Home News Aare Arisekola’s Twin Brother | Femi Abass

Aare Arisekola’s Twin Brother | Femi Abass


A newspaper or magazine columnist of worth is an incubator of dilemma. This is because column writing is like pregnancy in the womb of an expectant mother. Just as such a pregnant woman feels uncomfortable until she is successfully delivered of the baby in her womb so does a columnist remain restless until his column has reached public domain.

The more a columnist thinks of an issue to write about, the more other issues throw themselves torrentially at him for choice in a competitive manner. And in that melee, the tendency is for him to fall into a dilemma or even confusion.  That confirms that the problem of a worthy columnist is not a dearth of ideas but a deluge of them. Thus, if    today’s article did not appear in this column last Friday as expected by many readers, understanding should be their recourse.

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This article ought to have been published in this column last Friday with a different entitle. But the expediency at the time of its writing preferred a more befitting title as found here.



Six years ago (2014), an iconic Southwest Muslim leader, Aare Abdul Azeez Arisekola Alao fortuitously embarked on a journey of no return. The global media waves throbbed with the breaking news of his demise on June 18, 2014. Ever since, his ephemeral sojourn on this earth for about 69 years has become a subject of positive or negative comments among friends and foes respectively. But one major fact that is often over- sighted about this icon is the role of his twin brother in his lifestyle.


Who was his twin brother?

Very few people knew that the late Aare Arisekola-Alao had a twin brother that was inseparable from him. And those who knew that fact either took it for granted or did not duly acknowledge it. Like most human beings who were born with placenta, this colossus was not born into the world all alone. But unlike others, he was intimately accompanied by an invisible child. That invisible child was an abstract entity called HUMILITY which Aare personified passionately throughout his life.

When alive, Aare Arisekola was like the sun. Whenever it bulged out of the orbit with the magnificence of its rays, no star could dare attempt to rise. And when he eventually bowed to the will of destiny by bidding life bye, the entire world was forced to chorus the lamentations of a rare eclipse.


Distinguishing factor

In his lifetime, Aare Arisekola was not the only moneybag in the Southwest of Nigeria. What clearly distinguished him from most of his peers was his second twin (humility) which never parted with him even when he was mournfully lowered into his grave. Like a famous actor, Aare Arisekola left the stage when the ovation was loudest. But he did not forget to leave behind a legacy that could not be inherited by any fair weather charlatan.

Today, anybody may aspire to be like Aare Arisekola-Alao as a matter of nomenclature or yearn to gain his God’s endowed fame, but no one has proved to be a possessor of the wherewithal with which to wear the obviously oversized shoes left behind by the colossus. By all standards, Aare Arisekola was as great in death as he was alive. At least, his humility ensured that. Perhaps that is why the world continues to chorus amen while prayers to the Almighty Allah to repose his soul in perfect, eternal bliss continue in certain quarters.


 A tripod of fortune

Following the announcement of Aare  Arisekola’s demise six years ago, this columnist published a tribute on him that may for long remain indelible in the memories of his family members and those of his associates. That tribute was entitled ‘Sunset @ Noon’. And an excerpt from it went thus:

“…..Before now, there were three great Muslim philanthropists in the Southwest of Nigeria who were jointly called ‘a tripod of fortune’. Each of them had a national tentacle that formed a formidable fortress against the poisonous arrows of poverty in the land. But with time, they started leaving the stage one by one. First to go was Bashorun Moshood Kasimawo Olawale (MKO) Abiola, the Baba Adini of Yoruba land. He was a man often described as ‘larger than life’. His exit was followed by that of the quiet, easy going but kind-hearted Chief (Dr.) Wahab Iyanda Folawiyo, CON, the Baba Adini ‘of Nigeria’. Both of them left behind a very big vacuum that kept most Muslims wondering if there could be any replacement for them.

But surprisingly, Aare Arisekola-Alao, the third but anchor leg of the tripod, took up the challenge and courageously combined the vacuums left behind by the duo of Abiola and Folawiyo with that of his own. He extended his philanthropic tentacles to areas hitherto covered by his two former colleagues so much that most people hardly remembered that there was once a tripod.



Like Abiola and Folawiyo, Aare Arisekola was a stupendous philanthropist with an ever open hand that knew no boundaries of tribe, age, gender or creed. His generosity was legendry and unlimited. And he was never tired of giving the same individuals or groups of people repeatedly. At least, his fervent belief in the Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) which says that “an upper hand is far better reward- able than the lower hand” guaranteed the philanthropy in him. Which area of his largess can one really recount with precision? The story of Arisekola-Alao’s generosity can never be fully told in volumes of books either by a combination of individuals, groups or institutions.



A versatile American poet who came up with the following axiomatic poem could not have imagined that his thoughts might germinate in Africa and nurtured to fruition by an African. Here is how he put it:

“Who shares his life’s pure pleasure and works the honest road; who trades with heaping measure and lifts his brother’s load; who turns the wrong down bluntly and lends the right a hand; he dwells in God’s own country and tills the Holy Land”.  The world was fortunate to witness these traits in Aare Arisekola when he was alive.



Perhaps no contemporary Nigerian is as fitting to the above quoted poem as Alhaji Abdul Azeez Arisekola-Alao, CON, the erstwhile Aare Musulumi of Yoruba land and Deputy President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), who lived like a sun and photosynthesized all the ‘living organisms’ around him giving all of them the fulfilled dreams of their lives.

