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Alabo: Amaechi knocks Wike

FORMER Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, could not hide his displeasure over the indifference of Governor Nyesom Wike and the Rivers state government to the funeral of Alabo Tamunotenyim Omubo Graham-Douglas (TOG) as the four times federal minister who died at 83 was laid to rest Saturday in Abonnema, Akuku Toru Local Government Area.

Governor Wike, his Deputy and daughter of Kalabari Kingdom, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo were conspicuously absent and no representation announced for the Rivers State Government as activities marking the burial of TOG of climaxed at his home town with a requiem service before his remains were interred.

Amaechi, Wike’s predecessor, in his moment to remark among other dignitaries on the eventful life and times of Alabo Graham-Douglas (TOG) said by his immense contributions to nation building, Rivers in particular, TOG, Head of Orubibi Douglas War Canoe House deserved a state burial.

He said, “When I became governor, he (TOG) was one of the first key figures and leaders I visited. Alabo and I spoke on ends on how to move the state forward.

“Indeed going by the contributions he made to the state, I was thinking that the state would take responsibility for everything concerning Alabo. You don’t need to be Governor to be recognised.

“Alabo played a very important role in making Rufus Ada George governor of Rivers. We came to thank him here in Abonnema when Ada George became governor. And he (TOG) was arguably one of the best dressed Rivers man until his death.”

Whatever imagined void created by absence of the Rivers State Government was, however, filled by the Governor of Bayelsa State, Sen Douyi Diri who let a large contingent from his state to “celebrate greatness” in TOG in the words of Diri.

Diri said, “TOG was a colossus. We are all here to pay our last respect to this incredible man. We are not here to mourn, but to celebrate greatness. I’m deeply honoured to be part of the gathering.

“TOG represents the very important symbol and voice, highlighting the issues and importance of our corporate existence as a country and as an ethnic (Ijaw) nationality.

“Myself and the Government of Bayelsa thank the Graham-Douglas family and the people of Abonnema for the incredible gift that TOG was to the Ijaw nation and to Nigeria at large. It is remarkable to note that throughout his service to the nation, he left indelible imprint as an administrative and innovative genius.

“Whereas he is a staunch and patriotic Nigerian, he will wear the Ijaw ethnic identity with great pride. And what defines a people, their language and mode of dressing. Today I dress, though lowly, like Alabo Graham-Douglas, representing the Ijaw ethnic nationality. We would always remember him as a man of integrity who embodied the principals and values of our forbearers.”

Prof Benjamin Okaba, President, Ijaw National Congress (INC), celebrated TOG as, “A man who stood out from the crowd, a crusader for Ijaw Kingdom with an impeccable record of excellence. Ijaw nation is mourning because we are passing through perilous times and we needed Alabo to be with us at this time. Alabo is somebody we need to study. He was a leader of Ijaw nation.”

The International Youth Pastor of the Redeemed Church of God, Pastor Belemina Obunge in the funeral sermon, themed, ‘Why Do We Have Life’ said the essence was to follow the word of God and to please Him, urging the congregation to keep commitment to at all times to liviing aright before their maker as everyone who bid farewell to life on earth.”

Among others present to pay last respect were Rtd Maj Gen Ike Nwachukwu, former Petroleum Minister, Odein Ajumogoba (SAN), Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe, former 1st Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, widow of TOG, Muriel Graham-Douglas and Ikechukwu Ikoh Minister of Science and Technology.

Semabo Graham-Douglas, eldest son, was thankful to dignitaries from far and near who graced the occasion.

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