By Patrick Ochoga
Roman 14.8: For if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
To grow older is truly a gift. It is a gift of time. When the psalmists said God knows every day that is ordained for us when not one of them existed (Psalm 139), it means God has a purpose, and it is our gift to God to find that purpose and to fulfill it, even if we are into our eighth decade of life or beyond.
Late Captain Idahosa Wells Okunbo(better known as Captain Hosa), one of Nigeria’s prominent philanthropists with a heart of gold, would have been 64th on the 7th of January, 2022. Even in death there cannot possibly be too many celebrations for this man, who deserved to live up to a thousand years if God had wished so. But God has guided and watched him transmuted all these years to a fountain of wisdom, blessing to his people and gift to humanity, to preserve him.
However, as the dark cloud gathered and claw of death took him away to meet with his creator on the 8th August, 2021. The news of his demise shook many in the world over whose path with Captain Hosa had crossed. His testimony of good deeds abound. Even in death his name rings bells.
As Psalm 92:12-15 says, “The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.” And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times; having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
Every day brings stories about people who have lived long and distinguished themselves among their contemporaries. So also, every year people on their birthday anniversary, blow hundreds of thousands candles to wish themselves more years. But for Captain Hosa Okunbo, who lived a fabulous life of curiosity, exploration, humanity and hard work, lived an exemplary life worthy of emulation and remembrance.
The thought to engage his people in productive ventures, to turn their lives around, open doors of opportunity for the growing youth population in the country, to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace dominated his passion for his country in the last decades.
Today, as we reflect on the life and times of Captain Hosa Okunbo (JP), it is noteworthy to celebrate this iconic leader who had contributed immensely in the private sector to reduce the surge of unemployment in the country. The corporate world is full of huddles and pressure. Yet, Captain Hosa had remained steadfast, more than the ordinary human; he had not only joined others to transform the private sector in Nigeria but had also inspired and motivated millions of growing entrepreneurs who took a cue from him most of whom have also become successful today.
His passion for humanity placed him in the good books of both local and International bodies for his good works towards lifting the standard of life. From creating employment to humanitarian services, efforts on fighting against trafficking in humans and his passion for political reforms in Nigeria, his name stands tall.
Early in 2020, Captain Hosa was recognized by the National Agency for the Prohibition Of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP) for committing personal resources to the fight against the illicit business of human trafficking and illegal migration by empowering victims of human trafficking and supporting NAPTIP to mark the 2019 World Day Against Human Trafficking
On Saturday, September 21, 2019, in Geneva, Switzerland, Okunbo was bestowed with the Global Peace Award from the chairman of the Order of Lafayette Awards. This was in recognition of his efforts in global peace and business innovations. In September 2020, the Billionaire Philanthropist and key investor in Marine Security won America Forbes “Best of Africa” Award as one of the outstanding leaders in Africa.
This came two years after he received the Businessman of the Year Award at the ‘2016 Vanguard Personality of The Year Awards’. Okunbo received the Africa Titans Award in 2012, from the Congress of the United States in collaboration with the African Society Summit, in recognition of his strides on behalf of Africa in the international arena. In November 2012, the University of Benin also conferred Okunbo with an honorary Doctor of Science degree. Okunbo was granted the Worthy Ambassador of Unity Award as an old student of Federal Government College, Warri in March 2016.
On October 2, 2014, the monarch of Benin in Edo State, His Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba N’Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Erediauwa, blessed Okunbo with the ‘Traditional Beads’ for being a worthy son of the ancient Kingdom. These recognitions and many others not listed here have come naturally as a result of the work Captain Hosa had put into building a society fit for all. No doubt he made his mark in the sand of time and continues to leave an indelible print in the history of national development.
Capi, as fondly called by his admirers, was born 7 January, 1958. He was a Nigerian business magnate, investor, philanthropist and trained commercial pilot. He served as either chairman or director on numerous company boards in Nigeria, spanning multiple business sectors such as the agro-allied, petroleum, telecommunications, power, real estate and banking industries. Okunbo established Hoslyn Ventures Nigeria Ltd., a company that was involved with procurement in the Nigerian petroleum sector.
He was the founder and chairman of the following Nigerian companies: CMES-OMS Petroleum Development Company (CPDC), which, in September 2019, signed $875.75m alternative financing deal for the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) operated OML 65; the Wells Carlton Hotel and Apartments; Wells San-Carlos Agro Farms Ltd, which, in March 2016, unveiled a $750 million, 9,000-hectare (22,000-acre) farm intended to create 85,000 jobs in Edo State; Ocean Marine Security Ltd(OMSL), an offshore asset-protection company, rendering services to major oil companies in Nigeria, including Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC).
The company recently completed the building of the 46-kilometre (29 mi) Escravos–Warri Crude Pipeline, which was inaugurated by the then Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum, Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu.
His other investments includes, Westminster Security Solutions Nigeria Ltd, a franchise of Westminster Group Plc UK, of which he is major shareholder; Wells Group of companies, which include Wells Dredging Ltd; Wells Property Development Company Ltd; Ocean Marine Solutions Tankers Ltd, which owns Nigeria’s first marine tankers; Hoslyn Habitat Ltd, which is a design, construction and landscaping company; Wells Property Limited which specializes in real estate across the continent of the world; Wells Entertainment which promote Nollywood movies across Europe and Canada and Gyro Air Ltd, operators of chartered flight operations.
Okunbo before his demise was a director in the following companies: Joint Marine Environ Guard Ltd. (JMEG); Secure Anchorage Area Ltd. (SAA); Digisteel Integrated Services Ltd; Phil Nugent Nigeria Ltd; Integrated Energy Distribution and Marketing Ltd. (IEDM), which is a core investor in Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company and Feva TV Canada. Okunbo was a member of the Board of Directors of NatCom Development and Investment Ltd, which is the holding company of Nigerian telecommunications giant, NTEL.
Last November, the organizers of Polo Ranch Tournament in Keffi, Nasarawa State, immortalized the great legend and dedicated a cup to be competed for in his honor annually. Same November, 2021, in what could best be described as well-deserved service to humanity and Nigeria, the management of Daily Telegraph Publishing Company, publishers of the New Telegraph, Saturday Telegraph, and Sunday Telegraph, posthumously honoured the late Captain Hosa Wells Okunbo, as the quintessential philanthropist in 2021.
Little wonder, his sterling achievements and legacy will surely outlive him. For a man who achieved so much through hard work, dedication and consistency and gave so much to the society in return, it is worth the toss to his memory as he turned 64 posthumously.