2016: When tears flowed freely at the death of the rich, wealthy and famous - Paul Ukpabio's Blog


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Wednesday, 4 January 2017

2016: When tears flowed freely at the death of the rich, wealthy and famous

By Paul Ukpabio
When these highly placed public figures died in 2016, the tears were uncontrollable. In many ways, these personalities were larger than life. They had become relevant in their chosen fields to the society, and out of their filled pockets, they influenced the lives of people around them and even people very far away from them.

When they died, tributes poured freely and even for some of them, royal trumpets sounded and entire society communities, even nations played major roles in their ceremonial rites of transition.
Like William Shakespeare of blessed memory observed in great wisdom, that the wealthy rich depart the earth with blazing noise.

Below are some of those who left in that blazing noise in 2016.

Late Mrs Bola Kuforiji Olubi

Banker and ex Nigerian Minister of Commerce Mrs Bola Kuforiji Olubi was one of the celebrity deaths that took place in year 2016. Known in some quarters as Nigeria’s version of Lady Thatcher, she was known to have had a tough, no nonsense, and strict personality.

An Economics graduate of the University of London, she was a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, England and Wales. She was also a member of other professional bodies like the Nigerian Institute of Management, the British Institute of Directors and ICAN Nigeria.

Olubi passed on at a ripe age of 80, after accomplishing what many will regard as a first in historical records. Yes, she was the first female President of Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN). The first Nigerian woman to be CEO of a multinational company known then as VYB Industries Limited, the first female Chairman of defunct Bewac Plc, and the first Nigerian to become the Chairman of United Bank for Africa.

It could be recalled that Olubi was in her lifetime, honoured by the Federal Government of Nigeria, with a national award, Member of the Order of the Niger popularly known as MON and yet another, the Officer of The Order of the Niger also popularly known as OON.

While many would remember Kuforiji Olubi for her exemplary role in contribution to nation building through intense capacity in management sciences, Olubi was not all about management and accountancy, Kuforiji Olubi held many chieftaincy titles across Nigeria. She served in many women development roles that contributed in policy development that favoured women empowerment.
She was also into fashion and style. She is known to have graced the fashion pages of many news publications and tabloids. She was sought after in the society and was member of private associations.

Olubi was also an author. Some of her publications are: The corporate Woman, a marginalised group, problem and Strategies for success, vide public enlightenment programme of the Institute of Directors, 1989, Civil service reform in a developing Economy 1988 and the female Entrepreneur and Financial Management for Survival 1987.

Brazzilian Team Plane Crash- A celebrated national disaster

It was indeed a black day when a British Aerospace 146 aircraft plane carrying Chapecoense soccer team, one of Brazilian’s professional soccer teams, crashed in the mountains near Medellín, Colombia’s largest city. The initial report declared that the ill fated plane, killed 71 people out of the 81 supposed to have been on board. Later, it was discovered that four did not board, and out of the seven that survived, one later died.  

The plane was said to have departed from the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz with the team, but reported an electrical emergency before crashing. The plane crashed, breaking into two parts, but did not catch fire. The pilot of the plane which was operated by Bolivian Charter Company known as LaMia, is said to have radioed to complain of fuel shortage, before the crash.

The team was scheduled to play in the finals of the Copa Sudamericana tournament. According to authoritative football sources in Brazil, the club three years ago was almost going bankrupt but woke up this year to fight to the finals of this tournament. It was going to be one of the club’s greatest years in football history.

It was indeed a National disaster as few days after the crash, Brazilian president Michel Temer, with a sad countenance, mirroring the mood of the nation, waited at Chapeco airport, to receive the coffins of members of the football team, their supporters and journalists who lost lives in the ill fated crash.
In a solemn ceremony, the President decorated 50 of the death posthumously. Half of the city took part in the Wake organised for the departed, with FIFA President Gianni Infantino, also in attendance.
This mass death was heavily celebrated with thousands queuing overnight to enter the stadium on arrival of bodies. And the entire stadium and city was draped with banners in the team’s green and white colours.

Many, including Brazilian football legend Pele paid tribute to those who died in the plane crash. In his words, "Brazilian football is in mourning. It is such a tragic loss: My sincere condolences to the families of the deceased: Rest in peace."

And what happened to the final match that the team was supposed to play in the tournament? The winning Cup was conceded to the Chapecoense soccer team, to honour them in death as the Copa Sudamerica champions. Atletico Nacional the club side they were to play against, united agreed on this.

