By: GELE AGBAI
The ancient town of Owo in Ondo State on Saturday, November 12, 2022 witnessed an influx of top dignitaries who thronged it to bid the final farewell to the late Lady Grace Bosede Akeredolu, mother of the state governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN.
The interment of the remains of Lady Evangelist Akeredolu turned out to be a carnival of sorts as the top dignitaries with their retinue of aides as well as traditional groups, arrayed in diverse colourful uniforms from within and outside the state converged in the town to celebrate the eventful life and times of the Akeredolu matriarch.
Prominent among the dignitaries were Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo and the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Osinbajo and Tinubu attended the funeral service held at St Andrew’s Anglican Church, Imola, Owo.
Other dignitaries at the funeral service included Governors of Ogun, Prince Dapo Abiodun; Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Osun, Gboyega Oyetola, and Oyo, Engr Seyi Makinde, represented by his wife, Olufunke.
Also in attendance were former governors of Ekiti state, Dr Kayode Fayemi and wife, Erelu Bisi; Ogun, Senator Ibikunle Amosun; Ondo, Dr Olusegun Mimiko; Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare, and Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora.
Equally in attendance were Ondo State deputy Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, and wife, Oluwaseun; members of Ondo State House of Assembly led by the Speaker, Bamidele Oleyelogun; members of the State Executive Council led by the Secretary to the State Government, Princess Oladunni; Local Government Chairmen, led by the ALGON Chair, Augustine Oloruntogbe; several bishops both serving and retired; serving and retired justices; heads of security agencies in the state; Afenifere leaders including Basorun Seinde Arogbofa; DG DAWN Commission, Seye Oyeleye; members of the Bar and the Bench; captains of industry; political associates; technocrats; Chief Akin Olujimi, SAN; Chief Bisi Akande; Titi Laoye-Tomori; representatives of traditional rulers; Senator Iyiola Omisore and Chief Femi Falana, SAN.
The funeral ceremony climaxed the four-day obsequies which commenced on Wednesday, November 9 in the Owo town with the traditional Ajabue procession.
Governor Akeredolu’s immediate younger brother, Professor Wole Akeredolu and the last child of the deceased, Femi Akeredolu led the traditional procession which started from the Jacob and Grace family residence in Oke-Ogun, Owo.
Participants who were adorned in the traditional ankara attires during the procession included the state Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Engr. Ade Adetimehin; Chief of Staff, Chief Olugbenga Ale; Special Adviser to the Governor on Union Matters and Special Duties, Mr Dare Aragbaiye; Commissioner for Infrastructure, Lands and Housing, Engr. Raimi Aminu; Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Deaconess Lola Fagbemi; Special Adviser to the Governor on Transport, Tobi Ogunleye and Chairman of the Ondo State Internal Revenue Services, Mr Tolu Adegbie.
Others were Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Strategy and Special Duties, Dr. Doyin Odebowale; Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Security, Alhaji Jimoh Dojumo; Special Assistant to the Governor on Natural Resources, Lawal Fatai Olushina; Deputy Chief of Protocol, Mrs Funke Aruna; Special Assistant to the Governor on Domestic, Toyosi and Chairman of Owo local Government, Mr Samuel Adegbegi.
The rest were former Accountant General of the state, Mr Laolu Akindolire; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Pharmacist Folukemi Aladenola; Permanent Secretary, Teaching Service Commission, Mrs Tolu Adeyemi; traditional chiefs from Ipele under the auspices of Olupele in Council; APC candidate for Owo Constituency 2, Mrs Morenike Witherspoon; Asiwaju Gboyega Adefarati; member of the SUBEB board, Mr. Saka Yusuf-Ogunleye.
In his brief speech, Prof. Wole Akeredolu expressed his profound gratitude to the people of the town on behalf of the family. According to him, the large number of participants in the Ajabue dance showed the love the people have for their late mother and the family in general.
He said; “I want to sincerely appreciate Owo people for what they have done, for coming out en masse to relate with us, to follow us, to dance with us and to do everything with us concerning our mother,”.
The following day being Thursday, November 10, service of songs was held simultaneously at Jacob & Grace Chapel of All Saints Church Ido-Eruwa Road, Ibadan and St. Matthias Anglican Church, Orogun, Ibadan.