However, like a falcon that suddenly took a flight leaving the surrounding falconers to wonder, this man’s sun fortuitously set at noon when its rays was most needed by the needy. He lived like an era in the epoch of contemporary human history and died like an era at the climax of his humanitarian gestures.

The similitude of Aare Arisekola-Alao among the sundry elite and masses of Yoruba people of the Southwest in particular and other people of tribal and religious diversities in general is like that of the Queen in a bee hive. Take it out of the hive and the rest of the bees in that hive will automatically become stranded.


A case study

Aare Arisekola-Alao’s life history is a case study for all well-meaning intellectuals and people of wherewithal. He was a unique colossus whose life and death should serve as a lesson from which to learn the conduct of life. For instance, this man was political without being a politician. He was religious without being a cleric. He was sociable without being a socialist. He was traditional without being a traditionalist. Yet, he fitted perfectly into each of these features of life like a scepter in the hand of a king. Aare was a man of peculiar lifestyle with a peculiar focus. He lived for service to humanity just as service craved his penchant for philanthropy. It may take Nigeria another century to produce the like of this impeccable personage.


His zooming into limelight

As a young man in his 30s in the mid  1970s, this man zoomed into limelight like a crescent of hope despite his limited educational background and he subsequently grew into a full blown moon brightening the lives of multitudes that would have remained in an indefinite rigmarole through the darkness of life. His Midas touch was like an antidote against any potential pecuniary poison.


A reminder

Arisekola-Alao’s demise reminds us of a potent observation which some companions of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) expressed before him out of fear of the unknown. They said: “Oh Prophet, the men of wealth seem to have gone with all the virtues; they worshipped as we are now worshipping; they fasted as we are now fasting and they competed actively among themselves in the realm of charity”. And in response, the Prophet pointed out to them that “Allah has equally endowed you with a variety of charity avenues” saying that “glorification of Allah is charity, so is gratification of Allah and exaltation of Allah as well as the likes….”. That conversation has since become a credible Hadith due to its entailed spiritual wisdom.



There is solace for Muslims in the above quoted Hadith which can see Muslims of today through the ‘Cape of Good Hope’. As a community, contemporary Muslims have perennially relied too much on certain endowed individuals in their midst without thinking of what could become of the community should anything happen to those individuals. Thus, with Aare Arisekola’s sudden departure, the reality began to dawn on them. Despite that, however, the die is not yet cast. Most of those who have prominently departed this world amongst us were men of monetary wherewithal. There are still thousands of others whose wealth is not necessarily monetary but who need to be studied and emulated in preparation for their own possible sudden exit. Some of such people are of wisdom and intellectualism while others are of truthfulness, contentment and integrity. Without adequate preparation for their exit, the shock awaiting the Ummah may be more devastating than that arising from the death of the wealthy few.


Memory lane

Nigeria’s first President, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, did not take cognizance of the lifestyle of the likes of Arisekola-Alaos of this world when he alluded to it in the introduction to his autobiography published in 1970 thus:

“Man comes into the world and while he lives, he embarks upon a series of activities absorbing experience which enables him to formulate a philosophy of life and to chart his causes of action. But then, he dies. Nevertheless his biography remains a guide to those of the living who may need guidance either as a warning on the vanity of human wishes or as encouragement or both”.



There was similarity in the aftermath situation of the death of the trio of Abiola, Folawiyo and Alao which no era before theirs had witnessed in Nigeria of the 20th/21st centuries. The funeral of each of these great men was either physically attended by everybody that mattered in Nigeria including President, governors, ministers, high caliber legislators, topmost personalities in the judiciary and chief executives of the business world as well as politicians and intellectual gurus.

In the case of Arisekola-Alao which was the last leg, it is almost impossible to enumerate the caliber of people who were present to say ‘we are here to condole’. Of all the comments notably made in the condolence book earmarked for comments, no one was more precinct than that of Senator Abiola Ajimobi, the then Governor of Oyo State, who described Aare’s death as ‘the end of an era’.

But His Eminence, Dr. Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto and President General of Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) perfected that comment during his condolence visit to the residence of the deceased when he said that “if the title AARE is reversed, it would become ERA”. In other words, Aare (Arisekola) simply meant an era in his own time.



From all conceivable angles, Aare Arisekola-Alao seemed to have studied and imbibed the thoughtful philosophy of another American of notable fame, Williams Webster, who once coined a moving poem which he dedicated to humanity as follows:

“If we work marble it will perish; if we work upon brass time will efface it. If we rear temples they will crumble into dust. But if we work upon immortal minds and instill in them just principles; we are then engraving that upon a tablets which no time can efface but will brighten into all eternity”.

As the Deputy President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and a frontline pillar of the Muslim Ummah of Southwest Nigeria (MUSWEN) as well as a patron of over 100 Muslim organisations, the entire Nigerian Muslim Community, home and abroad, bids you farewell while praying for the repose of your soul in eternal bliss. We also pray Allah to grant your immediate and remote family members as well as your close associates the fortitude with which to bear the agony of your irreplaceable departure. We shall keep retracing your footprint just as  Allah keeps blessing   your soul forever. Inna liLlah wa Inna ilayhi raji ‘un!

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