For the city of Lagos, the 2nd December 2016 will be hard to forget. The board, management and staff of FMN; family members and friends of George Coumantaros and dignitaries and members of the general public gathered to celebrate the memorial service of GEORGE STAVROS COUMANTAROS, International Business Icon and Founding Father of FMN (Flour Mills of Nigeria) Plc.


The memorial service began at about 12 noon at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina. The Executive Governor of Lagos State, Mr Akinwumi Ambode, hosted a plethora of national and international dignitaries. From Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto to Professor Jerry Gana, there were notable figures at every turn of the compact but exquisitely furnished church hall. In his remarks, Mr Akinwumi Ambode welcomed everyone to the occasion on behalf of the good people of Lagos.


The Governor spoke about Mr George Stavros Coumantros and maintained that he was not just the founding father of FMN but also a founding father of modern Lagos. He spoke about FMN’s contribution to the creation and spread of the agege bread by the introduction of the famous ‘Golden Penny’ brand and lauded the legacy of the international businessman and how his outstanding achievements have contributed immensely to the mega city, that is Lagos.


At the reception that followed at the Banquet Hall of Eko Hotel and Suites, an even more impressive gathering was witnessed featuring the great and the good.


At the reception Mr. Paul Gbededo, the Group Managing Director of FMN gave a welcome address. After this, there was a rain of tributes and messages of goodwill from many such as Alhaji Ahmed Joda, Mr. Atedo Peterside and Prof. Jerry Gana. Attendees were taken on a trip down memory lane by an interesting video put together about the life and times of George Coumantros.


According to John Coumantaros, son of George Coumantaros and current chairman of FMN, there was no unsolvable problem and the sky was never the limit for his father. He drew parallels between the legacy of George Coumantaros and the Nigerian spirit. He agreed that his father had contributed immensely to the country’s development, but he also acknowledged that the country, Nigeria, particularly gave his father the opportunity to do great work. It was clear that both feed off each other’s spontaneous energy.


He explained that apart from business interests, George Coumantaros, had a unique love for the Nigeria and her people.


At a time when commercial farms were being sold in the country because it was either no longer profitable to run them or government policy was not supportive, George Coumantaros resisted all to sell FMN’S 10,000 hectare  Kaboji farm. He kept it for years because he believed that Nigeria would come to realise again the value of its agricultural potential. Today, that decision is paying off. FMN has been able to create so much value from its backward integration efforts.


There was no better way for the event to be brought to a close than through the words of the current Chairman, John Coumantaros: “If my father were here today. He would encourage Nigerians not to shy away from the problems but to face them head on and hold the courage to do the right thing. We will work hard to maintain his legacy and vision for the benefit of the nation and its people”.


The 2nd of December 2016 was truly a remarkable day as it celebrated the life of a remarkable man, an icon of industry and an entrepreneur par excellence. He will be sorely missed…