By Clifford Ndujihe, Politics Editor
IF you called Dr. Christopher Kolade, 87, CON, academic, diplomat, administrator, and elder statesman a jack of all trades and master of all, you are not far from the truth. Why? He is among a few people who traversed multiple spheres of life and excelled in all.
He went into teaching and got to the apex. He tried his hands in journalism and left his footprints at the very top. In the boardroom he is a czar. In the diplomatic world, he distinguished himself as an envoy.
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Thus, it is not surprising that Kolade, whose career started as a teacher in the colonial era, has a resume littered with top-notch positions, attainments and awards.
He was a veteran broadcaster and former director-general of the Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation, NBC; former managing director and later chairman of Cadbury Nigeria, PLC; former Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom; and lecturer at Lagos Business School, and Pan-Atlantic University; and former chairman of the Board of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme, SURE-P among others.
Born in Erin-Oke, Osun State, in 1932, Kolade started his primary education at Emmanuel School, Ado-Ekiti (1939-43) and finished at Christ’s School, Ado-Ekiti (1944-45). He had his secondary school education at Government College, Ibadan (1946-51) after which he studied at Fourah Bay College, Freetown, Sierra Leone (195-55).
He returned to Nigeria in 1955 and began his eventful career as education officer in defunct Western Region. He was to become West Regional Controller of the NBC (now Federal Road Corporation of Nigeria, FRCN (1960-63). He rose through the ranks to become director general of the NBC (1972-78).
Kolade retired at the age of 45 as the director-general of the NBC and joined Cadbury Nigeria Plc as Administration Director, where he rose to become the Managing Director and Chairman. He was one of the visionaries that sowed the seed for the evolution of the prestigious Lagos Business School and Pan-African University (now Pan-Atlantic University) where he lectured on Leadership & Conflict Management, Corporate Governance, Human Resources Management and Business Management themes. He later became Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council. He is also Chancellor of McPherson University, Ogun State.
He has also meritoriously served in leadership positions of many national and international bodies – President, Nigerian Institute of Management; President, Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria; President, International Institute for Communications; President, World Association for Christian Communication; among many others.
Kolade has promoted business integrity in Nigeria through his chairmanship of organizations such as Integrity Organization Ltd., and The Convention on Business Integrity. Nationally and internationally renowned for his business skills and integrity, he is the Chairman, Board of Directors of SystemSpecs.
He received the medal of the Order of St. Augustine from the Archbishop of Canterbury (1981), and is also a Lay Canon of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in the Diocese of Guildford. He holds honorary doctorate degrees of McPherson University (2016), University of Sierra Leone (1976) among others.
In spite of his age, Dr. Kolade is currently at the vanguard of promoting business integrity in Nigeria through his chairmanship of organizations such as The Convention on Business Integrity, as well as Managing Business for Christ (MBFC). He participates regularly in activities of Apostle in the Market Place (AiMP). Through the Christopher Kolade Foundation, CKF, which he founded in 1997, Kolade is supporting girl-child education.
Today, Dr. Kolade is one of Burdened Elders seeking ways to silence the drums of war in Nigeria and ensure an egalitarian society anchored on principle, merit, justice, and sacrifice.
“If you go back to the original team of Nigerians that brought us out of colonial government into independence, you ask yourself what was their motivation? Some of them were sent to jail because they were agitating, and some of them lost positions. They were people who made sacrifices that did not lead to their personal wealth or anything; it was a sacrifice so that the nation could become independent. That is one system of politics. That is the basis upon which you can achieve anything that is respectable and has sustainability. If you don’t make the personal sacrifice you will not be able to build something that will sustain you for a long time,” he espoused in a chat with Vanguard, recently.