Alhaji (Chief) Muhammad Akande Idowu, the Aare Musulumi of Ilaro Central Mosque, Ilaro-Yewa, Ogun State in this interview with AbuSatar Hamed on the occasion of his 80th birthday anniversary talks about his journey in life and other sundary issues. Excerpts.
Can we meet you sir?
My name is Alhaji Muhammad Mufutau Akande Idowu, the Aare Musulumi of Ilaro Central Mosque, Ilaro-Yewa, Ogun State.
Recently you celebrated your 80th birthday, how was the day sir?
I really thanked Almighty God who gave me the opportunity to witness the day and the birthday was done in an Islamic way. Friends and family, well wishers came to celebrate with me.
Can you tell us what was on your mind in the morning of your 80th birthday?
What came to my mind in the morning was that I appreciated God who gave me the opportunity to attain this age of 80 years on earth. And I thanked God for what he has done in my life and my families.
How was the journey to the age of 80?
I really thanked God for the journey since I was born. As I was told, when I was a kid, my mother took care of me very well, I had my primary and secondary education in Ilaro before I moved to Lagos, I really give thanks to God.
When you arrived in Lagos, what happened?
When I got to Lagos, I started working with UAC Technical in 1983 and spent only 9 months; from there I went to Lagos Executive Development Board as a Technical trainee in the Planning Department of the establishment. After spending 2-3 years I was also moved to another department. And after spending another two and a half years, I went on retirement in December 1975 after putting up a total of 11years in service.
After retirement, what were you doing?
Then I started my own business as a supplier, and I did that for years. In between, I later joined some of my friends in the importing business. We were involved in the importation of lace clothes materials from Austria to Nigeria. I did that business for about 5-6years before the Nigerian government stopped us from importing lace clothes materials into the country. However, I went back to my early work as a supplier of goods to companies till the time I retired.
When you retire from that business, what do you do again?
I went back to my place of birth – Ilaro in 2001 where I started another business in cow and ram. I used to bring these animals from the Northern part of Nigeria, such as Kano and other towns down there. I did this for a while before I finally retired.
Can you tell us the saddest moment you will never forget?
There are lots of challenges in life, but I give thanks to Almighty God that I was able to get over these challenges as they come. The days I will never forget in my life were when I had an accident in 1974, but I give thanks to God that I survived the accident.
Also I will never forget the day (January 23, 1983) my mother died. It was a day I can never forget in my life; because my mother was a good mother to me, my siblings and to those who came across her in life.
What about your happiest moment in life?
My happiest moment in life was the day I got a call from one of my friends in Lagos, who said he has got a landed property for me and that he has paid for it. His name is Abdul-Wahab Ajagbe.
Do you plan to acquire a landed property at that time?
Noooo, I didn’t have the idea of getting a property then, but God used Wahab Ajagbe for me, and he said I shouldn’t wait for any time before I build a house. He advised that it is better I use any available opportunity to do it anytime it comes. And on the following day, one of our Elders – Alhaji Sanni Badru asked me to pay the money immediately, and I quickly paid back the money my friend loaned me to buy the landed property on that day.
On the second day that I paid the money for the land, I came to Ilaro to tell my mother that I’ve bought a land in Lagos and to seek her prayers over it, and she prayed for me. Unfortunately, before I started work on the land in March 1983 and my mother died in January 1983.
Who are friends?
Thank God I can still remember my friends that were still alive; they include Biyi Fadipe, Alhaji Ganiyu Oladeji, Alhaji Tajudeen Oladeji aka Mayor, Alhaji (Dr.) Muhammad Musbaudeen Adekunle Adewunmi, Alhaji Biliameen Alabi Ogundipe and Alhaji Sikirulai Atobatele, the Balogun of Egbaland.
Alhaji Biliameen Alabi Ogundipe went to Lagos together and we have remained friends, way back from primary school days, and he is still alive till today.
Those that have passed on to the great beyond include Alhaji AbdulLateef Adisa Adewunmi, Alhaji Sanni Badru and Oba (Alhaji) Buhari Oloto, Olu of Agudaland, Lagos..
How is the home front?
My first wife of blessed memory is Alhaja Roliat Ashabi Idowu. She was the daughter of Baba Oladehinde Ejio of Ilu-Ata Quarters, Ilaro. Her mother and my mother were friends.
How do you meet?
You know, one thing leads to another. I could remember vividly that her mother used to send her an errand to my mother and from there we started talking which led to loving each other that transformed into marriage.
After her death what happened?
After feeling his demise for many years, I decided to remarry another wife – Alhaja Shakirat Idowu and they all gave birth to responsible children.
What about your children?
Alhamdulillah! I thank God, they are doing well and I pray to God for more blessings, not only to them, but all our children. My children are trying their best in reaching out to me and their mothers.
How is the relationship with your siblings?
Alhamdulillah! Since our childbirth till our father died in 1973 and our mother died in 1983 and till I’m speaking with you, God hasn’t allowed the devil to come between us.
Our parents have taught us to love one another, including our neighbors. Honestly, my junior brothers are lovely people and very disciplined and respectful, not only to me, but all that are older to them. We also impacted this heritage we had from our parents on our children and grand-children. I’m very proud of my brothers, my children and their children.
What can you say about Imam Tajudeen Mustapha-Adewunmi?
Alhaji Tajudeen Mustapha-Adewunmi, who is the Chief Imam of Ilaro Central Mosque, is my brother and I’m happy he is doing very well in the area of his callings. I pray to God Almighty to continue to bless, guide and protect him and his family.
Imam Tajudeen Mustapha-Adewunmi is a man of dignity, truth and he believes so much in God. He is also a God-fearing person. I pray to Almighty Allah to give him good health, long life and prosperity, Inshallah.
What advice do you have for the youth of today?
My advice to the young ones is that they should put God first in anything they’re doing and also be faithful and respect elders and their seniors. Because when you’re faithful and humble, a lot of good things will come to you, and when people have trust in you, you’ll have a better life to live.
My advice to all the people generally is to be patient and have belief in God. Because God created us and He knows everything about us. The journey of life is within the capacity of God. I have performed pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina seven times, including Umurah. Honestly, if you believe in God your life will be easier and better.
Can you tell us who Alhaji MufutauAkande Idowu is?
Alhaji Muhammad Mufutau Akande Idowu was born 80 years ago at Ipini Quarters, Ilaro, Yewa Ogun State to Pa Soliu Alamu Idowu Onigbami and Alhaja Rafat Abeo Idowu Onigbami (all of blessed memory).Aare Musulumi of Central Mosque.