•What City People Found Out
In Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State, there is a popular social club everyone is talking about right now. It is called Abeokuta Club. It is one of the foremost clubs in the country and a unique club at that. It is a 48 year old club, which has many illustrious Egba men as members. The roll call of members read like all the who-is-who in Egbaland. It is one club which all eminent Egba indigenes usually aspire to join. Over the years, the club has grown to become a Movement. It has over 500 members.
The club house is located towards the tail end of the Presidential Boulevard next door to Central Bank, on the highway coming into Abeokuta fro the from the Sagamu interchange, leading you into the city of Abeokuta. On the wall of the gate of the club is the big inscription Abeokuta Club.
It is a social and cultural club which became a movement, shortly after inception.
It’s inaugural meeting was held on 4th June, 1972 at the residence of its founding President, late Chief Sobo Sowemimo, SAN in Lagos. It was subsequently formally launched
in Abeokuta by the then Alake of Egbaland, His Royal Majesty, late Oba Oyebade Lipede 1, on his coronation day, 5th August, 1972.
Lets tell you about the Objectives of the club. It includes: • Providing a social platform for all Egbas & their friends • Establishing a suitable club house at Abeokuta • Involvement of all Egbas in the social, cultural, educational and economic development of Abeokuta and environs • The revival, promotion and encouragement of the traditions, culture, festivals and customs of Egbaland.
The Club has since inception been led by 11 respected individuals, namely: 1st Chairman – Late Chief Sobo Sowemimo, SAN – 1972-1985, 2nd Chairman – Chief Olatunde Abudu, CFR – 1985-1988, 3rd Chairman – Late Deacon E. Folorunso Oke – 1988-1992, 4th Chairman – Late Apostle S.A. Alamutu, MON – 1992-1994, 5th Chairman – Late Chief L.A. Sofenwa, J.P. – 1994-1997, 6th Chairman – Alhaji Fatai Lawal – 1997-2000, 7th President – Chief A. A. Popoola. J.P. – 2000 -2004, 8th President – Late Chief Kuforiji Rotimi – 2004-2007, 9th President – Late Chief E.V.O. Koleoso – 2007-2010, 10th President – Prof. Afolabi Sovode, J.P. – 2011-2014, 11th President – Chief Adeniyi Lasaki – 2015-2018
12th President – Engr. Tokunbo Odebunmi, mni – 2019 – to date
The General Secretaries from inception to date include the following people: 1st Late Deacon Folorunso Oke – 1972-1986, 2nd Alhaji Fatai Lawal -1986-1988, 3rd Late Dr. T.A. Ogunmuyiwa – 1988-1992, 4th Prof. Afolabi Soyode – 1992-1998, 5th Chief Adeniyi Lasaki – 1998-2010, 6th Engr. Adeniyi Abiola – 2011-2013, 7th Alhaji N.B. Oyedele – 2013-2018, 8th Chief Sesan Okutoro – 2019 – to date.
Let’s tell you about the current Executive Committee members. They are: Pesident: Engr. Tokunbo Odebunmi, mni, First Vice President: Dr. Wale Adeola, Second Vice President: Alhaji N. Bola Oyedele, Hon. General Secretary: Ch ief Sesan Okutoro, 1st Assistant General Secretary: Prof. Akeem Oyekanmi, 2nd Assistant General Secretary: Mr. Sola Otesile, Treasurer: Chief Oluyinka Ogunsola, FCA, Financial Secretary: Alhaji Jubril Ajose, FCA, Legal Adviser: Barr. A. A. Ayodele.
Committee Chairman are as follows: Engr. Ademola Agboola – Management Committee, Chief Sofela Sowemimo – Membership Committee, Engr. Oyewole Oyewunmi – Development Committee, Dr. M. T. Olowonyo – Sports & Games Committee, Alhaji Ambali Ishola – Youth Dev. Committee, Alhaji Kamarudeen Adedo – Welfare Committee, Chief Ayodele Koleade – Publicity Committee, Amb. Leke Adebiyi – Social Committee, Dr. Nofiu Aigoro – Health Service Committee.
Ex-Officio members are HE Navy Capt. Rasheed Raji (rtd), Chief Niyi Adegbenro, ChiefOgo-Oluwa Bankole, Asiwaju Maxwell Ayinla, Alhaji Muyideen ‘Wola Salau.
Lets tell you more about Abeokuta Club. When the club turned 40 in 2012, a definite book was written titled, ABEOKUTA Club, A Movement At 40 to mark the 40th anniversary celebration. It is a documentary history of Abeokuta Club written by a veteran, Layi Labode, which reveals that while Abeokuta Club started as a social club like other social clubs, it was to soon de emphasise limiting it to be a strictly social club.
