Ralph Omololu Agbana
The footprints of great men are not only indelible on the sands of time but also evident in the ideas they have advanced, organisations they have built and lives they have transformed.
This is true of Dr. Kolawole Babalola Jamodu, renowned boardroom figure of several decades and public servant, one of Nigeria’s gifts to the world in the private sector. His imprimatur is engraved across time and space, across myriads of institutions and organisations he has helped to steer. He has equally mentored successor generations who have adopted his trajectory as road maps for their career development and advancement.
Jamodu’s career has traversed nearly a dozen organisations in the manufacturing and banking sectors. He has either been Director, Board Member or Chairman of entities like Honeywell Flour Mills Plc; Ashaka Cement Plc; United Bank for Africa Plc, (UBA); PZ Cussons Plc and Nigerian Breweries Plc. Similarly, he has been associated with British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation and Nutricima Ltd. He has been President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, (MAN) and also once served as Chairman of the defunct Universal Trust Bank Plc, (UTB), before the Olusegun Obasanjo presidency which implemented the recapitalisation of banks in Nigeria.
Notably, he served as Minister of Industry under Obasanjo and was critical to the crystallisation of a number of manufacturing industries notably the Dangote Obajana Cement Company. His curriculum vitae indeed reads like that of a few people put together.
Jamodu turned 80 on Friday, February 9, 2024, entering the exclusive club of Nigeria’s octogenarians in a country where life expectancy, sadly is 55 years. It was a good opportunity to take stock of the life and endeavours of a man who has been privileged by God, but who never presumed that the proverbial manna would fall from heaven, but who had always been a quester for new challenges. Yet, he was ever ready to lace his bootstraps poised to brave and break new grounds.
Kolawole Babalola Jamodu was born in 1944 in Odo-Ere, Yagba West Local Government of Kogi State. From childhood, he stood out as a bright and talented star, who displayed great passion for education and was driven by the thirst for knowledge. Jamodu is an alumnus of the Harvard Business School, Boston, USA, and holds honorary doctorate degrees from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta and the Bells University of Technology, Ota, Ogun State.
He began his illustrious career journey with United Africa Company of Nigeria (UACN) in 1962 and three years later, Lever Brothers Nigeria Limited (now Unilever Nigeria Plc) in 1965 where he acquired varied production, commercial and financial experiences over a period of 10 years. He joined PZ Cussons Group in 1975 as the Group Accountant.
Indeed, Kola Jamodu has many ‘firsts’ to his credit. He was the first Nigerian to be appointed as Group Finance Director at PZ Group in 1978. In 1980, he was appointed Chairman, PZ Nigeria Limited, (then a trading subsidiary of the PZ Group) while maintaining his position as the PZ Group Financial Director. In 1987, he became the first Nigerian Deputy Group Chief Executive and in 1990, he became the first Nigerian Group Chief Executive of PZ Cussons.
In the same year, he was appointed Chairman of PZ Cussons Plc and became the first Nigerian to combine the positions of a Chairman and Chief Executive. He retired from PZ in 1999 as Chief Executive but remained on the PZ Board of Directors as Chairman in a non-executive capacity.
After his retirement from PZ, he became Chairman of Universal Trust Bank Plc in 1999, but resigned in 2001, following his appointment as Minister of Industry of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo where he served his country with distinction from 2001 to 2003.
A key highlight of his tenure as Minister was the introduction of various innovative backward integration policies that ensured self-sufficiency in the production of goods such as cement; and staples such as wheat, biscuits and noodles. This move led to increased foreign direct investment, massive creation of jobs, and a solid boost to national economy and Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
On his return to the private sector, Jamodu was appointed to numerous board positions with reputable multinational companies in Nigeria. Firstly, he was re-appointed Chairman of Universal Trust Bank Plc in 2004. He joined the United Bank for Africa Plc as a non-Executive Director in 2007. He was also Chairman of Nutricima Limited, Nexan Kabelmetal Nigeria Plc, Cussons Group, among many others. Notably, in 2006, Chief Jamodu was appointed to the Board of
Nigerian Breweries Plc as a non-Executive Director and transitioned to Chairman in 2008. He served the company with distinctions for 17 years, spending 15 years as board chairman. Jamodu retired from his position as Chairman of Nigerian Breweries and the company on April 30th, 2023, leaving behind a profound legacy of growth, innovation, and sustained success. Under his leadership, the company significantly expanded its operations, fortified its brand presence, and continued to drive positive change in the Nigerian brewing industry.
