Okunbor: Iconic philanthropist, business mogul takes a bow

It was William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616), the English playwright, poet and actor, who in one of his works, “As You Like It,” said:

“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, “His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant, Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms. Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel And shining morning face, creeping like snail Unwillingly to school. And then the lover, Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier, Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard, Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel, Seeking the bubble reputation Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice, In fair round belly with good capon lined, With eyes severe and beard of formal cut, Full of wise saws and modern instances; And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts Into the lean and slippered pantaloon, With spectacles on nose and pouch on side; His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice, Turning again toward childish treble, pipes And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all, That ends this strange eventful history, Is second childishness and mere oblivion, Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”

Captain Hosa Okunbo, born in 1958, may not have played these seven roles in life’s theatre, but he was a character that will not be forgotten. His Birth and Education Captain Hosa, as he was popularly called by friends and admirers was born in Benin City on January 7 1958, to the family of Reverend Robert Amos Okunbo, a clergyman, teacher and community leader in Edo State. He had his primary education at Government Primary School Benin City and proceeded to Federal Government College, Warri, in 1971, where he sat for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination. He proceeded to Nigerian Civil Aviation Training Centre, Zaria, Kaduna State, where he became a professional commercial pilot at the age of 21. He also attended ACME School of Aeronautics, Fort Worth Texas in 1983, where he obtained an Airline Transport Pilot License. Upon graduation, Okunbo became a professional commercial pilot and was made a captain in 1983 at the age of 25. He was a flight captain with Intercontinental Airlines for about two years, before joining Okada Airlines for three years. In 1988, he retired from flying commercial planes at the age of 30, having logged over 7,000 hours of flight time, and ventured into private business.

His Business

Okunbo was into marine, aviation, banking, energy, hospitality, transport and security, among others. He established Hoslyn Ventures Nigeria Limited, a company that was involved with procurement in the Nigerian petroleum sector; CMESOMS Petroleum Development Company (CPDC), which, in September 2019, signed an $875.75m alternative financing deal for the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC); The Wells Carlton Hotel and Apartments, Abuja; Wells Hosa Green Farms among others.

His Honours

He 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 conferred on him an honorary Doctor of Science degree, and In March 2017, he received the Businessman of the Year award at the ‘2016 Vanguard Personality of Year Awards. On Saturday, September 21 2019, in Geneva, Switzerland, he was bestowed with the Global Peace Award from the chairman of the Order of Lafayette Awards, in recognition of his efforts in global peace and business innovations. Okunbo was granted the ‘Worthy Ambassador of Unity Award’ as an old student of the Federal Government College, Warri in March 2016, among others.

Humility and Philanthropy

According to Saint Augustine, “do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.” Humility makes a person more empathetic and aware of the feelings of others. Humility enables us to acknowledge the achievements and struggles of others and to offer help when needed. Captain Hosa Okunbo, epitomizes humility in affluence, He tended, nursed, and took care of the poor, the rejects of the world, he gave to everybody-the rich and the poor. His life was defined by sacrifice; he loved everybody and gave to everybody (friends and foes alike). According to the Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki during the burial, “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.” Also Speaking about Captain Hosa Okunbo, Victor Ojogun, said: “You fought so well, you inspired so many, you loved so deeply, you lived so loudly, no one that ever knew you can ever forget you. Your life was far from easy and somehow you gave so much love…but you are gone too soon. Rest in Peace, my friend. “There are friends, there is family, and then there are friends that became family.

According to Eleanor Roosevelt, many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart. It’s possible for our lives to bear the testimony of Albert Schweitzer, that: In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being … we should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” Also speaking, the late Okunbo’s first son, Osahon, said his father’s life was guided by two principles which he said: “are love and mercy.”

“His life is a lesson and every chance you have to spend with him; he tells you a story from his experience and from the Bible. I once asked him, why do you forgive so easily, there are so many people around him that hurt him very deeply but still, he had them around him and he said my son, do you know the reason God will always deliver my enemies at my feet? It is because God knows I will have mercy upon them. He said his two guiding principles were love and mercy; those were the two principles he lived his life by. “He told me something in the heat of this cancer problem, he said my son everybody is not supposed to live long, it is not the length of your life, it is about the impact you leave behind. He said I have always told you people when you were growing up and all of us from the first to last will testify to this, he will say once I have paid your school fees, everything else is ‘jara’.

I will sell everything I have to enjoy myself that was what he told us growing up. He said God sent me here to do something and for the past four days, people have spoken about it,” Osahon concluded. Captain lived to love! He lived to give!! Adieu Cappi!!!




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