The J.K. Randles enjoy a special place in Lagos. The first generation of the Randles, Dr. John Kehinde Randle, a medical doctor graduated with a Distinction in Medicine from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland in 1888. He would later float a political party, Peoples Party in Lagos in 1908 and created the Onikan Swimming Pool.
The second-generation Chief Joseph Koshoniola Randle was a politician who made waves in his lifetime. He was a Nigerian businessman, socialite, social crusader and philanthropist, involved in Lagos’ public activities until he died in 1956. The third generation of the Randles was a one-time president of the Institute of Chartered Accountant of Nigerian (ICAN) and an accomplished accountant who has carried on the family name untainted. There is no doubt; the rich pedigree has put the foremost chartered accountant on good footing in life. For over five decades, the 75 year old has plied his trade and his clients are in big leagues.
His palatial office tucked inside the highbrow Parkview Estate Ikoyi is befitting of a man who has seen it all in his chosen career and excelled beyond his family name. He is a renowned accountant. Over 30 years ago, Bashorun Randle was an occupant of Marina Government House while serving as chairman of a committee that looked into Lagos transport problems. He was the pro-chancellor and chairman governing council of the Lagos State University (LASU).
He served on the council of the University of Benin and at a time, chairman of Eko Hotel and at one time served as chairman of the Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON) where the younger ones are being encouraged to embrace and appreciate classical music. Late last year, Bashorun as he is fondly called organized a remembrance service for his late father who died in 1956 and a few weeks later, January 13th to be precise, he also turned 75.
Recollecting growing under the umbrella of his famous family, the former ICAN president said it was memorable. “My father died 62 years ago and a few days to my 13th birthday. It was a huge shock.
The whole of Lagos was in palpable grief and deep mourning. Growing up under an illustrious son of Lagos and his legacy of goodwill, unblemished family name and untarnished reputation still looms large. He touched so many lives and the beneficiaries have remained firmly loyal, far beyond the call of duty or any other obligation.”
But how did he weather the storm of losing his father at that relatively young age? “Well, I was 13 years old when my father died but I had already prepared my mind because much of what he was doing then didn’t make sense to me at that stage of my life. My father was so pre-occupied with charity, giving away most of his wealth and also he felt the most important asset in life is goodwill and not how much you acquire or have. Some of his properties were later placed under trust.
My father donated N100 million naira each to colleges and organisations – (although he was a Christian) two Muslim schools – Ahmadiyya College, Agege and Ansarudeen College, Isolo as well as a Catholic school – Holy Cross Primary School, Lagos and CMS Grammar School, Bariga all benefited from his philanthropist gesture.
“It must have been around 1954, when my father patiently explained to me that I should expect no inheritance from him and that what he owed me was a first-class education plus a first class reputation and family name. Considering that I was only ten years old at the time, the full impact and implications of what he had in mind did not immediately register. He tried to clarify matters somewhat by explaining that those who would take over power in Lagos in particular (and Nigeria in general) are likely to emerge from an entirely different background.
According to him, it is only through education that they too would be exposed to opportunities in order to enable them to excel. Anything short of that would be recipe for resentment, envy and vindictiveness. By the time he died, I was fortunate that I got into King’s College and was there for seven years.
I left Nigeria at the age of 20 to pursue further studies abroad. I was able to appreciate what it means to be an ordinary person and to live a normal life in England. For instance, if you look at my grandfather’s house located in Marina, Lagos, it was grand.
The fact that he was the only black person living on that stretch on the Marina at that time showed his class because the place was occupied by the expatriates. So by the time I went to England I knew how to be an ordinary man whereas in Nigeria I was like an aristocrat, a kind of privileged living but in England I was ordinary,” he recollected.
How has the name Randle opened doors for him? He said: “It doesn’t open doors for me. In fact, if anything, it is the opposite. Look at what the government has been doing to the Randles family. We got a raw deal from them by their seizing our properties. For instance, take a walk to Onikan and see J.K. Randle Memorial Hall.
