If tributes could wake the dead, Ekiti State Deputy Governor, Mrs Funmilayo Olayinka, would have come back to life Thursday. One after the other, dignitaries took their turns to pay their last respects to a woman who had contributed immensely to the development of the state.
Leading the pack of the mourners were her children who described her as a disciplinarian who ensured that she brought them up in a good Christian way.
The children, who spoke through their eldest sister, Olamide, lamented that what they would miss most was the ritual of their mother anointing them with oil early in the morning before they go to school.
They spoke at one of the commendation sessions held in the late Olayinka’s honour in Ado Ekiti as part of the rites of passage for the late deputy governor who died on April 6 in a Lagos hospital from cancer of the breast.
Among the funeral activities in her honour yesterday were a special session of the state executive council, a special session of the state House of Assembly, as well as lying in state at the Olukayode Stadium, Ado-Ekiti.
Olamide described their mother as one in a million and a caring person who could go the extra mile to help the needy.
She narrated how their mother used every opportunity available to her to ensure that they were brought up in a Christian way.
“We remembered how our mother strove to ensure that we were brought up in a Christian way. She used to anoint us every morning before going to school and sought God’s guidance and protection for us on daily basis.
“Our mother was amazingly intelligent. She believed that she could walk through the sea in solving problems with the intention that she would not get drowned.
“She was compassionate, loving, caring and had ready-made answers to all knotty situations, especially when we have any challenge. We will sorely miss her,” she said.
According to her, with her death, they have taken solace in the fact that she lived a worthy life, having touched the lives of many people in a positive way.
Earlier, during the special session of the state executive council, the Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who chaired the council, once again betrayed emotions as he fought hard to hold back tears while delivering his speech.
At a time, the governor and the Chief of Staff, Mr Yemi Adaramodu, had to end their speeches abruptly, when they were overwhelmed by emotions.
At yesterday’s sitting, all the members of the council, consisting mainly of commissioners and special advisers, commended the virtues of the late deputy governor.
Those who graced the special session included Fayemi’s wife, Bisi; the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Adewale Omirin; Chief Judge of Ekiti State, Justice Ayodeji Daramola; Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Ganiyu Owolabi; Head of Service, Mr. Bunmi Famosaya; Senator Babafemi Ojudu and a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Bimbo Daramola.
Others were the Catholic Bishop of Ekiti, Bishop Felix Ajakaye; Chief Imam and President, League of Imams and Alfas in Ekiti, Alhaji Jamiu Kewulere; members of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), traditional rulers and party chieftains including Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) Chairman in the state, Chief Jide Awe.
Fayemi, in another speech delivered at the special session and lying-in-state at the stadium, branded the late Olayinka as a reliable partner in the struggle for the emancipation of Ekiti people from the claws of poverty.
The main bowl of the stadium was filled to the brim as people from all walks of lives were in attendance to add glamour to the ceremony. The widower, Mr. Lanre Olayinka, and his children — Ololade, Yeside and Olamide — were also in attendance.
Fayemi said the late deputy governor was a dependable ally and a change agent who served the state with courage, integrity and compassion.
“We gather here today to celebrate the life of our great icon, Olayinka, who was snatched from us on April 6, 2013,” he said.
The governor, who described his late deputy as a co-pilot, dependable ally, strong pillar, epitome of beauty, woman of excellence and a virtuous mother, said the lesson he learnt from her was that she never lost hope.
He lauded her for her no-nonsense attitude, which sometimes angered some people, adding that her interest was to ensure that the administration keep to the promise made to the people.
Fayemi vowed that his administration would not relent until it has reduced poverty in the state.
Praying to God to grant the family the fortitude to bear the loss, Fayemi added that, “I know it will be crossing the minds of my brother, Architect Olayinka and the children that Mrs Olayinka would still have been alive if she had not come to serve in Ekiti. It used to cross my mind as well, but God knows better.”
In her tribute, Fayemi’s wife said: “I solemnly pledge before you today that henceforth, your children would be mine, your husband, my brother and your parents, my parents till the end.”
She said the death of Olayinka had further imbued her with the determination to intensify awareness campaign among the people of the state on cancer and to find ways to reduce the scourge among the populace.