-going). The long list also includes an Emergency and Trauma Centre at OOU College of Medicine, Ikenne and two different radio stations at Olabisi Onbanjo University and Lagos State Polytechnic.
With such a long list of endowments and donations in critical sectors of our socio-economic development, Chief Adebutu has come to tower above the few philanthropists in Nigeria. He has become a pride to the Yoruba race that he has been honoured in many parts of Yorubaland, the latest being Odole Oodua. Does such a man deserve such a pull-him-down tactical approach by political adversaries and/or traducers (although Papa is not a politician)or by business competitors? It is not being advocates that Chief should not adhere to business ethics such as full tax payments, but where competitors go to the press to tarnish his image before even allowing investigators to ascertain the veracity of claims is a sad omen for our land and may de-motivate philanthropists of the future. Sir Kesinton Adebutu deserves a much better better treatment and respect in Yorubaland and, by implication, our nation.