I Never Knew I Will Grow Old To Be 70 – AKURE Prince, LANA ADESIDA
Prince Lana Adesida is a nice man. He has been described by very many people as an Omoluabi. He is loved by the old and the young. The big news is that he turned 70. He is a businessman and socialite, who is very popular across the South-West. He is one of the prominent Princes from the Adesida Royal family in Akure.
He made his name in the Telecoms industry years ago. And he is a valued member of the Island Club where he has held key positions.
How does he feel at 70? How come not much has changed in his look at 70? These and many more were the questions City People Publisher SEYE KEHINDE asked him when he turned 70. Below are excerpts of the interview.
Congratulations on your 70th birthday. How do you feel?
I feel great. I thank God that I can make 70 because it is a big privilege from God to make it to 70. I will get to celebrate it very soon. Why I want to celebrate it is because my father never made 70. He died at 49. My mother died at 63. My most senior sister died at 63. My immediate senior brother, the King, the Deji of Akure died at 63 also. So, I am the 1st person to get to 70, so I think I need to celebrate and thank God for it.
What are your reflections as you look back at life? What readily comes to mind?
The thing I will advise younger people about life is to seize the opportunity when it comes. I have had so many opportunities that I did not take advantage of in life. I will tell children of these days, that as they grow up, seize any opportunity you have to succeed in life. I am not saying they should do illegal things. No.
But their legal ways and when the opportunities come you should capitalise on them. You can’t do it alone.
You need people’s support. Sometimes, if you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it. When you ask for it, you will get it. Yes, I missed some opportunities but I still thank God for where I am and for whom I am, today, but I will have had it better if I had seized all the opportunities I had.
Your name is quite synonymous with Island Club. This is because you are a valued member of this prestigious club and you are here on the premises 24/7. How do you balance out your various roles, with your commitment here at the Island Club?
What helps me is that I have an understanding wife, who incidentally doesn’t stay much in Nigeria. My children and wife are all abroad. But whenever she is around, she will even tell me whenever I am home with her that don’t you want to go to your club?
She knows that is what keeps me happy; being with my friends. I like Island Club.
I have been a member of their Management Committee. I have been Social Secretary. I have been Vice-Chairman. And I thank God, that Island Club members appreciate the love I have for the club. They appreciate it and I have been rewarded accordingly.
Does that also say something about you and people? Because you are so popular among the elites and everyone wants Prince Lana Adesida at their party. Why is this so?
(Smiles). I guess it is because of my family background. I come from a big family, a royal family. Many people know us and we also know so many people. If you are from a royal family where you have many children, and our fathers have many wives, and we all live together, so you have to learn how to live with other people and something I have learnt to do. I think it is more of my background. So, I brought it here to the Island Club and it’s working.
Let me take you back to your background. How did it all start for you? Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
I was born 70 years ago in Akure to a Prince that was very popular in Akure then. He was the most popular Prince from our grandfather, Afunbiowo The 1st Deji of Akure that reigned for 60 years. His name is Oba Afunbiowo Adesida. He reigned from 1897 to 1957.. My father was the most prominent son. In fact, he was more or less the heir apparent to take over from him. But unfortunately, he died before him. He died in 1953 and my grandfather died in 1957, so he couldn’t take over. He had so many wives. When he died, my brother becoming the King, was a result of my brother being a grandchild.
He wasn’t really supposed to be the King, because it was mainly for the real children, not for the grandchildren of an Oba. But my brother was picked, I guess as compensation for my father not being the king because he died before our grandfather.
So, I grew up in Akure, I went to St. Joseph’s Secondary School in Ondo with Gov. Mimiko and a few other people. Then, I travelled to the U.S to study Engineering. When I came back, I worked with Nigerian External Telecommunications then. It later became NITEL. I retired from there and I went into business. When I came back, I settled in Lagos. Then, I started my Telecoms business, which prospered very well, until I more or less retired from that. So, I am generally a retired man now.
Let’s talk about your fashion style. You always dress well, most times in your complete Agbada, Buba & Sokoto. How did you develop this dress sense?
