By Eric Teniola
THE arrangement worked then in that it reduced rivalry. It paid off for Mr. Ramaphosa who had an estimated net worth of $450million as of 2018, with 31 properties and previously-held notable ownership in companies such as McDonald’s South Africa, chair of the board for MTN and member of the board for Lomnin.
Chief Shonibare and his group established the National Investment Company along with Chief Rewane and Chief Gbadamosi. It was this company that built the Western House in Lagos, Cocoa house in Ibadan and Bristol Hotel in Lagos. It was the same company that built most of the companies that are under Odua Investment Company today.
It was this group that was behind the Western Region partnership in the establishment of Worldwide Redifusion in Ibadan; Nigerian Plastic Company (1954), Ibadan; Nidogas, Lagos; Nigersol Construction Company (1959); Nigerian Water Resources Development Company (1959), Ibadan; Nigerian Pre-Pressed and Concrete Company, Abeokuta; Crittal Hope Nigeria Ltd., Mushin; Vono (West Africa) Mushin; Tower Aluminium Ltd Ikeja; Asbestos Cement, Ikeja; Nigerian Sugar Company, Apapa; Nigerian Mosaic and Glass Manufacturing Company, Ikeja; Pioneer Biscuit Company, Apapa; West African Portland Company, Ewekoro; Nigerian Textile Mills Ltd., Ikeja
Let’s take Chief Shonibare for example. His career began in 1936 as a clerk for U.A.C in Ibadan where he worked from 1936 to 1942; he was then promoted Chief Clerk and Book-keeper at Ijebu-Ode in 1942. He rose to become Office Manager, Technical Department before leaving the firm in 1952. Upon leaving UAC, he joined Amalgamated Press, publishers of the Daily Service which was then a political mouth-piece of the Action Group.
During his tenure, the company launched the Sunday Express, an apolitical weekly magazine and also the launched Daily Express in partnership with the Thomson Group. Under his leadership, Amalgamated Press had editors like Chief Victor Olabisi Onabanjo (1927-1990) and Alhaji Lateef Jakande (90), who later became governors. In 1958, Shonibare became Managing Director of the National Investment Property Company; he was invited to be the MD by S.O. Gbadamosi, a board member. While working for U.A.C. in Ijebu Ode, his supervisor was Mr Samuel Olukoya. At a party in 1942, he was introduced to his daughter Ms Alice Olukoya, they got married in 1946.
He was Managing Director of National Investment and Properties Corporation, a private company that was linked with AG and the regional government and whose directors were party members. The company was formed in 1958.
When a state of emergency became effective in the Western Region, Chief Shonibare was limited to Ondo town. He died in January 1964. Prior to his death, he founded Shonny Investments which was in the process of developing Maryland Estate in Lagos. He was also involved in a mobile film unit and a printing business.
As for Chief Rewane, he started his career as a manager trainee with UAC and became the Beach Master, Lagos Customs Wharf for the firm. In the 1940s he left UAC and focused on importing goods, especially cow bones and black pepper; and then in the 1950s, he was also into the timber trade and he owned the Rex Club in Yaba, Lagos where Chief Olabinjo Bobby Benson (1922-1983) was a regular musician.
During the pre-independence era in Nigeria, Rewane was affiliated with the Action Group; he became the chairman of the Western Nigeria Development Company. Chief Gbadamosi was a household name in Ikorodu, especially in terms of business which is still the centre of commerce in the present Lagos State. The rate at which Chief Obafemi Awolowo was developing the Western Region at that time was unbelievable and at a very short period. His achievements were laudable.
Hence, the envy. The year 1962 was the worst for the Action Group with political landmines planted by the party’s adversaries. In February 1962, the party was engulfed in a serious crises in Jos during its annual congress.
On May 29, 1962, a state of emergency was declared by the Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. The motion was approved by 209 votes to 36 in the House of Representatives and in the Senate by 32 votes to seven with two abstentions. He then appointed Senator Adekoyejo Moses Majekodunmi (1916-2012), CFR, the Mayegun of Lagos and Otun balogun of Egba Christians, as the administrator of Western Region. The following day he arrived in Ibadan with his ADC, Captain Murtala Mohammed (1938-1976).
The first act of Dr. Majekodunmi on arrival was to order the restrictions of the leading political personalities in the Western Region, including Chief Obafemi Awolowo, GCFR, (1909-1987), Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola (1910-1966), Chief Ayotunde Rosiji (1917-2000), Chief Dauda Soroye Adegbenro (1909-1975), Chief Frederick Rotimi Alade Williams (1920-2005) and the leader of opposition at that time, Chief Victor Babaremilekun Adetokunbo Fanikayode (1921-1995).