By Ifetayo Adeniyi & Patrick Ochoga
It was former South Africa President, late Nelson Mandela, that wrote, “Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and country, he can rest in peace.”
While one of the greatest and famous Scientists that lived, Albert Einstein, wrote about death, “Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation. For they are us; our bodies are only wilted on the tree of life.”
A sad fact is that with life comes death. It will happen to all of us. But that doesn’t make dealing with or understanding it any easier. The devastation that the death of a friend or loved ones causes is profound. And facing up to our mortality can be distressing too. So looking for a way to cope or help with the loss of someone is natural. We seek ways to make tough times that’s bit easier, as well as some understanding.
Exactly, on the 8th of August, 2021, dark clouds covered the blue sky for millions across the globe with the news of the demise of a global icon, an illustrious leader, a father, business mogul, philanthropist, industrialist, a humanist, a brother and grandfather, late Captain (Dr) Idahosa Wells Okunbo, (JP), was snatched by the cold hands of death to join his creator.
It was indeed sad and devastating that Captain Hosa had gone to join the saints. He was everything good to those who came across him. Expectedly, the passing of the iconic business mogul attracted reactions across the world among those who knew him and those who had encountered him cannot but be overwhelmed by his penchant to always champion and pursue peace and unity in the society.
Tributes that greeted his demise last year was a clear testimony to the fact that Captain Hosa lived a life worthy of emulation by all men of good and clear conscience. His path to greatness as rightly submitted by many who spoke during his burial were unanimous in the fact that Captain’s larger than life image was indeed a gift not only to his Edo people but to the world and those who his path crossed during his sojourn here on earth.
It was difficult for us during his demise to pen down a tribute for a man we considered, a father, benefactor, whose large heart to always put a smile on faces and give listening ears had gone. In all, our interactions with Captain which we will cherish is also a reminder to reflect deeply about legacies and what one would be remembered for after we must have gone.
In his usual baritone voice in some of our conversations he often talked passionately about his desire to make an impact in the Nigeria economy and lives of the people with his God’s given wealth he will say, “listen my friends, I’m not driven by money but by value. When you create value naturally money will come.” That for us, sank and quite inspirational and that has guided us in our professional dealings.
His love for God at all times was visible aside the fact that his late father was a Reverend; his passion for things of God was legendary. He would say, “God has done so much for me beyond my life expectations. I will serve him forever.”
As aptly captured during the grand burial, ‘Captain Lives Forever’. His children led by the scion of the family Osahon Okunbo and the Olori of Warri Kingdom, Olori Atuwatse III, have continued to toe the path of their father by sustaining and keeping to his legacies which are worthy of commendation. They have ensured that their late father’s vast investment which cut across all sectors of the economy continued to flourish, a demonstration that they are indeed the scion of a noble and influential family of the Okunbos.
In keeping faith with their father’s legacies, his children and family members came together during their father’s 64th posthumous memorial birthday on 7th January, 2022, doled out free scholarship to 100 under privileged students in publi schools in Edo State.
Also, Captain Hosa’s first daughter and wife to the Olu of the Warri Kingdom, Olori Atuwatse III, on behalf of the Okunbo family fulfilled their fathers promise by providing solar-powered street light to Federal Government College, Warri where the late philanthropist attended.
In faraway Keffi, in the Northern State of Nasarawa, the Keffi Polo Club also donated a cup to the memory of Captain Hosa’s outstanding development of the polo game. The cup, according to the organizers, was one of their initiatives to immortalize the philanthropist who was a patron of the club before his demise.
Late Captain Idahosa Wells Okunbo, (JP) attended Government Primary School Benin City and Federal Government College Warri, where in 1975, he wrote and passed the West African School Certificate Examination, (WASCE) in flying colours. In 1979, he graduated from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Training Centre, Zaria, as a professional Commercial Pilot. He was just 21 years old at the time. He began his professional career with Aero Contractors Nigeria Ltd. He later joined the Intercontinental Airline, where he accumulated most of his flying experience in jet time. He thereafter proceeded on further training at the Acme School of Aeronautics in (Dallas, Texas, USA) in 1983, where he obtained an Airline Transport Pilot license; the young Idahosa Okunbo was promoted in the same year to the position of Airline Captain, having accumulated a compulsory 4,500 flying hours to his credit at the age of 25 years.
Having reached the zenith of his profession at the age of 25, with a broad horizon of experience traversing various aircraft types and flying over different continents, he felt the need to pursue new challenges and subsequently ventured into other endeavours. It was this singular decision and the desire to engage in new pursuits that led him into oil and gas terrain. He quickly identified the windows of opportunities inherent to his new aspiration in the Oil and Gas sector and registered his company, Hoslyn Ventures Nigeria Limited in 1986 targeting procurement for refineries as the area of core competence.
Captain Okunbo later realized the enormity of the commitment required in this industry which had zero tolerance for part-time human capital investment. At the age of 30, he resigned as an Airline Captain with Okada Airline, after booking over 7, 500 hours of flight time (most of which was jet experience). Hoslyn Venture was responsible for the successful supply of refinery catalysts which were used in major refineries in Nigeria. Hoslyn was also involved in major revamp projects and procurements in the Oil and Gas sector and also participated in the procurement of major engineering components for the Warri Refinery Turn around Maintenance, (TAM) in 1992. Never scared to take a new challenge, Captain Okunbo , through Hoslyn Technologies Nigeria Limited, one of the first indigenous companies to carry out Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract in Nigeria, was able to complete and commission the early production facility for Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, (NPDC) at Ajoki Oziengbe South field in 2001.
He was the Executive Chairman of Ocean Marine Solutions Ltd (OMSL), a company that provides relevant, effective and modern solutions to high –risk security concerns in Nigeria. Among other services, OMSL provides Maritime Management and Logistic, Sea Patrol Security and Ocean Vessel Escorts.
As Chairman, Captain Okunbo continued to provide leadership for a host of other successful local and international companies. Principal among them are: CMES-OMS Venture Limited, an integrated energy related company with enormous capacity to provide financing and technical solutions to the upstream Oil and Gas sector; Wells Property Development Company Limited, a company involved in the development of affordable properties for low income earners, high net-worth individuals and office development; Gyro Air Limited, a private airline charter service with a fleet of aircraft in its ownership; Wells Procurement Services Limited; The Wells Carlton Hotel and Luxury Apartments, Abuja; The New London Carlton, London; Wells Entertainment Limited, entertainment and movie production; Westminster Security Solution Nigeria Limited, franchise of Westminster Group Plc, UK in which he was a shareholder. Wells Bakery and FEVA TV are both making waves in Canada.
Prior to his demise he was also on board of many striving companies. May his gentle soul continue to rest in peace our great Capitano, the iroko to many forest.