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[MUST READ] Alajọ Ṣomolu: Nigeria’s Legendary Thrift Collector Who Lived For Almost A Century



Before the advent of unicorn fintech and banks, people entrusted their savings with thrift collectors. One of them stood out in Lagos and the areas that now constitute the South West of Nigeria: Taiwo Olunaike Alphaeus.

But that name may not ring a bell until one says “Alajọ Ṣomolu”, literally meaning the thrift collector of Ṣomolu.

He had no computer knowledge, not to talk of using a balance sheet or running an excel file, but he was good with counting and keeping money.

His fame embodies honesty, faithfulness, and the true Nigerian spirit of industry.

This explains why his name was likened to success and smartness in the track “Alajọ Ṣomolu” by Afrobeat singer, Olawale Ashimi, popularly known as Brymo.

Born on September 16, 1915, in Isonyin, a small town eight kilometers from Ijebu-Ode in Ogun State, Alphaeus, also called Sir Alphaeus, was one of the surviving duo of a triplet birth at a time multiple births was a taboo because it was believed to bring misfortune to the land.

One of the triplets was sacrificed to the gods and another died at infancy. Their father too died three years after their birth.

Baby Taiwo’s close shave with infanticide was rewarded with longevity as he lived for 96 years. Born a year after Britain amalgamated the northern and southern protectorates of Nigeria, he witnessed the country’s independence 45 years later and the 50th anniversary of independence in 2010.

If his name is mistaken as a myth or legend, that is because he is linked to many wise sayings and anecdotes.

Tailor turned thrift collector

At 12, Sir Alphaeus moved to Lagos in 1927 where he was first enrolled at St. John’s School, Aroloya, and then at Christ Church Cathedral School, where he took his first school leaving certificate in 1934.

Two years later in 1936, he took up an apprenticeship role under a neighbourhood tailor named Rojaye. He would spend nine years under Rojaye’s tutelage.

In 1950, he followed his uncle on a commercial trip to Cameroon. There, he learnt the ropes of thrift collection from a Cameroonian neighbour.

The special kind of microfinance banking Sir Alphaeus came to be popular for is an agelong practice in many Nigerian communities and marketplaces where clients contribute daily, weekly or monthly predetermined amounts to a thrift collector. The collector takes the first contribution as their own fee. The business is called ajọ in Yoruba, esusu in Igbo and akawo/adashe in Hausa.

After four years in Cameroon, Sir Alphaeus was ready to take his trade back home to Nigeria. He returned to Lagos to start his own thrift collection business called the Popular Daily Alajọ Ṣomolu. Not only did he safe keep the savings of individuals, he also offered loans to those he considered had proven integrity.

Photographic memory

But it was not just for his business integrity that Alajo Somolu would become legendary. Practicing at a time computer or calculator was unknown, at least in the area, Sir Alphaeus stood out for his mental acuity. He could recall transactions, their dates, and details without reference to any documents.

This unique trait endeared him to people, many of whom marvelled at his gift.

This gave prominence to the aphorism the Yoruba use in extolling the virtues of wisdom and intelligence in a person; “Ori ẹ pe bii ti Alajọ Ṣomolu, to fodidi ọọdun meta gbajo lai ko oruko ẹni kankan silẹ, ti ko si ṣowo san fenikeni” (meaning: you are as intelligent as Alajọ Ṣomolu, who collected thrift for three years, without writing down a single name, and never made a single mistake in paying back his customers)!

At first, clients approached him with skepticism, but all that soon changed after many testaments of his photographic memory gained traction. Those who dared argue with his impeccable off-the-cuff recollection of statistical details were awestruck when he opened his logbook.

He was a moving bank, ATM booth, chequebook — all in one. His brain worked like a cloud.

Trust and integrity are the capital for the business he ran, and Sir Alphaeus was integrity personified. This attracted many clients to him who trusted, loved, and respected him, making his boom.

In fact, legends suggested that not only did Sir Alphaeus pay back contributors the exact amount they were due, he also paid them back in the exact notes and coins they contributed.

They were mesmerized by this and he became the number one mobile banking choice for many traders in Sangross, Mile 12, Baba Olosha, Ojuwoye, Awolowo, Oyingbo, Olaleye, and Shomolu markets, all in Lagos.

At a time, after one of his cars showed signs of wearing out and was no longer cost-effective for his thrift collection trips, he sold off the car and bought a Raleigh bicycle. The bicycle gave him farther reach to areas that were hitherto inaccessible.

This again won him another star in the heart of people as they read that to mean he was an economically savvy businessman. That act passed as a further advertisement for his business.

Retired Not Tired

Even as he aged, his love for his trade and the trust people had in him did not wane. He continued with the business until 2010 when he was 95 years old.

Even after his children pressured him to retire, people continued to throng his house to deposit their daily contributions. This time he no longer went to them, they came to him. He had earned their trust.

As he served his clients so he did his God. He was the lay reader and treasurer for 30 years at the Ṣomolu Anglican Church he attended.

Though he lived a spartan life, he was well-to-do in his own right. He built his first house at No 10, Odunukan Street in Ijesa, and later sold it to the Deeper Life Ministry. He built another house at Olorunkemi, Owotutu Area, Bariga, Lagos.

Sir Alphaeus House built in Bariga, Lagos State.
There, he lived his last days. He died August 11, 2012, and was buried a month later at the Church of Nigeria Cathedral, Isonyin, Ijebu in Ogun State.


We Airlifted N1.219bn To Fayose For 2014 Election — Obanikoro Tells Court



Former minister of state for defence, Musiliu Obanikoro,  has narrated how N1.219 billion cash was airlifted to Ayodele Fayose, former Ekiti state governor, in 2014.

