NIGERIA: Okoya-Thomas’ Son Relives His Last Moments

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 Two days after billionaire businessman and sports enthusiast, Chief Molade Okoya-Thomas, died at the age 79, his son, Deji, in an exclusive interview with THISDAY, relived his father’s last moments.

According to him, looking back at his father’s past actions in the last two months, the deceased might have had an inkling that death was knocking at his doorstep.
Sadly, he said the deceased did not have the opportunity to say his last words to them before he gave up the ghost hours after gasping for breath.

He said: “His death was a quick one. The whole thing happened so rapidly but from the last two months, we had spent time with him, having his children and grandchildren around.

“You know, we always say a sudden death but sometimes when the elderly wants to die, they kind of sense it would happen. The way they behave in those last few months, when you look back, you will know they were preparing for death.

“I think he knew the exit was near and it showed in the way he had men of God come and pray with him all the time. He had a good end and we thank God for his life.”

True to type, hours before he died, he engaged in one of his favourite hobbies, sports. In this case, he was watching a football match between Arsenal and Aston Villa.

Ironically, his team Arsenal thrashed its opponent a whooping five goals to nothing, a feat his son Deji said was an awesome send forth for the man who loved sports till death.

In his son’s words, the deceased was watching the premiership; when he started gasping for breathe all of a sudden.
He said, “He had a little bout of illness but he was getting better. We rushed him to the hospital and within an hour or thereabout, he gave up the ghost. He was an ardent Arsenal supporter and they gave him a good exit with their win over Aston Villa.”

Adding voice to the deluge of tribute for the deceased, he said, “My father was a wonderful man. He was a sports enthusiast, a philanthropist and a businessman. He was a very humble man.

“Those close to him know he was someone who did not distinguish. Everybody was an equal. He could relate to the man on the street and the high and mighty.

“He had friends cut across social strata, believed and acknowledged that the privilege of where you are in life is by the grace of God and so you should not misuse it by looking down on others believing that you are greater than them.”
He said their greatest memory of the deceased were the times they spent together.

“He was a family man, he enjoyed his children and grandchildren coming to be with him. On a Sunday afternoon, we spend four, sometimes five hours together to talk and joke.

“He is a man with a good sense of humour. He liked jokes and cracks us up and also didn’t mind his children taking out the jokes on him. He was that free-spirited.”

He said, “But my belief as a Christian is that God Almighty knows the day we will depart this world.  No matter how much we try to rationalise it, the truth about it is that his exit date had been written down in the book of life. We thank God he had the time to give his life to Christ.

“He had the salvation experience. He was able to dedicate his life to God and today, he is seated in God’s presence.”

On the legacy his father left behind he said, “He built a good legacy and the most important was the good name.

“However, there is one thing that is important in this life, we all came into this life as individuals and we will go thus.

“There is nobody that will go to heaven as the son of anybody. So, we also should build our own name as well but he has given us a good stead and beginning.”

When asked of the burial plans he said, “There are no plans yet for his burial but we are expecting the archbishop and the church to have a meeting with us.

“Not only was he a member of the Catholic Church, he was also a knight, which is a very big position and so one has to discuss with the church to give him a befitting send off,” the son explained.

Meanwhile, prominent Nigerians have continued to mourn the passage of one of the nation’s finest philanthropists, businessmen and nationalists.

Some of the leaders who paid their tribute to the late billionaire businessman, include Senate President, David Mark, Governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatah Ahmed, his predecessor, Senator Bukola Saraki, the All Progressives Congress (APC) Chieftain, Senator Bola Tinubu and the party’s governorship candidate in Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode.

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