Abdulazeez Arisekola Alao is a notable Nigerian businessman and contractor who was the publisher of the now defunct Monitor Newspaper. He is considered a wealthy businessman who is known for his causes in support of Islam in Ibadan and his close ties to many of the city’s traditional and religious elites and to various other Yoruba Muslim leaders. He bears the title of Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland.
Arisekola saw his fortunes rise during the regimes of Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha while his style is sometimes criticized as favoring any regime that can butter his nest. He was both a friend of MKO Abiola and Sani Abacha but was actively involved in supporting the latter to elongate his tenure through a transition from military to democratic leadership.
Born in 1945 to Abdul Raheem Alao and Olatutu Alao, he attended St Luke’s Primary School, Adigun and ICC Primary school, he also studied Arabic Studies. In 1960, he was with the Ogunpa-Oyo Commercial Center before venturing into full time business a year later. His traditional commercial focus is in auto sales, flour mills and oil marketing through his Lister brand, he has also developed interest in real estate, insurance, banking and publishing.
Originally, he came from humble means, joining his uncle as an apprentice in Gbagi market of Ibadan in 1960. He left in 1961 to sell gammalin 20 vide and later became an agent of Imperial Chemical Industries.
By the 1970s, he was a dealer of Datsun brand of motors under Lister Motors.
In the 1970s and 80s: Arisekola was serenaded by the Juju singer Ebenezer Obey around the late 1970s while later being conferred with the title of Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland by the league of Imams and Alfas from the region in 1980. Though, along with his friend, Abiola, he courted controversy and raised already existent inter-religious tension when he raised issues about the location an iconic cross to depict places of worship at the University of Ibadan. The cross which was erected in the 1950s when only a church was a place of worship at the institution but Muslim worshipers claimed that the cross was located on the Eastern side of the mosque and was a violation of Islamic requirements not to see an idol, cross or effigy during worship. In 1990, he was co-chair of a committee interested in promoting cross fertilization of ideas and inter-religious understanding between Christians and Muslims.
During the democratic period of the Sani Abacha era, Arisekola, along with Lamidi Adedibu pitched his tent with the Democratic Party of Nigeria also known as DPN. However, his closeness with the Abacha administration has erred him detractors within Yorubaland. His Monitor Press outfit was burnt in May 1998 during the aftermath of the campaign for the prolongation of the Abacha government and right after the death of Abacha, a visit to University of Ibadan caused a minor riot when students shouted down at him and proceeded to burn his limousine as a result of anger fueled at him due to his relationship with the corrupt Abacha administration.
Arisekola doubles as the president-general of the Grand Council for Islamic Affairs and member of the Board of Trustees of the Nigeria Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, NSCIA.
In Ibadan Arisekola has contributed to many Islamic causes including the construction of mosques and alms giving to many residents who troop to his home. He is a patron to many Yoruba Muslim groups including the youth wing of the National Council of Musim Youth Organizations of Nigeria (NACOMYO) and some Yoruba Muslim womens group.