A Colossus in all Spheres of Life
Chief Jamodu is a highly regarded recipient of several National honours, including Member of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (MFR), Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (OFR) and Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFR). He is also a recipient of the National Productivity Merit Award (NPMA). A Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA), Chief Jamodu is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria; a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria; a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, London; and a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries & Administrators. He is also a Distinguished Fellow of the Institute of Directors, Nigeria.
Jamodu served meritoriously in various capacities during his four years in the MAN, such as National Treasurer, Chairman of the Economic Policy Committee; Chairman of the Policy Advocacy Committee, Vice President and later President from 2010 to 2014. He is past President of the Harvard Business School Alumni Association of Nigeria, a former president of the Chemical and Non-Metallic Products Employers’ Foundation (CANMPEF) and an honorary member of the Nigerian Industrial Policy and Competitiveness Advisory Council chaired by the Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Other professional bodies he has served in various capacities include Member of Council at the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Member of Council at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), and Distinguished member of the Board of Fellows of the Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM).
He is an active member of Ikoyi Club 1938, Lagos Island Club, Lagos Metropolitan Club, Lagos Motor Boat Club, Moderates Club and Lagos Dining Club, some of Nigeria’s most prestigious social organisations.
A de-tribalised Nigerian with a great affinity for diverse cultures, his immense contributions to the growth and development of various communities nationwide earned him several chieftaincy titles such as Asiwaju of Ere Kingdom, Kogi State, Aare Apasewa of Ere Land, Kogi State, Babalaje of Lagos, Bobagunwa of Eri, Kogi State, Maye Bobajiro of Ibadan land, Oyo State, Parakoyi of Oshogboland, Osun State, Maiyegun of Aiyetoro-Gbede, Kogi State, Fiwajoye of Molipa, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, Ikemba 1 Orba Nsukka, Aare of Erukuland, Kwara State.
Jamodu as Kogi Legend
He took over the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kogi State as Minister, who filled the slot of the state in the cabinet of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
This was when Kogi State was under the rule of the defunct opposition All People’s Party (APP) between 1999 and 2003. Despite his limited experience in partisan politics prior to his appointment then, Jamodu efficiently and effectively deployed his wealth of experience to navigate the tough and complexity of Kogi politics, assisted by other eminent political figures such as Senator Tunde Ogbeha (Kogi West), late Senator Ahmed Tijani Ahmed (Kogi Central), Senator Alex Kadiri (Kogi East), Prince Olusola Akanmode, who was Deputy Chief of Staff, office of the Vice-President, among others to keep the national ruling party afloat in the state.
At Kogi West level, where the two foremost Okun dinosaurs, the late Chief Sunday Awoniyi and late Chief Silas Daniyan held sway, Jamodu worked with these legends closely in advisory capacities and with other frontline Kogi West political leaders like Hon Abiodun Ojo, Hon Shola Ojo and Hon Musa Asuku Adamu, who represented Kabba-Bunu-Ijumu, Yagba and Lokoja-Kotonkarfe Federal Constituencies between 1999 and 2003; business mogul, Asiwaju Jide Omokore, Prof Olu Obafemi, who was Chairman, Board of Directors, National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Otunba Funsho Owoyemi, who was in the Board of the National Maritime Authority (NMA), Arc Yomi Awoniyi, who was member of the pioneer Board of the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority and Chairman of the Investment Committee of the Board, among other notable personalities who served in various capacities during the Obasanjo Presidency, to attract dividends of democracy to the people.
