Rain Of Tributes As Business Mogul, Okoya-Thomas, Is Laid To Rest
IT was a harvest of tributes and fond memories Friday, as the creme of the society converged on the Holy Cross Catholic Cathedral, Lagos, for the funeral mass of the late industrialist, businessman and sports philantrophist Sir Molade Okoya-Thomas.
After a lying-in-state ceremony at his residence and Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan, Lagos, family, friends, associates and other dignitaries moved to the church to bid the Lagos socialite farewell. With the church filled to threshold amid tight security, the service was a time for sober reflections on the personality of Late Okoya-Thomas and a tribute to “a life well spent.”
The church and its environs were agog, and church wardens had a hard time controlling the crowd. The well-attended service caused a section of the road on the island to be cordoned off as motorists had to seek alternative routes.
Dignitaries at the service include Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga, who represented President Goodluck Jonathan; Senate President, David Mark; national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Ahmed Tinubu; governors of Lagos, Ogun and Rivers States, Babatunde Fashola, Ibikunle Amosun and Rotimi Amaechi; deputy governor of Lagos State, Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, APC’s gubernatorial candidate in Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode; former governor of Kwara State, Bukola Saraki; former governor of Lagos State, Mobolaji Johnson; Gen. TY Danjuma and his wife, Daisy; business magnates Aliko Dangote and Folorunsho Alakija, Senator Gbenga Ashafa; traditional rulers and diplomats, among others.
In his address, the officiating minister, Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins said Okoya-Thomas, in his lifetime, exhibited traits that were enviable, as he never discriminated against anyone, selflessly accommodating and working for the good of others.
He said: “The traits Okoya-Thomas exhibited ensured amiable co-existence in Lagos state. But regrettably, these traits are being eroded in our society today. We are witnessing growing cases of religious intolerance and bigotry among Nigerians both in public and their private lives. We are witnessing the introduction of religion into the affairs of the Nigerian state, from the federal to the local councils. That kind of development – if it is development – is unhealthy.”
He stressed that Okoya-Thomas lived with the notion that humans ought to be judged by the content of their character, urging Nigerians to imbibe the same attitude. He also stressed that the late philanthropist did not alienate himself from his Moslem roots even as he was a devout catholic.
On her part, a member of the House of Representatives, Abike-Dabiri said Okoya-Thomas was a father to all and was ever ready to sacrifice for the comfort of others, stressing, “he was well loved because he was a good man, for his people and others.”
Speaking highly of the late chief, businesswoman, Mrs. Folurunsho Alakija, said, “he was very humble. He was always willing to help, even if he could not, he would lead you to others who can help. We are going to miss him dearly. We were looking forward to his 80th birthday; he had told everybody that he wanted to celebrate his birthday and we were all gearing up. It is unfortunate that he never lived to celebrate it, but God knows best. Since we can’t question God, it is left for those of us left behind to make the best of the situation.”
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