Vice Chancellor, Lagos State University, LASU, Prof. John Obafunwa confirmed this on Monday in Lagos, describing Okoya-Thomas as a man who would be greatly missed.
“It is sad loss, a strong stabilising factor in the partly turbulent history of LASU. He was a very patient man, a great listener and could not be easily annoyed and slow to react. He gave people a very long rope before taking firm action.
“He was a father among millions. I will personally miss him, I saw him two weeks ago and I did not know that was the last time I will meet him.”
Until his death, Okoya-Thomas was chairman of many organisations, including CICA (Nigeria) Ltd., Transcap Nigeria Ltd., Oktom Investment Ltd., Itochu Nigeria Ltd., Chiyoda Nigeria Ltd. and Anchoria Investment & Securities Ltd. He also served as Director of NFI Insurance Company Plc and Gateway Bank Plc.
Okoya-Thomas was born in Lagos on 8 June, 1935 to Late Hussam Okoya-Thomas (the first Baba Adinni of Furabay Mosque, Olowogbowo, Lagos and the first local staff of CFAO, who served the company for 52 years) and Late Alhaja Suwebat Okoya-Thomas (née Gbajabiamila, Otun Iya Adinni of Idita Mosque).
Okoya-Thomas had his elementary education at Princess School, Lagos, between 1942 and 1946. He subsequently proceeded to Baptist Academy for his high school education and left Baptist Academic in 1956 as the best graduating student, hence earning the honour of his name been listed on the school’s DUX BOARD (Honours Board).
Immediately after his education at Baptist Academy, he studied accountancy at Balham and Tooting College of Commerce between 1956 and 1959 and a further training in Accountancy at Columbia University, New York, U. S. A. in 1981. He returned to Nigeria the very year he completed his studies at Balham and Tooting College of Commerce 1959 and was instantly employed as an accountant by CFAO. This was the beginning of a meritorious service to CFAO.
He has also contributed to the development of Lagos State by serving in numerous committees, including; member, Lagos City Council between 1971–1975, member Lagos State Development and Property Corporation, Chairman Board of Trustees Glover Memorial Hall and Tom Jones Hall.
He is a recipient of the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur, the highest national honour given by the French to a foreigner.