In the early 90s, a hotel was given birth to in the ancient city of Ibadan, it was a talk of the town and envy of other hotels through out the length and breadth of the city. D-Rovans Hotel as it was called, was indeed a beautiful tourist attraction to Ibadan city in those days.
Apart from the most prestigious Premier Hotel, no other hotel in the city was able to compete with the D-Rovans Hotel at the time. Inarguably, the D-Rovans massive structure was a kind my grand father would refer to as ‘Awosifila’.., for its elegant size and outstanding architectural majesty at that time.
The D-Rovans Hotel was indeed represented a ‘lionic’ pride on Ring Road Ibadan which shone through between 90s and recent. Those who’d rocked the city in the early 90s must have gone to the D-Rovans Hotel to watch films, drink and swim. D-Rovans night club on Fridays must be attended by the big boys and girls of the town at that time. D-Rovans Hotel was indeed an entertainment fountain of Ibadan city where top socialites from all across the citywide and beyond would prefer to meet for their both leisure and business meetings and gatherings.
I knew about D-Rovans in 199O/91 when Denis Aiyegbeni joined us in Oke Ado High School in SSS One.
Denis Ayeigbeni was one of the many children of late Chief Francis Aiyegbeni like Roy, Faith, Edit and Armstrong. Denis was a big golden fish at that time, we used to look at him like a president son just as different flashy cars would come to drop him in the morning and pick him when school closed in the noons on daily basis.
Our classroom suddenly became a mecca as girls of different ages, sizes and colours would besiege our classroom from different classes, including the senior ones, to showcase their beauty and solicit. It was the era of big-boys gangsterism, and Denis was able to oppress all the ‘oppressibles’ back in the days.
The gun battle that the late chief Francis had against a four-men armed robbery gang who’d lodged in the hotel to rob another customer in the hotel made D-Rovans Hotel more popular for its excellent security. The armed robbers were all killed in the gun battle before police arrived. Chief Francis Aiyegbeni courage and boldness averted a disastrous robbery incident that could have soiled the name of his hotel in the mud.
The Wallan Hall, the shopping mall, swimming pool, the boxing ring, nightclub and the highlife music led by the chief Francis Aiyegbeni added to the glorious existence of the hotel back in the days. King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal always threw up his musical gigs every last Friday of each month while on other days, the Rovans Band, sometimes led by Chief Aiyegbeni would treat guests with good tunes of highlife music all times.
Chief Francis Aiyegbeni, during his lifetime, was a man of many radiant sides, he was a boxer, a saxophonist, guitarist, a dancer and a singer and as well as boxing and music promoters.
It’s true that D-Rovans hotel lit up the light of entertainment on the Ring road axis of Ibadan. But today, D-Rovans is practically no more and that should send a signal to us that nothing shines forever. Today, Chief Francis Aiyegbeni is no more, and D-Rovans Hotel has been sold to settle its huge debt and the rest have become history.
The death of Francis Aiyegbeni indeed did a dead blow to the hotel’s existence. D-Rovans began to descend into the oblivion just few months after the death of its owner. It’s true..(Bo lo de o kuu, ojude re kii wu gbegi)
Those who have committed crimes and sins against human and against God in those days in order to catch fun inside the prestigious D-Rovans of those days, if perhaps they are still alive today, must bury their heads between their legs shamefully.
Those who have lost their lives in connection with the hotel, in one way or the other, must have (perhaps) died in vain.
Many that were oppressed in those days have had their levels changed today, and that must also stand as a lesson for all of us.
Each time the nostalgic memory of D-Rovans Hotel flashes through my mind, I am always forced to remember how we used to look at Denis Aiyegbeni in the classroom at that time, but today, the case is obviously the other way round.
Oladele Idowu Joseph