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Gamaliel Onosode, corporate guru, dies at 82

By The Rainbow
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Boardroom guru and consummate  technocrat, administrator and former presidential candidate, Mr. Gamaliel Oforitsenere Onosode, has died.  The Delta State-born corporate icon died  aged 82 years, after battling bone cancer for almost 24 months.

Onospde, whose death was confirmed by his  son, Ese Onosode, was Chairman, Dunlop Nigeria Plc from 1984 to 2007; Chairman, Cadbury Nigeria Plc from 1977 to 1993; Chairman, Presidential Commission on Parastatals in 1981; Chairman, Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas, LNG, Working Committee and Nigeria LNG Limited from 1985 to 1990 and the Niger Delta Environmental Survey in 1983.

He was also Chairman of the GSM telco, Zain Nigeria.

He was the immediate-past and inaugural President of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers, immediate past Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of the University of Uyo.

He held Honorary D.Sc. degrees of Obafemi Awolowo University, the University of Benin and the Rivers State University of Science and Technology.

He was chairman of Delta State Think-Tank on Development, Global Missions Board of the Nigerian Baptist Convention and Governing Council of Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso

President Buhari extended condolences to the family.

A statement by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, also commiserated with the government and people of Delta State, and the Nigerian Baptist Convention on the passing away of their illustrious son and evangelist.

The statement said: “He joined them in mourning Mr. Onosode, who apart from being a colossus in Nigeria's private sector, also excelled in public service on various occasions.

“President Buhari believed that Mr. Onosode will be long remembered as an exemplary citizen and leader who made very significant contributions to national development.

“He urged his family, friends, associates and other Nigerians to honour Mr. Onosode's memory by upholding the virtues of integrity, honesty and dedication to service, which he passionately promoted in his long and highly successful career in the private and public sectors.”

Former Commonwealth Secretary-General Emeka Anyaoku, the late Onosode's friend of more than five decades, described him as “a true symbol of integrity, an outstanding patriot and an icon of the best of Nigeria's national values”.

“An iroko in the corporate world has fallen,'' he said in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

Anyaoku said, “An Iroko in the corporate world has fallen. Mr. Onosode was a true symbol of integrity in the boardroom. He was an outstanding patriot and an icon of the best of Nigeria's national values. Gam, as he was called by his contemporaries, was also a man of God who deployed a significant part of his righteously acquired resources to supporting the church in his home town of Ughelli and in Lagos, where he lived an exemplary modest life.

“He will be missed by the very many people whose lives he touched in beneficial ways. Gamaliel was my best man at our wedding almost 53 years ago; my entire family, which enjoys close relationship with his family, joins his wife, Susan, and their children in mourning this virtuous man.

“We thank God for his remarkable and fulfilled life, and pray that his soul will rest in perfect peace.''

In his part, Afenifere leader, Ayo Adebanjo, described Onosode’s death as a great loss to Nigeria. According to the revered Yoruba leader, “It is a great loss. He was one of the great minds in Nigeria; a perfect gentleman. He is one of those that Nigeria needs at this point in time, particularly with the reconstruction of our economy and others.”

Also in his tribute, the Urhobo-born politician cum-technocrat, Senator Emmanuel Aguariavwodo said the death of Onosode was a colossal loss to the Urhobo nation, Delta State and Nigeria as a whole.

Aguariavwodo said, “Nigeria has lost a colossus,” adding that Onosode's exemplary life style is worthy of emulation.

In his reaction, Chief Etiebet said: “It is very sad to hear that Sir Gamaliel Onosode is dead. Nigeria has lost a rare gem. He epitomized, in all respects, what Nigeria wanted to be as a nation.

“We will surely miss him and may his gentle soul rest in peace as we ask for God's grace to abide with the family to bear the irreparable loss with fortitude.”

Also speaking, Chairman of Sadiq Oil, Chief Peter Okocha, said Nigeria has lost a first class intellectual.

His words: “A great Nigerian and Deltan, a wonderful Nigerian and first class intellectual has passed to the great beyond. May his gentle soul rest in peace.”

Gbagi said: ''He has paid his dues in this country and we all saw that. God rewarded him with age to cap the unblemished life he led. The last time I was with him at the palace of the king of Ughelli, I never knew it would be our last time together.

“I have regard for him because he was a man of impeccable pedigree. All the times our paths crossed, whether in politics or other areas, his conduct was exemplary. Nigerians should borrow a leaf from the life of integrity he led. I have no doubt that his soul will rest in peace.''

Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, expressed deep shock and sadness over Onosode's demise.

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, the governor described Onosode's death as a great loss to Deltans and Nigerians in general.

He said the late Onosode was a great Nigerian technocrat, administrator, astute and disciplined politician who had engraved his indelible footprints on the sands of time, having served his fatherland meritoriously in different capacities.

Condoling the people of Urhobo extraction, Okowa pointed out that Onosode's death came at a time when his service, contribution and ideas are most needed in the present socio-economic and political uncertainties in the country.

He prayed God to grant Deltans and his immediate family the fortitude to bear the loss.

Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary Habib Aruna, expressed sadness over Onosode's death.

”Mr. Onosode was one of the few Nigerians who ruled the boardroom. A quintessential businessman, he was also a master in his field and deeply religious. It was not therefore surprising that he rose to become a leading boardroom player in Nigeria's corporate environment.

“He will be remembered for the dexterity he brought to bear when he served as chairman and board member of several multinational companies.”

“I wish to convey my deepest condolences to the Onosode family on behalf of the good people of Lagos state. This is indeed a sad loss,” Ambode said.

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar described the late Onosode as a man of integrity and an exemplary discipline.

”Onosode was a big man who didn't necessarily look the part,” Atiku said, adding that “he was in trim, good shape and his tastes were simple”.

The Turaki Adamawa recalled that the late Onosode was chairman of many panels, boards, councils, commissions and committees in both public and private sectors.

“From the private to the public sector, many organisations in Nigeria will today be mourning the loss of one of their own.”

Some financial experts described Onosode's death as a big blow to the nation's capital market, banking and the entire corporate Nigeria.

Mazi Okechukwu Unegbu, a former President of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), said the country had lost a gem and an “epitome of moderation and simplicity”.

Unegbu, who described the death as painful, said the late Onosode stood for truth, hated corruption and never accepted unethical conduct during his active years.

Emeka Madubuike, the President, Association of Stockbroking Houses of Nigeria, said the late Onosode was instrumental to the stability in the capital market and the economy in general.

Madubuike said the late Onosode contributed to the country's economic development as the chairman of various quoted companies and the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) Investor Protection Fund.

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