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SHORT TAKES FROM SIR MICHAEL OTEDOLA’S BURIAL

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THE carnival-like passage of Late Sir Michael Agbolade Otedola, former governor of Lagos State, which started on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, with a Day of Tributes organized by Lagos State Government at Onikan Stadium, Onikan, Lagos, followed by lying-in-state and later wake-keep at his country home in Odoragunshin, Epe, Lagos, on Thursday, May 29, 2014, came to an exciting end on Friday, May 30, 2014, when his remains were committed to mother earth behind his country home after a church service at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Ibonwon in Eredo LCDA of Epe Local Government, Lagos State.

HIS PROFILE – Sir Michael Agbolade Otedola was born on July 16, 1926, into a humble Muslim family at Odoragunshin, Eredo LCDA, Epe, Lagos State.

He attended St. Marthias Primary School, Lafiaji and Holy Cross Primary School, Lagos Island, Lagos.  For his secondary education, he attended Government School, Kaduna and St. Leo’s College, Abeokuta, Ogun State where he trained as a teacher.  He later became a teacher in the same school.

He started his public service career in 1953, when he joined the Western region government as an information officer. He later travelled to the United Kingdom to study Journalism and Public Relations at the famous Regent Street, now the University of Westminster, where he graduated in June 1958.  He started his journalism career as a news reporter in St. Pancras Chronicle, London.

Sir Otedola also became a sub-editor on the foreign desk of the Times of London.  He returned to Nigeria in 1959 and worked with many newspapers before he was appointed public relations officer by Western Nigeria Broadcasting Service (WNBS) in 1961, and was there till 1965 when he was seconded to Nigerian Television Service (NTS), Ibadan.  In 1964, he left public service for the corporate world when he joined Mobil Oil of Nigeria as Public Affairs Manager.  Otedola was the first Nigerian to be so appointed. He retired from Mobil Oil of Nigeria in May 1977 and was later appointed by the company as a consultant on public affairs.

He later established Impact Press, as one of his many business outfits.

He was elected the governor of Lagos State in 1992, on the platform of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC).  He left in November 1993, after the military coup of late General Sani Abacha.

Sir Michael Otedola was married to Lady Doja Otedola, who bore him children among whom are Ms. Mosunmola Otedola, Mr. Ayokunle Otedola, Mr. Femi Otedola, the billionaire owner of Forte Oil, Mrs. Tola Oye, Mrs. Lola Idahor and Mr. Muyiwa Otedola.

He died on Monday, May 5, 2014, at the Lagoon Hospital, Victoria Island, Lagos after a brief illness.

THE CHURCH’S NEW LOOK – Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Ibonwon, where the funeral rites of Papa took place wore a Nmulti-million new look, courtesy of Sir Michael Otedola himself.  We gathered that before he passed on, he had donated N10 million to the church for its renovation.  So, the marble look and the red aluminum roof of the church is certainly part of this donation.  What we are not sure of is whether the many split air condition units and new standing fans used during the funeral service were part of the N10 million donation.

Lest we forget, the church is 111 years.  It was built in 1903 and celebrated 100 years in 2003.

 

ODORAGUNSHIN-IBONWON ROAD TOO – It was not the church alone that benefitted from the burial service of Sir Michael Otedola. The road from his country home in Odoragunshin to Ibonwon, where the church is located is also a beneficiary.  The road had a new tar added to it to make it new and motorable.  The tar was still fresh.

DIGNITARIES AT THE CHURCH SERVICE – As the Monsignor Phillip Hoteyin, who gave the sermon during the service said, ‘Ni ojo iku erin orisirisi obe la o ri’ (At the death of an elephant different knives will appear). It is very doubtful if the church in its 111th years ever witnessed the calibre of personalities present during the service.

The personalities included President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Patience, Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) and his wife, Abimbola, Governor Ibikunle Amosun, former governor Olusegun Osoba, former governor Peter Obi, Deputy Governor Olusegun Adesegun of Ogun State, former president Olusegun Obasanjo, former governor Donald Duke, former governor Adeniyi Adebayo, former deputy governor Kofoworola Akerele-Bucknor, former deputy governor Alhaja Sinatu Ojikutu (she was deputy governor to Papa), former deputy governor Princess Sarah Sosan, Rt. Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Speaker Lagos House of Assembly (he was not in the church but was at the burial site).

