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OBITUARY: Kuforiji-Olubi, headmistress at 19, first female ICAN president — a woman of many firsts

OBITUARY: Kuforiji-Olubi, headmistress at 19, first female ICAN president — a woman of many firsts
December 04
16:59 2016

Bola Kuforiji-Olubi, former minister of commerce and first female president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAN), was pronounced dead on Saturday.

The late octogenarian, who was conferred an award of the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) in 2002, celebrated her 80th birthday less than two months ago in Lagos.

A WOMAN OF MANY FIRSTS

Kuforiji-Olubi will be remembered as one of the Nigerian women who broke the boundaries before the advent of gender activism.

She was the first Nigerian female graduate of the Chartered Accountant of England and Wales, and the first female graduate of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN). She was elected the first female ICAN President in 1989, as the 25th president.

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She was also the first Nigerian woman to become the managing director of an international company in Nigeria — VYB (Nigeria) Ltd — in 1977. She was the first female chairman of a public quoted company on the stock exchange (BEWAC Plc.), the holding company for VYB and its subsidiaries.

Kuforiji-Olubi is also the first female Chairman of United Bank for Africa(UBA).

19-YEAR-OLD HEADMISTRESS

She began her career as a Grade two Teacher at Zawan Girls Catholic Primary School, Jos, where she rose to be headmistress at age 19.

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“I was told that this came because I had done very well at my examinations; scoring the highest number of credits,” she once said.

She left her teaching job and proceeded to the University of London where she did her A Levels and also graduated with a degree in Economics in 1963. In 1964, she became a fellow of British Chartered Institutes of Company Secretaries, ACIS.

NO FILE STAYS ON HER TABLE FOR MORE THAN 48HOURS

In 1993, she was appointed minister of commerce and tourism in the interim national government headed by Ernest Shonekan.

“You know what? I took my private sector orientation into public service. Sometimes, I look back and ask myself, ‘Were you not a fool to have done that?’

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“But I wasn’t a fool. I refuse to even think that I was or that I am a fool. I only went to give service. And no file stayed on my table for more than 48 hours. I don’t know whether such still happens now.”

She didn’t leave tradition behind

She held various chieftaincy titles from various geo-political zones in Nigeria.

Before her death, she was the Otunba Ayora of Ijebu-Ode and the Ahaneji-Agamba 1 of Isu-Nkwere (meaning the name that goes to places or opens doors).

Kuforiji Olubi is also the Asiwaju Iyalode of Ibadanland, Suada of Egba, Igbokodo-Okeona, Lika of Ikija from the quarters where her paternal grandmother came from.

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She was also honoured in Efik as Adaidake-Egburutu, one of the highest chieftaincy titles that can be given to anyone in that region.

NOT DISCOURAGED BY GENDER DISCRIMINATION

“Of course, over the years, I have suffered some gender discrimination. I have been told to my face by some organisations that they have no room for any woman! But I never allowed myself to be discouraged,” she said in an interview.

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“I have been boss to a number of men who tell me: “I have a woman like you at home!”, but I let them know that I am not the woman in their houses.”

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1 Comment

  1. esshay
    esshay December 07, 09:43

    May her soul rest in perfect peace, she used to be one of my mentols. I’m very proud of her any time,especially in accounting proffessional.

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