Top citizens of Bayelsa State have joined the state governor, Senator Douye Diri, to mourn with a former president of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, as he buries the uncle, Elder Omieworio Afeni.
At the ceremony, Diri was full of thanks to the Ijaw leaders and prominent sons of the state for turning out for the burial as a show of respect for Jonathan.
As a further sign of respect, Diri ordered the immediate renovation of the Otuoke pavilion, which is named after Jonathan’s wife, Patience.
Diri said the state’s development should not be hinged on politics alone but ought to also entail how the people collectively tackled issues of common interests.
He described the former president as a father and service-oriented leader, who has made indelible mark in the political history of not only Nigeria but also in Africa and beyond.
While condoling with the bereaved Afeni family, he noted that the passage of any individual should teach people how to number their days and live upright life.
“On behalf of the government and people of the state, we condole with Dr Jonathan and the entire Afeni family as well as the Otuoke community. We pray God to grant the family the fortitude to bear this loss,” he said.
Diri at the occasion directed the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure to immediately undertake the renovation of the Dame Patience Jonathan Pavilion in Otuoke.
In a sermon, His Grace, Most Rev. Blessing Enyindah, who is the Archbishop, of the Niger Delta Province as well as Bishop, Diocese of Ikwerre and Supervising Bishop, Diocese of Ogbia, said at age 87, Elder Afeni lived a fulfilled life.
Dr. Enyindah said judging from the octogenarian’s biography, he recorded a lot of achievements and urged the family to be comforted in the Lord.
He admonished the congregation to be steadfast and trust in the Lord as He would not abandon them.
Responding, the former president, Dr Jonathan, expressed gratitude to Senator Diri, his entourage as well as the clergy and other well wishers who identified with him and the Afeni family in their moment of grief.
The former president described the late Afeni as a disciplinarian and caring uncle, who was instrumental to his completing primary education.
Dignitaries at the funeral service include wife of the governor, Dr Gloria Diri, Deputy Governor Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, former Bayelsa governor, Senator Seriake Dickson, House of Reps member, Prof. Steve Azaiki, Speaker of the Bayelsa House of Assembly, Abraham Ingobere, other state lawmakers as well as members of the state executive council.
Others in attendance were the Acting Chief Judge of the state, Justice Matilda Abrakasa, Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Samuel Ogbuku, one of his predecessors, Chief Timi Alaibe as well as president of the Ijaw National Congress, Prof. Benjamin Okaba among other dignitaries and clergymen.