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Meet the man that started the ‘Baba Ijebu’ game


Oladipupo Adebutu, one of the sons of lotto magnate ‘Baba Ijebu’, Sir Kessington Adebutu, talks about his father in this interview with Punch.

When did you father start the gaming business: pools betting and lotto?
I grew up to know him in the pools betting business, among them was Face to Face. He’s been in business for as long as I could remember. He did a lot of other businesses. He was an importer of tiles, ceramics and adhesives among others, for a very long time. But as the economy grew from bad to worse, those businesses became much more difficult to do and gradually he eased out of them.
Did he have time for his children when they were young?
Like I said earlier, the man is an enigma. If he’s within the country, wherever he was, he would come back home at 1.00pm for his lunch. We would all have our lunch together. And on Sundays, he gave the children a special treat, by taking us to either Mainland Hotel or Federal Palace Hotel to spend the Sunday afternoon Again, every summer, he would take us abroad for vacation for two or three weeks. He is very good man. But currently, I have a problem working with this kind of standard, and my children are asking, ‘Daddy, Grandpa took you abroad for summer, and stayed with you, why didn’t you do the same for us?’ My father is a fantastic man.
What are his hobbies?
My father neither plays squash nor polo. He enjoys the company of his friends and they play card games such as poker and black jack. They do have a good time.
Does he socialise?
My dad enjoys himself. He socialises well. He loves parties and he loves good life.
What is his favourite drink?��������������
It takes him two hours to finish a bottle of beer.
Is he a car freak?
No. My father sees cars as a means of conveyance. For a long time, he fancies Mercedes Benz. But he added two others. Specifically, he’s more into Mercedes Benz cars.
Does the name Adebutu open doors for you?
The name is an asset but it is also my biggest liability. It is an asset because it opens doors and it gives me special recognition easily. But the flipside is that people tend to expect too much from me. And a lot of things that others will do and go scot-free, I dare not do, because of that name. But I am not complaining, since both liability and asset must go hand-in-hand.
What is your dad’s favourite food?
First, I will say he has tendency for moderation, and he does not have any favourite food. He enjoys both local and international dishes. But he loves vegetable. It must be well prepared with a lot of sawa fish.
Does he have special nicknames his friends call him?
His long-time friends call him ‘Kessy Bobo’ and he cherishes it so much.
How did Baba Ijebu, that most people call him, evolve?
Baba Ijebu is the new nickname. The nickname originates from the lotto business. It has to do with the way he has managed people’s resources. That is when someone plays the game and he or she wins, he or she gets instant payment. It is because someone has managed those resources well. And for we Ijebus, there is the general belief that we are good managers of resources. I think that’s how that name came about.
How does your dad relax?
Unfortunately, that’s one thing he does not know how to do. It is very painful. He is always doing something. I wish my father could just go somewhere and rest for a while. When he goes on vacation, he carries his work with him. What kind of vacation is that? And he will be phoning the office every three hours to monitor his business back home.
You want him to relax more?
Yes. At almost 80 years, he deserves to rest. He was 79 years old last October.
What are some of his likes and dislikes?
My father is like a chief investigating officer. If you tell him lies, you are asking for more trouble. It is better to come clean, because with his intellect and ability to investigate, you will surely surrender.
Was he ever a policeman?
No. He is just a brilliant man.
What values have you imbibed from him?
I’ve learnt the values of hard work, forthrightness and truthfulness from him.
If there is anything you can change about your dad, what will it be?
The only thing that bothers me about him is that at times he can be too fastidious. He is demanding and sometimes his extent of demand cannot necessarily be the best. If one can get 80 per cent compliant from a human being and one is insisting it should be 100 per cent, it can make things unworkable. One must overlook some things.
Your dad took a younger wife, some few years back, how did his children feel about it?
The truth is that my dad is a multi-faceted man. And it depends from which area you are looking at him. It is something I will do, so I will be the last person to criticise his action. Every 10 years or thereabout, my father finds a new love. May be for others with his position, stature and resources, such persons may find new love every five years. In my own opinion, my father is not excessive in this aspect.
Have you ever played lotto?
Yes, I have. It is quite exciting. It is a very exciting way for recreation and it is quite interesting.
How many wives does your father have?
I know that my father has 12 children from five women. We are seven boys and five girls.
Are the children of the youngest wife included?
What number are you among the children?
I am the first child.
What kind of music does he listen to?
He loves King Sunny Ade and Chief Ebenezer Obey’s music. He has extensive collection of their works.
Is he a Christian or a Muslim?
He is a Christian but of Muslim descent. His parents were Muslims.
What faith do the children profess?
He allows us to follow whatever faith that suits us. For instance, I am an evangelist in the Celestial Church of Christ fold. Some of us are in the Redeemed Christian Church of God.

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