ON the ninth of May 1936, a male child was born in Egbaland, Ake division of Abeokuta. The child grew up, and through his childhood, demonstrated exceptional attitude. The boy was inquisitive.
Through and through demanding to know those things that seemed strange and unusual to him.
As a result of his inquisitiveness he was picked out as an intelligent boy and one who would benefit immensely from western education.
Thus Ernest Adegun-le Oladeinde Shonekan was registered in primary school.
Through hardwork, Ernest Shonekan passed an entrance examination into the very competitive CMS Grammar School, Lagos in 1956 where he passed his London Matriculation Examination.
On passing out of Grammar School in 1956, he joined the Public Works Department, PWD, now Ministry of Works and worked very briefly. Inspired by the desire to lead and live a life of is own, help and assist oppressed, out of his humanitarian feelings, he left for London in 1957, where he qualified as a lawyer in 1962, having obtained an LLB degree in 1962. Ernest Shonekan was called to the English Bar at the Middle Temple in London and in Nigeria in July 1963.
On his return to Nigeria, he was motivated by desire to help build the Nigeria economy that was in its infancy with very few Nigerians in position. He joined the UAC of Nigeria Ltd. one of the foremost conglomerates in the Nigerian business setting.
He was appointed as legal assistant (conveyancer) in 1964. Ernest Shonekan was seconded to GB Ollivant, a division of UAC of Nigeria Limited and Nigerian Breweries, an associated company.
Three years after joining UAC in recognition of his diligence, loyalty and honesty, he was elevated to the post of assistant legal adviser in 1967 and was promoted to the post of deputy legal adviser in 1974.
This was the beginning of the good things coming his way in the UAC, inspite of tempting offers from other companies, Ernest Shonekan kept his cool and remained with UAC.
This loyalty paid off. He became the head of the company’s legal and secretarial services in 1975. A
year later, he moved up the ladder in his climb to the hot executive seat as he was appointed to the board of UAC of Nigeria Limited a rare achievement.
Ernest Shonekan did not rest on his oars. He continued in his usual drive for excellent performance. Me developed a rapport with co-workers which stood him out as first among equals.
So when the post of the general manager of Board Pack Premier Packaging, a division of UAC became vacant, the UAC management did not have to look far or have a second thought before appointing him to that post in 1978 and in 1980, he was appointed into the all powerful post of chairman and managing director of UAC of Nigeria Limited.
One thing that is clear so far is that Chief Shonekan never left UAC group once he got into the company and has served in positions which gave him insight, experience and knowledge of the economic activities of the UAC group.
Chief Shonekan is not a rolling stone so he inhered a lot of moss to his credit.
On his way to the top UAC, he attended numerous management courses in both the United Kingdom and America which included among others, Development of the executive, (Sundridge Park, UK, General Management course, (Astride management Centre, UK, general management course (Unilver Training) Centre (Four Acres) UK and Advanced Management Programme for company executives (Harvard Business School, Boston) USA 1983.
Chief Ernest Shonekan is a member of various organisations such as the Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry, The Nigerian Institute of Management, The Netherlands Chambers of Commerce, the Institute of Directors Nigerian branch, Lions International Club and board of trustees, Lambo Foundations.
He is also the chairman or patron of many organisations. He s the chairman of Nigeria Youth and the Lagos Anglican Diocese Investment and Properties Limited.
He is the patron of GMS Grammar School Old Boys‚Äô Association, University of Ife Branch, the Nigerian Economics Students Association, University of Sokoto branch, the Nigerian Universities Engineering Students Associations and the Educational Cooperative Society, Irawo University centre.
Chief Shonekan is on the board of Shell Petroleum Development Corporation of Nigeria Limited, Lever Brothers of Nigeria Limited and Cheesebrough Products Nigeria Limited.
By all standards of measurement Chief Shonekan is in a powerful position and therefore a powerful man hut he wields his great power soberly and with humility, his close associates would say.
In the words of his classmate T.O.S. Ben son, one of the things that endear him to people is his preparedness to find time within his busy schedule to participate in social activities.
According to UAC management staffers Chief Shonekan has brought many innovative policies within the organisation which have received acclamation from all and sundry within the conglomerate.
Also he has brought to bear on UAC management development schemes by assuring creative placement of premising Nigerians within the organisation and/or seeking for them working experience and exposure in associated international companies abroad.
This policy management staffers of UAC say will enhance the country‚Äôs manpower development and the much talked about technology transfer.
Chief Shonekan has been very forthright and fearless in his assessment of the ills of the country and in his advice to the government on what should be done to salvage the Nigerian economy.
Chief Shonekan was the first Nigerian to welcome the relief in the 1988 budget but said that implementation is always the bottleneck and advised government to ensure proper implementation.
On wage increases he said it should be done in such a way that the economy can absorb its impact.