• We are gathered to celebrate a life of success — Buhari
• Deaconess Umahi was a great unifier — Obasanjo
By DAVID UKA, Abakaliki
EBONYI State was agog, a fortnight ago, when eminent Nigerians across the country stormed the state to bid final farewell to late Deaconess Margaret Umahi, mother of Governor David Umahi, who transited to the world beyond after of 84 years on earth.
It was a celebration of life of an inestimable value as notable political leaders from the Presidency to the various state governments used the opportunity to interact with their friends, associates and even opposition politicians. The funeral of Deaconess Umahi eliminated the boundary of political parties whose members assembled to honour her exit. They showered glorious encomiums on the departed mother of the Ebonyi State Governor.
In his farewell speech at the event in Uburu, Ohaozara Local Government Area, President Muhammadu Buhari said that Nigeria has much to learn from the life of hard work and perseverance lived by Deaconess Margaret Umahi. Buhari observed that hard work and perseverance by Nigerians would enable the country overcome its current economic and security challenges.
The President, represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engr. Babachir Lawal, noted that the governor’s mother, as an orphan at a very young age and a peasant farmer, tackled and conquered poverty through hard work and perseverance.
He said that the late matriarch of the Umahi family had through hand work trained her children and was able to produce personalities such as a state governor, a Major-General, lawyer, engineer, a traditional ruler and a chartered accountant. “We are all witnesses to these feats achieved by the late Deaconess and at a time when the country is faced with economic and security challenges, Nigeria has a lot to learn from her dint of hard work and perseverance. Here, we are gathered to celebrate a life of successes. Deaconess Umahi bequeathed a lot of legacies before her exit, “the President remarked.
The Wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, who was represented by the wife of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mrs. Gimbia Dogara, noted that the governor’s mother left legacies that would ever remain fresh in the minds of the people.
A former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, in his remarks described the late Mrs. Umahi as a great unifier of family, community, government and opposition and indeed, the entire state of Ebonyi.
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“What we are witnessing here is not just the burial of a great woman; it is the celebration of a worthy life. Deaconess Umahi was a great unifier of her family, community, government and opposition and indeed, the entire Ebonyi State. You can see here that because of her, both the people in opposition and the ruling parties are gathered here. She was indeed a great unifier of persons,” Obasanjo declared.
He congratulated the children for the legacies their mother passed on to them before died.
Governor Umahi chronicled what the demised mother represented in his life and the lives of the entire family members while alive. He said that she meant a lot to him such that he would want her to be his mother in the next world, assuming such existed.
He promised he would strive to keep the legacies of his late mother, assuring of the preparedness of the entire family to continue to standby what their mother represented while alive.
Umahi expressed his warm gratitude to friends, associates, relations and well wishers who came to be with him and the entire family during the funeral.
The funeral rite witnessed the presence of Dame Patience Jonathan, wife of the immediate past President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan; former President of the Senate, Anyim Pius Anyim; Governors of Niger, Kebbi, Imo, Jigawa, Abia, Gombe, Rivers, Enugu, Delta, Anambra, Bayelsa, Benue, Cross River, Ondo, Zamfara, Sokoto, Plateau and deputy governors of Akwa Ibom and Kogi states.
Other dignitaries include former Governor of Ebonyi State, Dr. Sam Egwu, and his wife, Enice; former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi; Founder of the Christ Ascension Church Nigeria, Reverend Ogbonaya Nwoye Godwin; the Emir of Bauchi, represented by Prof. Musa Messari of the Faculty of Education, University of Abuja; General Superintendent of Assemblies of God Church, Chidi Okoroafor, and members of the National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by the national Chairman, Ali Modu Sheriff.
Also in attendance were five ministers who include the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige; and his Science and Technology counterpart, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu; the Alake of Egbaland, Michael Aremu Gbadebo; , Ex-Senate President Ken Nnamani,
National Assembly members, a former governor of Abia State, Theodore . A Orji, and a business mogul, Chief Arthur Eze.
Furthermore, the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, described Deaconess Margaret Umahi as a “Christian icon and a great mother of the state.”
Speaking at a thanksgiving service in honour of the governor’s mother, Osinbajo said that the deceased was being celebrated for living a very useful life in the service of God and humanity. He stated that he would not be among those praying for the repose of the soul of the governor’s mother because he was sure that she was already resting in the bosom of the Lord. Osinbajo, who disclosed that he had always found the contributions of Governor David Nweze Umahi during National Economic Council meetings very useful and “progressive,” expressed confident that “this (Ebonyi) state would prosper under the leadership of Engr. David Umahi.”
He appealed to all privileged Nigerians to use their natural endowments to affect the lives of others positively in the society.
In his remarks, Governor Umahi commended President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo for their show of love for the state and his family.
The governor, who described President Buhari and the Vice-President Osinbajo as special gifts to the country, commended their non -discriminatory style of leadership and efforts to unite the country.
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He appealed to the Federal Government to give special consideration to the state to enable it overcome her peculiar development challenges.
In a homily, the General Pastor and founder of Dominion City Church, Pastor Chuks Ogbueli, charged the people to draw closer to God.
Ogbueli, who spoke on the theme “Discovering the usefulness of life,” observed that there were two types of lives – wasted life and invested life.
He explained that lives spent on the pursuit of immoralities and selfish ambitions were wasted lives, while lives spent in a cultivated relationship with God, in loving your neigbours and improving the lives of others, were invested lives which yields proceeds in returns.
He urged the people to emulate the life of the late Deaconess as one could only be remembered by the problems he created or the problems he solved.
Late Deaconess Margaret Umahi was born in 1931 into the family of late Onu Nwonovo and Mrs. 0maa Nwaesu of 0gwu village, Uburu, 0haozara Local Government Area, Ebonyi State. Mama is blessed with eight children, including His Royal Highness, Eze Laz Umahi Nweze, Major-General Obi Umahi, Barrister Roy Umahi, Governor David Nweze Umahi, Deacon Austin Umahi, and others.