‘If you crossed his path, you’d go off his good books’
…to be buried in Lagos
CHIEF (Mrs.) Olateju Phillips, the former Commissioner for Commerce and Industry and later Special Duties and Intergovernmental Relations in Lagos State is the first child of the late billionaire business mogul, diplomat and ambassador plenipotentiary, Anthonio Dehinde Fernandez, who died on Tuesday, September 1, 2015, in Brussels, Belgium.
Her Dolphin Estate residence (Ikoyi, Lagos) has been besieged by sympathizers since the news of her father’s death broke.
ENCOMIUM Weekly was one of the callers at her residence, where she obliged us few minutes of interview on the death of her father.
Thank you very much.
Where were you when you heard about his death?
I was here in Lagos.
When last did you see him?
A couple of weeks back.
Where was this?
What did you discuss the last time you saw him?
We discussed so many things. I am kind of in a sad mood. So, I can’t follow the sequence of all we discussed.
Was he sick when you saw him last?
At 86, you don’t expect him to be as agile as he was before.
So, he was 86?
But a lot of people are saying he is 79.
My father was born on August 12, 1929, she he was 86.
What kind of father would you say he was?
Many people did not know he was a kind and generous man. He had values for life. He loved Africa dearly and Nigeria in particular and he wanted a United Nations of Africa.
He cared a lot for his children and did things in his own way. He was not the type to follow the conventional ways of doing things. He did things in accordance with his own convictions.
What would you say you would miss about your father?
I would miss his phone calls. We used to chat a lot. We could be on phone for hours talking. Most of what we discussed on the phone are quite educative and wisdom laden.
How often did you usually have these phone calls with him?
As many times as possible when we are in good terms.
Does that mean sometimes you are in bad terms with your father?
If you cross his path, you will go off his good book for sometime. And when he is ready to forgive you, he moves on.
Don’t you ask for his forgiveness before he forgives you?
Sometimes you need to explain yourself and then he will listen.
How many are you, his children?
How many males and females?
Six females and three males.
What is the burial arrangement like?
I can’t say much now because it is still fresh. The family still need to sit down and do a lot of consultations.
Where is he likely to be buried, Nigeria or abroad?
He was a Lagosian and a respected indigene of Lagos. So, we will honour him here in Lagos.
– TOLANI ABATTI