Posted by News Express | 7 March 2016 | 3,501 times
A wide spectrum of Nigerian groups and individuals have continued to express shock over the death, yesterday, of Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Barrister James Ocholi (SAN), together with his wife and eldest son in a car accident along Kaduna-Abuja Expressway while on their way back from a church service in Kaduna.
President Muhammadu Buhari led the mourning. In a statement yesterday by his Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity) Garba Shehu, Buhari expressed shock and sadness at the deaths. He described Ocholi’s death as untimely, regretting that Nigeria has lost a key component of the CHANGE agenda.
“Barrister Ocholi was an accomplished and patriotic Nigerian, who was keen to accept the call to service at a time his country needed him,” President Buhari said, adding that in the few months he had been in office, the late minister of state had already begun to distinguish himself through his commitment and dedication to his portfolio.
The late Ocholi has had a long record of political association with President Buhari.
President Buhari also consoled with the government and people of Kogi State, whom he described as having lost a distinguished and irreplaceable son. He prayed that God would comfort them and grant them the grace to bear the loss.
“The entire country mourns the loss of this great man, who has sadly left us when we need him most,” he said.
President Buhari has also sent the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engineer David Babachir, to formally convey the news to members of the deceased family as well as parishioners in his place of worship.
Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, this morning expressed deep shock and disbelief over the demise of Chief Ocholi, his wife and eldest son.
Saraki in a statement signed by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, in Abuja, described the tragic death of such a “promising Nigerian” like the late minister as a colossal loss to the present administration in particular and the country at large.
He condoled President Muhammadu Buhari, members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), the Governor and people of Kogi State, leaders and people of North Central zone and the immediate family of the deceased over the unfortunate incident.
Saraki said: “I still recall when the late Ocholi appeared before the Senate to be screened and confirmed as Minister a few months ago. He was not only full of life, he came across to me as a man of great ideas and accomplishments.
“He was very articulate and brilliant in his presentation and gave good account of himself as Senior Advocate of repute, who given the chance to discharge the duty assigned to him, would have contributed immensely in turning around the story of unemployment in this country.
“His death and that of his wife and eldest son, is a colossal loss to me, his immediate family, the people and government of Kogi State, the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the entire country.”
He urged Nigerians, especially his immediate family, to be comforted by the fact that Ocholi breathed his last while on acting service for his father land.
The news of Ocholi’s death with his wife and son devastated his immediate boss, Senator Chris Ngige, the Minister for Labour and Employment. He immediately poured out his heart on his Facebook wall, writing: “Rudely shocking but true! The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Chief James Ocholi SAN is dead. Am short of words, overwhelmed by shock.
An industrious servant of our dear nation is gone. In him, the Ministry of labour and Employment, lost such an invaluable intellectual. Personally, I lost a competent colleague and a friend. What a vanity this life is! What an emptiness, what a nothingness we are! I pray that God Almighty, Himself, the author of all creation gives eternal rest to Ocholi, his wife and son. What a sad day!”
Shortly after confirming the sad new, President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Augustine Alegeh (SAN), said in a terse statement: “It is a sad and shocking news. It is unbelievable. James was a devout Christian, a consummate bar man whose knowledge of law stood tall. He was modest, unassuming but very clear headed and efficient in the discharge of his duties. He contributed immensely to the development of the bar. This is a very sad and painful loss to the entire bar. We pray for the safe recovery of his wife and others involved in the accident.” Unfortunately, Mrs. Fatima Ocholi died later in the day in a Kaduna hospital.
A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and emerging godfather of Kogi State politics, Senator Dino Melaye, was one of the last people to discuss with the late minister of state.
Speaking with journalists on Sunday night at the premises of the National Hospital, Abuja where the corpses of the deceased were deposited, Melaye (APC, Kogi West), who is the chairman, Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory, said Ocholi’s death has left a big vacuum in Nigeria.
He said: “I am shocked, I am still in shock and in pains. I spoke with him this morning and we agreed that we were going to have a chat when he comes back from Kaduna. We have lost somebody, we have lost a great Nigerian, we have lost an intellectual and lawyer. We have lost a great Kogite. I am shocked.
“His death is a major setback for Nigeria because the intellectual sagacity and contribution of Ocholi cannot be quantified. It is painful. When we spoke, we discussed issues that relate to the development of Kogi State.
“We discussed issues that relate to the socio-economic development of our state. We discussed issues relating to the political development of Kogi State. It is unfortunate that we have lost a great son and Nigerian.”
•Photo shows sympathisers at the scene of the accident that claimed the life of Minister Ocholi, wife and son on Sunday.
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