FEATURES: Dignitaries Bid Moremi Ekiti Solemn Farewell

May 3, 2013

A man emerged from a road popularly called Basiri, dressed in a black tail coat suit, a black top hat, a purple shirt and a pair of black shoes. He held a stick. Shortly after, seven men appeared, three in front, one in the middle and three others in the rear; clad in the same outfit – black suits, purple shirts, tie and matching shoes. They were all playing trumpets – with the first man acting as conductor.

Trailing them were two policewomen in mufti and police cap marching in front of a red Mercedes Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) hearse bearing the remains of the late Ekiti State Deputy Governor Mrs Funmilayo Olayinka. It carried Moremi Ekiti R350 on its number plate, with the Ekiti State emblem on its hood. The hearse had two flags on its sides and flowers on its top.

The hearse was followed by no fewer than 25 cars including two ambulances and a Land Cruiser with number-plate EKGH 02.

They formed a long row on the road leading to the Governor’s office and the church, its destination.

At a point, some of the people inside some of the cars behind the hearse alighted and started walking behind it.

Sympathisers lined the route to bid the late Mrs Olayinka farewell. Many of them took pictures of the procession with their cell phones.

This was the scenario last Friday during the funeral of Mrs Olayinka, who died on April 6 after a long battle with cancer. She was 52.

Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, was shut down for its illustrious daughter. Her posters, hung everywhere from Basiri to Fajuyi, Okesa Ajilosun and Ejigbo. The posters, banners and billboards contained messages extolling her virtues and bidding her painful farewell. The streets were bare of vehicles and other human activities. The late Mrs Olayinka’s ancestral home in Ado-Ekiti wore a new look.

About 9.30am, the funeral train rode into view from the Fajuyi end of the town, heading towards Okesa.

At the roundabout adjacent to the church, the cars turned; the children of the late Mrs Olayinka – Yeside, Olamide, Ololade and their father, Lanre, an architect alighted and walked behind the hearse to the expansive church compound.

Accompanied by family members who danced to the rhythm of the trumpeters, the train entered the church few minutes after 11am.

Horde of clerics at the Cathedral Church of Emmanuel, Okesa, Ado-Ekiti, came out to receive the family and the body.

Except for dignitaries, no one entered the church auditorium without a tag. Even the Famuaguns, the late Mrs Olayinka’s family had their own special tag. Despite that, they still faced hurdles from security officials before they could gain entry.

Many of the dignitaries were in white.

The family members were also in their appearances. They hid their grief behind a stoic calm as Mrs Olayinka remains were now borne in an ash grey casket draped with the flags of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the front, Nigeria in the middle and Ekitis at the rear.

The widower, Olayinka, an architect, appeared in flowing blue Agbada with a glasses, his children, Yeside, Ololade and Olamide wore French lace purple iro and lilac buba.

About 11am, the funeral service began with a brief homily performed by the Bishop of Ekiti, Revd. Felix Femi Ajakaye, followed by songs from the choir; one of which was

My hope is built on nothing less,

Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness

I dare not trust the sweetest frame

But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

(Human: A/M 614).

In his sermon, the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, represented by Archbishop Ecclesiastical, Province of Ondo and Ekiti States, Bishop George Latunde Laosebikan commiserated with the bereaved family, the government and people of Ekiti State over the irreparable lost.

The death of our sister, Bishop Laosebikan said, is sad and painful considering her age and many things people expect from her.

“She was a distinguished woman who had accomplished academically, professionally and politically. Hers is a sad testimony that everyone will die somewhere, someday, somehow; in fact, not many of us will have the opportunity of being in the coffin. The corpses of some of us may not even be seen, we may probably die in the sea,” he said.

He added: “I am happy today because politicians here cut across all parties and they know all the happenings in the nation, particularly the issue of insecurity, political problems and others. I want you to learn from the death of Mrs Olayinka that nobody is too big to die.

“So, the political class has a lot to do in ensuring that the lifestyles of Nigerians are changed for better, if truly they love this nation. Their bad lifestyles have permeated every stratum of the society. So, the leaders must continue to show good examples to the citizens”.

