Wednesday, January 20, 2021 5:01 pm
By Babafemi Ojudu
“Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it.”
Early this morning Chief Samuel Bandele Falegan breathed his last. He died a few months to his 88th birthday. Known to his friends as Dele and SB to his colleagues, Falegan was an accomplished economist and banker.
I grew up knowing him and hearing about his educational exploits. He, despite all odds sought education and made the best of it. He was my dad’s bossom friend and at a time in the early 70’s they were partners in palm plantation venture.
Chief Falegan belonged to the first generation of Ekiti elites who sought education with every fiber of their being and worked his way to the top. He was Director of Research at the Central Bank of Nigeria, Managing Director, Federal Mortgage Bank, Managing Director Interstate Bank and Chairman , Owena Bank, a position from which he retired to become a farmer and a community leader in his home town , Ado- Ekiti.
A man of brilliance and elocution, he abhorred and detest corruption and as its twin brother, lies. He constantly stuck his fingers in the eyes of anyone who he suspected of illegally putting his hand in the till whether in the family, in the church , in the community or in corporate world. He fought many battles on account of this not knowing when to stop and not minding who is involved.
He was a man of stoic principles, a man of high culture and robust education. A story teller who is never tired of regaling his visitors with stories taken of the many and varied pages of his life engagements.
I was thrilled whenever I traveled home a decade ago and I tuned to the local radio and listen to him presenting what he called ‘music of yester-years’ . Jazz great Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Bill Evans , and many others immortals of soul and blues genre were his companion in the studios and on air in those days. He was in his 70s then. One day I went visiting and asked why he chose to be a jokey in his 70s, he replied , “it is a devise to keep myself sane in the midst of the insanity around me.” I got to Lagos and despatched a reporter to do a story on ‘the oldest Radio DJ in Nigeria’.
He was eventually thrown out of the station when he became critical of the state governor who was a true example of a ‘mentalo’.
Chief Falegan loved passionately just as he fought passionately. His many battles , all of which, were detailed in his autobiography published about seven years ago ,read like a book on score settling . When he completed the work and sent me the manuscript to read, I sent him suggestions on what and what to take out of the book, particularly aspects dealing with issues he had with family members. He will hear non of it. “ Femi I didn’t ask you to do this so that you can censor me, I only want your opinion on the text and typos”, he said . That was it .
Chief Falegan never suffers a fool gladly. He will say it as it is whether at a meeting of council of chiefs or in a church committee.
About three years ago he called out former Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and took him to the cleaners on his management of CBN when he was governor. He posted his opinion on Facebook and stayed put to engage whoever will dispute his claims and criticism of the former Emir. Falegan was the oldest man I knew who in his 80s was conversant and comfortable with social media.
Let me at this point say with pride and gratitude that I was a beneficiary of his benevolence. Not because of anything I did for him but by virtue of his relationship with my dad. Though that friendship soured after they went into business partnership, he assisted me greatly when I ran for Senate.
“ Your late dad was my very good friend. Although we disagreed ,he was a good man and a man of deep sense of community”, he told me. For this he gave me his house , the first one he built in the town, by the road on the way to Iyin Ekiti to use as my campaign office. And this free of charge. He didn’t stop at that , he regularly showed up at my campaign meetings and rallies where he eloquently spoke about my dad and his contribution to the development of the town for which he said “they will be paying back if they voted me. “
Since retiring as Chairman of Owena Bank
Chief Falegan never sought, nor covet appointments. He rather went into farming tendering his palm plantation and producing his oil for the local market. Though not a party man, his sympathy was for APC and he was a fan of Buhari for the reasons that Buhari , like himself , was incorruptible.
Chief Falegan pursued knowledge all his life , and loved his God and his Christian religion. Towards the end of his life he saved up his pension and bought an expensive “pipe organ” which he donated to the Anglican Cathedral in Ado Ekiti. He also built a small sized church in Falegan Estate where he lived.
We shall miss Chief Falegan the man of stoic adherence to principles, that aspect of him that puts him in trouble in virtually everywhere he worked . We shall equally miss his commitment to the development of his people. He loved Ado Ekiti and Ekiti generally with passion all through his life and was always ready to assist every person from there for as long as they demonstrated honesty and commitment to hard work and enterprise.
To Mummy , as we call his wife, to Dare and his siblings my condolences. To Aba Falegan , journey mercies as you go to meet your maker. You lived your philosophy, and your years were embodiment of your principles.
Sun re o Aba.