According to the 187 page book, in the early life of Abeokuta Club, which was then called Abeokuta Social Club, the word “social” might have had a limited definition of partying, merry-making, celebration of events for any slightest reason, which was most likely to distract members from focusing on their vision of greater Egbaland…
“Abeokuta Social Club was not for partying and other forms of socials alone…We can safely conclude that, from the very beginning, Abeokuta Club was more than a club to wine & dine alone. Inspite of the colorations or name, it looked like a Vanguard or Movement”.
According to the book, the original Aims & Objectives of the Club was first stated at the back of the Brochure for the 2nd Coronation Anniversary of His Majesty, Oba Oyebade Lipede, the Alake of Egbaland, on 10th August 1974. They include (a) Providing of Social platform for all Egba and their friends, Reviving, Promoting and Encouraging the traditions, culture, festivals and customs of Egbaland, (c) Ensuring harmony among all Egba peoples and ensuring development of Egbaland.”
Emphatically stated in the brochure, is this message: “One monumental objective of the club, which occupies the topmost position on the list of our objectives, is the establishment of a suitable club house at Abeokuta, with a string of Chalets for the benefits of members and their friends…”
Chief Sobo Sowemimo (SAN) who was the Chairman of the club and Chief Ebenezer Folorunso Oke, the General Secretary, signed the document.
How was Abeokuta Club formed in 1972? The book revealed how on the 5th of August 1972, the Alake of Egbaland, His Majesty Oba Oyebade Lipede formally launched Abeokuta Club. “The day coincided with the Alake’s coronation. The first outing of the club was the Coronation dance organised by the Club at the Centenary Hall in honour of the Alake. Members of the club led by the late Chief Sobo Sowemimo (SAN) had taken an active part in the preparation towards the coronation. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was said to have assiduously arranged the venue of the occasion and Chief Muraino Akanni Dokunomu was assigned to bring the new Oba from the palace to the Cetenary Hall in his brand new Mercedes Benz Limousine. It was a full house as attendance included the first Chairman, Chief Sobo Sowemimo, Dr. Animashaun, Dr. Basit Obibuje, Dr. Seni Sikuade, Chief Lekan Okanlawon and Dr. Lateef Adegbite.
According to the book, that momentous outing by a group of dynamic youth must have gingered the men to form the club for the purpose of socialising and developing their Abeokuta or Egbaland in general. The book revealed that there are many accounts of the founding of Abeokuta Club, starting with the get together in the house of Chief Muraino Akanni Dokunmu, the Balogun of Ake. He was famous for organising Eid-El-Kabir Party as a most sumptuous fiesta, which used to turn his house to a Mecca for fun-loving friends and acquitances every Ileya. Chief Akanni Dokunmu informed the author of the book that the big idea to set up the club started in his house in 1971 on the follwing day of his annual Ileya Party at Ake. The idea was spiritually induced. “Let us form a social club,” he told his friends. Those in attendance agreed spontaneously. They agreed to meet at Sobo Sowemimo’s house the following Sunday. Immediately after they agreed, they all went to Alhaja Chief Bisi Edionseri’s house. Popularly called Cash Madam, she invited them for a sumptuous departing meal before they all set out for Lagos. Cash Madam was the first to encourage them when she heard. She even promised to assist them secure land to build their own houses.
The book revealed that there is another version of the club foundation story linked to Dr. Seni Sikuade whose house was a meeting point of all young professionals, especially those living in Lagos. According to the account, Chief Sobo Sowemimo had gone to see Dr. Seni Sikuade at his Club Road house in the Ibara area of Abeokuta and while there, he lamented the dullness of life in Abeokuta. They are childhood friends. The story is that Dr. Seni immediately suggested that a social club be formed. Chief Sowemimo then accepted the idea. The 2 agreed that they should immediately start inviting other like-minds. That was how the idea grew. That was how the conceptualisation of Abeokuta Club began between 2 childhood friends, Chief Sobo Sowemimo and Dr. Seni Sikuade. They began to meet at the Club Road residence of Dr. Sikuade and after some time they moved the meeting venue to the Lagos residence of the foounding Chairman, Chief Sobo Sowemimo (SAN).
“So, it would be correct to say that it was a group of well-meaning and committed young Egba likeminded professional elites who founded Abeokuta club in 1972. They were drawn from Lagos, Abeokuta & Ibadan. One thing that was on the mind of the founding fathers was the formation of a club that would be a Vanguard for the Egba nation. At the formal inauguration of the club on 5th August 1972, the founding Chairman, Chief Sobo Sowemimo stated that membership was open to all Egba sons and their friends, who subscribe to the development and progress of Abeokuta.
And since 1972, the club has waxed stronger.
(Read part 2 next week)