18 March 2017

Nigeria: Tears, Tributes As Ogbemudia Goes Home

There was free flow of tears as family members, friends and associates of the late Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia, former governor of the defunct Mid-West and Bendel states, gathered to witness his committal to mother earth yesterday at his country home on Iheya Street, off New Lagos Road, Benin City.

Before his burial, there was inter-denominational service, held in his honour at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, former Ogbe Stadium, which was named after him.

In his tribute, General Gowon, described the late Ogbemudia as a brave and bold soldier who bore the imprint of service during his tenure as two-time governor.

According to Gen. Gowon, "Ogbemudia was so many things to me; fellow strong believer in one Nigeria; a good administrator and a brother. As a soldier, he played well his part before, during and after the Nigerian Civil War. Even before the war, he saw action in the Congo, as well as in Tanzania. He was a bold soldier."

Gowon continued: "Between 1967 when he was appointed as Governor of then Mid-West Region by my government and 1975 when we were both sent out of office alongside our other colleagues, Sam exhibited good leadership qualities.

"He did well in office and his legacies still speak well for him today in whatever area of life that he touched: sports, agriculture, transportation, industry, just name it. The old Mid-West and old Bendel state bore his imprint of service; little wonder several major landmarks bear his name. He was also one of the most vilified."

The former Head of State while recalling the contribution of late Ogbemudia to his settlement process in UK after his overthrow, further noted that though Ogbemudia was no longer alive, he still lived on because "old soldier never die."

Also in his tribute, Governor Okowa of Delta state, who was represented by his deputy, Kingsley Utuaro, described the late Ogbemudia as a political icon, statesman, charismatic leader and exemplary patriot both as a military officer and in the sphere of politics and good governance.

He said Ogbemudia was an epitome of vision, dedication, courage, discipline, hard work and selflessness who carved a niche for himself as a quintessential public servant dedicated to the common good of all and to the glory of God.

He said history would remember the courageous part Ogbemudia played as an officer in the Army to preserve the unity of the country during the political crisis of 1966, adding that as a military governor, he shot into national acclaim with his towering achievements in the areas of public infrastructure, urban renewal, public transportation, sports, housing and commerce.

In his accolades, Governor Obaseki of Edo state enjoined all and sundry to keep the memories of Ogbemudia alive, promising that the state government would always be with the children.

Obaseki commended members of the burial committee, headed by Osarodion Ogie, SSG to Edo government, for putting up the event within short notice.

Speaking on behalf of former governors of Edo and Delta states, Chief John Oyegun said the life and time of Ogbemudia was so significant that everything that had been said about him was because a leader, who was a former governor became a Nigeria legend.

He said: "For those who have travelled, most stadium in the country today are replica of the Ogbe stadium that he built; the Nigeria Observer Newspaper building which he established, was replicated by other states.

Earlier, during the inter-denominational service, Bishop Oyonode Kure, General Overseer, Evidence of the Gospel Church, Benin City, in his message taken from the book of Revelation Chapter 14: 13 with the theme: "The Man and His Works" urged all to emulate the good life Ogbemudia lived, saying it was the reason people from all walks of life gathered there to honour him.

At about 12:45, the remains of the late Ogbemudia was taken out of the stadium to his house at Iheya where he was given 21 gun salute before he was interred.


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