Kinsmen, friends, business and political associates of the late popular Nigerian Senator, Clement Annie Okonkwo, on the evening of Thursday, 17 August 2023, converged on the Victoria Island Lagos for a service of songs to pay glowing tributes to his lifetime legacies
They took turns during the service of songs to describe who the lawmaker was to them and how his activities in the business sector, politics, family and community circle touched lives positively.
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On roll call were the Publisher of Prime Business Africa, Dr Marcel Mbamalu, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), George Akume, Senate President Godswill Akpabio, former Anambra State Governor and Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party in the 2023 elections, Mr Peter Obi and the Traditional Ruler of Ojoto, Igwe Gerald Obunadike Mbamalu.
Senator Okonkwo, who hails from Iruebenebe village, Ojoto in Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State, died in the United States on 7 June 2023 at the age of 63.
He represented Anambra Central Senatorial District from 2007 to 2011 (the 6th Senate) under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
A member of the Knight of St. John International (KSJ), Okonkwo, who also had the traditional title of Agunaechemba I of Ojoto, was an entrepreneur and had built a conglomerate with business interests in oil and gas, Telecommunications, Commodity Trading, Real Estate Development, Manufacturing and General Commerce. The firms include Reliance Telecomm, Clemco Industries, Modern Communications (satellite TV Network), MacClemm Marketing Communications, Sunflower Nigeria and Pentagon Oil.
Highlights of the event were prayers, bible readings and reflection on life and death; songs by gospel artists and tributes.
In his homily, Rev. Fr. Joseph Oyekunle, Assistant Parish Priest of Assumption Catholic Church, Falomo, Lagos, said the essence of the gathering was to pray for the repose of the soul of Senator Okonkwo.
Rev. Fr. Oyekunle said that praying for the dead is one of the corporal works of mercy and that the journey of Christian life is made meaningful because of the hope of resurrection. According to the priest, death is an inevitable mystery of life which must come at a time one does not expect and that humans need to be ready at all times.
“The value of life lies not in the length of days or number of years but it’s the impact created that matters.”
He said the event is a reminder that life on earth is momentary and calls for sober reflection.
The Tributes To Senator Annie Okonkwo
Presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the 2023 election, Mr Peter Obi, who was physically present at the event, said Okonkwo had an uncommon disposition to give.
He said he had known Okonkwo for the past 40 years, adding that he was very supportive of his ambition to emerge as president of Nigeria because he believed in the possibility of a new Nigeria.
Obi urged the family not to grieve so much about Okonkwo’s exit, adding that like the younger brother Tony Okonkwo said, God loved him so much.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator George Akume, who was Chief Annie Okonkwo’s colleague in the 6th Senate, said the deceased former lawmaker, with his experience in business, understood the socioeconomic benefits of strategic trust between the Nigerian government and the citizens in diaspora and sponsored the bill that led to the establishment of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM).
Akume said Okonkwo while in the Red Chamber, won everyone’s respect and admiration because of his eagerness to help without being asked to do so; his ability to take up more responsibilities cheerfully, and his disposition of working silently for excellence without making noise about his achievements.
The SGF hailed Okonkwo’s entrepreneurship spirit which saw him set up businesses that employed thousands of Nigerians. He prayed for Okonkwo’s peaceful repose.
The Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Sylvester Okonkwo, an indigene (Okwuluora) of Ojoto, said Senator Annie was a bridge builder. He expressed his condolences to the family, especially, the son, Hon. Uchenna Harris Okonkwo, who currently represents Idemili North and South Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives.
On his part, a Professor of Political Economy, Pat Utomi, said Senator Okonkwo “was a very unique and special person,” who touched many lives through his generous acts.
READ ALSO: Video: Ojoto People In US Hold Funeral Service For Late Nigerian Senator Annie Okonkwo
According to Utomi, a chieftain of the Labour Party, Senator Okonkwo had a great love for his country and was a strong believer in the new Nigeria project.
Utomi noted that Okonkwo, though staying in the United States when the Obidient movement gain momentum in the build-up to the 2023 general election, made significant contributions towards the struggle through his encouragement which was a source of inspiration.
He recalled how Senator Okonkwo volunteered to set up a meeting when the Obidient movement stakeholders went to the United States for strategic engagements with Nigerians in the diaspora.
“During our visit to the United States he (Senator Okonkwo) volunteered to set up a meeting in Los Angeles and when we arrived, he indeed showed that he was Agunaechemba even in the United States of America,” Utomi stated.
He asserted that given Okonkwo’s legacies, there is no cause to feel the loss because he would be in the safe hands of God.
The performance from the MUSON Orchestra, thrilled everyone at the event as different personalities took turns to tell stories of Okonkwo’s life and time.
Senator Okonkwo’s younger brother, Tony, said he believed so much that God loved him, and worked hard to promote unity in their family.
Tony gave a chilling account of how the late former lawmaker sponsored his education in America, made him all he is in life, and promised to maintain the legacies the man left behind.
In his vote of thanks, the son Hon. Uche Okonkwo, the lawmaker representing Idemili North and South federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, thanked all who found time to be with the family during the event.
There will be a requiem mass in his honour today, 18 August at the Church of Assumption, Falomo, Ikoyi, Lagos at 10:00 AM.
His burial has been scheduled for Wednesday, 30 August 2023 at his home town of Ojoto, the headquarters of Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State.
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