NIGERIANS from all walks of life have been mourning Bola Kuforiji-Olubi, a former minister of Commerce and Industry, and first female chairman, United Bank for Africa, UBA, who died on Saturday, December 3. She was 80.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday, December 5, commiserated with the family of the late icon and also extended heartfelt condolences to the government and people Ogun State, the banking industry, Kuforiji-Olubi’s friends and professional colleagues over the loss.
In a statement signed by Femi Adesina, special adviser to the president on Media and Publicity, Buhari recalled that the late former minister was warm and hearty when he received her at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on October 20, and congratulated her on her 80th birthday.
The statement said in part: “He affirms that the then first female President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, served her nation and humanity with all her God-given strength and talent, noting that the multiple professional, national awards and fellowships she received were well deserved.
“As a distinguished economist and manager who scored many firsts in breaking the glass ceiling in both private and public services, the president believes that Otunba Kuforiji-Olubi will be remembered for redefining the place of womanhood in Nigeria’s development and inspiring others.
“President Buhari prays that the Almighty God will grant her eternal rest, and also comfort all her loved ones.”
In the same vein, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State on Sunday, December 4, expressed shock and sadness over the death of Kuforiji-Olubi.
Governor Ambode in a statement signed by Habib Aruna, his chief press secretary, described Kuforiji-Olubi as a distinguished businesswoman, banker, economist and accountant, who cut her teeth in the corporate world.
“Dr. Olubi was a woman of many firsts; she wrote her name in gold in the banking industry and was a pace-setter and leader in banking, manufacturing and entrepreneurship not only in Nigeria but also in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“It was not surprising that she was a proud and well-deserved recipient of National honours, fellowships, awards and honorary degrees from within and outside the country,’’ Ambode said.
The governor also expressed the hope that her legacies would continue to be a source of inspiration to the younger generation.
Ambode also prayed for the peaceful repose of her soul, urging her family to draw strength from the legacies she stood for while she was alive and the fact that she was a devout Christian.
The Ogun State government in a statement said the former minister died on Saturday barely over two months after she clocked 80 years.
“Yes we will miss her, but we still have to thank God for the impactful and successful life she lived,” Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State was quoted as saying in the statement.
Amosun said that the late Kuforiji-Olubi was not only a successful technocrat, “she also impacted and motivated generations of Nigerians, especially women, through her industry and success as a technocrat and an administrator.”
While commiserating with the Kuforiji-Olubi family, the people of Ogun State and indeed all Nigerians over the loss, Amosun said: “For us in Ogun State, she was an icon. She was one of those international icons that made us proud.”
He added that: “her enviable track record includes being the first woman in sub-Saharan Africa to serve as chairman of a leading financial institution, UBA; the first chairman of Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority and vice chairman, National Conference on Nigerian foreign policy among others.
“We will particularly miss her words of wisdom at this critical stage in the development of our dear state,” Amosun said.
Olubi was born September 28, 1936. The former ICAN president graduated from the University of London in 1963. She was appointed the first female chairman of the UBA in 1984.
Olubi had paid a visit to President Buhari to thank him for his contribution to her successful career. She said that it was Buhari as a military head of state that appointed her the first female chairman of the UBA.
She said: “Having turned 80, I looked at my life and made a list of those who contributed to what I have become in my life and the name of President Muhammadu Buhari came topmost on the list. This is why I am here to pay my respect and thank him.”
— Dec 5, 2016 @ 16:58 GMT