By Femi Adesina and Beifoh osewele
Chief Alex Akinyele is a reporters delight any day. He does his things in grand style. He does not believe in half measures. He tackles any question put to him without battling an eyelid. And when he laughs, it resonates through the entire neighbourhood. When he granted an interview to ICON last week, the erstwhile information minister and public relations guru was in his element.
More so, as it was barely a week to his birthday, his 75th anniversary. He confesses that attaining 75 came as a pleasant surprise to him. The Ondo-born former sports minister fondly called ‘Aleco’, reveals that nobody gave him a chance. Not even his own mother. “I wasn’t expecting that I would live for so long,” he says. In his life, he has stepped on so many landmines, he offers.
“For instance, when I was doing National Reconciliation Committee work, some of my members and I walked on landmines around Ogoniland in River State. And within my family house, some of my father’s late wives planted landmines for me. I walked on them and nothing happened to me.” He reveals that as a child, his mother was always afraid that he would not live. And for good reasons too, her fears were justified.
“She had every reason to be afraid for my life.” And in a few days time, precisely on Wednesday, pril 14, Akinyele would roll out the drums in wild celebration. But the tune would be slightly different from his past birthday celebrations.
For the first time, he would be marking his birthday at the altar of God with a Holy Communion service at the St. Jude’s Anglican Church hall, Magodo at 11am. “It is a thing I have never done when I am celebrating,” he confesses. The church activities over the party train would shift to his expansive Azania Castle inside the highbrow Magodo GRA where he has vowed to treat his guests to sumptuous meals and exotic wines. But if you are thinking of staying late into the night, you had better have better think twice as Chief Akinyele says his doors would be shut to guests at 7 p.m.