Late Ola Vincent
By GABRIEL OMOH, SAM EYOBOKA & MIKE EBOH
LAGOS—A former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Ola Vincent, is dead. He died on Monday at St. Nicholas Hospital, Lagos after a period of hospitalisation.
One of his children confirmed his death. He was, until his death, a director at Industrial and General Insurance Plc. He served as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria between 1977 and 1982.
Speaking to Vanguard, one of Vincent’s daughters, Mrs. Taiwo Bali said “I am one of his four children. We are twins. Papa was also survived by 11 grand children.
Late Ola Vincent, former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria
When I went to visit him on Saturday, he smiled. That smile lasted for a very long time. I went to see him again on Sunday. I saw that particular smile again. Then on Monday, Papa was dead. He was a very disciplined man. He was an apostle for details. He always insisted on details. We will miss him. He was sick for some time.
Also the wife, Mrs Edith Adenike Vincent said: “He was a loving husband. I will marry him all over again.”
In the condolence register, Apostle and Mrs Hayford Alile wrote “What a celebration of life on many fronts. We will miss you”.
According to the burial arrangements, his body will be lying-in-state at his residence at 8, Balarabe Musa Cresent, Victoria Island Lagos on Thursday. Service of songs will be held at African Church Cathedral, Bethel, Broad Street, Lagos. Final interment will be at Ikoyi Cemetery on Thursday.
Speaking on his death, pioneer Director-General of the Nigeria Stock Exchange, NSE, Apostle Hayford Alile described the deceased former CBN governor, Chief Ola Vincent as a man of proven integrity who even at old age was very wonderful in all his presentations.
While Ola Vincent was in the CBN, Alile was the Director-General of the Nigeria Stock Exchange and they both worked closely at different commissions and boards even after they both retired from active service. Alile said they worked closely together right from 1976 when Chief Ola Vincent was the deputy governor of CBN and chairman of Capital Issues Commission where they both often shared thoughts on the way forward for the nation’s economy.
“Without mincing words, the man was an epitome of patriotism; he had an impeccable character and I make bold to say that he was one of the very few Nigerians who I can vouch for as people so dedicated to the Nigerian project,” Alile told our reporter on telephone last night.
He added that he also worked closely with the late Vincent on the board of IGI where “we had also related very closely and I can say that his share of experience is absolutely wonderful. The nation has missed a rare gem.
When contacted a CBN official said yes it is true that Ola Vincent is dead but no official communication has been made to that effect. He said may be tomorrow (today), the CBN may come out with a statement in this regard.
In his view, Mr. Jaiye Randle, who was one of the early callers to the family, said “He was one of Nigeria’s finest in terms of integrity, uprightness. He is also a bold and strong man. He was an embodiment of how Lagosians used to be. He was exceptionally respectful, even to those of us much younger than him. Tribe or religion meant nothing to him.
He did not discriminate, he had a large circle of friends, despite his age.
Above all, he had a fantastic sense of humour. He was an encyclopedia in vitually all facets of Nigerian life, in economics, politics, social, among others. He was a man of great passion and always made allowance for human frailty. He was highly accommodating of other people’s opinion. May his soul rest in peace.”
Reacting to the death of Mr. Ola Vincent, Mr. Oluseye Adetunmbi, Chief Responsibility Officer, Value Fronteira Limited, said “He was one of the finest technocrats, one of the few who dignified simplicity by sticking to ‘Mr’ despite his huge status that could have attracted many chieftaincy titles, epitome of ‘central banker’ when things were still orderly in Nigeria.
I grew up to know him through his signature in Nigerian currency note when Nigerian 60 kobo was worth more than a dollar.
“His name with his signature on the currency was synonymous to CBN for a very long time because of his unique style which underscored the virtue of modesty in his character and honourable disposition.
“It was like when their set left the key sectors of our economy; things were no longer at ease in Nigeria. Nigeria has been depleted by one of her finest men of dignity and honour. We can only hope that those of us left can learn from the unique and towering disposition of Pa Ola Vincent. May his gentle soul rest in peace while thanking God for the gift of long life.”
In his reaction, Mr. Remi Olowude, Vice Chairman, IGI Insurance Plc, who was one of the individuals who visited the family to commiserate with them over their loss, said “Baba was an epitome of the old national anthem that we abandoned which says, ‘though tongue and tribe may differ, in brotherhood we stand.’ That was baba.
