As the remains of business mogul, Captain Idahosa Wells Okunbo (fondly called Captain ‘Hosa, for short, by associates and admirers) were buried in Benin, on Friday, October 8, 2021, a telephone conversation that he had with me some years ago after reading a write-up I did on him, played back in my memory in validation of his profound thoughts about the issues of conquests and death.
He had thanked me profusely for what he described as a brilliant outing, but was quick to point out a portion of the article that succinctly captured his original thoughts about his conquering the air as a retired commercial jet pilot; conquering the sea with his maritime security enterprise in which his company, Ocean Marine Security (OMS) deployed fifty-two fully-equipped vessels to provide security for the movement of crude oil to Warri and Port Harcourt refineries sans attacks by the Niger Delta militants; and conquering the land with his iconic Wells Greenhouse Farm in Benin.
Whereas, he had no issues with the conquest of the air and the sea, he said he had reviewed his original thoughts on the conquest of the land. In a somewhat solemn voice, he said: “My brother Ojeifo, I don’t think anyone can really conquer the land, as it is, because after our earthly journeys, the land will swallow us up, someday, somewhere; we will be six feet down.”
Such was Captain ‘Hosa’s capacity for fecund interrogation of esoteric issues and appreciation of matters . I considered his perspective on land swallowing all of us up, someday, somewhere, profoundly philosophical.
The logicality of that thought became writ large in Benin as his body was privately interred by his family after a funeral service that held at the Nigerian Airforce Base on Airport Road in line with the COVID-19 protocols.
By his sheer poignant perspective, he only reinforced, far from being prophetic, the ramifications of the divine validation of man’s return to his creator: the flesh as dust returning to dust and the spirit retuning to God in a transcendental celestial flight.
George Herbert’s eternal lines: “That flesh is but the glass, which holds the dust that measures all our time; which also shall be crumbled into dust,” provides a confirmatory insight into the end of the physical man.
It is a matter which was settled in the Garden of Eden as a corollary to the Adamic nature of man that came via sin committed by man (Eve and Adam).
It has thus since become a battle that man cannot win; and, this aligns with Amy Rae Durreson’s supposition that: “there are some fights none of us can win.” Gail Tsukiyama spoke more pointedly about the inevitability of the human condition: “In the end, the body betrayed everyone.”
This finds apt anchorage in Andrew R. George’s postulation: “As for man, his days are numbered; whatever he might do, it is but wind.”
So many philosophers had made their various interventions about the matters of mortality and death. But in his sermon, on Thursday, October 7, 2021, at the Service of Songs at the late Captain Hosa’s estate in Benin GRA, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, founder of the Trinity House, offered a summative conclusion to the multiplicity of puzzles about death and dying.
Holding the audience spellbound, he said: “none of us has power over the season of death. There is no discharge in that war and all of us are moving towards that season. It is not how long we live, but how well.
Death is extremely powerful and it can teach us some few things. One day or another, it will be our turn.” He, however, urged the children of the billionaire-philanthropist to activate the second lesson, which he said could be learnt about death, to wit: it is something we cannot forget.
Read him: “Hosa cannot be forgotten. Make sure you keep the memory of your father alive. Some people are impossible to forget. Hosa falls in that classification.”
It is clear that Ighodalo was prepping Hosa’s children to continue with his good works and do all that is reasonably possible within their capabilities to immortalize him and keep alive his good memories.
Evidently, the most instructive takeaway from Ighodalo’s powerful message was the fact that death makes his own choices, and picks whoever it wants at any time. And to drive home the ancillary point about the vanity of life, he urged the audience to visit the mortuary.
He took the opportunity of the occasion to allude to his mother’s saying to him that all houses were and remain for sale: “Nothing belongs to you in life. You come in empty-handed and you will die empty-handed.
“If you don’t sell your houses in your life and times, your children will sell them; if your children don’t sell, your grandchildren will; if your grandchildren don’t sell, your great grandchildren will. All houses are for sale.”
Ighodalo significantly noted that death had taken “one of the very best” even as he pointed out some lessons to learn from Captain ‘Hosa’s life.
According to him: “he was visionary; he was determined, hardworking and courageous; he was generous and accommodating.”
He challenged the children to follow in his footsteps. He rounded off on a note that was gratifying- a testimony about Captain ‘Hosa reconciling with His creator by giving his life to Christ before he died.
Read him: “One of the criteria to make it to Heaven is to sell all you have and give the proceeds to the poor and you will have treasure in Heaven… the most important thing is that you must have a relationship with God…. It was a privilege that ‘Hosa fell sick so he could put his house in order to meet with the Lord.”
One of Captain ‘Hosa’s daughters, Deborah Okunbo, in her tribute underscored the fact that her father gave his life to Christ in the twilight of his life while he was being treated in London for pancreatic cancer.
The testimonies of Captain ‘Hosa’s goodness are innumerable. The magnitude of his large-heartedness, eleemosynary acts, charitable works, terrific giving and caring could only have been ordained. Such does not come easy.
He was certainly on a divine mission to render help to fellow human beings both the rich and the poor in their times of need.
All said, a luminous epoch in robust service to God and humanity has ended with the transfiguration of the spiritual Captain ‘Hosa and the entombment of his physical remains, thus birthing an era of immortalization that beckons on his children, associates and those whose lives he touched to collaborate to etch his memories in the consciousness of the people through iconic projects, programmes and deeds in perpetuity.
And, as the theme song for the funeral ceremonies specially composed by Peter says: “HOSA NEVER DIES!” Live in power Captain Idahosa Wells Okunbo. It is well.
▪︎Mr Ojeifo writes via [email protected]