Family, associates mourn Okoya-Thomas


Close family members, employees, the Nigerian manufacturing industry and the nation in general, is mourning the death of the late Chancellor of the Lagos State University, Chief Molade Okoya-Thomas.

According to family sources, Okoya-Thomas passed away on Sunday, February 1. He was 79.

His daughter, Jumoke, told our correspondent on the phone that the industrialist was ill sometime in December, but had recovered and was back in form until Sunday.

“His death took all of us by surprise,” she said.

Jumoke added that the late billionaire was a father to all and expressed the same degree of kindness to all his children.

Until his death, he was acknowledged as the Asoju Oba of Lagos, Babasuwa of Ijebu-Remo and Odofin of Ife. He was also the chairman of the CFAO Nigeria Limited.

The Group Managing Director, CFAO, Mr. Stephen Faderin, said the late Okoya-Thomas was more than a boss to all the employees of the company.

He said, “He was like a father to all of us. Personally, I have known him for 35 years and he was my first boss. The biggest lesson I learnt from him is the lesson of humility. He was the most humble man I have ever known. He does not discriminate between the driver and the manager; he addresses all of us with the same level of humility, kindness and friendship.”

Marketing communications expert who consults for CFAO, Oscar Odiboh, said, “He was very hardworking; a father to so many people. He went out of his way to render help and never said ‘no’ to anybody. He also helped the careers of many young people. He ensured that people around him understood and appreciated family values.”

Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, in a press statement by his media office in Abuja, noted that the late Okoya-Thomas was a visionary and astute businessman whose contribution to Nigeria’s private sector economy will remain indelible.

“Although the late Molade Okoya-Thomas left the stage at a prime age of 79, his death nonetheless is a huge blow to the community of businessmen in Nigeria.

“He was a pioneer and a visionary leader. Okoya-Thomas belonged to a generation of private sector investors who saw opportunities in making investments in the economy when it was risky to do so,” the statement read.

The President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Remi Bello, described the deceased as a great industrialist and good sports promoter.

In a short text message to our correspondent, Bello wrote, “His death is shocking. His death is not good at this time. He would be highly missed.”

Economic analyst and professor of Economics at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Prof. Sherifdeen Tella, expressed shock at the death of Okoya-Thomas, noting that it was a time when the nation’s economy would miss his mark most.

He also expressed hope that the industrialist left behind a succession arrangement that would ensure that his good legacy continued.

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