The remains of a former Governor of the defunct Mid-West region and old Bendel State, late Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia, on Tuesday arrived Benin, the Edo State capital, to mark the commencement of his burial ceremony.
The deceased elder statesman died last Friday at a Lagos hospital at the age of 84.
His body arrived at the Benin Airport, from the Muritala Mohammed Airport in Lagos, on a Nigerian Air Force plane, marked NAF 029 and bearing the seal of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, at1:22pm.
There was heavy security presence at the airport, comprising the Nigerian Army, Nigeria Police and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
The gold-plated coffin bearing his corpse was received by Governor Godwin Obaseki; his Delta State counterpart, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, and some senior military officers.
On the entourage of the Edo governor were the Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, the Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Dr. Justin Okonoboh, Deputy Speaker, Elizabeth Ativie, and other government officials.
Okowa was accompanied by the Secretary to the State Government, Festus Agas; Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Monday Igbuya; Deputy Speaker, Friday Osanebi; Majority Leader, Tim Owhefere and other members of the state executive council.
The family of the former military administrator, led by his eldest son, Samuel Ogbemudia (Jnr), were also at the airport to receive the body.
Some of his children were seen weeping as their father’s body was brought out of the aircraft.
Shortly before their departure, Obaseki, stated that Ogbemudia’s support for good governance would be greatly missed.
He said, “We spent quite a bit of time in private and in public and he admonished me and assured me of his support.
“I cannot forget the encouragement he gave to me. Without his open and clear endorsement, my campaign would have been much more difficult.”
On his part, Okowa noted that the former governor would continue to live in the hear of the people of Delta, through his works.
“Unfortunately, the last time I saw him was at his birthday in 2015 and the public lecture,” he said.
“It was an interesting moment. We talked about a lot of things and I thank God that he still leaves through his works,” the governor added.
Also a former Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili, said that the late Ogbemudia left an indelible mark and his memories would stand the test of time.
In the condolence register, Odili wrote, “Sir, you came and conquered. You left indelible material and human footprints. Your impact will last forever.
“You were a legend. You came at a trying time for the nation. You rose to the challenge and left an indelible foot print – materials and human. Your legacy will last forever. We are going to miss him.”
In an interview with journalists, he said, “He (Ogbemudia) inspired a lot of us and, by the special grace of God, the things he left will live on. Leaders should emulate the style of general Ogbemudia . He served the people wholeheartedly.
“He put self behind and the interest of the people above everything else. We really miss him; we did not know that it will happened now. But in everything, we give glory to God.”
The remains of late octogenarian were later conveyed in a black Mercedes-Benz ambulance to his Benin residence, in company of a long convoy of military and government vehicles.
According to a statement by the burial planning committee and signed by the Secretary to the Edo State Government, Osarodion Ogie, the funeral rites would continue with a cultural dance by troupes from Edo and Delta on Wednesday at his residence.
A service of songs would be held at the main bowl of the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin, while an interdenominational funeral service would also hold at the stadium.