For the late Mrs Olayinka, the cleric said:

“Even if her life was delayed for 100 years, the end will surely come for her. Like a flower, we (human beings) blossomed in the morning and weathered in the evening. Power will come and go; so, no reason fighting and killing one another for political gain especially in this zone (Southwest). Mrs Olayinka’s passing away is very proverbial. If you were to die today, where will you spend your eternity? Check your life; all the type of stupid, hopeless life that is a norm in Nigeria cannot be acceptable over there (heaven). Heaven is real, hell is real also; the choice is yours. For our sister, the end has come,” he said.

Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi thanked God for all things He has done for them, because “in all things, we must thank Him.”

He said: “Though short, it was eventful, impactful and positive. We should celebrate her because it is a life of service and commitment for the good of the people. She was a class act, a strong pillar of my government and a co-pilot. We pray our own end time will also be peaceful.”

President Goodluck Jonathan, represented by Minister of Police Affairs Navy Captain Caleb Olubolade described Mrs Olayinka’s death as “unfortunate and premature,” adding that she died when her full potentials had not been fully tapped.

“With the history of the late Ekiti Deputy Governor I read, her life represented that of simplicity, diligence and brilliance, which stood her among her peers,” he said.

A recessional hymn halleluiah was sang as guests filed out behind the body for the interment.

At 1:14 pm, the remains of Mrs Olayinka were lowered into the grave at The Heroes Park, behind Enterprise Bank, Fajuyi area.

In attendance were Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Tambuwal; Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State; Mr Lekan Ogungbe represented Governor AbdulFatai Ahmed (Kwara); Governor Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo); Rauf Aregbesola (Osun) and Governor Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers); ACN National Chairman Chief Bisi Akande; National leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; former Governor of Ogun State, Aremo Segun Osoba; former Governor of Ekiti State Mr Segun Oni; former Military Administrator of Ekiti, Commodore Atanda Yusuf and former Governor of Ondo State, Evangelist Bamidele Olumilua.

The list of deputy governors included Rear Admiral John Jonah of Bayelsa State; Mrs Titi Laoye-Tomori (Osun); Alhaji Alli Olanusi (Ondo); Prince Segun Adesegun (Ogun); Mr Efiok Cobham (Cross River); Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire (Lagos); Dameshi Luka (Nasarawa); Otunba Moses Adeyemo (Oyo) and Tunde Lemo, Deputy Governor, (Central Bank of Nigeria).

Wives of governors include Mrs Abimbola Fashola (Lagos); Mrs Florence Ajimobi (Oyo); Alhaja Sherifat Aregbesola (Osun); Mrs Olufunso Amosun (Ogun) and Mrs Kemi Mimiko (Ondo).

Others were Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora; Senator Babafemi Ojudu; Mr Gbenga Oyebode; Senator James Kolawole; Senator Bode Ola; Justice Oyebisi Omoleye; Mr. Odia Ofeimun; former Deputy Governor, Ekiti State, Mr Bisi Omoyeni; Senator Gbenga Aluko, Osun State Chief of Staff Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola; Hon Bimbo Daramola; Alhaji Lai Mohammed; Prof Bolaji Aluko; Prof Sharafadeen Amuwo; Prof Akin Oyebode; Mr Segun Abraham; Hon Sirajudeen Adekunbi; Hon Tola Banjo; Mrs Kemi Nelson; Mr Soji Omotunde; Editor, The Nation Mr Gbenga Omotoso; Wale Adebanwi; Kunle Ajibade; Mrs Chioma Ominrin; Hon Wale Ominrin; Bunmi Famosanya; Ms Lunga Hogan; Hon Uhuru Moiloa; Hon Taiwo Orisalade; Nancy Ondi; Mr Salihu Lukman; Dr Moji Oyarekua; Mr Tunji Olowolafe among others.

By Tajudeen Adebanjo And Sulaiman Salawudeen
This article was first published in The Nation

Last modified: May 3, 2013

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