After months of a hard fought battle with pancreatic cancer at a London hospital, billionaire businessman and Chairman of Ocean Marine Solutions Limited, Captain Idahosa Okunbo, has passed on. He was aged 63.
Although doctors, family sources hinted, had pegged March as his likely month of passing, Okunbo fought harder and stayed five months month, hoping the hour would pass him by.
But his family, in an official announcement of his death, was proud that the late Okunbo lived a good life and would therefore not mourn like the hopeless.
Also, President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Godwin Obaseki and former governor Adams Oshiomhole, have commiserate with the family of Okunbo and the people of Edo over the passing of their son, saying his exit was both painful and untimely.
A statement from the family, signed by Dr. Tinyan Okunbo, head of the Okunbo family, and made available by the deceased’s Media Consultant, Samuel Ajayi, however, thanked God for a life of service and dedication to humanity that the late businessman lived.
The statement read in part: “We do not mourn like those that have no hope and we take solace in the fact that he lived a good life and he has gone to be with his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
While thanking everyone for their prayers and support all through this trying period, the family, craved the understanding of all and sundry at this trying times and would want the immediate family be allowed family to “grief in privacy”, even as it promised to communicate further announcement at a later date.
President Buhari, in a release issued Sunday by his Media Adviser, Femi Adesina, commiserated with the family, friends and associates of Okunbo, noting that the late Okunbo, with investments spanning the petroleum, telecommunications, maritime, and power sectors, among others.
The president also noted that Okunbo contributed immensely to the development of the Nigerian economy, providing sustenance to many families in the process.
While praying for the repose of the soul of Okunbo, Buhari urged those who mourn him, particularly the people of Edo State to whom he devoted time and resources, to sustain his legacies of well-spiritedness and large heartedness.
On his part, the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, said the state had lost a brother.
In a statement yesterday, the governor said: “It is with a heavy heart that I mourn the passing of a great son of Edo State, a brother, a distinguished Nigerian, an illustrious businessman and an accomplished philanthropist, Captain Hosa Okunbo.
“A man of unparalleled energy and accomplishments, Captain Okunbo saw opportunities in adversity and from an early age in life, carved a niche for himself to become one of Nigeria’s most outstanding businessmen.
“A trained pilot, he conquered the air at an early age and set for the waters and land, building enterprises that distinguished him in the business world and embodied the hard work, perseverance, dexterity and acumen that espoused his Edo heritage.
“Okunbo was a philanthropist, who gave lavishly of himself and his resources; thousands of Edo sons and daughters benefited from his charitable works and benevolence.
“As a mortal, Captain Okunbo was not a perfect person just as none of us can claim to be, but he will be remembered for his undying love for Edo people.
“His desire for the development and progress of our dear state, the Niger Delta region and Nigeria as well as his invaluable contributions to building bridges of peace across the country will never be forgotten.
“I commiserate with the Okunbo family, friends and associates of our departed brother and pray that God will grant all the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss.”
A former governor of Edo State and erstwhile national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, described the death of Okunbo as an irreparable loss to humanity.
Oshiomhole said, “I received Sunday morning, the unanticipated news that my friend, Capt Hosa Okunbo has passed on.
“I am in disbelief, shock and deep pain, to say the least. It is just too hard to come to terms with the reality that Capi is no more and words alone cannot appropriately capture the dark mood cast upon our land this day.”
The former NLC President, noted that Hosa was not just a good friend, but a brother and an exceptionally dependable ally in all his efforts for a better Edo State and truly loved Edo State and wished only the best for his people.
“His generosity and capacity for empathy knew no bounds. He was a man of peace with an unlimited ability to forgive those, who hurt him. He was a great source of inspiration for our youths, with a unique flair to understand and intervene on their behalf.
“He was sympathetic to all causes that sought to foster harmony, development and progress in society. He engendered an extensive support system that catered for all categories of the needy in all spheres of existence. His humanitarian investments in the health, education, economic and social lives of his people makes him perhaps the most celebrated philanthropist in Edo State until his death.
“He made himself available to solve the problems of everyone and at all times. Even with his personal health challenges, he never ceased to respond to the cries of the needy. His demise is an irreplaceable loss to humanity. Edo people and indeed Nigerians of all political and religious persuasion will surely miss him.
“At this moment of deep grief across the land, I send my sincere condolences to his wife Nosa, his children, extended family and to his Royal Majesty Oba Ewuare II, to whom Capt Hosa was a very loyal subject and personal friend. I pray that God forgive his shortcomings and grant him eternal rest in paradise,” Osbionhole declared.
Also, doctors in the Commonwealth of Nations, Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba, mourned Okunbo.
Agba, in a statement, said “His death has created a huge vacuum that will be difficult to fill.
“Captain Hosa made a very huge difference to the lives of countless people by his philanthropy. Despite his wealth, his humility, selflessness, strength of spirit and deep sense of purpose made him a national icon, a revered symbol of humanity, and a source of inspiration to many people.
“With his death, Edo people have lost one of its greatest sons. Our people have lost a colossus and a philanthropist par excellence. A guiding light has been extinguished; a philanthropic colossus no longer bestrides our world; but his legacy will live forever.”
Similarly, President, Commonwealth Medical Association (CMA), Dr Osahon Enabulele, described Okunbo’s death as a tragic development.
“While I share the pains of his beloved family and loved ones over his earthly transition, his death has revealed once again that this terrestrial plane is a truly transient place for God’s creatures. Indeed, we are undeniably passengers on this terrestrial plane and only our almighty creator can tell the precise time of our departure and the departure of our loved ones.
“But there again, life is not how long one lives but how well and strong one finishes the race of life, for we will be pre-eminently remembered for our deeds on this terrestrial plane.
“This explains why the death of our loved ones, as painful as it is, provides yet another opportunity for one to consciously reflect, refocus, and rededicate ourselves to cherished cardinal and theological virtues, and the upliftment of our common humanity.”
“As you may already know, our combined efforts across Nigeria are focused on increasing cooperation on maritime and border security, law of armed conflict and military justice, counterterrorism efforts against Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa, defence trade, and strengthening governance and transparency of the security sector.”
In his remarks, Commanding Officer of USS Hershel “Woody” Williams, Captain Chad Graham, who was received by the Operations Officer, Nigerian Navy’s Western Naval Command, Commodore Daupreye Matthew, stated that piracy within the Gulf of Guinea was on the decline this year, compared to 2020.
Graham acknowledged that previous collaborations and skills transfer to the Nigerian Navy by the US had yielded positive outcomes, saying the latter has also trained other regional navies.
He said, “Maritime engagements that include many navies working together really improve our interoperability and collective capability, which are absolutely necessary for a busy area, such as the Gulf of Guinea.