NIPR Plans to Immortalise Late Alex Akinleye, As PR Practitioners Pay Tribute
By Azeez Disu
Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) is planning to immortalise the late Chief Alex Akinyele, Nigeria’s former Minister of Information and former president of NIPR for his contributions to the growth of the institute and in the country.
The late chief was also described by PR practitioners as one of the best PR professionals that the country has ever produced and he will be greatly missed.
This was made known at an Evening of Tributes organised in honour of the PR Guru by the Body of Fellows of the Lagos State Chapter of NIPR held at the CMC Connect office on 23rd of January 2020 in Lagos.
It is noteworthy that Late Akinyele was a Fellow of the Institute (NIPR). He was also a consummate communications practitioner and High Chief of Ondo Kingdom.
The Comptroller of Customs and Vice President of NIPR, Wale Adeniyi, who represented the institute President, Malam Mukhtar Zubairu Sirajo said Late Akinleye contributed immensely to the institute and as such plans are on the way to immortalise him.
“On what will be done to immortalise this great man, the council will be meeting soon and one of the priorities that will be given attention to during this meeting, will be the various things people suggested on how to immortalise this man of vision and this man of excellence,” he stated.
He added that Akinyele was his mentor and his advice on series of things have impacted his public relations career remarkably.
Speaking in the same vein, Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, President of African Public Relations Association (APRA) said Akinyele was a peace maker and has helped unite the institute when issues come up and he ensures peace rein among members. He added that one of the things he learnt from him was never quarrel on an empty stomach, no matter how serious the matter is.
“Often, when we are dissatisfied with happenings in the management of the institute, we ask him to intervene. When we get to his resident, he offers us food but because we are angry, we say no, but he insist by saying ‘you never settle quarrel on an empty stomach.’ Somewhere between the pounded yam and bitter leaf or okoro soup our concerns are addressed. By the time we are leaving, even though we went there as enemies, we leave as friends,” he explained.
Olusegun McMedal, Chairman, NIPR Lagos State Chapter, on his part said “Chief Alexander Opeyemi Akinyele remains a colossus communication pundit and a guru in public relations. In his stint as the Information Minister, Chief Akinyele did not only perform his role creditably well but also with great zeal, enthusiasm and style.
“If success is a relative word then judging by his own standards one can say without fear that Chief Alexander Akinyele was a successful man. A man of vast tentacles, a communicator, public relations practitioner, an industrialist and executive director of so many functional companies and above all a philanthropist.”
Similarly, Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria (PRCAN) representative and Secretary General, Tola Odusote stated that the icon has left a legacy behind that practitioners will emulate. He added that late Akinyele was an inspiration and a mentor to him and inspired him to practice public relations.
Charles O’Tudor, a renounced brand strategist, said one of the lessons he learnt from the icon is to stick to what you believe. He explained that he was knowledgeable and dedicated to what he believed in. He thereafter suggested that a foundation be created in his honour by the institute or collection of his works be published as a form of immortalising him.
The tribute was a gathering of all the gladiators in the public relations professions, who spoke greatly about the contributions of the icon to PR practice in the country and his contributions to nation building. Some of them are Mazi Mike Okereke, Dr. Rotimi Oladele, Mrs Nkechi Ali-Balogun, Nn’emeka Maduegbuna, among others.
The Children of Akinyele present at the tribute thanked the institute for honouring their father and also applauded them for the plan to immortalise him.
Bimbola Akinyele said she was delighted to hear all the good words said about her father and thanked the institute for organising the event.
In the same vein, Akinrinmola Akinyele, said “the institute has always been there at every major milestone with our father. I recall when he celebrated his 80th birthday, the institute played a major role. Here today again, you are doing this in his death. What is even more elating is to hear beyond this, the institute is considering how to immortalise his memory.”
“Nigeria really don’t showcase our corporate heroes, and the youth don’t have good role model. What we now experience is that there is gradual decay in the quality of expectation and drive. What we experience today is the youth want to make quick money with many lazy attitudes.”
He stated that immortalising his father will be a good one for the nation and inspire others to always do their best anywhere they find themselves. “This will be good not only our family but the nation,” he stated.
It is noteworthy that Chief Alexander Opeyemi Akinyele (also known as Chief Alex Akinyele) was born on the 24th of April, 1938 to Pa Akinyele a soldier and an ex-serviceman. He attended All Saints Primary School Ondo, Gboluji Grammar School Ife-Oluji and St. Andrew’s College Oyo. He then proceeded to study English Language at the prestigious University of Ife now Obafemi Awolowo University.
In June 1967, he applied to join Nigerian Police Force and was offered a place as a Trainee Assistant Superintendent of Police. He was later directed to join the Nigerian Customs, where he was appointed the First Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Custom and Excise.
He was the first Former Secretary General of the Nigeria Institute of Public Relations and he eventually became the President. As the president of NIPR, he changed the face of public relations in Nigeria, he fought against quacks in the profession and encouraged large registered memberships.
Under his leadership, NIPR emphasized Public Relations in the Mass Communication syllabus of the University of Lagos, Akoka and University of Nigeria, Nsukka. It was on this basis of his excellent performance that the former Military President, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babaginda nominated him as a member of the constituent Assembly and later appointed him as a member of the constituent Assembly and later appointed him as the Minister of Information thus becoming the very first Public Relations Practitioner in Nigeria to hold that position.