Senator Rilwan Adesoji Akanbi is representing Oyo South Senatorial District in the country’s Upper Chamber. He is the Vice Chairman Senate Committee on Solid Minerals and a member of the Senate Committee on Aviation, Gas, Niger Delta, Banking and other financial institutions. A silent achiever and brilliant grassroots politician with great passion for a greater Nigeria, little wonder Senator Akanbi was nominated by the National Assembly as a member of the ongoing ECOWAS Parliament.
He remains one of the few loyalists of President Muhammadu Buhari in the Senate and a trusted supporter of the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. The loveable Politician started his political career in the early 90s when he contested and won election into the House of Representatives in the 3rd Republic. Quite young, he made his mark as Chairman Sub-Committee on Customs and Excise. SOJ as he is widely called is very popular in Oyo State and a household name in Ibadan metropolis. He has been able to carve a niche for himself as a result of his good representation and several projects he has embarked on non-stop since his election into the Senate barely three years ago.
Described by his colleagues, as a man of honor, gentle, but firm, reliable and principled politician with great prospects. No wonder he moved Abuja to Ibadan in October, 2017 when his wife of 25 years, Chief (Mrs.) Zhikrah Aduke Akanbi clocked 50. The 2-day event had in attendance political bigwigs, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, 2-term Governor of Kano State, Deputy speaker when Senator Akanbi was a member of the house of Rep in 1992/93, was in Ibadan from Thursday to Saturday. Governor of Oyo State, Sen Abiola Ajimobi, Governor of Ogun state Senator Ibikunle Amosu and his Deputy were not left out in the show of Love. Almost all APC and PDP Senators made it to Ibadan, including the Wife of the Senate President, Mrs Toyin Saraki who lead other wives of Senators to support one of their own.
Likewise, at the recently held Memorial lecture organised by the M.O Akanbi Islamic Foundation of which Senator Akanbi is the initiator, he moved the entire muslim community and particularly the league of Imams of Oyo state to Hall of Grace Jogor Centre, Ibadan. The memorial lecture, which is a yearly event, witnessed Islamic Big wigs which cut across the whole of Oyo State, such as Chief Imam of Ibadan land, Sheihk Agbotomokekere; Chief Imam of Oyo; Chief Imam of Shaki; Chief Imam of Ogbomoso; Chief Imam of Iseyin; Chief Imam of Ibarapa and the entire league of Imams of Oyo state, Sheihk Muideen Ajani Bello who was the guest speaker; Olubadan of Ibadanland, HRM Oba Saliu Adetunji, Aje Ogunguniso1 and several Muslim leaders in the state. The memorial lecture which is now referred to as a ‘mega rally of Muslim community and associations’, was a great success.
At 56, Senator Rilwan Adesoji Akanbi has done very well for himself in Politics, Private business, Public office, Family life and Religious life as he gives back to the society. His 56th birthday was celebrated in his usual manner of low key with the downcast on Sunday, 6th May, 2018. Very humble with his achievements, not much is known about the Distinguished Senator other than his pedigree, a philanthropist and a powerful dresser.
Senator Soji Akanbi was born into the family of Alhaji Muibdeen Akanbi of Inalende Ibadan and Alhaja Muinat Akanbi of Osifeso family, Itantebo, Ijebu-Ode. Both of blessed memory. His father was one of the greatest political and Islamic leaders in the old Western region. His tenure as an elected member of Ibadan District Council, at various times as Chairman of market committee and Chairman of Lands Committee, witnessed remarkable development of infrastructures for socio-economic advancement of Ibadan in the late 50s/60s. A respectable community leader in Ibadan who never lost any election in his hay days, Oloye Muibdeen Akanbi was elected into the old Western Region House of Assembly in 1965 and became a Honourable Member of the Western Region House of Assembly.
SOJ, a born and bread Ibadan indigene, attended LICC Primary School / Omolewa Nursery and Primary School, Lagelu Grammar School, before proceeding to UK for further studies. He is a graduate of Business Administration and also holds a Postgraduate Degree in Management Studies (Financial Option) from Kingston University, England. He is a member Chartered Institute of Management,UK and Chartered Institute of Marketing, Uk. He worked with Beecham Plc, Houston, England, Liman Groups and rose to The Head of Travels Department. A post he held for over three (3) years with the responsibility of handling all travelling matters of the company in Europe, America and South East Asia. He later rose to the post of A.G. Financial Controller, a post he held until 1988 when he resigned and returned to Nigeria.
He joined Italstrade Nigeria Ltd as a Director, an Italian construction company part-owned by his late father.
SUCCESS IN PRIVATE BUSINESS.
Senator Soji Akanbi is a silent achiever in the private sector. His interest in Finance and Aviation, and quest for success in the private sector, informed his establishing R.S.I Investment & Trust Ltd in 1993 and subsequently established and seats on top of numerous successful companies, some of which include Libragold Travels & Tours Ltd, Saturn Epic construction engineers, Saturn Epic Oil and Gas and Dynasty Airline Management Ltd. He is the Chairman, Dynasty Airline Management Ltd and the Group Executive Chairman of Libragold Group; a leading corporate organisation in corporate flight charter, tourism and Aviation industries in Nigeria.
