Posted by By Charles Ozoemena & Kenneth Ehigiator on
PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo recounted yesterday, how he failed his late wife, Stella, twice while they lived together as a couple.
ABUJA — PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo recounted yesterday, how he failed his late wife, Stella, twice while they lived together as a couple.
The President on the same occasion – thanksgiving service in memory of the First Lady and the 117 victims of the Bellview Flight 210 crash – announced that a memorial garden of remembrance would be built at the site of the crash at Lisa in Ogun State.
Speaking at the service held at the National Ecumenical Centre, Abuja, President Obasanjo said: "Some of you might have visited the site of the air crash. You might have just seen the ghastly accident on television. I saw it on television. And I visited the sight. It needs to be seen to be believed. It was shocking.
"For all I know at this point in time, I don’t believe that any of the victims would have been able to be pieced together in a recognisable form. Government has decided that a Monument of a Remembrance Garden will be built at the site with the names of all the victims of that unfortunate accident indelibly inscribed, lest we forget. We pray that their souls may be accepted by God Almighty. I thank the nation for the tremendous show of solidarity, love and support. May the gentle souls of the departed rest in peace."
President Obasanjo who thanked Nigerians for their support recalled his failure to fulfill his promises of celebrating Stella’s birthday.
His words: "I want to share with you my experience of failure. Maybe, it can have something for you and for us generally. And I title this: My experience of my failure: The Futility of Human Promises. Twice, I made promises to my wife Stella. Twice I failed to fulfill them. At the beginning of the year 1995, that was the year my wife was to be 50 years old, I said to her, you will be half a century old. We should celebrate your birthday in a special way. Her birthday is 14th of November. Fourteenth of November 1995, I was in prison in Jos. So, I failed to fulfill my promise of a special birthday.
"I’ve had occasions to remark on how stoutly Stella stood with me all the time I was in prison. What a one-person crusade she mounted in Nigeria and all over the world to try to secure my release. So, you can understand at the beginning of this year, I said to her, this year, you will be 60 years old. The promise I could not fulfill 10 years ago, I hope to fulfill it this time around. It will be specially celebrated. And she said, yes, there is one thing she would want to have: it’s a grand celebration by worshipping, having a thanksgiving 60th birthday service at this Ecumenical Centre.
"We planned. The invitation was prepared. The order of service was prepared. Those who would officiate have been informed. We even got dresses ordered for that special occasion. And at our morning devotion service one day, we talked about this birthday celebration, and everything my wife asked for, I granted in the hope we would have a grand birthday celebration.
"Well, 14th of November is still two weeks away. So, again, I failed. I failed to fulfill my promise of a grand birthday for my wife.
"The 60th birthday that would have culminated in a thanksgiving service in this centre, she was not to see the 14th of November on this side of the veil. I regret my inability to fulfill my promise. But God’s plan and God’s promises never fail.
"And to me God’s plan and his promises, and His promise in this respect, is that we will have a grand worship service in this centre but not the 60th birthday of my wife. The service will not be to celebrate her 60th birthday but to celebrate her life and her exit from this world in grand and glorious style. Praise be to God."
In his sermon, the Reverend Williams Okoye asked Nigerians to come closer to God by repenting from sins and abandoning evil indulgences. "People should change as no evil committed would go unpunished," he said.
Praise and worship songs were rendered at the well-attended Thanksgiving service.
US investigators at crash site
The team of American investigators who flew in last week to help in the probe of the crash of Bellview Flight 210 have concluded scanning of the accident scene preparatory to the excavation of the aircraft from the crater which was still smouldering weekend, just as the three-man group from the airline’s insurers, the Lloyds of London, was also at the site for assessment.
These developments came as hundreds of passengers got stranded at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, Saturday, following closure of the airport for about five hours to make way for resurfacing of cracked portions of runway 18L (left).
A source at the crash site told Vanguard, Saturday, that the investigators had been on ground in the last two days mainly to scan the crater to ascertain its depth. The source quoted the investigators as saying that no meaningful excavation of the aircraft could be done without first studying the scan which would also give some vital clues relevant to the investigation. escavation may commence today.
"Three of the investigators were here on Thursday and also yesterday (Friday). They scanned the crater to assess if there is anything in there and the depth. They can’t do anything until these facts are known," said the source.
Officer in charge of security of crash site and Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Ajuwon, Mr. David Ogar, confirmed the investigators’ exploits at the site in the last two days. He said with the arrival of the US experts at the site last Thursday, the crash site had been fully secured.
Also Saturday, a three-man team from the Lloyd’s of London was seen at the site assessing the crash which killed 117 people including crew members.
Although the men claimed to be at the crash scene in their private capacities, Vanguard gathered they were actually officials of the airline’s insurers. They were said to have got to the scene barely 30 minutes before Vanguard arrived the site, and were seen leaving the site with some Bellview Airline officials in the company’s cars 30 minutes later.
A call pulled through to the airline’s Head of Public Affairs, Mr. Habib Mohammed, confirmed the presence of officials of the insurance company in the country. Although he declined to say whether the Lloyd’s of London was the airline’s insurers, he stated that the airline’s local insurance underwriters only have their placements with the Lloyd’s.
Meanwhile, for the second time in less than two months, runway 18L of the Lagos airport was Saturday closed for about five hours without any notice to the travelling public. The airport, which was closed at 10a.m, was not opened to traffic until about 2:30p.m, and this did not only disrupt flight operations, but got in-bound and out-bound passengers stranded.
The closure, it was learnt, was to facilitate the re-surfacing of cracks on the runway, which was patched only a few weeks ago.