Born in Lagos to parents from Oopo Labiran and Ita Maya, both in Ibadan, Chief Orikolade Ayodele Kareem succeeded late Harry Akande as Agbaoye of Ibadan. OAK, as he is fondly called, chairs Costain (West Africa) PLC, which operates as a building and civil engineering contractor. The company develops infrastructure projects, such as roads, bridges, dams, railways, and airports, as well as manufactures furniture and joineries. At a younger age, he and his siblings were taught not to disclose any act of kindness rendered. In this interview with OYOINSIGHT.COM publisher, Sikiru Akinola, who encountered him at a popular Ibadan hotel, the huge but silent philanthropist shed more light on his growing up days.
My name is Orikolade Ayodele Karim. My father is from Oopo Labiran, Ile Jagun Aiko. My mother is from Ile Maya at Itamaya in Ibadan. So both sides of my line is Ibadan proper.
Recently, you were installed as the Agbaoye of Ibadanland. People may want to know your contributions to the ancient town.
The truth with this thing is where we stand and how we were born and brought up. We were not born or brought up to make noise or tell people what we are or what we are not. The true position is if you look at Ibadan today, the businesses that we have in Ibadan, the businesses that we built in Ibadan have been there for people to see.
L’ Dalberto is a sixty year old company in Ibadan. The headquarters is in Challenge here. We built the Heritage mall, the old sketch building. We hold 72 percent of that company. We don’t make noise. That company has employed our people in Ibadan for the last sixty years.
Thomas furniture in challenge; that belongs to us also. Those are old legacy businesses in Ibadan but because we don’t splash it in the middle of newspapers or tell the world, how dare this fellow question how much I contribute to my own father’s land?
I will not join words with anyone. My commitment is to our people; to Ibadan, to our state. So what is important for me is doing the right thing always.
Journey to becoming the Agbaoye of Ibadanland
Very simple. I was approached and I was told that people like you who are from Ibadan; both your father and mother are from this town, who have contributed a lot to this state but not making a lot of noise, is the type of person they want to put in among those they are considering for this title. And I am grateful to the Olubadan of Ibadanland and the Olubadan in council to have found me worthy of this title.
What the people of Ibadanland expect from the Agbaoye
What is simple is this: what I have always done as a proud Ibadanman is to do the best that we can do to make Ibadan a better and peaceful place.
His childhood days
The mismatch is this, we grew up in Lagos and now we are here to sit here and build Ibadan with our people.
Any future political ambition
I can’t say for now. Life is all about politics. The reality is that the true position of our life is that we do good and what is of interest to the betterment of our people in the entirety of Oyo State.