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Members of the business and sports communities have continued to mourn the passing away of the late boardroom icon, philanthropist and sports enthusiast, late Chief Molade Okoya-Thomas.

His death last week was considered as a great loss to the people of Lagos State, where he lived most of his life time, and Nigeria as a country, where his exploits in the corporate world are being felt.

Presence in Corporate World

Apart from his indelible marks in the area of sports philanthropy, it is on record, that late chief Molade Okoya-Thomas, a scion of the famous Okoya dynasty of Lagos, gave his best in the area of corporate leadership. For instance, the late businessman was at one time or the other, a director, Transcap Nigeria Limited and a director, Niger Motors Industries Limited. He was Chairman, Studio Press Nigeria Limited and had been the Chairman of CFAO Nigeria Limited since 1987. He was also Chairman of many other organisations including CICA (Nigeria) Ltd., Transcap Nigeria Ltd., Oktom Investment Ltd., Itochu Nigeria Ltd., Chiyoda Nigeria Ltd. and Anchoria Investment & Securities Ltd. He also served as Director of NFI Insurance Company Plc and the defunct Gateway Bank Plc.

It is on record that late Okoya-Thomas also contributed to the development of Lagos State by serving in numerous committees including; member, Lagos City Council between 1971–1975, member Lagos State Development and Property Corporation, Chairman Board of Trustees Glover Memorial Hall and Tom Jones Hall.

His love for the game of sports also saw the best in him. Records showed that he served as vice-chairman, Lagos State Sports Council, President Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Chairman 3rd All-Africa Games Appeal Fund Committee, Chairman National Appeal Fund for Sports Development and chairman Sports Trust Fund. Before his death, late Okoya-Thomas built and donated a modern sports hall for students and staff of the Lagos State University (LASU) in 2009 and he was a member of the fund raising committee for the construction of Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere.

Background

Molade Okoya-Thomas was born in Lagos on June 8, 1935 to Late Hussam Okoya-Thomas, the first local staff of CFAO, who served the company for 52 years.

Molade Okoya-Thomas had his elementary education at Princess School, Lagos, between 1942 and 1946. For his secondary education, he attended Baptist Academy and left Baptist Academy in 1956 as the best graduating student, hence earning the honour of his name being listed on the school’s DUX BOARD (Honours Board).

He studied accountancy at Balham and Tooting College of Commerce between 1956 and 1959 and a further training in Accountancy at Columbia University in New York City in 1981. He was offered employment immediately he returned to Nigeria as an accountant by CFAO. Molade later rose to become Director in 1975, Deputy managing Director in 1981, and Chairman of the Group in 1987.

His various other appointments in the private sector established him as a Captain of Industry. He was the President, Alliance Francaise, Lagos and Vice-President, Franco-Nigerian Chamber of Commerce.

He was a Member of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (MFR) and recipient of the Chevalier De La Legion Dâ Honneur the highest national honour of France. He was the First Nigerian Fellow of the World Academy of Productivity Science; Fellow, Institute of Directors; Fellow, Nigerian Institute of Management; Member, Institute of Company & Commercial Accountants, and Associate, National Accountants of Nigeria.

As his immediate constituency, Governor Raji Fashola was among the first public officer to extol the virtues of the late business man by describing him as an epitome of humaneness and dedication to service.

In a letter to the widow of the late sports philanthropist, Mrs Abosede Okoya-Thomas, the governor, who said the passing of Chief Okoya-Thomas was a tremendous loss to him personally and to Lagos State, pointed out that both he and the people of Lagos had been the beneficiaries of the great wisdom and philanthropy of Okoya-Thomas over the years.

“History will remember Chief Molade Okoya-Thomas as a great philanthropist. His legacy will live on because he made his mark in the private and public sectors and in the lives of numerous individuals,” Governor Fashola said.

ThisDay, February 08, 2015

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