When I joined Island Club in 1994, about 28 years ago, the elders accepted me knowing that I am a Prince. They now told me that Omoba ki si ori sile (You should always wear a cap when you dress up). Even though I am already used to doing that but my American education taught me to change my lifestyle a little bit. The elders here kept telling me, you are a Prince, you could be a King tomorrow, you are not supposed to expose hair.
As for me, I like dressing well. And my wife likes to buy Agbada for me. She loves me dressing well. So, apart from me buying when she goes to the market, she buys a lot of fabrics for Agbada. That is why I am usually in Agbada. Anytime you see me at the club, I am always in Agbada. That is it. I think it is my background plus what the elders want me to do.
Now that you are retired, how do you spend your typical day?
Well, I still do little business, here and there. I still have my telecommunication company. To get out of trouble, I am always here with my friends. The fact that my family is not here could easily get me into trouble. I spend most of my time with my friends at the Island Club.
You have spent 28 years as a member of the Island Club. How does it feel?
It feels great, especially if you are a dedicated and devoted member of this club, people will love you. You are happy that people love you.
What was the attraction when you joined?
The attraction had to do with many things. I was working with NITEL then like I said. I was entitled to join 2 clubs. I joined Island Club & Ikoyi Club. But I started getting close to Island Club because of tradition, the Nigerian tradition. Even though we are not a Yoruba club per se. Those who started Island Club included the Ojukwus, Azikiwes and other big names in the East. So, Nigerian culture was very important to us. And I found out when I came back from the US that Tradition & Culture were observed here, like our others clubs where they don’t really care much about culture. I am a member of the Yoruba Tennis Club also. But I spend more time here than in other Clubs.
Looking at you, you don’t look 70. What is the secret?
(He laughs) People have been saying that I even looked younger than this, before now. But suddenly the age came on me in the last few months. I guess it is because I don’t put things on my mind. And I am not running after riches. That is another thing. I am contented. Whatever I get I am okay. I am never envious of anybody. I strive to work hard to make it. But whatever comes my way, I am okay. And I don’t look at other people when I do my things. As a person, nothing bothers me. My wife knows. I like the way I am. I move with the Big & the Mighty in the society, those who I am not close to in richness. They all respect me because I respect them. Omo a gba ni mi. I relate with elders a lot. They respect me because I respect them too. I try to learn from them.
How come the name Lana Adesida has grown bigger than you? And everyone likes you?
It’s because I am friendly with everybody. I don’t have enemies. I don’t believe I have. I believe I don’t have. That is the most important thing. Believe is the most important thing. Let me use the ongoing Island Club General Elections as an example. I am close to all sides. I attend all functions. Whoever becomes the Chairman of this Club, becomes our leader. We all have to support him. That is my style. I move with the left, I move with the right. I move with everybody, both the young and the old. I am very popular with the youth. I talk to them and I give advice to a lot of them.
As you turn 70, are there things you are going to stop doing or start doing? Will your lifestyle change?
Certainly not. It will not. I will continue to be active. One thing I notice is that if you are not active, you will get old faster. So, you have to be active and you have to stay active. I will continue to use the club. There is a 92-year-old man that just walked past. He is a former Ambassador. He is one of my mentors here. I always ask him why he is always looking young. He keeps telling me that it is because he is always active. He does not stay inactive. If you had seen me during the Covid lockdown, I looked older. Maybe it is the Covid lockdown that made me age a bit because I was always at home. I tried to do some exercise but it wasn’t like coming out every day and seeing your friends. The Covid Lockdown affected a lot of people. A lot of our friends got old so fast because they were not active. What I am saying is I will be coming to the club, mixing with friends and going to parties. I go to a lot of parties. I go not because I like eating food at parties, but I like the conviviality, you mix with people and you get to know people and when you get home, you feel happy that you have enjoyed yourself and you sleep well. I will continue to do that.
Any regret about life at 70?
No. I don’t have any regrets about life. I thank God that I am from a good family. I have good children. And I have a good wife. Everything about my life is okay. I have no regrets, at all.
How do you take challenges that come your way?
My philosophy is to try your best, but if it doesn’t work out, keep on moving. But try your best. If I can’t get what I want, maybe God says I shouldn’t get it and I move on
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