Distinguished educationist, administrator, philanthropist, community leader, foremost Muslim icon and dogged fighter for social justice, transparency and sustainable Islamic identity, Alhaji Jamiu A. Isola Adepoju was born on Friday, 24th May, 1935 to Adewoyin Opadoyin Adepoju of Ilobu who resisted conversion to Christianity having embraced Islam and adopted ‘Yusuf’ as his Muslim name. All his children were thus born into Islam.
Isola Adepoju had an Ifa priest grandfather and a Washer-man cum Goats and Sheep Dealer. He served both of them on their arable farms before he started to acquire formal education at St. Theresa’s Roman Catholic Mission, (RCM) School, Ilobu at about the age of twelve. He obtained the Standard Six certificate in December, 1953 at the (C.M.S Anglican) United Central School, Ilobu. His knowledge of the Bible and Catechism in the to schools facilitated his unbiased comparison of Christianity and Islam. This also helped him in February, 1954 to promptly ward off clandestine plans of his former teachers to convert him to Christianity by offering him a teaching appointment in his alma mater at Ilobu.
True to Allah’s promise that whosoever rests his belief on Him, He, All-Mighty Allah mercifully opened an avenue for the young man when on Friday, following that on which he rejected the obnoxious Christian offer, Adepoju was appointed, right at Ilobu as a teacher by the Ibadan based Hizbullahi Al-Ghalib, (H.L.A), and made the Secretary of its newly formed branch in Ilobu. He earnestly started the first Muslim Primary School at the Central Mosque of Oke-Oja, Ilobu with over fifty-six children under the auspices of the HLA. Mallam Bakara Olokuta, the town’s Mufasir was the School’s Mualim. Due to conspiracy from some quarters, the school was not approved. Consequently, Adepoju was transferred to Ibadan where he worked with the Manager of HLA and Ratibi Muslim Schools, Mr. Salisu A. O. Odumosu at his No. 118, Amunigun Street residence.
While working as the Headmaster of Ita Okoro Ratibi Mosque School, Isale Ijebu, Ibadan, he had to work as Office Assistant to the School’s Manager in the evenings and on weekend days. In 1955, he was the pioneer Headmaster at the HLA School at Balogun via Alaho near Oja Ibadan from where he departed for professional training courses at Osun Divisional and Ibadan Provincial Teacher Training Colleges in Ejigbo, (1956/1957) an Osogbo, (1960/1961) respectively. he graduated from the University of Ife, Ile-Ife in June, 1969 with B.A, (Honours) in Geography in Economics.
Before going to the University, Adepoju established and funded an Islamic Cultural Centre, (ICC) at Ilobu for the propagation of Islam. The late ALhajis, Jimo Omotoso Alurin and Fasasi Olayiwola Sadiq, both of Ilobu, who were learned Mualims manned the centre’s free Adult Evening Class for Arabic and Islamic Studies which attracted enthusiastic adult learners in the town. The centre is currently being revived by as Islamic Cultural and Enlightenment Centre, (ICEC) by his son, Alhaji Yusuf Olatunde Adepoju, the Chief Lecturer of Academy of Islamic Propagation, (ACADIP) Nigeria. Besides, Isola Adepoju was of great assistance to the Young Muslims Society organized at Ilobu by the foremost and popular Islamic singer, Wahab Ademola Olalere Falowo and his closest associates, Moshood Isola Sadiq and Muhib Arogundade Olubuse in 1965.
As a student and undergraduate, Adepoju was an active member of the Muslim Students Society. He succeeded in starting the weekly Jumat Congregational worship at the University of Ife, Ibadan Branch and at its permanent site. now OAU in Ile-Ife where he also established MSS library at Fajuyi Hall. With the assistance of Prof. Ganiyu A. Jawando, the mini MSS library was well stocked with valuable books and journals. In collaboration with the University of Ife Muslim Community, he successfully organized the first Fund Raising Ceremony chaired by Barr. Bola Babalakin, now a retired justice, for the construction of a befitting campus Jumat Mosque. His MSS leadership role so much impressed Prof. Aliu Babs Fafunwa who thus invited many Muslim academicians across the country to inaugurate the Conference of Muslim Lecturers and Senior Administrative Staff of Nigerian Universities. The late Alhaji Abdur-razak Afolabi Solaja, the National President of MSS, in his post Graduate Diploma year at the University of Ibadan initiated Islamic Vacation Course, (IVC) for the Muslim Students in the post-primary and tertiary institutions. He co-opted and found Isola Adepoju, who was then the Secretary, MSS, Ife University, Ibadan Branch very helpful in the course of the organizing the maiden IVC held at Ijebu Muslim College, Ijebu-Ode in 1966.
