By Simon Ebegbulem, Gabriel Enogholose & Gbenga Oke
Mr. Sam Ogbemudia Jr, the first son of the two-time ex-governor of defunct Midwest and Bendel States, Brigadier General Samuel Ogbemudia, retd, who died on Friday at the age of 84 has moan that his father had prepared his grave beside his ,Ogbemudia, late mother’s grave, who died in 1968 before he died.
The revered leader of the both states which were later split into Edo and Delta States, died at a private hospital in Lagos shortly before midnight on Thursday.
Journalists recall that the statesman was rushed to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, UBTH, in November 2016 where he was later transferred to Lagos for treatment.
It was reliably learnt that the deceased had battled diabetes and High blood Pressure since 1970. These, eventually led to the partial stroke he suffered late last year. The news of Ogbemudia’s demise shocked Edo residents, who woke up to read it on the social media. Family members and friends thronged his Ihieya residence in Benin City to express sympathy.
Mr. Sam Ogbemudia Jr said he would miss everything about his father.
He said:”My father represents everything to me right from my child hood days. I don’t know what to say. It is devastating. I learnt so much from him. He was a wonderful man. I will miss everything about him. I, and other persons, who have come in contact with him, have all learnt a great deal from him. He was a father, not just to his children, but to all. He was a great man.
“He prepared his grave years ago because he said he will like to be buried beside the grave of his late mother. The family will need to meet and discuss including the government of both Edo and Delta states. Our governor, Obaseki has been wonderful, he has been duly informed. It is sad but we thank God for the life of my father”.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari , Senate President, Sen Bukola Saraki; Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State; immediate past governor of the state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole; Delta State governor, Sen Ifeanyi Okowa; former governor of Edo State, Prof Oserheimen Osunbor; former Senate President, Sen David Mark; former governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan; Speaker of Edo state House of Assembly, Justin Okonobor; and former Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Rowland Owie reacted to Ogbemudia’s demise. Others included ex-governor of Edo State, Chief Lucky Igbenedion; former governor of Delta State. Chief James Ibori, former Deputy Governor of Edo State, Rev. Peter Obada, former Minister of Transport , Chief Ebenezer Babatope and Chief Chris Ogiemwonyi among others.
Ogbemudia would be remembered for his service to people – Buhari
President Buhari in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity said the deceased diligently served the country.
The statement said: ‘’ The President believes that the late Ogbemudia, who had a distinguished career as a military officer, administrator and Federal Minister, has left an impressive legacy of hardwork, discipline and commitment to communal, state, regional and national development.”
We will take solace in his legacies—Obaseki
Obaseki said: “It is with sadness but glory to God Almighty that the Government of Edo State announces the death, in the early hours of today, of Brigadier General (retd) Dr. Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia. As we mourn our great leader and father, we take solace in the legacies he bequeathed Edo State and indeed Nigeria. As a mark of honour, I hereby declare seven days of mourning commencing from today.”
He left footprints in Edo, Delta—Oshionhole
Oshiomhole said: “He is a man that the future generation will remember for the solid foundation he laid for our state. Even as a military governor, his footprints can be found in every Local Government Area across the three Senatorial districts of the state and other parts of Delta State.”
Ogbemudia was a dynamic administrator—Saraki
Saraki, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, described Ogbemudia’s death as a huge loss to the country.
He noted that Ogbemudia was a dynamic administrator, focused gentleman and a leader par excellence, who served his country and people meritoriously.
He was a political colossus—Okowa
Okowa described Ogbemudia as a quintessential Army General, adroit and sagacious administrator, elder statesman, an astute politician and patriot, who stamped his footprints in the sands of time by touching the lives of Nigerians, particularly the people of Edo and Delta states.
He cared for welfare of citizens—Uduaghan
Uduaghan said: “He was a father figure at times of crisis. His advice and admonitions were valuable. Of course, one tried to emulate him in so many ways. Pa Ogbemudia made indelible marks in the old Bendel State. We are forever grateful to him for his giant strides in helping to lay the foundation for the even development of our good, old Midwest State. As a military and later civilian governor, he left no one in doubt that he was an astute administrator, who exhibited the kind of courage only leaders who crave the welfare of citizens have. I am personally grieved by his death, I will miss him.”
On his part, Senator Owie, said: “I never knew death will come so quickly. When you talk about greatness, he earned his own kind of greatness. It will be difficult to have another Ogbemudia.”
Ogbemudia enhanced quality of life in Bendel State —Ibori
He said: “Ogbemudia turned Bendel into a super-state with intra-city modern bus service, first class education system that led other states in sports and examinations. The Bendel school system was serviced by its own central book acquisition centre, the Bendel Book Depot, and Ethiope Publishing Company and a Bendel Library whose trailers and boats went round the state twice a month taking books to borrowers in even the remotest parts of the state. By 1970, Ogbemudia’s administration provided television viewing centres in remote villages, powered by small generators.
In fact anything that enhanced the quality of life of the people of Bendel, was a priority to Ogbemudia who introduced the Bendel Line with Mercedes Benz buses and cars and both male and female drivers to ferry Bendelites to and from major cities across Nigeria. Within Bendel itself, a fleet of Hino buses provided a luxury inter-city transport service across the state while equally top-class boats serviced the riverine areas.”