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How Obasanjo Informed Father-in-Law of Wife’s Death

Posted by By Olusegun Adeniyi on 2005/10/27 | Views: 3272 |

How Obasanjo Informed Father-in-Law of Wife’s Death

Yesterday in Abuja, THISDAY watched as the Abebe patriarch and his wife received the Board of UAC ,of which he was once Chairman, that came from Lagos to commiserate with him while Stella's son, Olumuyiwa who came in from the United States with his fiancee, sat with his grandparents.

* Abebe: Let us pray for the crash victims

"What happened to John and why has he not been picking my calls since last night?"

"Nothing has happened to John sir, in fact, he and Henry are on their way to Abuja now."

"What for? They did not tell me they were coming, tell me, has anything happened to John?"

"No, nothing has happened to John, it is Stella, she is in the hospital and we have to pray seriously for her."

That was the exchange between President Olusegun Obasanjo and the father of his late wife, Stella, Mr. Christopher Abebe, last Sunday morning in Abuja.

Yesterday in Abuja, THISDAY watched as the Abebe patriarch and his wife received the Board of UAC ,of which he was once Chairman, that came from Lagos to commiserate with him while Stella's son, Olumuyiwa who came in from the United States with his fiancee, sat with his grandparents.

After the lying-in-state ceremony for the First Lady at the Banquet Hall of the State House, the Abebe siblings and Olumuyiwa drove straight to the residence of Stella's parents who were receiving visitors.

It was at the residence Dr. John Abebe, Stella's immediate younger recounted to THISDAY how he got the news of her sister's death and how it was broken to his parents.

John said he had been informed before midnight that her health had deteriorated at the hospital and had been in touch with the medical personnel, only to be told at 1am that she was dead.

By 4am, he got a call from a distraught Obasanjo who, after breaking the news, said he (John) and Henry had to come to Abuja by first flight so they could help in breaking the news to their parents.

"Given the plane crash of the night before people were just looking at one another but immediately we got to Abuja we drove straight to the Villa. We were told the President was at the chapel and we joined him there. After the service, we now went together to meet my parents. I could not face them with such information without the President who happened to be my sister's husband," said John

John said his father was calm in despair "but we had to hold my mother and it was bad for her in the first 24 hours."

The Abebes were composed yesterday as they received visitors inside their guest chalet within Aso Rock Villa. When THISDAY arrived with John, the UAC Board were around and Stella's father said to his eldest surviving son: "John, these are my people from UAC who have come to commiserate with me."

Then turning to the UAC Managing Director, Mr. Ayo Ajayi, he said, "John used to work for UAC before he left to start his own business", then added, "by the way John, did you resign from UAC or did we sack you? I can't seem to remember which now" and the visitors laughed.

At that point Abebe started to reminisces on his days in UAC where he was the first African Chairman. He asked Ajayi some questions about the company then added: "With the present structures and composition, UAC is not what it used to be but if the bottom line still shows profit, then you must be doing well."

After the UAC Board members left, some women wearing the same attire entered and after a while, one led the session in a long prayer. The prayer over, she began to eulogise the late First Lady whom she described as their friend at a point the Abebe partriach interjected: "I apologise for interrupting but I cannot remember the speaker telling me her name or what organisation you represent except that most of you are wearing the same apparel."

At this point, the woman THISDAY later learnt to be Mrs Lambo, wife of Health Minister, said: "We are some of the women you must have seen with the late First Lady, we are her friends and associates. We most often travelled with her within and outside the country. Most of us are wives of Ministers and other top government officials. We have come to commiserate with you. We loved your daughter but Jesus loves her more."

Abebe said he was grateful for the visit. "At a time like this, words disappoint because I wish I could express my joy at the encomiums being poured on my daughter. But these are depressing moments for us as a nation. It is unfortunate that we lost 117 people to that plane crash last weekend. Please join me in praying for their souls.

"I also thank God for the light that Stella was able to show in her brief life, please if you are her friends do not let the light go extinct. I am aware she had one or two projects, please don't let them die. "As long as they exist, then she lives on. I have heard it said often that it is not how long you live that matters but how well and I have seen elements of truth in that with the outpouring of grief over Stella's death.

"This life is a market and each one of us would go one day. That is why I pray for each one of you that your life, however long, will not be fruitless. But please let us work for Nigeria, let us all work to eradicate corruption, bribery, poverty so we can have a better country. I thank you all."

As the women left with only the family left, Olumuyiwa and his fiancee, already slated to wed April next year before his mother's death, also made to go. The duo hugged their grand parents, while the grand mother, who had busied herself with rosary while the visitors were around, held on to her grandson for a long time before releasing him to be driven out of the compound with his fiancee.

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