Business mogul, Chief Molade Okoya-Thomas is dead. He was 79. The philanthropist, who died in the early hours of yesterday, was until his death the chancellor of Lagos State University (LASU) and the chairman of CFAO motors.

LASU in a statement described his demise as a sad loss.

The statement signed by the vice chancellor of the institution, Prof John Obafunwa, said “Okoya-Thomas was a strong stabilising factor in the partly turbulent history of LASU. He was a very patient man, great listener, was not easily annoyed and slow to react”.

“He was a father among millions and I would personally miss him. When I saw him two Saturdays ago, I did not know that was going to be the last privileged interaction I would have with him’’.

Former vice president Atiku Abubakar, and Senator Gbenga Ashafa, representing Lagos East Senatorial District described his demise as a huge blow to the Nigerian business community.

Atiku said, “He was a pioneer and a visionary. Okoya-Thomas belonged to a generation of private sector investors who saw opportunities in making investments in the economy when it was risky to do so. His legacies will remain indelible in corporate Nigeria and I pray God will grant his family and loved ones the fortitude to bear the loss”.

Ashafa also said the death of the late Okoya-Thomas was shocking, lamenting that the septuagenarian passed on when his contribution is needed most in the state.

“Chief Okoya-Thomas was an essential of benevolence, notable businessman, sports lover and a philanthropist of great repute. I remember too well that he was the chairman of the occasion during my first born’s wedding ceremony. He would surely be missed by all of us”, he said.

Okoya-Thomas (MFR) was born in Lagos on 8th June, 1935 to the Late Hussam Okoya-Thomas (the first Baba Adinni of Furabay Mosque, Olowogbowo, Lagos and the first local staff of CFAO, who served the company for 52 years) and the Late Alhaja Suwebat Okoya-Thomas (née Gbajabiamila, Otun Iya Adinni of Idita Mosque).

He studied at Princess School, Lagos, 1946; Balham and Tooting College of Commerce, London, 1956-1959; Columbia University, New York, US, 1981. He was appointed director, Transcap Nigeria Limited; director, Niger Motors Industries Limited; chairman, Studio Press Nigeria Limited and has been the chairman of CFAO Nigeria Limited since 1987.

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