In honour of the Founding Father of Gamaliel & Susan Onosode Foundation,(GAMSU), Mr. Gamaliel Onosode of blessed memory, a book presentation, GAMALIEL ONOSODE, CLASSICUS, an Honourable Life, written by Professor Femi Osofisan and Professor Olakunbi Olasope, and a panel discussion on the theme, “Harnessing Nigeria’s Greatest Resource: Growth through Education” held on Thursday, 23rd September, 2021 at 11.00 a.m. prompt at the Centre for National Reformation and Social Justice, the Rock Cathedral, Rock Cathedral Drive, Lekki-Epe Expressway, Lagos.
Find Below, the book review:
Book Tittle: Gamaliel Onosode Classicus, an Honourable Life
Authors: Femi Osofisan with Olakumbi Olasope.
Book Presentation and Panel Discussion:
Gamaliel Onosode was not very keen to open up his private life and thoughts to the public. That speaks volumes, especially when you see that he was a man who would have had a lot to say. His life was not uneventful, and he certainly made numerous enemies in his business and political endeavours. Yet, he was not that man who was ready to trade words and reactions with people over issues.
He almost always quietly accepted his fate, stood on his faith, and let go of hate. That, right there, is the perfect description of a man of honour. Sitting together for interviews to put this book together was a tough one for Gamaliel Onosode, but Africans will generally say he probably had a premonition of his death. It is the same feeling you will get when you realise that Chinua Achebe published There Was A Country just before he died.
The author was able to write this book as something of a semi-autobiography, with Gamaliel Onosode sharing personal experiences in response to questions about certain events, associations, and issues. The need to share, as you can easily tell, was not to present himself as an icon, or to be vindictive in any way – he was very reluctant to do it, and it took a lot of prodding to get him to agree to a few meetings.
Femi Osofisan himself explains the need for this book’s publication: the world ought to have a perspective of this man of steel. There are numerous accounts of his exploits in public life. There was no boardroom guru in Africa quite like him. He was on the board of numerous organisations, including the household brands that we Nigerians know today. He was a pioneer in corporate policies that strengthened performance even in adverse economic conditions. He had extremely high standards that he held himself to. That had an impact on everyone around him.
He was credible, the kind of man you could bank on. You needed a man like him to be at the helm of affairs, especially at a time when the idea of corruption and unjust personal enrichment was fast rising. Many Nigerians were trying to ‘get their own’ in every way possible. But nothing of the sort happened with a man like Gamaliel Onosode.
Naturally, that made him an enemy to many. But that made him the darling of many corporate giants. His mere presence on any board or committee was a stamp of honour and integrity. People would almost never doubt the credibility of any work Gamaliel Onosode was associated with.
Governments knew that as well. And one way or the other, he was involved with various government organisations since independence. He himself went into politics at a time, and was a popular figure in the presidential discourse in 1999. While many had high hopes that he would change the country if elected, the system that was already corrupt in endemic proportions denied him of the opportunity.
One of the things not previously documented was his personal reactions to issues like what happened with a political party that he formed, which ended up sidelining him in the bid toget a piece of the government. This book presents quite a number of his thoughts on these issues in what you might term a ‘back-end’ manner.
He was not a vindictive person, quite alright, but his passion for a quiet life was largelyunknown, particularly for a person who was almost always in the public eye. And as Femi Osofisan has now revealed, Gamaliel Onosode prioritised his family. One might even go ahead to describe his achievements as a way to inspire his family, particularly his children, towards great things.
His honesty and integrity did not stop at his gate. Matter of fact, his private mannerisms dictated his approach to public life. You will find the description to be quite apt: Gamaliel Onosode was an honourable man. To be honourable is not to be without flaws. Rather, it is to be able to own up to those flaws and face the consequences. His integrity kept him from trouble, and his honour got him out of trouble.
For instance, there were quite a number of reports about his first child born out of wedlock.In the manner of clickbait journalism, the focus was on the indiscretion. It was so easy to forget that he was the first to admit to that, and to honourably take all responsibility for his child. The manner in which many received it was in the same manner a man of excellence is received when a blunder appears noticeable: people make excuses for such a man. And in the end, the focus was and should remain against popular culture. Naturally, many would ponder why a man of such great and outspoken integrity failed in such a manner. But the question ought always to be how a man typically flawed like others could live to and uphold such great standards of excellence.
At home, Gamaliel Onosode was nothing short of a loving father. While most would think he was the strict parent, it was actually Mrs. Onosode who provided the firm discipline required to keep the home together, and maintain discipline among the children. Not that he was not himself disciplined, but he was more indulging, more interested in giving them the extra smiles, and the ‘here and there’ goodies that children would characteristically con their parents to get.
A major win for him, highlighted in this book, was his ability to shield his family from the prying eyes of the world. You can point that to his unwillingness to make his children an easy target for the judgmental media of the day. But even much more, this tells the story of his impeccable character in public. Gamaliel Onosode was completely scandal-free. A man who knew when to turn down the juiciest of offers for the tiniest compromise, it was never difficult for him to stand and leave an assembly of men that were not totally honourable. In fact, wherever he felt he would not be able to serve properly due to a conflict of desires and interests, he never tried to adapt. He would quit honourably. He did everything to maintain his honour and lend credence to his principles.