In mid-2020, Jamodu served as the pioneer Chairman of the Elders Advisory Council (EAC) of Pan Okun Relief Response Agenda. When the world was confronted with the dreaded Coronavirus aka COVID-19, which did not spare Nigeria, respected and prominent indigenes of Kogi West Senatorial District came up with the initiative regarded as “Pan Okun Relief Agenda”. The agenda was conceptualised to promote awareness against the effects of the dreaded disease and create a unity of purpose in confronting and dealing with it. The Committee was mandated to mobilize resources to provide relief materials for the entire Okun people and address various issues relating to the pandemic in the area.
Prominent in the initiative’s EAC were Prof Olu Obafemi, (who later acted as Chairman), former military governor of old Oyo State and Minister of Police Affairs, Major-General David Jemibewon (rtd); former Minister of Health, Prof. Eyitayo Lambo; former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Bayo Ojo (SAN) and one time Acting Governor of Kogi State, Chief Clarence Olafemi.
Eminent Okun personalities drawn from all walks of life and listed in the various committees and sub-committees included Prince Olusola Akanmode who chaired the Steering Committee, Asiwaju Jide Omokore, Chief Tunde Ayeni, Engr Godwin Abayomi (Managing Director, GODAB Constructions), former Deputy Governor, Arc Yomi Awoniyi; Senator Sunday Karimi, ex-Senator Dino Melaye; former member, House of Representatives, Hon Sam Aro; former Speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mathew Kolawole, National President of Okun Development Association (ODA), Mr Femi Mokikan, Public Policy Analyst, Dr Ronke Bello, Asiwaju Funsho Owoyemi, Chief Sam Owa; former Director, Department of Petroleum Resources, Mr Osten Olorunsola; erstwhile Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) CEO, Mr Babatunde Irukera; founder, Phase 3 Telecoms, Mr Stanley Jegede; Managing Director, Thisday newspapers, Mr. Eniola Bello, former Managing Director, Daily Trust Newspapers, Isiaq Jibola Managing Director, Cable News, Mr. Simon Kolawole and former member of House of Representatives, Hon Duro Meseko, among others. The conveners were Senator Smart Adeyemi, Hon Leke Abejide and Hon Tajudeen Yusuf. All former senators, House of Representatives members and political office holders at the federal, state and local government levels, both elected and appointed, all played their parts in the Okun Relief Response Agenda, irrespective of political lineages.
These eminent Okun patriots who have worked and associated with Chief Jamodu in one way or the other, would certainly be elated and happy with him to have attained this 80th birthday milestone. They will all be remembered whenever the history of Kogi State and indeed Kogi West is mentioned for the relentless and modest roles they all played in shaping the state and the Senatorial District.
As Asiwaju of Ere Kingdom, renowned as the cradle of the Yagba variant of Yoruba, Dr Jamodu facilitated the establishment of Yagba West Local Government with Odo-Ere as the headquarters, the reconstruction of Kabba-Egbe-Ilorin road and ensured the Trunk A road was listed as a priority amongst other roads rehabilitated in Nigeria in the 1990s, a health centre, which was later upgraded to the status of General Hospital, as well as the construction of library and classrooms in some secondary schools.
Through his intervention, UBA Plc established one of its branches at Odo-Ere, and he has made numerous efforts to ensure the bank remained operational. Today, UBA Odo-Ere branch is the only bank that is operational in the entire Yagbaland due to the recurrence of bank robberies in the area, which forced other banks to close their branches for business.
Through the Kola Jamodu Foundation (KJF), scholarships are provided to several indigent students at primary, secondary and tertiary school levels, medical support to indigenes who had to go through surgical operations among other immense contributions that cannot be quantified.
Asiwaju Jamodu is married to his wonderful wife of many years, Olori Asiwaju of Ere Kingdom, Chief (Mrs) Funmilayo Jamodu. The marriage is blessed with children and grandchildren.