THE 81 years old Mrs. Adetutu Grace Famuagun, mother of the late Deputy Governor of Ekiti State, Mrs Funmi Olayinka, yesterday, wept uncontrollably and repeatedly asked Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, the whereabout of her daughter.
Fayemi, who was at the Famuwagun’s family house, Oke Ori-Omi, where the parents of Mrs. Olayinka live in Ado Ekiti, at 10am, alongside his wife, Bisi and other top government functionaries, could not hide his emotion when the octogenarian mother kept asking “Kayode, where is Funmi?” repeatedly.
In a statement, Governor Fayemi said all his engagements, including the symposium organised for the youths at Ikogosi Ekiti are cancelled. Equally, the state has suspended all official ceremonies and opened condolence register in the office of the governor and the office of the deputy, including the state’s liaison office in Lagos and Abuja.
Already Governor Fayemi has declared a seven-day mourning during which all flags in the state will fly at half mast.
This came as Senate President David Mark, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Professor Wole Soyinka, state governors, senators and other prominent Nigerians continued to pay glowing tributes to Mrs. Olayinka, 52 and mother of three, who died in a Lagos hospital on Saturday after a long battle with cancer.
Meanwhile, Senate President, David Mark, urged the Ekiti State government to immortalise late Olayinka in recognition of her contribution to the development of the state.
In a condolence message through his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Kola Ologbondiyan, Mark described the late deputy governor as an indomitable amazon, who stood to be counted when it mattered, stressing that her death was a huge loss to the nation.
Also former Vice President Atiku Abubakar in a statement said the death of Mrs. Olayinka at such time when Ekiti State needed her services the most was most unfortunate.
Atiku Abubakar appealed to Governor Fayemi to accept the death of his deputy governor as an act of God, saying “the death of the Ekiti State deputy governor is not only a loss to Ekiti State, but to Nigeria because she was a faithful and committed compatriot.”
In Ondo State, Governor Olusegun Mimiko, through a statement by Eni Akinsola, his Chief Press Secretary, said the death of such a young, lively and active leader could not but evoke deep feeling of loss and sadness.
He said: “Nigerians were well aware that she was indisposed, but were hoping and praying that she will scale through and come out stronger and better. We were therefore shocked to hear of her death. It is sad, sad news.
“It evokes a deep feeling of loss and sadness. The demise of Mrs Olayinka will be greatly felt by her husband, children, political acolytes and indeed the good people of Ekiti State.
”Sad as it is, we cannot but thank God for her life, pray that her soul finds repose in the Lord and seek God’s Grace and strength for the family to bear the loss.”
On his part, Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State, described the death of Ekiti State Deputy Governor Ekiti as devastating and a big blow to progressive politics in the state and Nigeria.
A statement by the Director, Bureau of Communications and Strategy, Office of the Governor, Mr. Semiu Okanlawon, said the demise of the late Olufunmilayo Olayinka who died of cancer had shown that government at all levels should brace up and give the necessary attention to the treatment and detection of cancer.
He said: “Lives of millions of women are being threatened as they suffer under the disease of cancer without early detection and adequate treatment. Government at all levels should rise up to the task by subsidising the cost for testing and treatment.”
Fashola, Oshiomhole, Uduaghan others mourn
Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos, in a condolence message by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Hakeem Bello, described the deceased as a great daughter of the state who made her mark professionally and then offered to serve her people.
The governor said: “As a brother Governor, I feel completely overwhelmed, just imagining the depth of your pain and anguish at the death of a most loyal, dependable and diligent deputy which you had in Mrs. Olayinka.
“When the history of the restoration of the democratic mandate freely given by the duo of Governor Fayemi and the late Deputy Governor as well as the back-breaking work to restore the meaningful governance to Ekiti state comes to be written, a very glorious and general mention would be made of the late Deputy Governor.”
Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, in his condolence message, through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Peter Okhiria, said: “We learnt with deep shock and grief about the death of the Deputy Governor of Ekiti State.
“Mrs Olayinka gave her all to the recovery of the mandate freely given to the Governor and herself by the good people of Ekiti state and she was unwavering in her quest to deepen the nation’s democracy by going through the judicial process.”
Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State, through his Press Secretary, Mr. Felix Ofou, in a statement, said: “The Delta Governor praised the courage and strength of the late Deputy Governor in the battle against cancer. She worked tirelessly to please everyone until a few weeks ago when it was announced that she was proceeding on medical leave.
“Not once did she betray signs of being sick. May be a few persons were aware of her health status. All we saw was a courageous and strong woman willing to please everyone.”
On his part, Cross River State Governor, Senator Liyel Imoke, in a condolence statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Christian Ita, said although words seemed inadequate to express the sorrow felt by her loss, ”we must try to see beyond her demise and focus on the memories of her good works and life long achievements.
“The thoughts and prayers of the people of cross River State are with her family and people of Ekiti state during this difficult time.”
On his part, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State , through a condolence message by his Chief Press Secretary, Alhaji Abdulwahab Oba, described the passage of Mrs. Olayinka as a national loss as she died at a young age with a lot of ideas, zeal and vision that could help in shaping a better Ekiti State and the building of a virile Nigeria.
Prof. Soyinka, in condolence message, said: “Her departure will be felt as a great loss to your administration, to the people of Ekiti State, but most especially to her family, to whom I request that you be so kind as to convey my message of fortitude in the face of this grievous bereavement.”
Senators pay tributes
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu in a condolence message in Abuja, through his Special Adviser, Media, Mr. Uche Anichukwu, said Mrs Olayinka was not only a “promising female leader but a progressive and distinguished professional who wholeheartedly dedicated herself to the service of the good people of Ekiti and the entire nation.”
Senator Gbenga Ashafa, representing Lagos East Senatorial District, in his brief message, expressed shock over the news of the deputy governor’s death, who he described, as “heroine of Democracy.”
Others who paid condolences included former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu; former governor of Ekiti State, Chief Segun Oni; member, House of Representatives, representing Ado-Ekiti/Irepodun-Ifelodun Federal Constituency, Ekiti State, Mr. Opeyemi Bamidele; Osun State chapter of ACN and Conference of Alumni Associations of Nigerian Universities, CAANU.