IN the evening of Wednesday, November 16, 2016, Chief Rasheed Abiodun Gbadamosi joined the growing list of great Nigerians on whom the sun eclipsed recently. The death of Chief Gbadamosi, a foremost industrialist, boardroom guru, administrator, and art and culture enthusiast is yet another monumental loss that Nigerians have to contend with in this outgoing year.
A native of Ikorodu in Lagos State but born some 72 years ago and raised in Isale-Eko, his maternal root, Rasheed Gbadamosi had a privileged background. His father, Alhaji Sule Oyesola Gbadamosi, was a frontline industrialist and prominent politician of the nostalgic era of the great sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. The senior Gbadamosi was the first Treasurer of the Action Group (AG). Unlike many whose rosy upbringing became an albatross to their progress in life, Chief Gbadamosi’s case was different as he was humble, teachable and not carried away by his opulent background but made the best use of what he saw as a privilege.
Clearly, the indelible imprints that this icon has left in the sands of time have a definite bearing on his character, especially his submissive disposition to his reportedly persuasive father’s advice and discipleship. For instance, the young Gbadamosi had fancied becoming a medical doctor but his business-minded and industrialist father had a different plan; he persuaded him to study economics so that he could ultimately take over and expand the family business. And this was what eventually panned out but perhaps in a more robust and diverse manner than his forward looking father could have imagined.
By 1969, Chief Gbadamosi was already a Master’s degree holder in Economics from the University of New Hampshire, Durham, United States of America, having earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Manchester, United Kingdom, two years earlier. He made his maiden foray into the business world under the tutelage of his fairly educated but well exposed, experienced and very wealthy father shortly after his studies.
Chief Gbadamosi, a great man of destiny, started public life quite early. At the youthful age of 29, he was appointed Commissioner for Establishment and Economic Development by Major-General Mobolaji Johnson (retd) who was then the Military Administrator of Lagos State under the military regime of General Yakubu Gowon (retd.). And since then, there had been no stopping the nationalist. He was a former chairman of the Bank of Industry. He also served as chairman of the National Committee on Industrial Development (NCID), charged with the mandate to draw up Nigeria’s Industrial Master Plan in liaison with United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). Chief Gbadamosi was a Minister of Economic Planning in the General Abdusalami Abubakar’s short military spell after the sudden death of General Sani Abacha. That team facilitated the production of the 1999 Constitution and other political arrangements that ushered in the 4th Republic.
He was also a former chairman, Petroleum Products Prices Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and until his demise, he co-chaired the Lagos@50 committee with the Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka. In all of these calls to service, he gave his very best and was exemplary in his high standards of character, conduct and performance. As a businessman, Chief Gbadamosi’s strides were those of a giant. He was a quintessential industrialist whose interests straddled various sectors of the Nigerian economy. He had at one time or the other served as either chairman, Managing Director or Director of more than two dozen companies within the Nigerian business space. A few of these companies include, R.A.G & Company Limited, Ragolis Waters limited, Thai Farm International Limited,Sparnoon Nigeria Limited, BHN Plc., Syndicated Metal Industries limited, Lucky Fibres Nigeria Plc., AIICO Insurance plc., Cappa & D’Alberto Plc. and a host of others.
As a professional economist and one of the finest in his generation, he brought his training and experience to bear on the companies he served and constituted an invaluable asset to the boards and managements. The creative arts industry is another sector of the economy where the demise of Chief Gbadamosi constitutes a colossal loss: he was one of the most reliable and valuable patrons. The deceased was a profound art and culture enthusiast who made tremendous contributions to the growth of the industry. Chief Gbadamosi was known by the industry practitioners and followers as an avid collector of works of art, sculptures, among others. He was also a literary icon in his own right.
Apart from writing articles in the national dailies in his early days as a young adult, the great achiever was a playwright with six plays to his credit, some of which have been performed and could be accessed in the library shelves of many academic institutions in the country. Chief Rasheed Abiodun Oladosu Gbadamosi was indeed an accomplished person who waltzed through life and left some imprints in the sands of time. We join members of his family, the people of Lagos State and indeed all Nigerians to say adieu to a great nationalist.