Obasanjo buries father-in-law in Edo

The father-in-law of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Dr. Christopher Abebe, was on Friday buried in his hometown, Iruekpen, in Esan West Local Government Area of Edo.

The late Abebe, who died on March 22 at the age of 99, was the father of a former First Lady, Mrs Stella Obasanjo.

The late Abebe served as the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Councils of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, University of Calabar, and University of Benin.

He joined the United African Company Nigeria Limited as a young clerk and rose to become the first Nigerian Chairman and Managing Director of the company.

Abebe on his retirement became the first Nigerian chairman of the Nigerian Breweries.

The deceased was also a Papal Knight of the St. Gregory’s and Supreme Knight of St. Mulumba.

Tears flowed on Friday as his body was interred at about 3:30 pm in a mausoleum where his late father, Chief Abebe Ogbekhiulu, who died on Oct. 26, 1956, was buried in his compound.

Earlier, family and friends had gathered at the Stella Maris Catholic Church where a funeral Mass was held in his honour and presided over by the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria and Archbishop of Benin, Most Rev. Augustine Akubeze.

Present at the ceremony were Obasanjo, Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo and his Oyo State counterpart, Abiola Ajimobi, who was accompanied by his wife, Florence.

Others included the senator representing Edo Central, Clifford Ordia; the member representing Esan North-East/Esan South-East in the House of Representatives, Sergius Ogun; former Edo governor, Sen. Oserheimen Osunbor; and a former chairman of Nigerian Breweries Plc, Dr Felix Ohiwerei.

In his tribute, the eldest son of the deceased and President of St. Gregory’s College Old Boys’ Association, John, described his late father as his hero who instilled discipline in his children.

He said that he never found fault in his late father who lived a humble life.

“I am approaching 70 years (of age) now. In all my life, I have never found fault in my father,’’ he said.

He commended Obasanjo for honouring his father-in-law and the family in spite of the death of their sister, late Stella.

The younger Abebe also thanked the state’s governor for his support toward the burial rites of his late father.

He said his father “left a legacy of being honest, of being totally above board, of being humble and of doing things at the right time always. He did bring us all up from day one to be like him.’’

”If you ask my friends who know me will tell you that I will never accept things not done properly or being swept under the carpet. I will never, for instance, think of accepting bribe for anything I do.

“So, his legacy will be sustained because we also have brought up our children in a similar manner,’’ he added.

On his part, Obasanjo said that his late father-in-law would be fondly remembered for his courage and submission to God’s will in many strange circumstances.

“I recall how he bore with equanimity the death of my wife, Stella, his daughter, and that of four other of her siblings.

“For anyone at the twilight of his life, these irreparable and calamitous losses would have shattered anybody.

“But papa faced life and soldiered on till he was almost 100 years, remaining focused, patently honest, forthright and down-to-earth and as a great Christian.

“I believe that the Almighty destined my amiable father-in-law to impact generations the way he did, ” he said.

Earlier in his sermon, the Bishop of Uromi Diocese, Most Rev. Donatus Ogun, said that the late Abebe lived an exemplary life, adding that his humility stood him out as he remained respectful in spite of his old age.

Ogun said that the late nonagenarian was a good community leader and a devout Christian.

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