LATE CHIEF (DR.) DAVID ADEBAYO AMAO ALATA, THE FIRST MODERN OGBOMOSO INDIGENOUS ENTREPRENEUR AND A WORLD-CLASS INDUSTRIALIST
Late Chief (Dr) David Amao Alata was a successful businessman and pioneer of manufacturing industries in Ogbomoso whose conglomerate employed over 10,000 workers and agents between the 1970s and 1990s across Nigeria and Ghana.
He was educated at C.M.S Central School, Onitsha and Commerce College, Kumasi Ghana. After his deportation from Ghana where he spent 24 years, Amao Alata also served as a co-founder of the cooperative union in Ogbomoso.
Born in 1938 into Alata Compound of Taraa Ogbomoso which is why the name Alata was added to his name. He started his business’ retail and wholesale while in Ghana, a business empire that thrived tremendously and was well recognized in Kumasi. His Booming empire was destined for greatness as he kept expanding in Ghana.
Yoruba men and women traders were in control of Ghana markets in both rural and urban centres. This prosperity equally led to the swelling size of the Yoruba population whose second generation competed with the natives over government jobs. The population of Nigerians in Ghana increased threefold from 57,400 in 1931 to over 191,802 in 1960.
The rising commercial profile of the Yoruba migrants attracted competition and indignation from Ghanaians, especially the Kowu ethnic group of the Accra region who developed a feeling of displacement from their established socio-economic position. The natives were confronted with suspicion of exploitation and domination by the migrant elements they coexisted with.
Because of this, in December 1969, Dr K. A. Busia gave a quit order to Nigerians in Ghana. David Amao Alata had no choice but to return to Nigeria with numerous other Nigerians in the same category. He relocated back to his hometown, Ogbomoso, the home of the brave with depots throughout Nigeria and Ghana.
Just as the phoenix arises from his ashes, Late Chief (Dr) David Amao Alata replicated his conglomerate business empire in Ogbomoso and it prospered even much more than when he was in Ghana. Alata became a household name with popularity not only in Ogbomoso but across the country and even Ghana.
The business conglomerate provided jobs for thousands of individuals across the nation. It was the pride of Ogbomoso, as indigenes were confident and boast of the industry’s impact on the country at large. Staffs benefited from different remunerations and Late Chief (Dr) David Amao Alata was the reason hundreds of people became the breadwinner of their families.
He succeeded in transforming his distributive trade into a manufacturing conglomerate which comprised of the following: Alata Sawmill and Furniture; Alata Hotels; Alata Motors; Alata Supermarket and Pharmacy; Alata Soap Industry; Alata Bakery; Alata Toilet Roll Industry; Alata Foam Industry; Alata Candle Industry; Confidence Brewery and Bottling Company; Alata Flour Mills.
The conglomerate produced Elephant Flour, Supa Lager Beer, Supa Cola, Alata Candle, Alata Toilet Paper, Alata Mattress and even Alata Babes Football Club that successfully brought National teams like Golden Eaglets and Flying Eagles to Ogbomoso.
Today some of the companies and business outfit still thrive. The relic of the once glorious industrial empire can be seen in Alata Flour Milling Complex, along Ogbomoso – Ilorin road, Alata Supermarket at Oja Tuntun, Hotel International and Cool Room also in Oja Tuntun amongst others.
In his lifetime, Late Chief (Dr) David Adebayo Amao Alata was Chairman Board of Directors, Ogbomoso Community Bank (Now Ogbomoso Microfinance Bank / Ogbomoso New Vision Bank), Ogbomoso and was also the Chairman, Ogbomoso Chamber of Commerce.
It is in recognition of his immense contribution to the socio-economic development of Ogbomosoland in particular Oyo state in general that he bagged the following chieftaincy titles of Obayimika of Ede by the Timi of Ede, Ariwajoye of Ilobu by Onilobu and Babalaje of Ogbomosoland by the paramount ruler of Ogbomosoland, the Soun
On the social front, he was a member of Rotary Club International, Ogbomoso Committee of Friends and a member of Ogbomoso Police/ Community Relations Committee (PCRC).
