Former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr. Ola Vincent
By Steve Dada and Obinna Chima
A former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr. Ola Vincent, is dead. Vincent, 87, died yesterday at St Nicholas’ Hospital, Lagos, after a brief illness.
The cause of his death could not be ascertained, but a family source said he died as a result of age-related complications at about 12:10pm.
The source said Vincent, who was CBN governor between 1977 and 1982, had complained of backache in June and was admitted to St. Nicholas’ Hospital where he was receiving treatment, until his death.
His widow, Edith, described her husband as a hard working and loving husband, who took good care of his children and grandchildren.
His daughter, Mrs. Taiwo Bali, told reporters that her father was a good man, who had a large heart and was a stickler for details.
She described her father, whom she said was mentally alert until his death, as a rallying point for the extended family.
She said he was a very religious man who did not fail to read his Bible regularly and had never failed to buy his children Bible.
“I am going to miss him and he would be missed by everybody,” she said.
She said she was close to her father and sometimes, both of them could be on the phone discussing different issues until 3am.
According to her, she was with him at the hospital last Saturday, when he was very cheerful and laughing, not knowing that “that was the last time I would see him laugh and alive”.
On burial plans for the deceased, Bali said her father had left an instruction that he would not want his body to be left for too long before burial, stressing that “a time has not been fixed but certainly, he would be buried this week”.
Among the early callers at the late Vincent’s home to pay condolence to the family was a former Director-General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Apostle Hayford Alile, who wrote in the condolence register, “What a celebration of life at many fronts, we will miss.”
Executive Vice-Chairman, Industrial and General Insurance (IGI) of which Vincent was a founding director, Mr. Remi Olowude, described him as an elder statesman and respected opinion leader whose views on critical national issues were highly valued.
“For us in the IGI family, this is a great loss. Pa Vincent meant the world to all of us. We will forever appreciate his profound contributions over the years to the growth of our company. We will miss his words of wisdom and the rich professional experience he always shared with us,” he said.
The Vicar of the African Bethel Church, where Vincent worshiped before his demise, Ven. Thomas Fagbayi, described him as a God-fearing man, a philanthropist, who was the patron of many societies in the church and prayed for the repose of his soul.
The late Vincent, an economist, will be remembered for his passion towards Nigeria’s development.
He played a pivotal role in ensuring stability in the apex bank between June 28, 1977 and June 28, 1982 when he was the governor.
His recommendation for the establishment of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) after his retirement remains indelible.
Born in Lagos on May 16, 1925, he attended CMS Grammar School, Lagos between 1936 and 1939. He also served in the Nigerian Armed Forces between 1942 and 1946, and then worked in the Financial Secretary's Office, Lagos between 1946 and 1956.
In 1951, the late Vincent attended the Administrative Staff College in England, and continued his educational pursuit from 1953 to 1956 as he studied at the University of Manchester.
From 1957 to 1960, he was a part-time lecturer of Economics at the University of Ibadan.
He was a Senior Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Finance between 1959 and 1961 from where he moved to the CBN as an Assistant General Manager.
He was appointed as the vice-president of the African Development Bank, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire between 1966 and 1973.
He returned to the CBN in 1973 as an Adviser and became Deputy Governor in 1975.
The late Vincent, who bagged the national honour of Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR) in 1982, was a life member of the Nigerian Economic Society, the Society for International Development and was a patron of some charitable organisations like the Red Cross Society and the Nigerian Society for the Blind.
Speaking in a telephone interview with THISDAY, Head of Corporate Communications, NDIC, Mr. Hadi Birchi, described his death as a great loss to the nation.
“It is very painful. This is a great loss to the country. He was one of those that developed the Nigerian banking system and he will be greatly missed,” Birchi added.