Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode (second right), his Deputy Governor Oluranti Adebule (first right), the late Chief Gbadamosi (first left) and Prof. Wole Soyinka at the opening of of Lagos@50 event
Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi, the Ikorodu-born former Minister for National Planning had his hands in many things. He was an art collector, writer, industrialist, financial expert and public administrator. At 27 he was commissioner in Lagos State. In fact, he was until his passage the co-chairman of Lagos @ 50 Committee. When the news of his passing spread, many from the arts, business and government circle stormed his palatial country home at Ota Ona, Ikorodu, to authenticate the news and commiserate with his family members.
In the art cycle, it is a great loss, as Chief Gbadamosi is known for his contributions to the growth and development of art in the country. He was a great supporter of the creative industry and an art connoisseur.
Spotlighting this, Prof Wole Soyinka in his oration titled, Good-Bye, Rasheed explains Gbadamosi’s love for the art. It reads: “He still owes me a visit. After he spied a rug from his factory years ago, on which a lion had been emblazoned, it became even more pressing. He revealed that he had seen that design and decided that it belonged to me, nowhere else, so he commandeered it and packaged it off to me. I sent word back some time later that I had found the perfect place for the rug, this being the studio room downstairs in my Ijegba home, which I named Igbale Agba. I declared that I would not formally declare that room open without him. We fixed a date, then another, and now, there are no new dates to negotiate.”
He Continued, “In the Lagos@50 monthly series in which we celebrate the five Lagos divisions known as I-B-I-L-E, this December was to have been the turn of Ikorodu, third in line, and Rasheed’s early play, Echoes From The Lagoon, was already scheduled. In the process of re-acquainting myself with his works, I was reminded of Gbadamosi’s early creative promise. I wrote him, lamenting that the Artistic world had lost him to business. It is impossible to quantify the personal consolation I derive from having sent him that note just a fortnight or so before he took his leave of us.
“In strict terms of course, the artistic world never lost Rasheed. That was where his soul was, and he manifested it in the commitment that made him turn his estate into a vast exhibition gallery of Nigerian painters, to which many flock till today. Let this be stressed as a public challenge; Rasheed put his money where his heart beat! Both young and old generation artists will testify to this in abundance.”
Soyinka added, “But finally, he left us. Fate is often cruel, very cruel when hope has been raised. I had been optimistic, not only optimistic but proactively so. At the start of our collaboration, I confess I had been skeptical over his stamina. He looked frail, so I protested to him and his minders – Tell him to take it easy. He needn’t come to this or that meeting or whatever event. Rasheed had his own ideas however, and insisted on nearly full, productive participation. So I changed gears. I had recognised a fighter, and I found it challenging. I now became querulous when I failed to see him at an event – let him do more and more, I insisted. It was doing him good, so I demanded more of the same from him. And he still owed me that visit…!”
Recalling his very last encounter with Gbadamosi, Soyinka said: “Only a few weeks ago, we had lunch together –– a working lunch, drawing up new options for an often frustrating exercise. On that unsuspecting day, I watched him undergoing his physiotherapy session before we proceeded to lunch, prepared by his deceptively light framed, but courageous wife. How was one expected to have remotely conjectured that this was to be our ‘Last Supper’ together!
Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Habib Aruna, said he was saddened by the demise of the former Minister for National Planning, describing him as a true Lagosian, who was passionate and always willing to serve his state and fatherland.
“As a foundation member of the first Lagos State Executive Council after the creation of the state in 1967, he contributed immensely towards laying a very solid foundation for what is today the foremost state in the country and the nation’s unarguable Centre of Excellence,” he said.
Ambode noted that Gbadamosi also distinguished himself as a Federal Minister and PPPRA Chairman. “Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi was a sound economist, one of the best in his generation. His passion to serve his fatherland was never in doubt, so it was not surprising to me that he graciously accepted to serve as co-chairman of Lagos@50 Committee and in the last few months, he was directly involved in the meetings and planning to ensure the success of the celebration,” he said.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Information, Steve Ayorinde, who confirmed the death of Rasheed Gbadamosi, said: “The Lagos State Government mourns the passing of a leading industrialist, art patron, Chief Gbadamosi will be remembered for being a true Lagosian, a nationalist and an art aficionado.”
Among his other strides in the business world, Gbadamosi was chairman, Ragolis Water Ltd., AIICO Pension Managers and Lucky Fibres Nig. Plc. He was also a former chairman of Bank of Industry. Also, he was former chairman, Petroleum Products Prices Regulatory Agency.
Besides, Gbadamosi was deeply involved in the creative industry. As a playwright, he authored Trees Grow In The Desert, which has been widely performed. He was a founding member of the Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON) Centre, Lagos. He was also counted as one of Nigeria’s biggest art collectors.
At a time, he and the founder of the Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Foundation, Prince Yemisi Adedoyin, as well as, Mr. Sammy Olagbaju, were described as the three musketeers of visual arts in Nigeria. Incidentally, Olagbaju passed on recently.
As a result of Gbadamosi’s involvement in art and culture, stakeholders have received news of his death with shock.According to a seasoned artist, Kolade Oshinowo, the development is disturbing. Speaking with The Guardian on the phone, he said: “It is a huge shock to us because it is happening when we have not fully recovered from the demise of Mr. Olagbaju. It is painful that we are losing those who have supported the arts. He was involved in performance, music, visual, literary and other aspects of the arts. I don’t think many people will forget his contributions to the industry.”
On his part, Shyllon, who noted that he and Gbadamosi had a long-time relationship as co-art patrons, family friends and business partners, described his passage as very painful. According to him, Gbadamosi was a selfless man who touched the lives of many people and institutions.