Barrister Fred Agbaje

Another notable death of year 2016 was the death of Constitutional and Human Rights’ lawyer Fred Agbaje who bowed out in a London hospital on Saturday November 26. At the latter part of his life, the controversial lawyer had his family living abroad, while he honed his trade in Nigeria: though he insisted that he was regularly in touch with his family, and enjoyed a happy family life.

But for his father, young Fred Agbaje, would have been just contented being a Geologist! His father, who acting on the information of Fred’s principal, changed his life’s fate, by re-filing his university entry application form, where he cleaned off Geology, and filled Law as a course for him. He would later in life thank his father for this, when he prostrated to him years after having become a successful lawyer.

The human rights activist lawyer will be remembered for his reaction to the call by President Buhari to the judiciary to support his anti-graft war, by ensuring that the criminal cases in court were not delayed, Agbaje said “It is a serious indictment to say the courts are the ones encouraging delay tactics to frustrate the hearing of corruption cases. It is a serious indictment on the judiciary. It is now for the judiciary to redeem itself.” For this, he was at death, highly commended by President Mohammadu Buhari.

He may not have been given the revered title of SAN, but was three times nominated for it. Nonetheless, he was acknowledged by the bar and bench, to be a brilliant lawyer and a fine gentleman and a dogged fighter.

Fred Agbaje was also known to have been a Post Graduate lecturer of Law. This he said in an interview to a Lagos based magazine, that he was doing pro bono, a way of giving back to the society.

Fidel Castro

When ex Cuba leader Fidel Castro died at age 90 in Cuba, many across the world did say, ‘the end of an era had come.’ Even it took the Cuban government announcing  that it would pass a law prohibiting the naming of "institutions, streets, parks or other public sites, or erecting busts, statues or other forms of tribute" in honor of the late Cuban leader in keeping with his wishes to prevent a personality cult from developing around him.’

That is just to show how popularly controversial the late leader was. As the 17th President of Cuba, the leader of the communist revolution in Cuba, somehow meant different things to different people. But many will remember him for the open defiance he had for the United State of America and its government, which lasted all of 50 years. He had been the president and leader of Cuba between June 24, 1961 and April 19, 2011 and was succeeded by his brother Raul Castro who had been his deputy.
Born as Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz on August 13, 1926, Fidel Castro died on November 25, 2016.

His extensive revolutionary leadership
“Abroad, Castro supported anti-imperialist revolutionary groups, backing the establishment of Marxist governments in Chile, Nicaragua, and Grenada, and sending troops to aid allies in the Yom Kippur War, and Angola Civil War. These actions, coupled with Castro's leadership of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1979 to 1983 and Cuba’s medical internationalism, increased Cuba's profile on the world stage. Following the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991, Castro led Cuba into its "Special Period" and embraced environmentalist and anti-globalization ideas.”

Fidel Castro could be said to have developed his racalism back in the University of Havana where he studied Law which afterwards led him into politics. He was severally accused of gangterism but he argued that he was fighting for social justice.

He fought his way to power after several radical political manouvers, and at a time being forced into exile. He will be remembered most for his anti-imperialist stance, believing and insisting that every nation should be sustained by her resources.

Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi 

A former Minister of National Planning, Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi passed away on Wednesday November 16, 2016. The death of the 72 Years old Ikorodu, Lagos born former Minister came as a rude shock to many who knew him, because many did not know he had been ill or troubled in anyway.  

Gbadamosi who was a leading industrialist, arts collector and writer was still active on the social-cultural scene as he was appointed early in the year as the Co-Chairman of the Lagos @ 50 planning committee along with Noble Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka as Chairman. 

Gbadamosi who was equally involved in performance, music, visual literary and other aspects of arts was said to have suffered multiple stroke since last year and had recently gone abroad for medical treatment.  

Among his other strides in the business world, Gbadamosi was chairman, Ragolis Water ltd, AIICO Pension Managers and Lucky Fibres Nigeria Ltd. He was also a former Chairman of Bank of Industry and Petroleum Products Price Regulation Agency (PPRA).

Etim Inyang

Year 2016 also witnessed the passing away of former Inspector General of Police, Mr. Etim Inyang. Inyang 85, died at the Reddington Hospital, Lagos on Monday 26th of September 2016. The ex-top cop joined the Nigeria Police force on October1, 1949 and rose through the rank to become a Commissioner of Police during the first republic. In 1984, he was appointed Inspector General of Police and served meritoriously until his voluntary retirement in October 1986. He was later appointed Vice Chairman of the Constitution Review Committee in 1987. 

