By Ikhili Monday EBALU, Benin City
Benin City, the Edo State capital on Friday stood still as Samuel Osagbovo Ogbemudia finally made his journey home.
As early as 9am, dignitaries from all walks of life including students from various schools in the state have already taken their seat at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium waiting for the arrival of his remains.
The body arrived Samuel Ogbemudia stadium at 11am and was led in by military personnel and was formally received by the clergymen led by the Christian Association of Nigeria’s president, Rt. Rev. Peter Imasuen at the entrance of the stadium.
In a homily titled ‘The Man And His Work’ by Bishop Oyenude Kure of the Evidence of The Gospel Church, Benin, said what one will be remember for when one is gone is his work on earth. This he took from the book of Rev. 14:13.
He said whenever one talks about Ogbemudia one remembers his great work in Edo, delta Nigeria and across the country noting that he was a gift to the nation.
Speaking at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Gen. Yakubu Gowon said the rank of ‘old soldier was depleted on March 9, 2017 with the passing of Brigadier (Dr.) Samuel Osagbovo Ogbemudia who was many things to him.
“He was many things to me: comrade-in-arm; 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 Tanzania. He was bold and brave soldier.
“Between 1967 when he was appointed as governor of then Midwest 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, culture, agriculture, transportation, industry, just name it.
“The old Mid-West and old Bendel State bore his imprint of service; little wonder several major landmarks bears his name.
“In word and in indeed, he exemplified the concept of exemplary service to the people in my government. He was also one of the most vilified.
“The people believed in him for that reason, he was returned to office as civilian governor of Bendel State in 1983. Regrettably, he was set to beat his own record of service as a military officer when, again, he and other key players in the 3rd republic were sent packing by the military.
“Sam contributed to the process of my settling down in the UK after the overthrow of my government. Without a home to call my own, I was rescued by my late friend, Emmanuel Oti, who gave me his London home to live without paying rent for about two years. Oti and Sam went further to buy several items of furnishing for the house. They comforted me when it mattered.
“It is sad that Sam is no longer with us but as it is said, to live in the hearts of people is not to die. Sam has played his part and has made his exit.
“I pray God to comfort his family as well as the government and the good people of Edo State and indeed, Nigeria.
“Old soldier never die. Sam Ogbemudia has just moved to another barracks”, he said.
Also, Edwin Clark said ”Even though, he (Ogbemudia) was 84, it was sad to me. It came to me as a rude shock. You me sitting down here, but I am today, the only one surviving out of all members of his cabinet. So, you can imagine my sadness.
“He was a great man. He was a man of many strides. He was very nationalistic. After the war, he brought unity to the Mid-West. He did so many things; he gave jobs to the people.
“He promoted sports everywhere. He was number pne sports governor and Mid-Westerners were number one everywhere they went. He established Afuze sports centre. He established New Era Grammar School for athletes.”
He also said that the establishment of the University of Benin by the late governor was the most surprising achievement.
Clark said, “When the war broke out, all Mid-Western students were driven away or they went to other universities. He established the Mid-West Institute of Technology; I was the pro-chancellor.
“He established the University of Benin Teaching Hospital. He did so many things. But above all he was a very peaceful man.”
The national chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Chief John Odigie Oyegun said late Ogbemudia brought honour and dignity to the Bendelites as there was no parts of the country where he did not build one or two structure.
On the part of Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa who was represented by his deputy, Mr. Kingsley Otuaro, said Samuel Ogbemudia was a true officer and a gentleman stressing that he left behind an endearing legacy of good governance and selfless leadership that will continue to inspire the generation after him
The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki said the state was privilege to have had Samuel Ogbemudia who contributed immensely to the development of the both states and the nation at large.
He urged Nigerians to keep the memories of the late Ogbemudia alive and never to turn their backs on the children he left behind.
He noted that the state government would always look after the family he left behind.
“Let us not forget him and those he left behind, his family. On the part of the government of Edo State, I want to assure you that will not forget you”, he said.
The immediate past Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole said Ogbemudia gave his all to the nation.
“And for me, this is a day of celebration because the bible tells us that those who died in the lord, simply transit to the great beyond to begin another life. As a human being, there is no question that Ogbemudia gave his all not only to Edo State not only to Bendel State as Gen. Gowon rightly captured it, he gave his best to our nation.
“To me, he immortalized himself before he departed. The time we named New Era after him, it was just a way to say we appreciate a lot of things he did”, he said.
His remains however left the stadium at 12: 45 pm to his residence, 26, Iheya Street, Benin where he was finally laid to rest with 2