By Simon Ebegbulem
BENIN—TEARS flowed freely, yesterday, at the Benin Airport, Edo State, when the remains of the late elder statesman, Dr Samuel Ogbemudia, arrived the airport aboard a military aircraft.
On board the aircraft were his widow, Yetunde, and one of his younger sons. The aircraft touched down at exactly 1:15p.m., as the governors of Edo and Delta states, Mr Godwin Obaseki and Dr Ifeanyi Okowa and members of the Ogbemudia family, led by his eldest son, Samuel Ogbemudia Jr, were waiting.
Other dignitaries at the airport included the deputy governor of Edo State, Mr Philip Shaibu, Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Justin Okonoboh, Secretary to Edo State Government, Osarodion Ogie, Chief of Staff to the Governor, Taiwo Akerele, state Chairman of All Progressives Congress, APC, Anslem Ojezua, state Secretary of the APC, Chief Osaro Idah and officials of Delta State Government.
On arrival, Obaseki and Okowa were led into the aircraft by a military officer and were there for three minutes inspecting the gold plated casket. After a private discussion inside the aircraft, the duo came out and a formal handing over of the remains to the two governors and the family of the deceased was done by the military crew while members of Benin cultural troupes welcomed the late general with Benin songs.
The casket was transferred to a waiting hearse and the convoy moved straight to his Benin residence at Iheya.
However, Governor Obaseki, who spoke to journalists shortly before the hearse left the airport, lamented: “An Iroko has fallen in our dear state, so we are in pains and praying God to give us the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss.”
On his part, Governor Okowa, said: “Unfortunately for me, the last time I saw him was on his birthday in 2015 at the public lecture and it was quite an interesting moment. We talked about a lot of things. I thank God that he still lives through his works. Obviously our elder statesman was somebody that meant a lot to us, Edo and Delta states.”
At press time, dignitaries across the country thronged his residence to pay their last respect to the late elder statesman.
In his tribute, elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, described the late Dr Ogbemudia as his boss, saying it will be difficult for the nation to have another Ogbemudia.
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