One of his famous achievements while in the Nigeria Police Force was his arrest of the notorious Edo State born armed robber Lawrence Anini and his gang in 1985 during the IBB regime. Despite the high wave of crime that characterized the period he was in the saddle, he was dogged and consistent enough to bring the reigning activities of a notorious criminal like Lawrence Anini to a halt.
Etim Iyang is survived by his wife, Mary and five children.

Ex-Sultan Ibrahim Dasuki 

The year also witnessed the death of a former Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki. Dasuki who died on Monday November 14, was aged 92 and his remains buried the next day according to the Islamic injunction. Ibrahim Dasuki who is the first from the Buhari line of the Dan Fodio House, was the 18th Sultan. 

He was installed on December 6, 1988 but was later deposed in 1996 by the late General Sani Abacha’s regime. He was succeeded by Sultan Mohammed Maccido who died some ten years back in an air crash in Abuja. Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar III was then installed. 

The late Dasuki was born on December 31, 1923 in Dogon Daji, Sokoto. He was the son of Haliru Ibn Barau who held the title of Sarkin Yamma and who was the district head of Dogon Daji. He was educated in Quranic and Secular education at Dogondaji elementary school and Sokoto Middle School between 1931 and 1935. He was an ex-civil servant who worked at the Sokoto Native authority in his early life before taking appointment with Gaskiya Corporation, a Publishing house in 1945. 

In 1958 he was sent to Jeddah as Nigeria’s pilgrimage officer at the embassy. Between 1960 and 1961 he worked at the Nigerian embassy, Khartoum, Sudan and later became Permanent Secretary in the regional ministry of Local Government before he was redeployed to ministry of Commerce in 1965.
He is the father of the former National Security Adviser to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Colonel Sambo Dasuki.

Olorogun Michael Ibru

Another Prominent Nigerian who exited this world in year 2016 is the Patriarch of the Ibru dynasty in Delta State, Olorogun Michael Ibru. He died on Tuesday September 6, 2016 at age 86. 

Olorogun Michael Ibru who was the husband of the former Managing Director of Oceanic Bank, Mrs. Cecila Ibru died in a hospital in the United States of America in the early hours of Tuesday September 6th. Ibru an Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR) and the Otota of Agbarha-Otor kingdom of Delta State was also the chairman of Michael and Cecilia Ibru Foundation.  The late Octogenarian was a member of the Business Advisory Council of the International Finance Corporation and as well as being a council member of Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Nigeria-United States Business Council.

An alumnus of Igbobi College, Lagos, the late Ibru worked at the United African Company (now known as UACN) between 1951 and 1956 before establishing a company of his own called Laibru, at the age of 24.  The businessman, who founded the Osadjere Fishing Company in partnership with a Japanese Conglomerate in 1965, extended his business tentacles in 1974 with the acquisition of Nigeria Hardwoods, a logging, sawmilling and wood processing company from the Lathem Group in the United Kingdom. 

He is the founder of several other ventures including Aero-Contractors and Oceanic Bank limited. His death happened weeks after the burial of his younger brother and a former Governor of Delta state, Senator Felix Ibru.

Chief Felix Ibru 

Chief Felix Ibru the younger brother of Olorogun Michael Ibru, died on March 12, 2016 at the age of 80. He was an architect, a Senator and the first democratically elected Governor of Delta State of Nigeria. He was also the President General of the Urhobo Progressive Union (UPU). Like his elder brother he loved to be addressed as the ‘Olorogun’ a traditional chieftaincy title from his people.
Felix Ibru showed an unusal brilliance in early life. He is said to have won a scholarship from the Elder Dempster Shipping Line to travel to the United Kingdom, where he eventually studied architecture.

As early as 1960, fortune smiled at him in Britain, as he elected the first Black President of the Brish Council “with responsibility for Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and Leicestershire. As a result, he was presented to Queen Elizabeth 11 and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh at a ceremony in Buckingham Palace.”

Back in Nigeria, Felix Ibru continued to make impression in his chosen field. Thus he became a Fellow of Nigeria Institute of Architects in 1955, and honoured with a doctorate degree in Law LLD by Delta State University. In 1971, under the auspices of the United Nations, he was invited to Tokyo, Japan, as a member of a panel on foreign investment.

He won the 2003 senatorial elections for Delta Central. Late Felix Ibru was married with 6 children and 6 grandchildren all of whom survived him.

