Abidemi Faboye, the proprietor and principal of Abifab College, Ikorodu, Lagos, the secondary school Ilerioluwa Aloba, aka Mohbad, attended, tells GRACE EDEMA about the memories he has of the late singer
How would you describe Mohbad?
I knew him when he enrolled in my school in 2013. His elder sister, Blessing, also graduated from the school in 2013. He was brought from a public school, and he was a quiet boy. He was tall and slim. It was years after secondary school that he added weight.
How old was he when he joined your school?
He was 17 years old, and was a bit more mature than some of his classmates. He wrote the National Examination Council senior secondary certificate exam in 2015, and made his papers in one sitting. He spent two years in the school, and there was a transformation in his life. He always called me, ‘daddy’. I always wanted my students to call me ‘Abifab’ or ‘Mr Abifab’, but he found it difficult to call me that. Whenever Promise (Ilerioluwa) called me ‘daddy’, I would tell him to call me ‘Abifab’; and he would just laugh.
What kind of student was he?
He was in commercial class, and he had very good results. I would not say he was an excellent student, but he was above average. He was an easygoing person, who only played occasionally. He never made trouble.
He wanted to study Accounting, and I told him there was no way he could do that without mathematics. So, he improved in mathematics and financial accounting.
Did you know he was a member of the Marlian group?
When I heard that he was a member of the Marlian group, I was surprised. I doubted if he could cope with such group. Although he was mature, I felt he must have mixed with a few others who joined the record label. I prayed that God would be with him, because after he left school, we did not communicate regularly.
Did he show any sign of his musical talent while he was in school?
Many of us, including the teachers who taught him, were surprised. When we heard about Imole, we were all surprised. I was not familiar with afrobeats music, until one day, my daughter told me, ‘Do you know Uncle Promise is now Mohbad?’ I took my phone and chatted with him via Messenger. He then gave me his number. His dad is a carpenter, and as a student, he often assisted his dad. He learnt carpentry from his father, who is also a pastor.
Back then, I noticed then that whenever school closed, he did not usually stay for up to five minutes, before going home. His house was a bit far from the school, so I always thought he wanted to get back home on time. He was active in the school’s music club. During quiz competitions, he would lead with songs.
When he rose to fame; sometimes, I would call him, and he wouldn’t pick up his calls. But, he would call me back and say, “Sir, I am in the studio rehearsing.” He was busy with his music, and he told me that immediately he had inspirations, he would write down the lyrics in a jotter and later develop them.
When he became popular, I was very happy that I had somebody who was not a doctor or pilot, but a musician. He was a real imole (light) of afrobeats music.
He was a child of promise; a star. Before his death, he got to a level where if one tuned in to any radio station, one would hear his songs. When people learnt that he passed through this school, they began to ask how I coped with him. It was after his death that people got to know he was a product of Abifab College. Now, I receive condolences as if I was his biological father. His seniors and juniors call me from different places, including the United Kingdom, expressing their condolences. He was a star that we lost too early.
What advice do you have for parents on how to help their children achieve greatness?
Parents should not always force courses or careers on their children. Forcing children to achieve greatness in one’s own way is not the best. One should encourage one’s children, and ask them questions.
Most parents are so busy nowadays that they don’t have the time to ask their children questions.
If Promise had the type of background David Adeleke (Davido) had, he might likely be alive now. I believed Mohbad’s death was avoidable, but God knows best.
What I am saying in essence is that parents should encourage their children. Education is very important for any career a child eventually chooses. Even if one cannot have a second degree, one should have a first degree, then pursue one’s career diligently. Promise pursued his career diligently. He never felt that he couldn’t make it, because his father was a carpenter. It is a pity that we lost him. Parents should encourage their children by financing them and advising them. They should not be far away from their children. If one’s children want to do music, law or engineering, one should encourage them with finance. Even as an old father or grandfather, one should still sit with one’s children and talk to them, because the knowledge and information one has can still help them.
That was one thing Promise lacked. He was not talking to me. If he had talked to me, God could have used me to really guide him. We just learnt that he was dead, that he wrote a petition to the police, and that his equipment were destroyed. After the letter, he should have spoken out. Who was his mentor and adviser when such things happened? The matter should have been resolved amicably among the parties involved, but he kept it to himself. Perhaps, he was talking, but people were not listening. The habit of some parents who give their children freedom is good, but it shouldn’t be total freedom. If one gives them total freedom, they might misbehave. Parents should move closer to their children, so as to help them achieve greatness. Everything should have been done to avoid his death.
If people like us were aware that he had problems with his record label, we would have spoken to them, and I believe God would make him listen. Not all musicians are gangsters. There are some musicians who are not gangsters, and he was one of such people. When he was having those issues, he was not talking to the real people. He should have involved his mother and father, because he was raised by his stepmother. His mother is alive, but she is separated from the dad. His father had a second wife. He made moves to bring his mum to his father, and I think he achieved that before death came.