Government just woke up one day and demolished it. The same thing for the swimming pool and even the Love Garden which my grandfather bequeathed to Lagos was seized by government and handed over to MUSON without any consultation with our family. And then go to Ikeja.
Where the secretariat is built is Randle property for which they (the government) never paid any compensation. And if they tell you they paid, let the government tell us to whom they paid. Then go to Surulere, The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) was a tenant then and now NPA is claiming that they own the property (the vast Nigerian Ports Authority Sports Ground).
Buttressing his points, he explained: “People always see the family as a well-to-do people and if one is in dire need of help is like ‘Why is he coming to share from our little now?’ But it runs counter to my father’s philosophy of life which he passed unto me that it is not what you inherit that belongs to you it is what you are able to achieve by your own sweat and toil that defines you. For me, this is my 50th year as a chartered accountant.
I only worked for KPMG and never jumped from one job to another. I turned 75 on January 13 which puts me in the same bracket with President Buhari. Therefore, if he succeeds it is our generation that succeeds and if he fails, it is the entire generation that fails.” Having a family with an accomplished name or pedigree tends to create a burden of expectation.
Does he sometimes feel the pressure to excel more than his predecessors? “Of course, that is a prayer and expectation of every parent that their children would surpass them and my father was no different. And I have tried to contribute my own quota to Nigeria. Do not forget that we are still talking about security issue in 2018.
In 2012, I sponsored a Security Summit, brought in experts from all over the world who were anxious to share their knowledge with Nigeria and its security problems and they did an excellent job. Even one of them pointed out that there is a strong connection (nexus) between security and availability of power (especially electricity) because if people are denied legitimate economic activities they can’t trade or have jobs, their lives would be compromised.
They become angry. As an auditor, I used to work all over the north. You could see the vast land but they didn’t have industries, they didn’t have basic infrastructure and didn’t have jobs. That was about 30 years ago and it was like a time bomb. When I was the chairman of Eko Hotel, I personally organized lectures to bring the plight of northern people to the government but the government turned a deaf ear.”
Lamenting the state of the nation, the foremost accountant says this is not Nigeria of his dream. “For me, Nigeria is not what we hoped it would be. Regardless, anybody who is not Grateful is a Great Fool because whatever Nigeria is now is a consequence of our own wrong choices and incompetence and also deliberate squandering of riches.
For my 76th birthday, I am going to republish all the five books which I have written: “The Godfather Never Sleeps”, “Who is Fooling Who?”, “The Natives Are Friendly?”, “God Does Not Live in Los Angeles Anymore?”, and “The Duke And The Soul Princess” with additional 15 more books and that would be my own contribution.”
From an accomplished trained medical doctor who popularized the J.K. Randle dynasty in the 18th century, the Randles have grown in leaps and bounds. Reeling out his dynasty, the proud Bashorun said, “My grandfather was named John Kehinde Randle, my father was Joseph Koshoniola Randle, I am Jaiye Kofolaran Randle.
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After that, my own first son is Jaiye Koshoniola Randle; my second son is Jaiye Kofolaran Randle. He too has a son who is Joseph Koshoniola Randle. We have about seven generations of J.K. Randles now and I am proud to have emerged from such an illustrious dynasty.”
What was most astonishing was the length to which Russian television went to chronicle the philanthropy of the J.K. Randle family.
• Public toilets all over Lagos
• Love Garden
• Swimming Pool
(i) Holy Cross Primary School, Lagos
(ii) CMS Grammar School, Bariga, Lagos
(iii) Ansaru-deen College, Isolo, Lagos
(iv) Ahmadiyya College, Agege.
Instead of goodwill and appreciation, the government is paying the family back in bad coin – with antagonism, resentment, malice and mendacity.
From the Archives:
“As far back as 1898 Dr. John Kehinde Randle; Dr. Akinwande Savage; and Joseph Ephraim Casely Hayford (of the Gold Coast) the founders of the National Congress of British West Africa had begun to agitate for the Independence of Nigeria and the rest of West Africa.”
In 1908 Dr. J. K. Randle founded the first political party in Nigeria — the People’s Union.