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News and Society Expression Unfold

Veteran Nduka Obaigbena’s Grand Style Burial for Mum By Keem Abdul

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When it comes to news media, there are not many who have made as much impact in Africa as Nduka Obaigbena aka The Duke

From founding This Day Newspaper in 1995 to launching Arise TV in 2013, the media mogul has contributed immensely to the media industry both in Nigeria and on a global scale. Twenty-seven years after rolling out the first edition of ThisDay Newspaper, the publishing proprietor remains at the forefront, growing the media industry, providing strong news content, creating jobs, and supporting global businesses and the creative industry among other sectors. It is no wonder that in 2021, Africa’s Highest Honour Award named him Africa’s Media Giant of the Year.

Since 2000, Obaigena has also not failed to recognize outstanding people who, much like himself, have contributed to the Nigerian society. Be it in politics and governance, education, global business and the like, the ThisDay Awards is consistently on the lookout for impact makers and pays them due diligence. The Award has recognised personalities such as Aliko Dangote, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Femi Otedola, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala amongst others. The Tony Elumelu Foundation, Central Bank of Nigeria, Guaranty Trust bank, and Globacom have also been applauded for their positive contributions to Nigeria.

Similarly, Obaigbena has proven himself as a man of great worth; from being a senate candidate to being a moderator for the World Economic Forum and Chairman of the Newspapers Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria. Given his impact and status, it came as no surprise that his mother’s burial attracted distinguished guests who came to commiserate with the Obaigbena family on the loss of a matriarch.

Princess Margaret Obaigbena was no ordinary woman. 

She was born in Enugu to Pa Paul Owakwe and Mrs Grace Osinole Usifoh, both of Owa kingdom. Little Margaret knew that she wanted to become a nurse. So passionate was she about the vocation that she proceeded to the School Of Nursing and Midwifery in Ibadan and, afterwards, Benin, to arm herself with knowledge. Over the course of her career, she went on to become a Chief Nursing Officer in the now-defunct Bendel State, and she was recognised for making numerous contributions to Nigeria’s healthcare. 

For her contribution to the health sector, Princess Obaigbena won numerous awards, including the Best Academic Nurse award presented to her in 1971 by the British High Commission. In 1972, she was named Best Practical Nurse by the military governor of the then Western Region, and she was also a special adviser to three former Delta State governors.

In addition, Princess Obaigbena was a revered community leader and Dame of the Anglican Church until her death on June 17th. She was a fearless woman who would have turned 88 on August 16th had she not passed. Nevertheless, none can deny that the amazon lived a good life. To celebrate her legacy, the Owa-Oyibu kingdom stood still for her burial from Tuesday, August 16th to Sunday, August 21st 2022. 

Despite the downpour on Friday, August 19th, dignitaries from different climes made it to her Service of Songs. Guests in attendance included Delta State Governor and PDP Vice-Presidential candidate, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, Managing Director of Access Bank, Herbert Nwigwe and former Ogun state governor, Ibikunle Amosun, amongst others. 

President Muhammadu Buhari and his wife, Aisha Buhari, also sent personally signed condolence letters to the Obaigbena family on Thursday, August 17th. The president, while stating that Princess Obaigbena’s death was a colossal loss, urged all who knew her to be comforted by her exemplary life and how she was a light bearer who served humanity. 

Other important guests who showed up at Princess Margaret Obaigbena’s burial were Governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Godwin Obaseki, Charles Chukwuma Soludo, and Dapo Abiodun amongst other governors and ex-governors. Presidential candidates of the All Progressive Congress and the Labour Party respectively, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Mr Peter Obi also graced the occasion. The Chairman of Zenith Bank, Jim Ovia, the Chairman of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote and hundreds of notable figures attended as well. 

Royalty was also not left out, as Prince Aghatise Erediauwa led a powerful procession from the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II. The Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, who described Prince Nduka Obaigbena as the greatest Nigerian he had met, was also in Owa-Oyibo to pay his condolences. The Emir described the deceased princess as a bearer of hope who left behind an unforgettable legacy.

Although the event was a solemn one, it became a beautiful celebration of the life and times of the princess. The commemorative birthday and tribute day held on August 16th allowed the matriarch’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to honour her. While her family and all who loved her shed tears at her passing, they rejoiced in the impact she made.

After the lying-in-state and service of songs on August 19th, the Christian wake followed that night at the Obiagbena’s family compound. It was indeed a night of music and celebration of an exemplary life. The funeral service was held on August 20th at the St Andrews Anglican Church, Owa-Oyibu and a private burial and reception took place afterwards. On Sunday, August 21st, the event culminated in an outing service and dedication for a life well lived; a life dedicated to kindness and service.

Flights were made available at no cost to the guests at the burial who wished to attend by that route. From Asaba airport, transportation was also available to convey them to Owa-Oyibu in Ika North-East Local Government Area, Delta state. It was indeed a historic week dedicated to celebrating a woman of great worth such as Princess Margaret Obaigbena.

She would be sorely missed by all who loved her. Yet in consolation, Prince Nduka Obaigbena and everyone who knew her would hold on to memories of the great life she led on earth.

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