Osogbo Stands Still For Ayo Alabi As Oyetola Commissions Michael and Felicia Alabi Memorial Table Tennis Hall
Osogbo, the Osun State capital has witnessed great and memorable days in its chequered history.
Some of such days are captured in history books while others are engraved in the memories of the indigenes.
Saturday, May 14, 2022 was one such great day which would endure in the state capital’s history till the end of time.
The day would be remembered in Osun State history as a day a golden chapter was opened in her sports.
On that day, the Michael and Felicia Alabi Memorial Table Tennis Hall was commissioned by the sports loving governor, Mr.Adegboyega Oyetola.
It was an occasion of pomp and ceremony which brought together the creme d’la creme of royalty, the political top brass, the captains in the business community and the every day people in the near moribund Osogbo City Stadium.
Even though there was a political activity which took place simultaneously in the Osun State capital on that day, the commissioning was still a grand affair.
The governor who was expected to be the distinguished guest had other engagements but he sent the most influential personality in his cabinet, the Secretary to the State Government, Prince Wole Oyebamiji to represent him.
The Ooni of Ife was ably represented by the Soko Ominiyi of Ife, Dr. Kemade Elugbaji.
The Aragbiji of Iragbiji, Oba Abdulrasheed Olabomi and the Owa of Otan-Aiyegbaju, Oba Lukman Fadipe were present. Senator Ajibola Basiru was also represented.
The vice president of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation, NTTF, Dr. Tayo Adesoji was part of the crowd, so also the chairman of Boluwaduro Local Government, Mr. Hakeem Tolude and a host of others.
Residents of Osogbo said no event has brought people of opposing political views, different religious persuasions and social status together in Osun State in recent memory like the occasion.
Without mincing words, the occasion was a milestone. In fact both the governor and the chief host of the day, Mr. Ayo Alabi in their respective speeches described the day as a milestone.
In his speech which encapsulated his government’s achievements, programme and vision, Oyetola declared “Judging by the ever increasing partnership between the good and well-meaning sons and daughters of this state with the present government, I strongly believe that the inauguration of this ultra-modern sports hall will further assist in opening new sports frontiers”.
He went further “This milestone is therefore an exciting turning point in our sports development history as Michael and Felicia Alabi Memorial Table Tennis Hall arguably first of its kind in the history of this nation, has further accentuated our steady rise as a government committed to sports development”
Earlier in his address of welcome, Mr. Alabi who is the chairman of the Osun State Table Tennis Association also captured the essence of the day.
In his words “It is an important day for Osun under our hard-working governor, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola.
“It is a major milestone in our drive to engage our youth in a sport that will encourage them to be more productive”
The occasion provided an auspicious moment for the governor to explain how the state would deploy sports to boost tourism and youth development.
But beyond the eloquent speeches, and other activities of the day, the major highlight was the unveiling and celebration of Mr. Ayo Alabi.
Until the historic Saturday, not much was known about Mr. Ayo Alabi.
Apart from his revolutionary strides in Table Tennis since he became the chairman of the Osun State Table Tennis Association, very little was known of him.
But when those who knew him beyond his Table Tennis relationship spoke, they( from the royal fathers to distinguished guests)spoke of him in glowing terms.
They spoke of a man whose heart is cast in pure gold, a philanthropist par excellence, a visionary leader, and a true icon.
However, it was the citation written and read by one of his very close associates, Mr. Tope Mustapha Adeyemi that really unveiled Mr. Ayo Alabi.
According to the citation “Mr Ayo Alabi is a compassionate, hard working and a consummate business man that knows the high value of education”.
“He has for many years been a consistent tuition provider for the less privileged university undergraduates across the country and a father of hundreds of challenged children in the country”.
The citation which described Mr. Alabi as an entrepreneur “par excellence and a strategic philanthropist” revealed that the table tennis chief has been reaching out to the less privileged persons and those living with disabilities through the organisation he founded decades ago in Ontario, Canada, the world renowned Jodal Health Care Organisation.
Why is Mr. Ayo Alabi all about service to humanity? The citation also provided an answer.
His philosophy in life,according to the citation is giving back to society and this has been the hallmark in all his engagements.
This philosophy is responsible for all the noble deeds of Mr. Ayo Alabi which have impacted positively the lives of many and added value immensely to the developmental strides of society.
What was clear from the citation and the encomiums poured on Mr. Ayo Alabi is that the man whose beginning began humbly in Otan-Aiyegbaju, in Boluwaduro Local Government of Osun State is not just a blessing to his people and table tennis, but a gift to humanity.
For decades he has pursued the noble cause of transforming lives and society albeit anonymously.
However, on May 14, 2022, Mr. Ayo Alabi was unveiled, another icon, working assiduously to make the world a better place and it’s people, a happier lot.