ON Friday October 16, 2015, leading members of corporate Nigeria, family members and well-wishers gathered in Lagos to bid farewell to a man who had variously been described as Mr Clean, Mr Integrity, Mr Straight and Mr Honesty.
These descriptions underlined the fact that the late Mr Gamaliel Offoritsenere Onosode was indeed a rare breed who through his life time exhibited an upright disposition, a quality which is not common among many Nigerians of his generation.
Only few Nigerians have ventured as he did into the seemingly murky business and political terrains in Nigeria as active players and emerged untainted.
So his death on September 29, 2015, at the age of 82 years was the loss of an inspirational leader. Onosode epitomised those qualities that Nigerians often desire to see in their leaders but which have remained ever so elusive. He was a man of strong character and deep convictions governed by decency; a man who proudly espoused an ennobling vision of life. He believed that morality is central in business and politics.
This had nothing to do with the fact that he was a devout Christian and founder of Good News Baptist Church.
Born on May 22, 1933 in Sapele, Delta State, his journey through life was to become an interesting tale of enviable accomplishments in varying fields of human endeavour. He attended the Government College, Ughelli and the University of Ibadan. Soon after, he ventured into the corporate environment where he emerged as one of Nigeria’s leading chief executives and highly successful boardroom players.
He chaired several private and public sector businesses and initiatives. For instance he served as Chairman, Dunlop Nigeria Plc (1984–2007); Cadbury Nigeria Plc (1977–93); Zain Nigeria (a GSM telecommunications company now known as Airtel); the Presidential Commission on Parastatals (1981), the Nigeria LNG Working Committee and Nigeria LNG Limited (1985–90) and the Niger Delta Environmental Survey.
Onosode was the Presidential Adviser on Budget Affairs and Director of Budget (1983); the inaugural President of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers; Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of the University of Uyo and President and Chairman of Council of the Association of Pension Funds of Nigeria. He was also a fellow of several local and international professional bodies and institutes.
Onosode became particularly famous as chairman of a Nigerian Commission on Public Parastatals whose work became known as the Onosode Report. He was also a presidential aspirant on the platform of the All Nigerian People’s Party (ANPP), and his foray into politics was meant as an avenue to demonstrate the fact that good Christians should go into politics to practicalise what they preach.
We wish him eternal rest.