Edo state was consumed with grief on Friday as the body of the late Vice Admiral Mike Akhigbe, who died in New York on October 28 at the age of 67, was returned home for burial.
The body of Akhigbe arrived at his country home in Fugar, Estako Central local government area of Edo State and residents, including school children, market women, and commercial motorcyclists lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the hearse conveying his casket.
The motorcade stopped briefly at the Akhigbe family house where relations and sympathisers wept profusely.
Thereafter, Akhigbe’s remains were taken to his private residence for lying in state and service of song.
Governor Adams Oshiomhole has described the late Vice Admiral as “a quintessential military officer who even as a military man recognised that power belonged to the people.”
Oshiomhole recalled that the deceased and the then head of state, Abdusallam Abubakar, repealed some obnoxious decrees enacted by the late General Sani Abacha.
The governor noted that the repeal of one of the decrees made him eligible to contest the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC election.
“Anyone who had the opportunity to interact with our late brother closely, will know that he will live forever wherever he is today. The story of my journey to Edo State Government will not be complete if not for the contribution of this truthful man, a complete gentleman,” the governor said.
“Admiral Akhigbe during while he was Chief of General Staff during the administration of General Abdulsalami Abubakar, repealed the decrees which forbid people like us then from contesting the position of the NLC President…He did not do that because we came from the same area but because that administration respected human rights, and it was the freedom they created that led to the democracy we started enjoying in 1999,” Oshiomhole added.
He advised the children to of the late Vice Admiral to exhibit the values inculcated in them by their father, who was always ready to render selfless service to the nation and humanity.
A requiem mass officiated by the chaplain of the Edo Government House Chapel, Andrew Obinnya, was held for the deceased at the Government House chapel.
Similarly, former Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida, in an eulogy termed “Akhigbe: Death, A Thief Forever” said he still could not absorb the shocking news and thus was short of words to convey his heartfelt condolence to his family and the nation.
He said Akhigbe was an extra-ordinary officer amongst his compatriots and will be sorely missed, not only by the Nigerian military but every Nigerian who understands and appreciates the capacity of the human intellect to contend with situations.
“There are too many anecdotes to recall about Mike Okhai Akhigbe, which I would have loved to share with our fellow country men and women, but my mood even as I write this, is forlorn” he said.