Other dignitaries at the church included Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Jim Ovia, Tony Elumelu, Aruma Oteh, Akinwunmi Adesina, Minister of Agriculture; Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, Minister of State for Defence; Senator Gbenga Ashafa, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Stella Okoli, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Hon. Lanre Odubote, Hon. Segun Olulade, Hon. Abiodun Tobun, Hajia Bola Shagaya, Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija, Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye, Commissioner for Education Lagos State; Nduka Obaigbena of This Day Newspapers, Dele Momodu of Ovation International, Olorogun Sunny Kuku, Otunba Subomi Balogun and so many others.

The Catholic Church of Nigeria was led by Bishop Emeritus Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okojie, Rev. Dr. Felix Alaba Job, the former Archbishop of Ibadan, Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins of Lagos and Chaplain of Marian Shrine, Lagos Catholic Diocese, Monsignor Phillip Hoteyin, who gave the sermon.

 

FEMI OTEDOLA’S EARLY ARRIVAL – Mr. Femi Otedola, the billionaire owner of Forte Oil and one of the children of Sir Michael Otedola and on whose invitation many of the important dignitaries were at the church service, was in the church as early as 8.30 a.m though the service did not start until 11.00 a.m.

He came with his wife, Nana and a retinue of aides, checking everywhere around the church to make sure everything was in place.

He was also on hand to welcome important dignitaries.

HIS FINAL REST PLACE – The remains of Sir Michael Agbolade Otedola was finally committed to mother earth around 2 p.m at the back of his expansive compound in Odoragunshin. He was buried in a mausoleum constructed by MIC Funeral Undertakers though the pall bearers were from TOS Funerals Limited led by Mrs. Taiwo Ogunsola.

THE RECEPTION – Reception for guests held at St. Patrick’s Grammar School, Eredo, a walking distance from Papa’s country home.

Though it was scheduled to commence at 1.30 p.m, it did not start until 3.00 p.m when comedians Seyi Law, Basketmouth and Ali Baba came on stage to kick start the reception.

The reception and the whole event was managed by Zapphaire led by Mrs. Funke Bucknor.

Amongst those she brought for entertainment included Astoria Caterers and Kemabod Catering Services that provided assorted foods, Noble Party Drinks, NYBD Drinks, Owolabi Royal Link, that provided red wines and champagne, Saheeto and Larry Spice that provided small chops.  Heladio Delicia Sweet Hariets that provided desserts and Clilks Cocktails, Eventi Cocktails Drinks and Elles Ice Box that provided cocktail drinks.

 

THE MUSIC JAMBOREE – The reception was more like a music jamboree going by the array of artistes that performed.  They included King Sunny Ade, who started the show.  He played for just 30 minutes.  He was followed by 9ice, who also played for few minutes.  9ice was followed by Ife Otedola a.k.a DJ Cuppy, who dished out some old tunes mixed with new ones for her parents, Femi Otedola and Nana and others to dance to.

Tiwa Savage came after DJ Cuppy.  She was later joined by Don Jazzy and they sang their popular songs, Eminado and Doro.

King Sunny Ade took over and performed till late in the night.

 

WHEN DANGOTE LET HIS HAIR DOWN – Africa’s richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote surely surprised many including yours truly, when he came on stage with his friend and co-billionaire, Femi Otedola to dance to King Sunny Ade’s music for almost an hour.  It was surprising to see such a person spend that long time dancing and enjoying himself.  Like Seyi Law (the comedian) said when King Sunny Ade sees money, he would start singing Aliko Dangote omo wa nile Yoruba.  What Seyi said may be a joke but when Dangote was spraying Sunny Ade with $100 for several minutes, King Sunny Ade did not mention anybody’s name.  It got to a stage when he started singing in Hausa.

 

WHEN POLITICIANS CATCHED IN – Trust politicians, they never miss good opportunities to canvas for votes or support.  Rt. Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, the Speaker of Lagos State of Assembly, who is interested in the governorship of Lagos, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, another governorship aspirant, Mr. Femi Hamzat, Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, who also is interested in the governorship seat, used the occasion to display their posters and banners in all nooks and crannies of Epe and Odorangunshin.  Rt. Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji went further to even hold a reception of his own which was mainly attended by his supporters, friends and well wishers.

 

–    TOLANI ABATTI, Pictures by DAPO ADESEKO

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