•The late Chief Alex Akinyele
LAGOS – Chief Alex Akinyele, Information Minister under former Military President Ibrahim Babangida; Chairman, National Orientation Movement; boss, National Sports Commission, Lisa Jigan and Lobosin of Ondo Kingdom, died in Lagos on Thursday at 81.
According to a post by his son, Constantine Kayode Akinfolarin Akinyele, on Facebook Thursday night, “With thanksgiving for his life, I am sad to announce we lost our father and grand father, Chief Alexander Opeyemi Akinyele earlier today after a brief illness. May his soul rest in peace. He will be missed by his children, grand children, family and friends.”
Chief Akinyele was born on 24 April 1938 to Pa Akinyele, an ex-serviceman who was by the end of the Second World War, holding the rank of a Regimental Sergeant Major. The old man retired in 1974 as a Court Clark in Ondo town. Alex Akinyele attended All Saints Primary School, Ondo, Gboluji Grammar School Ile-Oluji and St. Andrew’s College Oyo. While at St. Andrew’s College, he was appointed the school first reception prefect.
He studied English at the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University. On leaving Ife, he worked as a teacher at Olofin Grammar School, Idanre and in June 1967 he applied to join the Nigeria Police and was, according to his profile by Raphael James, offered a place as a trainee Assistant Superintendent of Police, but fate had other plans for him. On reporting to the Police Service Commission, the other 12 trainees recruit were not present due largely to the commencement of the civil war. He was directed to join the Customs. After his 18-month training programme, Custom Controller, Henry Duke, appointed him the first Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Customs and Excise. Chief Akinyele, as James put it, “was a man who would never shy away from public glare or the press. If success is a relative word then judging by his own standard, one can say it without fear that Chief Akinyele was a successful man, one that doesn’t believe that money guarantees happiness.”
James wrote further: “A man of vast tentacles, a Communicator, Public Relations Practitioner, industrialist and Executive Director of so many functional Companies, and above all a Philanthropist, Chief Alexander Opeyemi Akinyele was a charismatic man and yet unbelievably accessible. Following his retirement from the Customs, he went into business.
“It is on record that he was the first former secretary general of the Nigeria Institute of Public Relation and he eventually became the President. As president of NIPR, he was very vocal and actually changed the face of public relations in Nigeria. In fact he injected panache into the body. Ebullient, good looking, and entertaining, Alex Akinyele was truly an Image Maker, always ready to contribute meaningfully to any healthy discussion on the advancement of Nigeria as well as the upliftment of public relations practice in the country. A cursory look at part of his achievements during his tenure as NIPR President reveals that he fought against quacks in the profession and encouraged registration of members.
“Under his leadership, NIPR liaised and aligned itself with the universities of Lagos, Akoka and Nigeria, Nsukka for more emphasis on public relations in their mass communication syllabus. Perhaps it was on this basis that the former military president, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babaginda deemed it fit to first of all nominate him as a member of the Constituent Assembly and later appointed him as the Minister of information, thus becoming the very first public relations practitioner in Nigeria to be appointed into that post. In his stint as the Information Minister, Chief Akinyele did not only perform his role creditably, but also with great zeal and style. Chief Alex Akinyele received so many chieftaincy titles which include Lobosin of Ondo land and Jagunmolu of Ipetu-Ijesha just to mention but a few.
“Akinyele was later appointed the Chairman of National Sports Commission (NSC). His tenure as the boss of the NSC saw Nigeria moving to a greater height, it was under his chairmanship that a Nigeria Contingent for the first time put up a superlative performance ever. Nigeria won a bronze and four silver medals at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. The following year, the Nigeria under 17 team, the Golden Eaglets won the under 17 world cup (Japan 93), in addition to the golden boot and the fair play prize. In 1994 the Super Eagles for the very first time too also qualified to play in the final of a world cup (USA 94).
“Akinyele was knighted by king Juan Carlos 1, Rey. De Espana on 15th November, 1991.” (The News)