Remembering Gbadamosi Ladiji Abidemi (Dec. 21, 1935- March 1, 2016)

Chief (Dr.) Gbadamosi Ladiji Abidemi, a renowned businessman and banker, was born on December 21, 1935 at Bolanta-Masifa Ogbomoso into Akogun family to the late Alhaji Fatunbi Gbadamosi. He died on March 1, 2016.He was the first of 12 children, and only child of their mother (the first of the three wives),Alhaja Ayinke Gbadamosi, a market leader known popularly as “Iya Onipanu”.

His late father, Alhaji Fatunbi Gbadamosi, was an enterprising trader in Buruku, Plateau State when he was born. At age 11, Abidemi attended Mallam Garuja Quranic School Minna, though, he was fascinated by Western Education, which he didn’t have. Having gained a good knowledge of numbers and alphabets through a friend and neighbour, Dr. Olanrewaju Teibo, he was enrolled for Primary School Education at Baptist Day School Minna. He performed excellently and was rapidly promoted. He was exceptional and was also best in Bible Studies.

Due to this outstanding performance both in school and Bible Studies, the teachers preached Christianity to him and this motivated him to attend Bible Studies and forget about Quranic classes. Eventually, he was converted into Christianity. Though he had a delay in starting secondary education due to his parent’s interest for him to follow their footsteps as a trader, fortunately for him, his father attended Ogbomoso Parapo meeting in Minna, where parents were encouraged to educate their children. They were told that a time would come when those with little or no education would have no place in society.

He was immediately enrolled into Government Provincial Secondary School Bida in 1953, where he made many longstanding friendships during the years, not only with the prominent Yoruba in the North, but also with many Northern elite.He excelled as a footballer and a sprinter while in school. He was also a Boys Scout and was in the contingent from the Northern Nigeria zone to the Boys Scout Jamboree in Sultan Goldfield, England and eventually, became the Quarter Master for the whole of Nigerian contingent at the jamboree. Having an insatiable appetite for knowledge and self- improvement, he attended various institutions including Rapid Result College (Professional Banking Course) Elverthan College UK (Management) Ashridge Management College UK (Marketing), Harvard University, USA; Stanford University, USA among others.

Abidemi began his career with defunct Barclays Bank (now Union Bank Plc.) Minna on March 2,1959. He was diligent and hardworking, and rose through the ranks and file like a meteor, despite varying difficulties. His mentor was the late Chief Ben Aboderin. He lived with him in Kano. Aboderin was like a father to the family. This made the two families to be one.He became the first Accountant for the whole of the old Northern Nigeria in 1965 and was passionately involved in initiating moves to make Nigerians take control of the branches of the bank, which were hitherto controlled by foreigners.

He “Nigerianised” accountancy position in many branches, including Zaria, Kaduna, Yola, Maiduguri and Kano.He held the position of the Bank Manager in Jos in 70’s and in 1978 was transferred as manager to Yaba and Ikeja branches. He was transferred to Tinubu branch as the first indigenous manager in 1979.

He received many accolades and awards in banks for his outstanding and professional performance on the job and later became Head Office Manager, Central Bank Liaison Manager (International Banking) Assistant General Manager (Marketing and Public Relations). He voluntarily resigned in 1986, on the day he was offered a promotion as Special Assistant to the Managing Director, after a robust career spanning almost 27 years.

After resigning from Union Bank and later joined the Lee Group of Companies.In 1986, as co-coordinating Executive Director of the group comprising about 30 companies in Kano, Port Hacourt, Ikorodu, Lagos Mainland, Ivory Coast, South African, Shanghai and Hong Kong, he took the company to another level.He returned in 2002 after an admirable career to establish his own private business including Dijison Agro Allied Farm in Ikire.He was married to Mariam Adefunke Adeleke (daughter of the late Pa Thomas Akanbi and the late Ma Alice Abegbe of Ita Olola, Ogbomoso.

bidemi was a complete family man, quite prayerful, devoted and a disciplined father, who had a good heart and loved all his children. He was a devout Baptist, who served the Nigeria Baptist Convention as a whole.He held prominent positions in the church and clubs including Apapa Boat Club, Ikoyi Club, Lagos Country Club, Lions Club International Ogbomoso, Ogbomoso Pivotal Club, Ogbomoso Recreational Club, Yoruba Tennis Club.

Three years after his death, the family is still grateful to eminent personalities that stood by them and contributed to the success of his burial. They included former Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar, former Governor of Oyo State, Christopher Alao Akala, Soun Ogbomoso, the Ale of Okelerin, the Onipetu of Ijeru land, other traditional Obas and chiefs of Ogbomoso, Lee Group of Companies, Chief Debo Omotosho, Ambassador Oyedele, Justice Akintola, Justice Oyetunde, Justice Atilade- Ojo; Honourable Mulika Akande and others. There were also friends and associates from Baptist Conference, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria. The Lion Club Of Nigeria District 404 also at the ceremony.He is fondly remembered by his wife, Maria Adefunke Gbadamosi, Children: Niran Gbadamosi; Sola Gbadamosi, Bola Gbadamosi-Onah , Ayo Gbadamosi, Shade Gbadamosi-Okedara, Peju Gbadamosi-Ogunbanjo, Debo Gbadamosi and grand children.

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Gbadamosi Ladiji Abidemi
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