Abidemi Faboye, the founder and head of Abifab College located in Ikorodu, Lagos, the same secondary school attended by Ilerioluwa Aloba, popularly known as Mohbad, shares his cherished memories of the late musical sensation in an interview with GRACE EDEMA.
It’s worth noting that Mohbad, the singer behind “Peace,” tragically passed away on September 12th, 2023, at the age of 27. He was laid to rest on September 13th, 2023. Following the circulation of online videos showing Mohbad being harassed and assaulted during his lifetime, Nigerians demanded an autopsy, leading to the exhumation of his body in Ikorodu by the Lagos State Police.
An autopsy has since been conducted, and many are awaiting the results in their pursuit of justice.
When asked about Mohbad, Abidemi Faboye said:
“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.”
“He was 17 years old when he joined our school, and he was a bit more mature than some of his classmates. He wrote the National Examination Council senior secondary certificate exam in 2015, and passed in one attempt. He spent two years in the school, and there was a transformation in his life. He always called me ‘daddy.’ I preferred my students to address me as ‘Abifab’ or ‘Mr. Abifab,’ but he found it difficult to do so. Whenever Promise (Ilerioluwa) called me ‘daddy,’ I would encourage him to call me ‘Abifab,’ but he would just laugh.”
What kind of student was he?
Mohbad was in the commercial class, and he achieved commendable results. While I wouldn’t describe him as an outstanding student, he consistently performed above average. He had an easygoing personality and seldom engaged in mischief. He occasionally enjoyed leisure activities. His ambition was to pursue Accounting, but I advised him that mathematics was essential for this path. Consequently, he worked diligently to improve his skills in mathematics and financial accounting.
Were you aware that he was affiliated with the Marlian group?
When I first learned about his association with the Marlian group, it did come as a surprise to me. I had my reservations about how well he could fit into such a group. While he displayed maturity, I suspected that he might have been influenced by others who joined the record label. My hope and prayer were that God would watch over him because our communication became less frequent after he left school.
Did he exhibit any indications of his musical talent during his school days?
His musical talent was truly a revelation for many of us, including his teachers. When we learned about Imole, it took us all by surprise. I wasn’t particularly familiar with afrobeats music until one day when my daughter informed me, “Do you know Uncle Promise is now Mohbad?” This revelation prompted me to reach out to him via Messenger, and he later shared his phone number with me. Interestingly, his father worked as a carpenter, and as a student, he often assisted his dad and learned carpentry skills from him. His father is also a pastor.
During his school days, I noticed that when classes were dismissed, he typically didn’t linger for more than five minutes before heading home. Given the distance between the school and his house, I assumed he wanted to get back home promptly. He was an active member of the school’s music club, often leading with songs during quiz competitions.
As he started to gain fame, there were times when I tried to reach out to him, but he wouldn’t answer his calls initially. However, he would later return my call, explaining, “Sir, I am in the studio rehearsing.” He was deeply engrossed in his music, and he mentioned that whenever inspiration struck, he would jot down lyrics in a notebook and develop them later.
When he achieved popularity, I was genuinely delighted to see that one of our students had become a successful musician, breaking the mold of traditional careers like doctors or pilots. He truly illuminated the world of afrobeats music, living up to his name “Imole” (light).
He was a child of promise, a shining star. Before his untimely passing, he had reached a level where his songs played on almost every radio station. People began to inquire about how I had mentored him once they learned he had attended our school. It was after his passing that the wider community came to know that he was a product of Abifab College. Now, I receive condolences as if I were his biological father. Former classmates, both older and younger, from various places, including the United Kingdom, reach out to express their condolences. He was a star we lost far too soon.
What advice do you have for parents on how to support their children in achieving greatness?
Parents should avoid imposing specific courses or careers on their children. Forcing children to follow a predetermined path isn’t the best approach. Instead, parents should provide encouragement and engage in meaningful conversations with their children.
Many parents are exceptionally busy nowadays, leaving little time for meaningful discussions with their kids. It’s crucial to find time to ask questions and listen to what your children have to say.
If Promise had the kind of support and background that David Adeleke (Davido) had, he might still be with us today. I believe Mohbad’s untimely death could have been prevented, but ultimately, God knows best.
In essence, parents should offer their children support and encouragement. Education plays a vital role in any career path a child chooses. Even if it’s not possible to pursue an advanced degree, having a solid foundation with a first degree is important. Promise diligently pursued his career and never doubted his ability to succeed, even with his father’s background as a carpenter. It’s truly tragic that we lost him.
Parents should financially support and advise their children, regardless of their chosen fields. They shouldn’t distance themselves from their children. Whether their aspirations are in music, law, engineering, or any other field, parents should provide financial backing. Even as parents or grandparents, maintaining open lines of communication with their children is essential, as their knowledge and guidance can be invaluable.
This was something Promise lacked. He wasn’t communicating with me. If he had, I believe God could have used me to guide him. We only learned about his death and the petition he wrote to the police after the fact. Following the letter, he should have spoken up. Who was his mentor and advisor when these issues arose? The matter could have been resolved amicably among the parties involved, but he kept it to himself. Perhaps he was speaking out, but people weren’t listening.
While giving children some freedom is good, it shouldn’t be absolute. Total freedom may lead to misbehavior. Parents should maintain close connections with their children to help them achieve greatness. Everything should have been done to prevent his tragic death.
Had people like us known about his problems with his record label, we could have intervened and I believe he would have listened. Not all musicians are involved in illicit activities, and he was one of those who were not. When he faced these issues, he wasn’t seeking advice from the right people. He should have involved his mother and father in the discussion, as he was raised by his stepmother. His biological mother is alive but separated from his father, who had a second wife. He made efforts to reunite his mother with his father, and I believe he achieved that before his untimely passing.