Giving evidence as a witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday, Obanikoro told the court that he received the money from Sambo Dasuki, former national security adviser (NSA), as directed by Fayose.

“I was a minister under Jonathan’s administration in 2014. Sometime in 2014, we were going to have an election in Ekiti State. I was saddled with the responsibility of coordinating the activities in the election,” Obanikoro said.

“Some days before the election, I got a call from governor Fayose asking me if I received any message for him from ONSA, I can recall that prior to that, we had some activities among which was fundraising for the purpose of that election.

“When Mr. Fayose called, I told him I would call him later. I had a phone conversation with the NSA and was told he would get back to me. After, he got back to me that N2.2 billion was paid into the account of Sylvan Mcnamara Ltd.”

The former minister said he did not know the source of the funds, adding that “only the NSA can explain the source of the fund”.

“I handed over the N1.219 million cash to Agbele for onward delivery to Fayose. I did not take any money or N19 million, contrary to a  publication by a Lagos-based online platform,” he said.

When asked about his relationship with Sylvan Mcnamara Ltd, the former minister stated that “the account was created to deal with the issue of Boko Haram in Lagos”.

“The account was created by Taiwo Kareem and was used for the purpose of disbursing funds for election,” he added.

“I put a call through to let Fayose know that the money had been paid.

“Diamond Bank had said it did not have the capacity to make the funds available, so we opted to airlift the funds.  The funds were airlifted from Lagos in two tranches, the volume was much.

“Myself, my ADC and my security orderly were there, including a top aide of  Fayose to meet Mr. Agbele, the bank manager. I instructed my orderly to escort Mr Agbele and ensure the safe delivery of the money.

“We airlifted the funds from Lagos in two tranches because the aircraft could not accommodate the funds. We used two aircraft and I was in one of the aircraft.”

Nnamdi Dimgba, the presiding judge, adjourned the matter to February 27, 2024 for continuation of trial.

Fayose is being prosecuted by the EFCC, alongside his firm, Spotless Investment Limited, following their alleged involvement in N6.9 billion money laundering.

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President Tinubu Confirms Adepoju As Substantive Immigration Comptroller-General



Nigeria’s President, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has confirmed the appointment of Wura-Ola Adepoju as the substantive comptroller-general (CG) of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS).

Adepoju reportedly disclosed the development to staff of the NIS during the comptroller-general’s parade on Wednesday.

“You may also wish to know, that through the grace of God and by the benevolence of the present government, I have been confirmed as a substantive comptroller-general of immigration,” she said.

She added that the date for decoration would be announced soon.

NIS spokesperson, Anyanwu Ifeanyi confirmed the development.

“Yes, she has been confirmed as comptroller-general,” he said in a text message.

On May 29, Adepoju was appointed acting CG, replacing Isah Jere whose tenure expired on May 29.

Stakeholders had commended the appointment of Adepoju as the first south-western, female acting comptroller-general of the NIS, describing it as historic.

The stakeholders said the appointment will inspire female officers to give the best to their careers in hopes of reaching the peak.

The Yoruba Heritage Group had also lauded Tinubu for the appointment, commending him for “breaking the jinx” by allowing a Yoruba person in the position.

The group had also appealed to Tinubu to confirm Adepoju’s appointment as the substantive immigration CG, adding that she has the competence and capacity to push reforms that will transform the service.

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BREAKING: Gunmen Hijack Bullion Van In Ogun, Kill Finance Director Bureau Of Political Affairs



Yet-to-be-identified gunmen, on Wednesday, killed the Director of Finance to the Ogun State governor’s office, Mr. Taiwo Oyekanmi.

According to Daily Post, the accountant was waylaid and shot dead on the popular Kuto Bridge in Abeokuta, less than three kilometres from a bank where he had withdrawn a lump sum of money for government use.

The unknown amount was also taken away by the gunmen.

Sources from the government office hinted that Oyekanmi was gruesomely killed a few days after he celebrated his birthday.

The sources further stated that Oyekanmi was rushed to the state hospital, in Ijaye area of Abeokuta, where he breathed his last.

It was further gathered that the news of his demise has been broken to his family and the Secretary to the State government (SSG), Tokunbo Talabi, as at the time of filing this report, was with the family of the deceased paying his condolence.

When contacted, Spokesperson of the Ogun State Police Command, Omolola Odutola, confirmed the incident but insisted that nobody died at the scene.

But when the commissioner of police, Abiodun Alamutu, was called, he confirmed the incident and also admitted that Oyekanmi was killed.

The police boss said, “This afternoon, the accountant, the Director of Finance with the driver and one other person left for Fidelity Bank to make some withdrawal.

“They went with a homemade bullion van. They were supposed to have a police escort, but for certain reasons, the person was permitted to travel to attend to some issues.

“Consequently, he was not part of the movement today. According to the story, after making the withdrawal, and on their way back to the office, they were accosted.

“A vehicle blocked them on top of the bridge, five occupants of the vehicle came down, shot at the director and from their vehicle brought out a sledge hammer to force the receptacle where the money was kept open and they left with the money.

“The director that was shot was thereafter taken to Ijaye hospital where he eventually gave up the ghost.

“For our investigation, I have directed the area commander to get to the bank and request for the CCTV footage which will give us insight into the vehicle in question and possibility of identifying the culprits if they ever tried to step out of the vehicle or maybe they just maintained their position in the vehicle.

“I have reached out to Lagos and everywhere in the command to block all the exits out of the state, while we are trying to identify them because they said they were five and they were hooded.”

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