The Annual Community Hymn service of the African Church Cathedral, Bethel in Lagos held on the 3rd December 2017 was not a usual one. The event which has for 15 years been sponsored by Chief Chris Olufunlola OkunLowo and his amiable wife, Erelu Keji Okunowo carried usual air of solemnity identified with spiritual setting until way deep into the programme of the day, Erelu inadvertently let the cat out of the bag by making a passing reference to her husband approaching birthday on the 7th December 2017.
This revelation set in motion a flurry of activities which included cutting of a makeshift birthday cake, presentation of gifts and eulogizing of the celebrant. The Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osibajo who was the Guest of Honour at the event was full of praises for the celebrant whom he fondly described as his very dear egbon.
Though quite unfathomable, why Chief Okunowo, being a man of many parts has decided not to roll out drums for his birthday which by any mean is a milestone but his decision must be respected. However, as the unfolding events since the Community Hymn service have shown, he is a golden fish that has no hiding place because without any formal party being thrown; encomiums and gifts in very substantial quantities keep on flowing in even ahead of the day.
This is a great opportunity for me to celebrate the sterling life of Chief Okunowo, who is without any doubt a thoroughbred business titan with insatiable knack for excellence. He is an enigma whose life has been an open book for a willing and focused heart to study as a roadmap to success. The trajectory of his life is undoubtedly a lesson in perseverance, dedication, commitment and above all, God’s grace and providence.
For a man who has been a poster boy for fashion since when he was in the High school, growing into a high level of socialness for which he is widely known today had come without too much of an effort. I have particularly found the ever present air of sense of self-sufficiency that surrounds him so pervading that I have constantly lived in utter confusion of what gifts would be appropriate for him.
Chief Okunowo is indeed an all- round person, an erudite lawyer, excellent businessman who has equally grown in profile as a corporate titan and showbiz guru. I remember when in an interview in 2007, Sir Shina Peter was quoted as saying that Chief Okunowo taught him some fundamentals of showbiz. He has taught so many people different positive things in diverse spheres of life, for me and so many others, as Mr. Femi Banwo, an alumnus of Chris O. Okunowo rightly said at the Community Hymn service, Chief Okunowo had empowered us all to be the very best we can be.
No amount of words would be able to sufficiently express the relevance of this quintessential personality and his philosophies that have over the years illuminated and positively impacted the lives of so many around him but the least I can do today is join my voice to that of so many others to wish my worthy boss, a hearty and colourful 70th Birthday celebration.
Happy Birthday, Bobasuwa- your life is just beginning at 70.
BY KAYODE AJEKIGBE