Grace Onaiwu Omoigui, teacher, lawyer and magistrate, killed by dare devil robbers, begins her journey to immortality Friday, January 6.
Fondly called ‘Mama G’ by her children, neighbours and well-wishers, Mrs Omoigui (nee Elekhuoba Iyeye Ogbewe-Asemota) died on November 19, 2016 from gunshot wounds she suffered during an attack by armed robbers in Benin City, Edo State, on October 24, 2016.
According to the funeral programme announced by her husband, Daniel Omoigui, retired Surveyor-General of the Federation, and his children, the late Mama G would be interred on Friday after a funeral mass at Saint Paul’s Catholic Church on Airport Road in Benin.
Before the burial, however, there would be a public lying-in-state at 9.00 am as well as music and tributes from 10am to 3pm at No. 8 Red Cross Road, G.R.A. Benin.
On Thursday, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo led key members of his government and other sympathisers to a vigil mass held in Benin to pay respect to a woman, who, according to him, would be fondly remembered by the people of the state for her humanitarian services that brought care and support to the elderly.
The funeral programme began on January 2 in Lagos, where Mama G lived and worked for years, contributing to the development of Nigeria and humanity.
On that day, in an event tagged “Walking Mom’s Path”, her children took her remains to key locations where she lived, worked and volunteered.
On Tuesday, January 3 at the Eagle Club, on Adeniran Ogunsanya Street, Surulere, family, friends and other sympathizers poured tributes on the philanthropist before a Christian mother’s rite was administered on her remains at the Holy Cross Cathedral on Marina Street the following day, Wednesday.
The Lagos programme concluded with a reception on Saturday at SIO Events Centre located at No. 8 Red Cross Road, Benin City.
Born on December 28, 1933 in Akure, Ondo State, Mrs Omoigui faced a life of early struggle after losing her beloved mother, Izevbokun, at age three.
As a result of the loss, she was raised by her late father, her step mothers and her grandmother, with whom she spent a greater part of her childhood.
With the determination to succeed even in the absence of a loving mother, she grew up with a go-getting, active, dynamic, aggressive and motivated spirit, her children said.
She married Mr. Omoigui on August 2, 1958 and remained faithful and truthful to her marriage and family in a world of ever increasing marital crises, combining an active working life with building a successful home.
Caring for the Elderly and the Dead
Speaking on December 28, 2016 while unveiling an ultra-modern Elderly Care Centre in Benin City built by the Dagomo Foundation Nigeria Ltd/Gte, a family-based NGO the Omoigui children established in 2008 in honour of their parent, Governor Obaseki recalled the painful death of Mrs Omoigui from injuries sustained during the robbery incident, and stated that he had mixed feelings because he never knew he was seeing her for the very last time before then.
The governor therefore called, in memory of the deceased, for a national policy for the living, the elderly and the dead, in order to accord every citizen due and proper respect, even in death, as in life.
Mr Obaseki said, “Beyond looking at ourselves, our comfort and our accomplishments, we should sit back to reflect on the elderly, the weak, the disadvantaged and the dead.
“People stop growing old when they stop pursuing their dreams. We must continue to pursue our dreams even beyond when we are here (in life) as Mama did. For us as the Government of Edo State, Dagomo Foundation is one foundation we will partner with.”
A teacher, lawyer and public servant, who successfully pursued an active private as well as philanthropic career too, Mrs Omoigui is survived, apart from her husband, by five children, their spouses and grandchildren.
The children and their spouses are: Nowamagbe and Moira Omoigui; Osemwota and Helen Omoigui; Ifueko Omoigui and Asishana Okauru; Eghosa and Eunice Omoigui; and Nosakhare Omoigui.
Mama G, a Heroine
Eulogizing her mother during the unveiling and dedication ceremony, Ifueko Okauru, a former executive chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service and executive director of Dagomo Foundation, described her mother as a heroine.
“Our dear mother, Grace Onaiwu Omoigui (aka: Mama G), in whose honour we gather here today, completely exemplifies who a heroine is,”Mrs. Okauru said.
“She lived for justice, fairness, and equity and died in the pursuit of same. Today, we honour her for the why and how she lived. Amongst many of her notable achievements was her work and passion for the elderly.”
On his part, Eghosa Omoigui, the managing director of EchoVC Partners, said he was yet to come to terms with the sudden death of his mother.
“Losing my mother was devastating,” he said. “I am always going to be a little lost without her.
“But I know that the Lord only loaned her to us for her life and I understand why he wanted her back. I pray to honour her legacy as an amazing mother, a life-long teacher, and full-time builder of people and structures.”
A Death-bed Wish
The Edo State Command of Nigeria Police Force briefed the media on Thursday in Benin City, parading some suspected criminals and weapons allegedly recovered from them.
But the Commissioner of Police, Haliru Gwandu, neither paraded nor gave any update on the killing of Mrs Omoigui.
Mrs. Omogui, 82, died days after she was shot by robbers who chased her car as she emerged from a GTBank branch on Sapele Road in Benin City before taking away the N500, 000 she had gone to withdraw.
Her family said her death-bed wish was for the police to bring those who shot her to justice.
Her children believed that is not too much to ask from a country to which their mum gave her all.