Mama Grace had lived in Ibadan, Oyo State with her husband, Rev Jacob Akeredolu, who served there as an Anglican priest. Even after her husband kicked the bucket 40 years ago, she continued to reside in Ibadan.
Governor Akeredolu led some of his siblings and other family members to hold the Service of Songs for their late mother at All Saints’ Church, Jacob and Grace Chapel, Ido in Ibadan.
At the Service of Songs held at St. Matthias Anglican Church, Orogun, Ibadan, were the First Lady, Chief Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu. She was joined by the governor’s siblings including Professor Wole Akeredolu, Pastor Kola Akeredolu, and Mrs. Toyin Akeredolu and their spouses.
The governor’s younger sister, Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon and mama’s last child, Femi Akeredolu, took the first and second Bible lessons while Governor Akeredolu’s daughter, Dr. Teniola Akeredolu, read the last lesson at the service of songs held at Jacob and Grace Chapel.
Besides admonitions given to the living by the priests, the service of songs provided the opportunity for Mama’s children and those who knew her to attest to her strength of character.
In his exhortation tilted “Finishing Well”, the Presiding Minister at Jacob and Grace Chapel of All Saints Church Ido Eruwa Road Ibadan, Very Rev. Dr. Kalu Ndukwe, extolled the footprints left behind by late Lady Evangelist Grace Bosede Akeredolu.
Ndukwe pointed out that the nonagenarian fought a good fight and finished the race well even as he lauded the deceased for her worthy services to God and humanity.
He said; “We thank God for the life Mama lived and the remarkable footprint she left behind. The testimony that we heard today was that she was prayerful. She was generous.
“This message is not for her. The books are closed and the message is for the living. It is for us to live well so that we can exit gracefully and end well. Wisdom demands that we should be prepared to finish well”.
Speaking at the service of songs at St Matthias Anglican Church, Orogun, Ibadan, the Bishop of Ibadan North Diocese, Rt. Rev Williams Aladekugbe said Mama Grace lived a life worthy of emulation.
According to him, her life challenges those alive to do good and work for God.
Bishop Aladekugbe said; “She lived a life worthy of emulation and it’s a challenge for individuals alive to do good. She evangelized as the head of four branches of the church for years and spent her personal resources for the development of those branches without complaining.
“She built a vicarage for the Archdeaconry of the church within four months. Her service to humanity and God was superb. The use of one’s talents matters. Time and resources are gifts from God and you are expected to use it maximally because you will account for all your actions and inactions”.
Governor Akeredolu’s first child, Rotimi Akeredolu Junior, described the deceased as a special woman.
He said: “Granny was a special woman. She has passed but her memory will definitely linger on. One of my first memories was Orogun. Granny was hundred percent devoted to God.
“One thing that was special about her was her generosity. She was very generous to everybody. It was painful that she passed away.”
Governor Akeredolu, who spoke on behalf of the family at the service of song at Jacob and Grace Chapel thanked the church for allowing the children to build the Jacob and Grace Chapel named after their late father and mother.
Hear him; “When we were laying the foundation stone of this chapel only few of us were there. My mum was here. We laid the foundation together. And I want to specially appreciate All Saints Church.
“Your church, my church, our church. I am proud of this church. You gave us a great honour to build this small chapel. This church was named after my mum and her late husband. For allowing us to do that, I want to thank the Church”.
Highlights of the service of songs were the observance of a minute silence and planting of a memorial tree in honour of the departed nonagenarian and her husband, Rev Akeredolu.
A commendation service for late Lady Evangelist Grace Bosede Akeredolu (JP) was held on Friday at the St Anne’s Anglican Church, Molete, Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
The expansive Church auditorium of St Anne’s, Molete, Ibadan, was filled to the brim as friends, political associates, colleagues and other dignitaries joined the Akeredolu family for the service.
In his sermon, The Lord Bishop of Ibadan Diocese, the Most Rev (Dr)Joseph Akinfenwa, expressed joy that the late Lady Evangelist Grace Bosede Akeredolu lived a fulfilled Christian life till the end.
In his sermon titled “Which is Your Choice”, he particularly congratulated the Governor and his siblings for surviving their aged mother.
The bishop equally extolled the virtues of their late father, Jacob Akeredolu, who also served as reverend in the church.
