The death of foremost agronomist, businessman and PUNCH director, Dr Lekan Are, on Saturday, generated a stream of eulogies and condolences from family, friends, associates and distinguished Nigerians. Those who visited the Ares to commiserate with them spoke highly of the exemplary life led by the businessman.
Are, aged 86, died at about 12:30am at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Oyo State, on Saturday, after a brief illness. The deceased, the longest-serving director on the board of PUNCH Nigeria Limited, was the Chairman of Kakanfo Inn and Conference Centre, Ibadan; a former Chairman of University Press Plc; director, WEMA Bank; a pioneer General Manager of the Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority; and a proud son of Ibadan, Oyo State.
Born on December 2, 1933, Are had his secondary education at Government College Ibadan and studied at the University of Ibadan for a degree in agriculture. He later travelled to the United States for further studies and earned a master’s degree and a PhD in agronomy. In his lifetime, Are was a former president of the Government College Ibadan Old Boys Association and a Trustee of the association.
His death a huge loss to Oyo – Makinde
Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, described Are’s death as “a huge loss” to the state. Makinde also described the death as a loss to the education sector and the media industry.
The governor, in a condolence message on Saturday, said he received the news of Are’s demise with sadness.
He added that Are would be greatly missed because of his invaluable contributions to the various sectors of the economy.
The Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr Taiwo Adisa, quoted Makinde as saying Are left indelible marks of greatness on the sands of time.
He said, “We are deeply saddened by the news of the demise of a respectable elder statesman and an industrialist per excellence, Dr Lekan Are.”
“His demise at this critical period in the life of our nation, when economic indices appear not to be adding up, is a huge loss, given his laudable contributions to the growth of several sectors.”
“As a state, we will particularly miss Dr Are’s inimitable contributions to the development of one of our iconic secondary schools, Government College Ibadan.”
“We are equally proud of his contributions that have made PUNCH newspaper the leading light in the media sector.”
“On behalf of the government and the good people of Oyo State, I commiserate with the Are family, the GCIOBA family, PUNCH newspaper and other associates and pray that the Good Lord grants them the fortitude to bear the loss.”
His passion for education unequalled — Babalakin
The President of Government College Ibadan Old Boys Association, Dr Wale Babalakin, while commiserating with the Are family described the deceased as a man with an unequalled passion for education.
In the association’s condolence message on Saturday, Babalakin stated that the late agronomist championed the cause of the Government College Ibadan and the Old Boys Association to demonstrate his love for education.
The statement read, “With gratitude to God for a life well spent, we announce the exit of our dear Patron and Trustee ‘Lalekan Emmanuel Are (1948, Field House), President GCIOBA 1989-2006.
“Lekan Are is widely known for the passion with which he championed the GCI cause and everything GCIOBA, Lalekan Are was the epitome of a great Old Boy.
“We commiserate with the Are family, particularly the Young Girl, his Old Boy sons Ayokunmi (1976 set), Adedamola (1978 set) and his son-in-law Denny Igun (1971 set) and the entire Are family of Oke-Are Ibadan.
“The entire GCIOBA, Are family and indeed Oyo State have lost a giant whose passion for the development of education in Oyo State is unequalled.”
Ajimobi, Olunloyo, Akinkugbe, others mourn Are
Some dignitaries who heard the news of Are’s demise on Saturday visited his residence to commiserate with his family.
Former Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, who arrived at the deceased’s residence around 7:40pm, described Are as a close and dear uncle who loved him with a passion.
Ajimobi said, “I just arrived yesterday from my short leave. I was told about it (his demise) two hours ago and I had to rush here.”
“I loved him so much because of the relationship I had with him first as an uncle and as somebody that loved my father. He transferred that love to me. He guided me tremendously in all my activities even before I became governor.”
“As a corporate man, even as managing director of National Oil, he was always advising me. He was a brilliant man; he was one of the most brilliant Ibadan men. It is not because he was my uncle that I loved him; it was because of his character. He had integrity.”
“Dr Lalekan Are was a man of character and he was very blunt. I took after him; you know, he would never deceive you. Whenever you are right you are right and if you are wrong you are wrong. There were no two way things with him.”
Describing Are as one of the pillars of Ibadan, Ajimobi said he was sure that he would be sorely missed. He recalled as the pioneer manager at the Ogun-Osun River Basin, he made a tremendous impact, adding that he was successful at everything he did.
He added, “If you are looking for forthrightness, he epitomised it. He didn’t know how to play politics and we need more people like that here for development.’’
Emeritus Professor of Medicine, Prof O. Akinkugbe, who described the late Are as a man of success and high value, added that he was passionate about the progress of humanity.
To ex-Oyo State governor, Omololu Olunloyo, Are was a thoroughbred and highly disciplined man. He extolled his fearlessness and good character.
Olunloyo said he wished Are had lived longer but thanked God for giving him long life. He said the late agronomist was successful man.
The Chairman, Splash 105.5 FM, Ibadan, Chief Adebayo Akande, said, “His death was a big shock to me. He stated, “I got to know of it through my sister in London. I was thinking that he was abroad for treatment. He was a thorough and hardworking person. It is a big loss to Ibadan, Oyo State and the entire country in general. We take solace in the fact that he lived well.”
Also, High Chief Eddie Oyewole; Chief Florence Ajimobi; Wakil Akano, Chief Ibilola Oyegade; Chief Karimu Latunji; Prof Folashade Akinkugbe and Bola Aremu, visited the deceased home to commiserate with his family.
Wife of the deceased, Mrs Olabisi Are, thanked the sympathisers and prayed that God would grant them healthy life.
Are’s footprints indelible –Akeredolu, Orangun-Oke-Ila
Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, and the Orangun of Oke Ila, Oba Adedokun Abolarin, have also commiserated with the Are family.
The duo described the deceased’s legacy left as “indelible.”
In a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Ojo Oyewamide, Akeredolu regretted that Are’s demise had created an irreplaceable vacuum.
Akeredolu’s statement read, “Undoubtedly, the late elder statesman lived a fulfilled life. However, it becomes more fulfilling and serves credibly as a beacon of hope for future generations when the frailty of the mortal being prods the legacies and footprints that are pointedly indelible. Dr Lekan Are was a man of such.
“Dr Are’s combined attributes of thoroughness, strong character, discipline and forthrightness, as well as his inexorable penchant for hard work, are alluring qualities that are not often common among men. The great man will be sorely missed by all.”
Oba Abolarin in a Facebook comment described Are as a cerebral person who he said was fond of him.
The monarch said, “He was very fond of me. A distinguished and cerebral Nigerian is now resting with the Lord. Lord, we thank you and may his tribe continue to expand in our land.”
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria would like to extend its condolences to the family of Dr Are. May he rest in eternal peace.