Due to his philanthropic contributions to the welfare of the people of his community and beyond and in recognition of his business genius, Oyo state gave him Oyo State Merit Award in 1987 by the state government and the Harris Memorial Award of Rotary Club International in 1985.
In the same vein, for his outstanding contributions to the industrial development of his community and his industrial acumen and skill enterprise in 1991, ST. John University, Louisiana, United States of America honoured him with a (Honoris Causa) Doctor Degree in Business Administration.
His death in 1994, led to the collapse of his business empire and inadvertently, the commercial pride of Ogbomoso. In line with Lawuyi (1997), returnees from Ghana “…play a role in shaping both historical processes and public discourse, which, more often than not, centres around their activities and thoughts… They emerge from the intensely competitive market in which individuals struggle to realise themselves in the face of extreme material and ideological dissolution as the embodiment of current values, symbol of success, and determinant of progress.”
Many insist that the business conglomerate collapsed because of the Imposition of the destructive Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) on the nation by Gen Ibrahim Babangida regime in the 1980s. The Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) made things difficult for manufacturers because of factors like the devaluation of Naira and scarcity of foreign currency amongst others.
The conglomerate needed funds to sustain itself and maintain the vast empire and thousands of employees. It was amidst all this that the great patriarch, philanthropist and businessman died which made things very hard for the business empire to thrive continuously.
Ogbomoso Community Bank a bank later known as New Vision Bank also suffered a major setback after former President Olusegun Obasanjo Regime gave a directive in December 2005 that by December 2007 the minimum capital for every microfinance bank must be N25 million.
The family of late Chief Adebayo Amao Alata was able to raise N10 million as shares but the money was rejected by the bank directors for reasons unknown to the writer. This eventually led to a lawsuit between the late Chief Adebayo Amao Alata and the shareholders led by an oil magnate, Mr Moses Oladejo Olagbende also known as “202”.
The family of late Chief Adebayo Amao Alata claimed that the directors wanted to take over the bank that was founded by their late patriarch. After the lawsuit lasted about a decade (2008 -2018) in the court, the family of late Chief Adebayo Amao Alata won ownership of the Bank Building.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation, NDIC, took over the remains of the bank, the licence was withdrawn for non-performance and other related offences. An auctioneer was found to depose-off the properties of the bank in the building.
On December 2009, a socio-political and cultural organisation of professional Ogbomoso indigenes, which focuses on the growth and development of the town in all facets of life, the Ogbomoso First Group (OFG) honoured Chief Adebayo Amao Alata for his contribution to the growth of commerce and industry in Ogbomoso.
Others that were honoured alongside this business mogul includes the late Prof. Nathaniel D. Oyerinde, for his achievements in education and documentation of Ogbomoso Heritage History, and the Baptist Mission for its immeasurable contribution in the provision of social services and infrastructure in areas of education and health in Ogbomoso and former Oyo State Governor, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, with the Distinguished Gold Medal Merit Award for his outstanding leadership and contribution to the socio-economic development of Ogbomosoland.
He was survived by Five Wives and eighteen children. The Business mogul also left behind brothers and sisters.
One of his children is Mr Segun Adebayo Alata who later became a state legislative member representing Ogbomoso North Local Government under Alliance for Democracy Party between 1999 and 2003.
- Chief Oyebisi Okewuyi (JP.) 2013, Ogbomoso in the Early Times, Modern Era and in Today’s Contemporary World, Published and printed by Johnny Printing Works, Beside Okelerin Court Area, Ogbomoso, Nigeria
- Olaniyi 2015, The 1969 Ghana Exodus: Memory and Reminiscences of Yoruba Migrants
- Ogbomoso Insight
I’m Johnson Ade OKUNADE, an enthusiast of indigenous culture
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