 James Ocholi

The Year 2016 also claimed a serving minister in the newly formed cabinet of President Muhammad Buhari. On Saturday March 6th, 2016, James Ocholi, a minister of State for Labour, died in a ghastly motor accident on Kaduna-Abuja Express way, while returning from a function in his state, Kogi.
He died along with his wife, Blessing and son, Joshua.  Though new development later emerged that the driver of the Sport Utility Vehicle that killed him had no driving licence, a situation which caused great embarrassment to the Federal Government and led to a yet to be complied investigation to search for the person who recommended the driver to the ex-minister. 

Other perception also emerged that Ocholi might have been a victim of a fifth columnist who wanted to derail the good work of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government  by masterminding the death of the gifted lawyer turned politician. The late minister’s family also bought into the theory as they alleged something fishy about the way the vehicle in which the minister was driven, stumbled from the road to the bush, coupled with the way the minister was flung out of the vehicle.

They also alleged that the driver of the car who was alleged not to have a driving license was the one who took the picture of the minister, his mangled car and others and sent it all over the internet.

Stephen Keshi

The year equally took away one of Nigeria’s biggest Football expert, Stephen Keshi. The winner of Africa’s Cup of Nations and Coach of the Nigeria Super Eagle died on Wednesday June 8, 2016 exactly six months after the demise of his wife, Nkem Kate Keshi on December 9, 2015 after a battle with cancer.

Keshi who died at age 54 was said to have complained of a minor leg pain while holidaying at his Airport Road, Benin—Edo state residence and was on his way to the hospital around 3 am when he passed away.  Another source close to the football icon alleged he died of heart attack.

Big Boss as Stephen Keshi was famously called remains the only African coach to have qualified for the World Cup with two African Nations. Keshi played in five different African Cup of Nations tournaments, and was the captain of the Super Eagles team to their second continent success in 1994 in Tunisia. He was instrumental as Nigeria made their maiden appearance at 1994 FIFA World Cup in the US, where they reached the second round before losing to Italy. 

He played professionally in Ivory Coast, Belgium, France, the USA and Malaysia. He also managed the National team of Togo and Mali. An appointed Coach of the Nigerian team in November 2011, Keshi handled the Super Eagles for over four seasons, leading the team to the 2013 African Cup of Nations title in South Africa, becoming only the second man to win it both as a player and a coach—as well as the last 16 at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.  Even though his achievements over the years in sports have brought pride to Nigeria as a country, his death on June 8, 2016 brought sadness and disappointment to Nigeria.

Amodu Shuaibu

Another great Nigeria Sport Icon that went away with year 2016 is ex-Super Eagle’s Coach Shuaibu Amodu who died in the early hours of Saturday June 11, 2016 inside his Delta Crescent, Benin GRA home, Benin City at age 58, showed no sign of death. He was actually one of the guests who called at his late colleague Stephen Keshi’s house three days earlier to sign a condolence register. 

Amodu, a Muslim was equally observing the Ramadan fasting and his last twenty four hours on earth was dramatic. The late Sport icon is said to have only complained in the night, that he was experiencing chest pain, and a doctor was called in to check his blood pressure and it was 140 over 100. He was advised to take his drugs and also to stop participating in the Ramadan fasting”
“He later led the Tarawih (Muslim fasting prayer) for the family. And after the prayer, he went to bed after eating. He was discovered dead in his room at about 4am the following day when they went to wake him up for the (Subhur) Morning Prayer”.     

 Both Shuaibu and Keshi died in the same city, same week and same month of same year. Amodu qualified for the Super Eagles for the FIFA World Cup in year 2002 and 2010 but did not lead the team to the finals. He also qualified for the Beach Soccer for the National Team for the 2006 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup but did not lead the team at the finals as he refused to travel down to Brazil.  

Amodu shot to prominence when he guided Nigeria’s side of BCC Lions of Gboko to win the now defunct African Winners Cup in 1990.  His team reached the finals of the same competition the following year but lost to Zambian side Power Dynamos 5-4 on aggregate in 1991. 

Three Years later Amodu replaced Dutchman Clemens Westerhof as Nigeria’s coach in 1994 and then led the reigning African Champions to the fourth place at the 1995 King Fahd Cup (Now renamed FIFA Confederation Cup) before his exit that year.  He returned to manage the team again from 1998 to 1999, 2001-2002 and 2008-2010. He helped Nigeria to qualify for the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea and led them to the third place finish in the 2002 Nations cup. 

Under his stewardship, Nigeria qualified for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa but Amodu was sacked despite the team’s third place success at the 2010 Africa’s Cup of Nations in Angola. He was a former National Technical Director of the Nigeria’s football Federation. 

His various achievements both in high and low times brought pride to Nigeria as a country only for his death in Benin City to bring sadness to a section of the country which saw him as a Sport hero. 

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