HE is arguably the Nigerian equivalence of Midas-a Phrygian King who turned objects, everything he touched, to gold in Greek mythology. But this is where the similarity ends.
The sources of this phenomenal ability certainly differ. Midas touch was a gift from Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, identified with Bacchus.
But in the “emergent Nigerian socio-political and economic mythology,” the touch of Captain Idahosa Wells Okunbo, aka Captain Hosa, is a gift from the Almighty God that is continuously bolstered by bowels of humanity from people and elements on whom he has leveraged for outstanding successes in his various endeavours.
This explains his meteoric rise to the top of his chosen profession: His first forte-the aviation industry-from where he retired as a commercial pilot at the age of 30 in 1988, having logged over 7,000 hours in flying time, most of which were jet time. It is remarkable that he graduated from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Training Centre,Zaria, as a professional commercial pilot in 1979 at the age of 21.
That was after the successful completion of his elementary education atGovernment Primary School,BeninCity, and secondary education at the prestigiousFederalGovernmentCollege, Warri in 1971 where he sat for his West African School Certificate Examination and passed in flying colours in 1975.
In a deliberate bid to sharpen his flying skills, he had attendedACMESchoolof Aeronautics,Fort WorthTexasin 1983 where he obtained his Airline Transport Pilot Licence and was made a Captain in the same year at the age of 25. He was a flight Captain with the Intercontinental Airlines; and, in 1985, he joined the services of Okada Airlines from where he retired. These are facts not known to many people who have just had the opportunity of relating with him.
Indeed, his upbringing must have shaped his quiet, unassuming disposition. Born on January 7, 1958 into the family of a respectable community leader, teacher and clergy, the late Reverend Robert Amos Okunbo, Captain Hosa, benefitted immensely from the prayers and mentorship of a God-fearing father who taught him the ways of the Lord. And he obeyed and took after his father. Little wonder, he has a compassionate and man-caring heart: a heart of gold.
If all he touched in the aviation world as a pilot turned to gold, it is in the challenging world of business into which he ventured upon his retirement that the golden touch has become much more manifest. For instance, the Hoslyn Ventures Nigeria Limited, his first company that was into procurement in the oil and gas sector, has been a huge success story.
The shrewd businessman has expanded his business interests such that, today, he is chairman and director of many viable companies that have provided jobs for thousands of Nigerians. He is chairman of Ocean Marine Security Limited, a company responsible for offshore asset protection for major oil companies inNigeria, including the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC. He is chairman of PPP Fluid Mechanics Limited, a crude oil logistics company.
He is a major shareholder in Westminster Group Plc,United Kingdom, and also the Chairman of Westminster Security Solutions Limited, a franchise of Westminster Group PlcUK. He is chairman of Wells Dredging Limited, involved in dredging, sand filling and shore protection in the Niger Delta region. He is Chairman of Wells Habitat Limited, a company partnering the Abuja Environmental Protection Agency in the area of waste management. He is a Director in Integrated Energy Distribution and Marketing Limited, a company that just won the bid forIbadanand Yola Power Distribution Companies, Discos.
He is chairman of Hoslyn Habitat Limited, a foremost Design, Construction and Landscaping company. He is chairman of Wells Property Development Company Limited, involved in the development of affordable properties for low-income earners, high net-worth individuals and office development. As the Chief Executive Officer of Wells Property, he has been able to syndicate a portfolio worth billions of naira for the company.
He is chairman of Wells and Jeta Entertainments Limited, involved in movie production. He is a Director in Global Scan Systems Limited, a company responsible for the destination inspection of cargoes at the ports. He is a Director in Phil Nugent Nigeria Limited, involved in gas processing; and a Director in Oil Offshore Combination, among many other successful companies operating inNigeriaand abroad.
In 1997, under the military regime of the late General Sani Abacha, Captain Hosa was the leader of the team that nurtured the idea that led to the introduction of transparent ballot boxes for use in the nation’s elections. This is a landmark contribution to the electoral process inNigeria. In 2007, this illustrious son ofBiniKingdomwas honoured with the Justice of the Peace, JP, in recognition of his astounding contributions to the promotion of peace and good governance as well as development of his constituency. Again in 2012, the American Congress honoured him with the “African Titans” Award for being a voice of the Niger Delta people through his movie: “Black November”.
He has empowered many people in his place to be self-dependent. For instance, in 2005, he assisted over 774 Oba Market women who suffered various degrees of losses as a result of the Oba Market inferno with a multi-million naira intervention to keep their various trading activities afloat. He has financed youth empowerment programmes with a view to uplifting the quality of life of his people as a service to humanity.
It was against the backdrop of these great accomplishments and testimonies of a great majority of people that had benefitted from his eleemosynary that overtures were made to him to take a shot at the governorship ofEdoStatein the July 14, 2012 election. He rebuffed the overtures, insisting he would rather focus on his thriving multi-billion naira business empire with global networks.
Nevertheless, he has continued to take very deep interest in politics. He is a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, inEdoStatewhere he has been eminently positioned to emerge as a godfather and kingmaker of Edo South Senatorial zone, certainly after the Esama of Benin, Chief Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion, must have quit the political stage.
When that happens, what will become of his inscrutability which is due to his humble nature that does not compel him to make noise or throw his weight around? For instance, if he decides to contest, he would deploy his massive material and financial resources to push through the venture.
He will campaign. He will articulate his programmes and visions for the state. The great expectation is that he should be able to replicate his golden touch on statecraft.
It is against the backdrop of these huge accomplishments and bright political prospects that the honourary Doctorate of Science (D.Sc) degree being conferred on him by theUniversityofBeninon November 24, 2012 should be viewed as well deserved. It is certainly recognition of a man who does not celebrate mundane things as well as the mendacity around them.
It is a celebration of a man who is solemnly reflective, a man whose gravitas has a way of celebrating itself: the seriousness of his mind, as he ponders over sundry issues that create tensions around him, manifests in his facial expressions- not particularly a smiling face. But that is Captain Hosa for you! Congratulations!
Mr. SUFUYAN OJEIFO, a journalist, wrote from Abuja.