The death of Hakeem Adenekan, Chief Executive Officer, Commstrat Associates, a member of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN) as announced Monday 16th November, 2020 was a jolt to the Nigerian Integrated marketing communications community.
His demise, is aptly described as a “huge loss and a very shocking one for that matter to the industry” owing to Hakeem’s capability as a bridge builder across generations, a diligent professional and very accommodating individual as expressed by Steve Babaeko, AAAN President and Kayode Oluwasona, former AAAN President.
Adenekan started his advertising career with Ade Akinde’s Campaign Place; has a stint at Nucleus Advertising as pioneer staff; and thereafter joined CentrespreadFCB. He grew through the system to become proficient, top-notch client service personnel servicing most of the agency’s high net-worth businesses cutting across banks, Insurance, FMCGs, among others. He spent close to a decade with the agency before he moved on in 2002 to set up Commstrat Associates. He also had a brief stay at ELMAC Insurance as head of corporate Affairs.
Adenekan’s Commstrat Associate Advertising after initial slow take-off, responded to his hardwork and ‘never-say-die’ spirit, rose to the occasion. His outstanding creative prowess gave the agency’s opportunity to work on Afribank’s initial public offer of 2004 which gave the company its initial break. Businesses on the Commstrat’s stable grew to include Intercontinental Distillers Ltd, UAC Foods, Vertebra, Anchor Insurance, GZI and Etisalat among many others.
Blessed with good foresight, Krimo as he was fondly called saw into the future and began to diversify into other areas even before advertising became the “an endangered specie”, it is today.
As an embodiment of creativity, he was always brimming with ideas and looking at ways of advancing the cultural frontiers of the Yoruba race, especially the Egba Agenda, revealed Ganiyu Olowu, a friend of the deceased and member of the Evergrin team. “This found expression in his pet projects like – Evagrin Rhymes, which is a collection of popular rhymes across the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria. He also published his compendium of coffee table books such as “Abeokuta: Beyond the Rock” for Abeokuta. He did similar projects on Yewa, Remo and Ijebu through his Evergreen Concepts and Dio Africa. He was Associate Producer to many of Tunde Kilani films like Arugba and others.
In the words of Imam Hakeem Kosoko “Krimo was a fighter, if he believed in a cause”. Little wonder most of the projects he embarked upon were successful no matter how daunting they may have looked in the beginning.
So apart from being a thorough-bred advertising man, it’s safe to say he was a man of many parts. He was author, entrepreneur, sundry investor or culture aficionado. Above all, he was a selfless and inspiring happy-go-lucky fella. These epithets “Ire kabiti” and “Afisuru” were his famous responses or salutations. Tributes by scores of friends, colleagues and associates testified to his very humane traits.
Moruff Adenekan, the deceased’s sibling and professional colleague knows his life and the lives of many others were enriched by having him around. “’Moruff, ba mi soro now’ (Moruff talk, to me) continues to be the central message. My brother was my guardian angel. For a long time, I misunderstood the gesture. I wanted to do my stuff my way. I took that for granted! I wish I opened up to him a lot more in the early stages of my life, ‘cos when I decided to open up about 15 years ago, I understood & realised what I have been missing. Phone calls never did it for him, “Oju l’oro wa” come and see me. He encouraged me & believed in my abilities. He always said I would make it but “never run faster than your legs can take you so you won’t fall”. He is a workaholic. For him, it is not over until it is done – even if it is 1:00am. He brought me into the “Corporate Vigilante” world – working round the clock.
“He was a family man, loved his siblings and went extra miles to put smiles on people’s faces. He had a great sense of humour, he was a restless soul and a man of ideas. Krimo was a man of culture & true to it, indeed. He is just away from my sight, he is never going to be away from my heart”.
Ayoola Adeyanju wrote, “It’s sad news. It’s tough to handle. But I’ll take solace in the fact that he lived, created a name for himself, and a legacy for many generations to come. I recounted to a friend how when we worked at the Nucleus Company, he told me of the Art Director opportunity at campaign and concepts. When I told him the position was too high for me, he asked how I came to the conclusion and told me to just go. That was how I went from an executive trainee to becoming a studio manager. He felt admiration and motivation when we started Porte-parole. Shortly afterwards, he began Commstrat. We would meet at production houses and catch up. Always jovial and avoiding strife. He would even strongly avoid clients of his previous employers.”
Titilayo Ogunesan said knowing Hakeem confirmed an adage which says never judge a book by its cover. “Working closely with you on Estate issues made me know the magnitude of the loss associated with your demise because you’re such a special being loaded with ideas. Oga mi, Obalola, Oluwakrimo as I used to call you, you have fought the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith. May your soul rest in peace”.
For Alh. Tolani Owolabi, it’s a short but eventful for a brother, friend and professional colleague. “It was so hard to believe the news of your demise, this morning. I got to your house and a quick decision was taken, that the City you loved most and promoted so much (Abeokuta), must be your resting place; according to your instruction. The journey to your final abode began in earnest and your Janazah performed at Asr time, 3:30pm. We talked last on Thursday morning to resolve an issue that I had found you guilty, the previous day; you called not only to accept, but to also apologize. Such was the Brotherhood trust that existed between us. Everything you had touched, turned gold; no door you had knocked, without opening”
Similarly, Omooba Owolabi Ade Adesanya says “Adieu, Krimo. You came, You fought and You conquered. Gone so so soon! I remembered your role as the Jaycee President in Ogun Poly then. You were so passionate about humanitarian and consequently, you had lived in that line. A socialite, socio-culture crusader and grassroot personel, omo egba ‘mo lisabi good night.
No wonder, some reasoned “Krimo’s assets are not in gold bars or in shares; neither are they in real estate. The real worth of Hakeem Adenekan is his social capital: friendships across borders both physical and imaginary as evident in decades of friendship and goodwill which we hope will serve his offsprings well in the near future”.
The passionate development creative expert, was Trained in Cranfield University, United Kingdom, Nervarra University, Bercelonia, and he was a member of the Chief Executive Programme (CEP 17) at the Lagos Business School (LBS) in Nigeria. He was a product of the defunct Ogun State Polytechnic, Abeokuta, now Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, where he got Higher National Diploma (HND) in Mass Communication in 1993. He was a Paul Harris fellow of Rotary Club International.
Hakeem Adenekan who has since been buried on Monday 16th November, 2020 in Abeokuta according Islamic rites, was survived by Wife, Yinka; children, siblings and aged father.