Sir Oluremi Festus Omotoso (KJW) was born on the 28th of August, 1945 in Odo Ayedun-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Nigeria, to the family of Theophilus and Susannah Omotoso. After his primary and secondary education in Ekiti State (then Ondo State), he studied privately for his Ordinary and Advanced General Certificate of Education (GCE) Examinations and made his papers within two years.
In September 1966, he was admitted to the University of Ibadan to major in Geography and graduated in June 1969 with a B.Sc (Hons) degree. As an undergraduate, he was very active and served as an officer of no less than six associations, including the governing body of his school hall of residence, Mellanby Hall.
After graduation, Sir Omotoso taught briefly at Christ’s High School Ibadan, and on July 1st 1971, he was employed by Lever Brothers Nigeria Ltd. (now Unilever Plc) as a management trainee. Within a short time, he showed great potential for leadership and was able to rise quickly to the Board level of the company by October 1987. He attended various training programmes in countries all around the world, including an Executive Programme at the Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, in the USA.
Sir Omotoso served as Director in five different capacities at Unilever, and retired therefrom after 27 years of meritorious service. In 1998, he was invited to the position of Group Managing Director and CEO of Odu’a Investment Company Ltd, a conglomerate jointly owned by the State Governments of South-Western Nigeria. He served in this position for six years with devotion and integrity, seeing it as his responsibility as an Omoluabi to advance the cause of the Yoruba people and Nigeria as a whole through this office. While in this role, he was elected Chairman of the Association of Nigerian Development Finance Institutions and later became the Chairman of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions (AADFI). At the end of his term, he was appointed Honorary Life Chairman of the Association.
Thereafter, in 2005, he became the Director-General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, one of Nigeria’s foremost business advocacy organizations, founded in 1888. Just like he did while at Odu’a, Sir Omotoso’s hallmark at the LCCI was encouraging innovation, developing human capital and attracting investment, both local and foreign.
Sir Omotoso retired from active service in 2008 but continued to work tirelessly in service to God and humanity through various organizations. He devoted himself to the work of God through Methodist Church Nigeria, to which he remained grateful throughout his life, having gone through his primary, secondary and teacher-training education in various Methodist Institutions in Ekiti State. He served wholeheartedly in his local church, Methodist Church Araromi as Sunday School teacher, church steward and lay preacher, and was appointed Baba Ijo of the Cathedral of His Glory, Methodist Church Odo-Ayedun, his home-town church in 1997. He was also at the forefront of the Methodist Evangelism Movement, going to various locations around the nation to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. To the glory of God, he was counted worthy to be made a Knight of John Wesley in 1999, and served as Lay President of Conference for two terms from 2003 to 2009. He was Chairman of MCN Tailoring Factory Ltd., a Grand Patron of the Association of Boys’ and Girls’ Brigades and was on the Board of Trustees of Methodist Church Nigeria. He was also the Chairman, J. Wesley Investment Co. Ltd.
Beyond the Church, Sir Omotoso was also very passionate about his home community of Ayedun-Ekiti and Ekiti State as a whole. As a great believer in Ekiti people and their values, he worked arduously for their advancement throughout his life. As a result of his commitment, he was appointed Olukosi of Ere Quarters, Ayedun-Ekiti, Atobase of Ayedun-Ekiti, Amona-Oba of Ikole-Ekiti and Secretary of Igbimo Ure Ekiti. He was also President of Ekiti Parapo, and very active in Ekiti Panupo and other apolitical organizations committed to the socio-economic re-engineering of Ekiti State. He was always willing to offer his services to successive state governments and most recently, he served as a member of the Ekiti State COVID-19 Response and Resource Mobilization Committee, donating 20 beds to the Oba Adejuyigbe Isolation Centre in Ado-Ekiti.
By the grace of God, Sir Omotoso’s penchant for passionate service and exemplary leadership did not go unnoticed even in his later years. As they say, the reward for hard work is more work, and this certainly rang true in Sir Omotoso’s life. He was privileged to be invited to serve in various organizations, including Standard Chartered Bank Plc as Director and Board Chairman; Chairman, Greenwich Trust Ltd.; Chairman, Meyer Plc, Pioneer Chairman of Poly Ventures, Federal Polytechnic Ado-Ekiti, and Chairman, Viewpoint Specialist Eye Clinic. A seasoned Boardroom guru, he also sat on the boards of Jawa International and Juli Pharmacy Plc, to name a few. In addition, he was privileged to serve as a Patron of the Bible Society of Nigeria. Beyond this, he was a member of various Boards of Trustees, including the Timothy Adeola Odutola Foundation, Bookhouse Education Trust of Nigeria, Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti and Chairman, Gbagada Residents Association Board of Trustees. Regarded as an avid communicator and erudite speaker, he was regularly called upon to give lectures and talks to various audiences, which he held captivated with an uncommon balance of wit and wisdom.
A proud alumnus of the University of Ibadan, Sir Omotoso flew the flag of the University high. From 2000 to 2004, he served on the Governing Council of the University and was also Chairman of UI Ventures Ltd. He was Secretary and later, President of the UI Alumni Association (UIAA, Lagos Branch) and one-time member of the NEC of UIAA.
Sir Omotoso’s service to God and humanity was recognized with various honours. In 2008, he was awarded the honour of Member of the Federal Republic (MFR) by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. He was also a Distinguished Fellow, Institute of Directors (DFIoD), a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Management (FNIM), Honorary Fellow, Ghana Chartered Institute of Public Administration (FGCIPA); and Fellow, Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria (FCIPM). In recognition of his services to the University of Ibadan, he was honoured as a Most Distinguished Alumnus.
In spite of all these achievements, Sir Omotoso’s greatest treasure was his family. In 1974, he married his sweetheart, Lady (Pastor) Mrs. Ebunoluwa Omotoso (nee Odunsi-Eshilokun), and God blessed their union with children and grandchildren of whom Sir Omotoso was immensely proud and grateful to God. Together with his dear wife, he raised his children in the way of the Lord. He supported families, reconciled marriages, established young people in business and careers, mentored people young and old and facilitated valuable relationships. He loved to read, study and learn in a never-ending quest to advance his knowledge in order to be of more use to people. He also enjoyed listening to music and aspired (indeed, perspired) to be a golfer, but he never quite had enough time for it.
Above all, he loved God. Once he put his hand to the plough, he never looked back. He served God and humanity with integrity, believing with all his heart that a good name is better than riches (Proverbs 22:1). Sir Omotoso once said “I would like to be remembered as a village boy of whom God found use for His glory, who all his life kept struggling to finish strong”; and on the occasion of his 60th birthday in 2005, he asked his family, friends, well-wishers and even enemies to pray: “Thank You Lord, for taking Remi this far. At the end of it all, let him make heaven and reign with you eternally. In all things Oh Lord, let your will be done in Remi’s life. Amen”. Today, as we remember Sir Omotoso’s life and see the legacy he left for us, we join him and saints triumphant to declare, “To God be the glory, great things He has done!”
To this soldier of Christ, we say Good Night, and rest in perfect peace, till we meet again on Resurrection Morning.
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