Bishop Akinfenwa told Governor Akeredolu and his siblings that their father and mother have passed the baton of faith to them, adding that they must be ready to take over from where their parents stopped.
In fact, Bishop Akinfenwa enjoined one of the children to be ready to attend the seminary irrespective of age and grey hairs in order to step into their late father’s shoe as a priest in the Anglican Church.
He paid glowing tributes to both Rev Jacob and Lady Evangelist Grace Akeredolu, describing them as a man and woman of good characters who loved, feared and served the Lord and humanity in their lifetime.
“She was a Lady Evangelist and that means a lot. She served the Lord to the end,” the Bishop stressed.
Another service of songs was held at 4:00pm on Friday, November 11 at St Andrew’s Church, Imola Street, Owo followed by a wake keep at the deceased’s residence in Owo.
In his sermon, the Archbishop of Ondo Province and Bishop of Akure Diocese of Anglican Communion, Most Rev (Dr.) Simeon Borokini described late Lady Evangelist Grace Bosede Akeredolu as a child of grace who served God till the end.
He said the children should be comforted and consoled with the fact that Mama has gone to heaven, the home of the righteous.
The Archbishop explained that God has prepared heaven for the departed soul, even as he described Heaven as a prepared place of worship for the righteous.
He said; “Heaven is the future hope of the believers. Heaven is a place of holiness, a place of glory. Heaven is a place of worship, heaven is a place of eternity”.
He equally congratulated the children led by the Chancellor of the church, Governor Akeredolu for surviving their mother.
Both Mrs Abigail Adewole and a daughter-in-law, Justice Alero Akeredolu testified to Mama’s sterling qualities. They described her as a very humble, prayerful, loving and hardworking woman.
Mama Akeredolu was also a faithful, dedicated, prudent, and a caring mother, they enthused.
Both Osinbajo and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu also had kind words about Mama. In their separate tributes during the funeral service,
They described late Lady Evangelist Grace Akeredolu as a true Christian who lived a life worthy of emulation and celebration. Osinbajo said the late Grace Akeredolu lived a good life of service to God and mankind.
He also congratulated Governor Akeredolu and his siblings for surviving their aged mother.
Tinubu equally rejoiced with the children of the deceased for surviving their aged mother, and prayed God to continue to comfort them.
In his sermon during the funeral, the Bishop of Owo Anglican Diocese, Dr. Stephen Fagbemi, said God was merciful and gracious to late Mama Grace throughout her lifetime. He also extolled the governor and his siblings for taking good care of Mama while she was still alive.
Governor Akeredolu, who spoke on behalf of the family, expressed gratitude to everyone at the funeral service. He particularly thanked Prof Yemi Osinbajo, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, South West governors and other dignitaries for honouring them with their presence.
The funeral service over, the corpse was interred.
Guests thereafter moved to the Mydas Hotel and Resort, Ikare Road Owo where the reception held. The facility was a beehive as people from all walks of live thronged the place.
Three live bands were at the stands to entertain guests. Adunni, who entertained guests at the tent of the First Lady, Chief Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu was a delight to listen to. She gyrated and sang songs which enthralled and entrapped all including the first lady to the dance floor.
Speaking at the reception, the First lady also thanked all the guests for honouring the Akeredolu family with their presence at all the events that climaxed with the interment.
She particularly thanked groups like BRECAN, Ezumezu Women, Ohanaeze, Emebiam people, BEMORE, Sunshine Non-Indigenes and FOWOSO.
Late Lady Evangelist Grace Bosede Akeredolu died on September 15 at the age of 90 years. She indeed lived a fulfilled and righteous life. She was also truly a hardworking woman. Her husband died 40 years ago when her first son, Governor Akeredolu was just 27 and her other children were even younger. She persevered and trained all of them. Some women in her shoes would have buckled and given up.
With God being on her side owing to her abiding faith, prayers and work of righteousness, all her seven children namely Gov Akeredolu, Prof. Wole Akeredolu, Pastor Kola Akeredolu, Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon, Femi Akeredolu and Dupe are today responsible and respected in the society.
The grace of God was sufficient for Lady Evangelist Grace Bosede Akeredolu and she bowed out gracefully too.