Alhaji Isola Adepoju was the pioneer Principal of Ilobu Secondary Commercial Grammar School, (1972) and Nurudeen Grammar School, Ogbomoso, (1978). He played major roles in the establishment of and in the construction works of a number of Muslim Secondary Schools like Ansar-Ud-Deen Grammar School, Ilobu, 2002 and elsewhere. He taught in many schools and colleges in the defunct Western State of Nigeria before he voluntarily retired on 31st December, 1982.
in 1970, Isola Adepoju was elected as the first Chairman of Muslim Association of Nigeria, (MAN), Ijebu-Ode Branch. He also pioneered Osogbo branch of MAN and was its first Secretary in 1972. He became the Association’s Chairman in Ogbomoso in 1976. He was the hosting branch Chairman of the Association’s Conference both at Ijebu-Ode and Ogbomoso. He was a member and the Secretary of Oyo State branch of National Joint Muslim Organization (NAJOMO), formerly WESJOMO, Ibadan which organized the chieftaincy title of Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, the post to which Alhaji Chief Abdul-Aziz Arisekola Alao of blessed memory was successfully installed in June, 1978.
NAJOMO, under the leadership of late Dr. Abdul-Lteef Oladimeji Adegbite played a prominent role, in conjunction with the Northern Nigerian based Jamat-ul Nasirul Islam, in the formation of Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, (NSCIA). Right from its inception, Alhaji Jimo Isola Adepoju was one of Oyo State representatives, Engr. Shuaib Gbadamosi of Ibarapa inclusive, as well as a founding member of the Abuja National Mosque Building Committee of the umbrella Islamic organization, the NSCIA.
After retirement, Alhaji Adepoju was appointed the Chairman. Oyo State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board in 1984 when he introduced some necessary reforms into the administration and operations of annual pilgrimage, (HAjj). Before then, he served as Member, Western Nigeria PWB and at several times served as Welfare Officer under the National Pilgrims Board with Alhaji Abdus-salam Olatunde, as the Zonal Coordinator in Lagos. Alhaji J. Isola Adepoju was appointed a Full-Time Commissioner in November, 1989 and on several occasions acted as the Chairman in the Civil Service Commissions of Oyo State and that of Osun State carved out of Oyo State in August, 1991 where he served for six years from the pioneer stage.
He as well served in other various capacities. As one of the Councillors appointed by the Government during the Western Local Government Reform System of 1976 where he was one of the nine-member Steering Committee of Osogbo Local Government when the Irepodun District Council at Ilobu and that of Osogbo were merged into one. He also appointed a member, incidentally, the only Muslim member, of Osun Zonal Health Board under the Oyo State Health Council at Ibadan in 1975.
He played prominent roles when invited into the Ansar-ud-Deen Society, (ADS) of Nigeria, at Ilobu in 1988. As its branch Chairman, he succeeded in building a befitting Mosque edifice and in establishing a Grammar School in 2002 for the Society both at Oke-Laaro area of the town. The two projects were by Alhajis Arogundade, A. O., KOla Rufai, Engr. Babalola Adubi and Pa Shittu Alayan among many others. he initiated and with other patriotic Ilobu citizens formed the Ilobu Descendant’s Union, a SOcio-Cultural Development Union in July, 1988. He was a member of the erstwhile Osun Consultative Council and still a Trustee of Osun Forum, both organizations that were foremost in the successful demand for the creation of Osun State.
Alhaji Jamiu Adeniyi Isola Adepoju, a Justice of the Peace, finds much delight in conflict resolution efforts, assisting indigent students in efforts to promote scholarship and participating, in his humble capacity, in many programmes established for propagating Islam, the Only religion ordained by Allah, (SWT) and to Whom all our praises our due.
He is happily married with children and grandchildren.
Source: Influential Muslim Personalities and Outstanding Achievers of South-West Nigeria – An Incisive Compendium and Exposition By Bashir Babatunde Feyijimi (Islam Excel Communications) under the auspices of Muslim Ummah of South-West Nigeria (MUSWEN)