3rd February, 2015
Taiwo Adelu & Sunday Akintoye
Stakeholders in the Nigerian sports industry have continued to react to the death of the late philanthropist, Chief Molade Okoya Thomas, who died yesterday at the age of 79.
Some of the sports administrators who spoke to P.M.NEWS Sports early today described the death of the late Asoju Oba of Lagos as a huge blow to Nigerian sports.
Lagos Commissioner for Youth, Sports and Social Development, Wahid Enitan Oshodi who also doubles as the President of Nigeria Table Tennis Federation, described the late Chief Okoya-Thomas as a true gentleman whose commitment to youth and sports development was in a league of its own.
“Chief Okoya-Thomas set himself apart with his eagerness and unflinching commitment to give back to society, thereby creating a benchmark that we can all aspire to emulate. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the late Chief Okoya-Thomas, whose support, encouragement and advice will never be forgotten.”
Director of Sports, Lagos State Sports Council, Dr. Kweku Tandoh who said he saw the late Okoya-Thomas a week ago, was shocked to hear of his death yesterday morning.
“There was no sign that we would lose him so early like this when I saw him a week ago. It was a great shock to hear of his death. We’ll definitely miss him in Lagos. His contribution, to say the least, transcends Lagos State and I believe Nigerian sports will indeed miss him.
“He was a philanthropist who was committed to what he believed in. He solely sponsored the Asoju Oba Table Tennis Championship in the last 46 years, a record which will be hard to break in this part of the world. He took active role in the development of Nigerian athletes. He was always there for Team Nigeria with his moral and financial support. I believe this great icon of our sports was a great man we would dearly miss,” said Tandoh.
Super Eagles coach, Adegboyega Onigbinde said he was shocked when he heard that Nigeria has lost a sports philanthropist whose achievements in sports cannot be quantified.
He stated that late Okoya- Thomas has contributed immensely to the sports development in Nigeria especially Asoju-Oba Table Tennis tournament that he had been sponsoring for the past 46 years in Lagos.
“His death will create a big vacuum and I pray that the Lord Almighty will give the deceased’s family the fortitude to bear the loss,” he said.
Okoya-Thomas was born in Lagos on 8 June 1935. He studied at Princess School, Lagos, 1946; Balham and Tooting College of Commerce, London, 1956–1959; Columbia University, New York, US, 1981. He was appointed Director, Transcap Nigeria Limited; Director, Niger Motors Industries Limited; Chairman, Studio Press Nigeria Limited and has been the Chairman of CFAO Nigeria Limited since 1987.
Until his death, he was the Chancellor of Lagos State University, chairman of many organisations including CICA (Nigeria) Ltd., Transcap Nigeria Ltd., Oktom Investment Ltd., Itochu Nigeria Ltd., and Chiyoda