He had no time for tribal issues, all he had time for in his life were real issues. He was a man of the highest integrity. He was a highly cerebral person, probably one of the best economist of our time.
”I used to call him a poetical economist. When he commented on national and economic issues, you would marvel. When Nigerian was on a precipice, baba gave solutions that helped the country out of the problems.
“He was practical, humble, a good listener and does not personalise issues. During the dark days of Abacha, Baba gave solutions that helped moved the country forward. He was a moving encyclopedia, especially on corporate governance.
He was a founding shareholder and director of IGI Insurance. He helped the Board of the company run what became the best company with the highest ethical standard in Nigeria. At over 80, he was still a member of the Board of IGI till his death. May his soul rest in peace.”
Birth and education
Vincent was born on May 16, 1925 in Lagos. He attended CMS Grammar School, Lagos (1936–1939). He 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 he attended the Administrative Staff College in England, and from 1953 to 1956 he studied at the University of Manchester. From 1957 to 1960 he was a part-time lecturer in Economics at the University of Ibadan.
Vincent was Senior Assistant Secretary in the Nigerian Ministry of Finance (1959–1961) and then moved to the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, as an Assistant General Manager, becoming a General Manager at the CBN from 1963 to 1966.
He was a Director at the Nigerian Industrial Development Bank (1964–1966). Vincent was appointed a Vice President at the African Development Bank, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire (1966–1973). He returned to the CBN in 1973 as an Adviser, becoming Deputy Governor in 1975 and Governor from 1977 to 1982. Vincent was named a Commander of the Federal Republic, CFR, in 1982.
Following Vincent’s retirement from the CBN, in 1983 he recommended establishment of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, NDIC, which occurred in June 1988. The NDIC provides a safety net for depositors in the newly liberalized banking sector.
Vincent chaired a seminar on Ethics and Professionalism in the Nigerian Banking Industry in August 1992. In his opening remarks, he observed that banks had a pivotal role in the cash and credit economy of Nigeria, making them vulnerable to suspicion.
He acknowledged that greed was a factor in causing the high incidence of fraud and other abuses in the industry. Speaking in April 2003, Vincent criticized the “severely flawed unitarist constitution” that the former military regime had introduced in 1999, and called for changes to “arrest the cancerous growth of corruption and corrupt practices.”
He was a director of the Industrial and General Insurance (IGI) in 2008, when he received a prestigious lifetime achievement award. He is a life member of the Nigerian Economic Society and the Society for International Development.
In May 2009, he was living in retirement in his home on Victoria Island, Lagos with Adenike, his wife for 50 years. In an interview in September 2009, Vincent was critical of the action of the current governor of the CBN, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who had dismissed the chief executives of five bailed-out banks.
He said the executives should have been given a fair hearing, and felt that the hasty action which involved the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission may have undermined trust in the banking system.
FG should de-emphasize Vision 2020 – Ola Vincent
Vincent, while speaking at the annual dinner of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Nigeria said that the federal government should de-emphasize vision 20-2020. “Nigeria should aim to do better than it is doing now, and not be talking about becoming one of the largest economy in 2020” he said.
He noted that the way people talk about Nigeria achieving this feat assumes that the countries presently in the group of 20 largest economy have stopped growing, adding that this is farther from the truth. He said those countries will not stop for Nigeria to catch up with them.
“They are also working to improve their economies and, hence, increase their growth. That is why achieving that feat requires urgent steps to improve the economy. My advice is that we should focus on improving on where we are today, doing better than we are presently doing.”
Citing example of the need to increase power generation, he said, “Nigeria is not going anywhere if the problem of power is not solved. Government has been talking about increasing generation to 4000 or 5000 megawatt but this should not be the goal. We should be talking about how to generate 40,000 mega watts in three years. So, government must move quickly in the direction of producing enough power for the country.”
Vincent, who was the special guest of honour at the occasion, said a critical ingredient missing in present efforts to develop the economy is planning.
He said more efforts and resources should be devoted to comprehensive planning. Pointing out that the greatest impediment to development in the country is corruption, he said “Those who practice corruption inhibit develop-ment.
If corruption pre-dominates development would be lacking. What they do not realize is that if the money they steal is properly allocated to developing the economy there would be money to share.” He expressed opposition to the proposed removal of subsidy, saying that what government should do is to reduce its running cost, starting with reducing the number of Special Advisers to the President.
He said in addition to this, the government should reduce the salaries of political appointees as it is been done in other climes.
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