One startling revelation from this book is how he was offered an opportunity to become asenator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In actual fact, the opportunity had closed, but the most powerful man in the country called him personally to offer him the slot. He declined on principle. It takes quite a lot of strength to deny a man who, obviously, never liked hearing a ‘no’ for an answer. But there was the high probability that the rationale was more compelling and made the response more acceptable. A lawmaker who got his office through the backdoor is some sort of contradiction. And it would be scandalous for the public to witness the emergence of a man of integrity as a senatorial candidate after the electoral period for registration had closed.
This was one personal revelation that many only could have imagined. There is a way this book takes one back into the ‘black and white’ that characterised pictures of the early days. The pictures also help with that, but it is more the names of people that Gamaliel Onosode had very close interactions with, particularly away from what the world could see. His principles kept him, and his honour made him able to focus on doing the work at hand without judging the environment filled with men who had extra-special interest. It was clear that those men had developed some sort of respect for Gamaliel Onosode, and it was very good for them to be seen around him.
This book also highlights the most important aspect of his life – his faith. God was prominent, front, and centre in his life. His many years of service in the Christian community, particularly the Baptist family, only prove how much he was committed to God. And God indeed was very faithful to him.
Femi Osofisan’s book reveals two major occasions where Gamaliel Onosode was as goodas dead, but he was miraculously healed. One of those times, he had to be airlifted to Germany to immediately receive treatment. It was indeed a sorry case until Gamaliel Onosode himself, in full faith, declared his own healing to the doctors. His recuperation was nothing short of a miracle, much to the bewilderment of his doctors.
You will get lost in this book. Your major takeaway will be that in the end, our heroes have a humanity to them that might be as ordinary as the next person. Nevertheless, a resilient person will shape his cult hero status by defining himself along principles he is willing to stand on for the rest of his life.
And in there lies the making of classic and timeless men. They have no special innate abilities to set them apart and above. But they do the extra in building a character that is, in the eyes of people, impossible, especially where the environment will not permit difference and outstanding class.
Gamaliel Onosode very well defined how men ought to live publicly and privately, and how a person’s independence of mind is his to control, and not for society to determine.
A press release signed by the Secretary of the Gamaliel and Susan Onosode Foundation, GAMSU, Mr. Spencer Onosode before the event said as follows;
Education is a veritable tool necessary to equip individuals with skills required to navigate the complexities of an ever changing world. Without doubt, education is fundamental to human existence and provides both youth and adults the power to reflect and make choices that affect, and invariably, uplift their standards of living. It is a key ingredient in economic and social activity and therefore vital for effecting national development.
Sadly, third world countries continue to perform below global educational ratings with Nigeria being no exception. Some of the major challenges facing the educational sector in Nigeria are access, equity, value, relevance, quality, management and funding. A vibrant economy cannot be built on lack of access to education and low attendance at schools.
For most of his life and professional career, Mr. Gamaliel Onosode was known as a man of integrity. His character in his many years of service to Nigeria, and to numerous public and private enterprises and corporations, was constant, never compromising the ethos of a principled life and commitment to equity and fair play.
To this end, and in honour of the Founding Father of Gamaliel & Susan Onosode Foundation, Mr. Gamaliel Onosode of blessed memory, a book presentation, GAMALIEL ONOSODE, CLASSICUS, an Honourable Life, written by Professor Femi Osofisan and Professor Olakunbi Olasope, and a panel discussion on the theme, “Harnessing Nigeria’s Greatest Resource: Growth through Education” will hold on Thursday, 23rd September, 2021 at 11.00 a.m. prompt at the Centre for National Reformation and Social Justice, the Rock Cathedral, Rock Cathedral Drive, Lekki-Epe Expressway, Lagos.
We intend to inspire through his life and legacy a new generation of young people who will extol integrity and honesty. We believe that this is required to create a new and better future for Nigeria.
Gamaliel & Susan Onosode Foundation is a not-for-profit, non-political organisation incorporated in May 2013 and committed to contributing consistently to the promotion of quality education in Nigeria. Our mission is to foster the success of the Nigerian child through innovative and flexible learning opportunities while providing the enabling environment. The Foundation is doing this one child, one student, one teacher and one community at a time. We will not relent until there is positive change.
Secretary, Board of Trustees
Gamaliel & Susan Onosode Foundation
A message on the website of the Gamaliel and Suzan Onosode Foundation – GAMSU, thanked everyone who participated in the Book Launch event both online and onsite for honouring its Founder, Evangelist Gamaliel Onosode:
THANK YOU ALL VERY MUCH
Gamaliel Onosode: Classicus, an Honourable Life
We appreciate how you stayed with us all through the event. The Book Launch was a success because of you. We loved your full participation in our panel discussion, both onsite and online.
We are very happy not only to have had you join us in all the activities, but that our late Founder, Gamaliel Onosode, was well honoured, and that his legacy is of such importance to you that you deemed it fit to throw your full support behind the Gamaliel & Susan Onosode Foundation, GAMSU.
Together, we will improve education in Nigeria.
The Event was anchored by Engr. Albert Okoigun, Founder / Group Managing Director, ARCO Group and member Board of Trustees, Gamaliel and Susan Onosode Foundation, GAMSU.
Additional Reports Credit: Punch.