Senator Rilwan Adesoji Akanbi is a man of many parts with diverse portfolio of professional knowledge and skills, an erudite scholar and versatile businessman. He had attended various local and international trainings, seminars and conferences including the Exceptional Leadership Program, Strategic Planning, Project Management, Alliances and Partnerships, Corporate Governance, Strategic Risk Management among others. He is a prominent member of the Nigeria Economic Summit, and member Institute of Management. Also a prominent member of the Nigeria-British Chamber of Commerce, the Nigeria-American Chamber of Commerce, and Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).
HIS POLITICAL CAREER.
Senator Akanbi commenced his journey into politics at the young age of 28 in 1990 and contested the House of Representatives election under the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and won, representing Ibadan North West Federal constituency in the Green Chamber (1992-1993), where he was Chairman Sub-Committee on Customs and Excise. Some of his colleagues then are Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Orji Uzo Kalu. Between 1998 to 1999, he held the post of Secretary Finance Committee of Afenifere in Oyo State and later the Alliance for Democracy (AD). A post he held and mobilised finance for the success of the election of AD in Oyo State in 1999. He was appointed Special Adviser to the Executive Governor of Oyo state on industrial & Economic Matters, under the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and Governor Lam Adesina led government in 1999-2003, during which period he also held other various leadership and sensitive positions that engineered the government to achieve success. Some of which are Executive Vice Chairman, State Planning Commission; Chairman Special Committee on Economic Development; Chairman, Oyo State Poverty Eradication Program; Board Member Oyo state Small Scale Industrial Company (OYSSIC). He is to date, a prominent member of Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG). A successful business man, philanthropist and a loveable politician with great passion for the downcast. Senator Akanbi’s life has proved to many that Politics is not a ‘do or die affair’. Hence, it is possible to manage Private business and Politics to achieve greater success. At some points, when Senator is not in public office, he faces his business squarely, while not forgetting his people in Ibadan. This gesture of holding on to his people in the grassroots and his political structure which cuts across all political parties, has contributed to his overwhelming popularity across the state, on the platform of which he won his seat to the senate in 2015 in a landslide victory, defeating the incumbent Senator Olufemi Lanlehin, with over 54,000 votes. His campaign team ran a powerful campaign across his Oyo South senatorial district of Ibadan and Ibarapa, that some thought he was campaigning for gubernatorial. A grassroots politician, little wonder that he won overwhelmingly in the 9 local governments of his large constituency. He won in Ibarapa central, where PMB lost and even Governor Ajimobi lost, thereby making him the only APC candidate who won in Ibarapa Central. Out of 9 LGA, he won 8 LGA and out of 99 wards, he won 92 clearly.
With barely 3 years in the Senate, his popularity is soaring higher due to his unequalled performance in terms of bills, motions, projects facilitated to his constituency, executed projects and empowerment programs.
Senator Rilwan Soji Akanbi, has indeed raised the bar of senatorial representation in Oyo State beyond enriching ones own pocket other than service to his people. His mega empowerment held at Liberty Stadium on August 2016 tagged ‘Teach How To Fish, Double Approach’ is unprecedented and remains talk of the town. 1,000 people were adequately trained in different skills and equipped with start-up capital and equipment. This, according to his team, is a continuous program. In fact, another skill acquisition program is currently going on for 1,000 youths. His performance at committee level, has been receiving accolades from Ministers of his committee ministries and colleagues. The MD of AMCON, Mr Ahmed Kuru, minces no words when speaking glowingly in recognition of the effort of Senator Akanbi in supporting AMCON activities with his intelligent contributions, advices and personal follow up, as a committee member of banking and financial institutions. As at date AMCON has been able to reduce the loan portfolio from about 4 trillion to 2.5 trillion. His stand on National issues some of which are support for Local Government Autonomy to foster rural development, his voice against Cattle colony, and his constant agitation for restructuring and stand against the sales of National assets. Few of his 13 point agenda to move Nigeria out of recession was greatly embraced by the present government. He has equally played a major role in facilitating one of the project from the present government to the South-West, which is the Lagos/Ibadan Standard Rail Gauge. This single project stand to create over 5,000 jobs for indigenes, which will benefit people of Oyo State. People in Ibadan and Oyo State in General see him as a true disciple of Awolowo with his style of bringing dividend of democracy to his people. He has helped in reducing educational infrastructure deficiency by building so many schools across his district, and renovating major ones back to their previous standards and even better. Of note is the Methodist School, Agbeni, which was first built by Late Papa Awolowo. The school had degenerated into an appalling state with no roof and could accommodate less than 100 Students. Senator Akanbi, was able to extend his largesse to the school and effected complete total renovation of the school, which had prior to his intervention referred to as ‘open heavens’. It is interesting to note that after rebuilding the school, the structure can now accommodate 2,000 students. His ‘teach how to fish double approach program’, remains a continuous program that has trained and equipped nothing less than 3,000 youths, within his 3 years in office.
