By Blessing Agbeetan
Fondly referred to as “Brother Bayo” by many of his admirers, Otunba Christopher Adebayo Alao-Akala was born on June 3, 1950 in Ogbomoso, Ogbomoso North local government area of Oyo state, into the family of Late Pa Joshua Opadoyin Alao Akala and Late Deaconess Deborah Adeboyin. He was raised by his grandmother Mama Subulade Asabi Otunla popularly called Iya Alaro, after he lost his father in a tragic road accident in 1952, at the age of two.
For a toddler who lost his father at the age of two, and whose widowed mother’s anguish knew no bound – being a young woman, the future did not hold any promise for him. His father’s death would have truncated his chances of success in life, but grace found him.
He had his primary education in Osupa Baptist Day School, Ogbomoso and proceeded to the Kamina Barracks Middle School, 5th Battalion of Infantry in Tamale, Ghana. He bagged a diploma in Business Administration in 1998; Doctor of Civil Law (DCL) Honoris Causa, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso (2006); Doctor of Science in Political Science from Lead City University, Ibadan (2008).
After his primary education and just before proceeding to Ghana for his secondary education, he tried his hands on a number of trades. At a point he became a mechanic, at a time – a farmer and at another time, a tailor.
Alao-Akala started his early career as a police officer. It is safe to say that his love for the police force was influenced by his uncle, who was enlisted in the West African Frontier Force in the late 60s. He had gone to Ghana to live with his uncle and during his stay, ironing his uncle’s army uniform kindled his love for uniform-wearing profession.
He enlisted as cadet inspector of police in June 1974 at the Nigeria Police College, Ikeja, from where he was recommended for training at Hendon Police College in London. He also attended the Administrative Staff College, Topo, Badagry; the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Victoria Island, Lagos; Police Staff College, Jos; Command and Staff College, Jaji and participated as a Nigerian delegate at two INTERPOL conferences in France and Spain.
His remarkable achievements in the Police Force took him through many high profile assignments in various capacities before he retired as the Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of Logistics and Supply, Oyo State Police Command, Eleyele, Ibadan in September 1995. He prided in having a meaningful and impactful sojourn in the Nigeria Police Force.
Upon his retirement, Otunba Alao Akala joined politics and participated in the zero party elections in 1996. Alao-Akala started his political career as a member of New Dimension, a political association of progressive young elements. He was one of the co-founders of UNCP, a political party in 1996/1997. He also founded the Ogbomoso Unity Forum, a political association which later joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In December 1998, he embarked on his dream to serve humanity at a capacity where more lives could be touched. This he did by becoming the elected Chairman of Ogbomoso North Local Government on the platform of All People’s Party (APP). While serving as the local government chairman, he was elected as the vice-chairman of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), Oyo state chapter, between 1999 and 2002.
Within a short while, his name became engraved in the hearts of many as a leader who had the ability to proffer solutions to obstacles confronting the people. He was renowned as an Ogbomoso politician that challenged the Ibadan hegemonic dominance. It was Ogbomoso first for him as he was always passionate about ensuring that Ogbomoso was in the limelight of developments in Oyo state and Nigeria, at large.
The popularity and goodwill enjoyed by Alao-Akala at the local government level, led to how he became the deputy governor of Oyo state in 2003, having won the election alongside the then governor- Senator Rashidi Ladoja. He rode on the back of the late strongman of Oyo state politics, Lamidi Ariyibi Adedibu, who singlehandedly convinced him to join PDP as Ladoja’s running mate.
He served as the deputy governor of Oyo state from May 2003 to January 2006. Following the impeachment of the then incumbent governor, Rashidi Ladoja; Alao-Akala was sworn into office in January 2006 and served for 11 months. Although, there were speculations that he had a hand in the impeachment, he however denied the allegation in an interview he had in 2020, stating that he was in Ogbomoso at that time. In 2006, the Supreme Court overturned the impeachment and Rashidi Ladoja was reinstated to complete his tenure.
In 2007, he contested and won the gubernatorial election under the aegis of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to become the sixth executive governor of Oyo state, serving a full term till May 2011. During his time as a governor, rural electrification and construction of roads received attention, state civil service became rejuvenated with early payment, interest-free loans were introduced to traders and contracts were awarded only to competent indigenous contractors. He was keen on the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) being solely owned by Oyo state and no one would speak ill of Ogbomoso where Alao-Akala was, without being rebuked.
He sought a re-election for a second term in office in 2011 and 2015, but lost to the late Abiola Ajimobi on both occasions. In October 2018, Alao-Akala defected to the Action Democratic Party (ADP) where he won the gubernatorial ticket to contest as the governor of Oyo state in the 2019 general elections but lost to the incumbent governor of Oyo state- ‘Seyi Makinde.
The father of seven who thereafter defected from ADP to join APC in 2019, was the chairman of the APC Elders Advisory Council in Oyo state. He was charged with reconciling aggrieved members of the party ahead of the 2023 elections. This role he held, until his death.
In March 2018, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned Alao-Akala and two others – Hosea Agboola, a former Oyo state commissioner for local government and chieftaincy matters, and Femi Babalola, an Ibadan-based businessman; over an allegation of N11.5 billion fraud. However, in December 2021, the Court of Appeal sitting in Ibadan discharged and acquitted Alao-Akala of the N11.5 billion fraud case.
Otunba Alao-Akala was a man of many nick-names. Some people called him “bling bling governor” because he often appeared in public wearing gold wristwatches, gold-plated chains and bangles; some called him ‘Oyato’ because he made a difference when he assumed power and yet some others called him ‘ATM’ because he knew how to make money available to people.
Beyond his works in public service, Alao-Akala was a businessman. He was the founder and chairman of TDB Global Ventures and Parrot FM radio station, both in Ogbomoso. Whenever Alao-Akala was in Ogbomoso, several residents of the town, in large numbers, would usually visit his home either to seek advice or support, in one way or the other.
While he was alive, Alao-Akala received honorary chieftaincy titles, among which are Otunba of Akinmorin, Bobajiro of Owu Kingdom, Basorun Atunluto of Akure, Mayegun of Okeho, Akogun of Ilua, Aare Asoludero of Ibarapa, Agbaakin of Iseyin, Ariwajoye of Ede land, Atunluse of Ife Odan, Balogun of Igbojaye land, Aare Kebimapalu of Oyo State and Bobagunwa of Ogbomosoland.
Alao-Akala who passed on in the early hours of Wednesday, January 12, 2022 in his Ogbomoso home at the age of 71, was a polyglot who spoke English, Yoruba, Hausa and three Ghanaian languages — Twi, Fanti and Dagbani.
Otunba Christopher Adebayo Alao-Akala’s chronicle depicts that of a hitherto unknown boy who, through the amazing grace of God, rose to become a household name, especially in politics, and attained great heights in life.
Adieu Ogbomoso Patriarch! Adieu Son of Grace!!