BY OTUNBA THE VENERABLE OLUFEMI OYAWALE, rtd;
Sir Chief Alexander Opeyemi Akinyele, Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations and its Past President; former Minister of Information, and former Chairman of the National Sports Commission, is dead.
Born in Tekule, Ondo on 24th April 1938, he had his elementary education at All Saints Primary School, Ogbonkowo, Ondo. He was a Foundation student of Gboluji Anglican Grammar School, Ile-Oluji which he attended February 1954 to December 1958. There he distinguished himself as a socialite, dramatist and orator. ALECO, as he was popularly known, was the darling of all at Gboluji, and Prefect of School House.
He became a Pivotal Grade Two Teacher after attending the famous St . Andrew’s College, Oyo.
Chief Akinyele then taught at Olofin Grammar School, Idanre and at his alma mater, Gboluji Grammar School where he was Games Master.
He read English at the University of Ife where he further developed his talents.
Dashing Alex Akinyele joined the Customs and Excise Department as Superintendent Collector of Customs Grade Two in September 1967
and became the Department’s pioneer Public Relations Officer, rising to the position of Assistant Comptroller of Customs in charge of Public Relations.
Upon retirement, Chief Akinyele went into cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, quality clothing, Public Relations, hospitality and magazine publishing businesses as Chairman.
He became President of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations and Chairman of Council after a keenly contested election at the Metropolitan Hotel, Calabar, in 1984. His experience in Customs and as a former Secretary – General of the Institute helped him launch the NIPR into greater heights.
Knighted into the Order of St.Augustine by the Most Revd. Robert Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury, Sir Alexander Akinyele was for many years the Honorary Public Relations Officer of the Anglican Diocese of Ondo.
President Ibrahim Babangida appointed him Minister of Information on 3rd September 1990 and he brought professionalism and charisma to that high office. Under him, the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations Decree was promulgated by the Federal Government.
After his tenure, Chief Akinyele was appointed Executive Chairman of the National Sports Commission on 3rd January 1992 and Nigeria scored a number of global sports successes.
On the home front, Chief Akinyele married Miss Yvonne Macwabeni of South Africa on 18th October 1967 and had children and grandchildren.
Honoured by several monarchs, Chief Alexander Akinyele was installed Lisajigan of Ondo in 1982 and Lobosin of Ondo in 1993. He was also Bobagunwa of Ikale Land; Jagunmolu of Ipetu-Ijesha; Sasere of Efon Alaye; Aare Lomafe of Idanre; Baagbimo of Ijebu-Ife; Alatunshe Agbaiye of Ila-Orangun; and Menewura of Ogoni Land.
He was also knighted by King Joan Carlos II of Spain.
I had the privilege of knowing Chief Alex Akinyele very well. He was three years my Senior at Gboluji Grammar School, Ile-Oluji. My cousin bore his first child. I was one of those who put him and his colleagues through Customs Longroom Procedure in 1967. We were together on the National Council of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, he as National President and me as Chairman of the Kaduna State Chapter.
I became Assistant Director of Information and Head of the Honourable Minister’s Office during his tenure. He also sent me to the Nigeria High Commission, London as Information Attaché/ Head of the Nigeria Information Service Centre.
Interestingly, Chief Alex Akinyele and I are probably the only two Nigerians who waved the Union Jack to Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip at the Racecourse, Ibadan on 11th February 1956 and were presented officially to Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace, London, he on 11th March 1991 and me on 5th August 1992 !
Sir Chief Alexander Opeyemi Akinyele, Justice of the Peace, served as Chairman of the National Reconciliation Committee during General Sani Abacha’s rule and the Committee’s nationwide tour yielded good fruit.
Nigeria has lost a worthy son.
May the soul of Sir Chief Alexander Opeyemi Akinyele find peace with God his Maker. May God also comfort his family, Ondo Kingdom and the rest of us connected with him one way or another, in the name of Jesus Christ.
Otunba The Ven. Olufemi Oyawale, Ile-Oluji, Ondo State.
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