He has been able to support so many associations, artisan groups, professional bodies. He has touched major markets in Ibadan with his solar electrification, motorised boreholes and cash empowerment in support of their businesses. Another very interesting thing about this grassroots politician is that he patronises his people in Ibadan majorly buying his empowerment equipments through the various associations.
With His unprecedented performance, he attracts so many awards on yearly basis. Some of his awards in year 2017 alone, are The Oyo Merit for good governance award as the best performing Senator of the year 2017 in South-West Nigeria, South-West Nigeria Excellence Awards as the Outstanding Senator of the year 2017, Yoruba Man of the Year 2017 by Omoluabi Leadership Award. Also Distinguished Education Stake holder’s award 2017 by Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT),Oyo State, distinguished Merit Award For Excellent leadership award by Lagelu Grammar School, his alma matter, among others.
In 2004, he founded M.O Akanbi Islamic Foundation after the demise of his late father. The foundation is a non-Governmental organization with special focus on propagating Islam through quality education, poverty alleviation, financial assistance to less privilege and physically challenged and also setting up widows on small scale businesses. In May, 2012, to mark his 50th Birthday, he went a step higher to establish Rilwan Adesoji Akanbi Foundation (RAAF), giving the foundation a wider reach with a professional team and notable partners like Ahead Strategies, UK and the famous FATE Foundation. The RAA Foundation has been alleviating the sufferings of the masses particularly the youths by engineering professionally managed programs such as ICT Training, Education Scholarships at all levels, Capacity Building, Skill Acquisition, disables and widows empowerment and Job sourcing for fresh graduates through the RAAF Job Clinic. Having training and facilitating centres in four (4) different locations cutting across the city of Ibadan and environs. The RAAF ICT Training has successfully trained over 3,000 students in different ICT programs even before SOJ became a Senator. As at date, RAAF has continued to touch lives most especially Youths in making them dependent in their trained skills and as such employers of labour.
Despite his activities and busy schedule as a politician and business man, Sen Soji Akanbi still maintains a strong bond with his wife Chief (Mrs.) Aduke Akanbi, the Yeye Okanlomo of Ibadanland, who seats on top of the family businesses as the CEO. They are mostly sighted together at functions. Mrs. Akanbi hales from Ikare Akoko in Ondo State, and she is the 3rd daughter of Ondo state born, Ibadan/Lagos based business mogul, Chief Kunle Abdul, adjudged to be extremely wealthy. He is Baba Adinni of Ondo State among his several other titles. It will surprise most people that the youthful Senator and his beautiful wife are blessed with 3 grown up men. Little is known of the Soji Akanbi’s boys despite having schooled in Ibadan before proceeding to UK for further studies. They were the synochure of all eyes at the Walimot Quran of their mother as she Celebrated her 50th birthday in October, 2017, when they walked into the hall in full arabia regalia in company of few of their friends. Described by Governor Ajimobi in his speech at the 50th birthday of Chief (Mrs.) Akanbi,” ‘as three beautiful boys’ beautiful in the sense that they are not just handsome as you can see, but calm and well groomed in nature, intelligent with good quality education and still religious. It takes a lot of hard work on the part of the parents to achieve all of these characteristics in all the children”.
Idris, the first born is a Civil Engineer. A graduate of University of Portsmouth, UK with masters in Engineering Project Management from University of Manchester, UK. He is Prince2 certified and currently works with China Civil Engineering Construction Co (CCECC) in Abuja. Farouq, the second born is an Economics graduate from University of Sheffield, UK and holds a masters degree in Economics and International Financial Economics from University of Warwick, Uk. He currently works with Price Water House Coppers, UK. Abdulmaleek is a Law Student at the University of Manchester.
The no-nonsense nature of Senator Akanbi is evidence by the all rounded well mannered nature of his 3 boys. Despite their western education one could tell that they are Quranicaly sound and well grounded in Islam, going by the way they joined their mother as she was reciting the Quran in Arabic.
RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS COMMUNITY.
Senator Soji Akanbi is most loved and appreciated by his people that the Olubadan of Ibadan land, Oba Saliu Akanmu Adetunji, the Aje Oguguniso 1 honoured him with the prestigious title of “The Okanlomo of Ibadan Land”. Thereby, stepping into the shoes of late indigenous business mogul and great philanthropist, Chief Nataniel O. Idowu, who passed on about a decade ago.
As a result of his activities and projects facilitated and executed in Ibadarapa, he was honoured with the chieftaincy titles of Mayegun of Igangan land and Otun Bobajiro of Iberekodo, Igbo Ora. From his maternal side, he bagged the Akogun of Ijebu Erunwon several years back. He is a life Patron of NUJ, Oyo State chapter, life Patron of Sport Writers Association, Oyo State chapter. Senator Akanbi is a devout Muslim and in his quest to propagate Islam and make life easier for the youths in practising Islam, together with a few friends founded Nasrul-LFatihi Society of Nigeria (NASFAT) in 2004/2005. He is a member of the elders forum of Yusrullah Association of Nigeria (YAN).
As he celebrates his 56th birthday, Senator Soji Akanbi says he believes everyone has a purpose in life. For someone like him who was raised in affluence to have human face and care for the down trodden, it only takes the grace of God to maintain and remain along that line. To this, he gives God all the glory.