July 2020 remains a notable month for the families of not less than thirteen prominent Nigerians who vanished into the cold hands of death. Within those 31 days of the month, Nigeria lost its first female combatant helicopter pilot, Tolulope Arotile; an associate of President Muhammadu Buhari, Isa Funtua; and two former ministers, Sam Momah and Abdulganiyu AbdulRazaq.
Others are state officials, journalists and party chieftains.
While some of them died of COVID-19, some died of undisclosed ailments, while the cause of some cannot be ascertained. Only Ms Arotile was involved in an accident that claimed her life. This paper, however, reviews the profile of these prominent people and the circumstances surrounding their demise
Chief of Staff to Borno Governor
Babagana Wakil, the chief of staff to Borno State governor, Babagana Zulum, died on July 1. The Guardian gathered that the death might not be unconnected with high blood pressure and ulcer, which he had been managing for some time.
The last official engagement of the late Wakil was on June 1, 2020, when he represented Zulum at the foundation-laying ceremony of Army Referral Hospital.
Ondo health Commissioner
The commissioner for health in Ondo State, Wahab Adegbenro, died on July 2. Multiple sources in the government house told our reporter that Mr Adegbenro died at the state’s infectious disease hospital on Thursday. The late health commissioner was born on June 5, 1955 at Ilara-mokin in Ifedore Local Government Area of Ondo State where he had his primary education.
He later attended Oyemekun Grammar School, Akure between 1962 and 1967, before proceeding to the University of Benin, in Edo to bag Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (M.B; B.S).
He was a member of the Nigeria Medical Association; member of the Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria; Associate member, Royal College of General Practitioners of London; and member of Nigeria Guild of Medical Directors.
APC former Chieftain
On July 6, a former national vice-chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Inuwa Abdulkadir, died. This paper learnt that he died at Usman Danfodiyo University Teaching Hospital, Sokoto in the early hours of Monday after a brief illness.
The 54-year-old was a member of the National Working Committee of the APC that was recently dissolved by the party’s National Executive Council. He was from Sokoto State and was an Attorney-General and Commissioner For Justice in Sokoto State during the administration of Aliyu Wammako.
Mr Abdulkadir was also the Chairman and Pro-chancellor of Sokoto State University before his demise.
Chief of Staff to Kwara Governor
Aminu Adisa Logun, the chief of staff to Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq of Kwara died of COVID-19 on July 7.Mr Logun was a pioneer industrialist in Ilorin and an alumnus of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) Kuru, Jos. He hailed from Ilorin, the state capital.
He was chairman of the 80-member Kwara State Transition Committee appointed by Governor AbdulRazaq before his inauguration last year. An alumnus of Barewa College, Zaria, Mr Logun attended King’s College, Lagos and earned a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Loughborough University of Technology and a Master’s of Science (M.Sc.) from Birmingham University, both in the United Kingdom.
He worked at various times in Lever Brothers, Port Sunlight, UK; Cerekem Arhus, Denmark; North Brewery Limited Kano; Ajaokuta Steel Company; and Nigeria Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe. He was also a General Manager at the New Nigeria Development Company.
On July 10, the lawmaker representing Kosofe Constituency 1 at the Lagos State House of Assembly, Tunde Braimoh, died after a brief illness. Until his death, Mr Braimoh was an active member of the state’s parliament and the chairman of its committee on information.
Mr Braimoh was from the same senatorial district as a late senator, Bayo Osinowo, who represented Lagos East Senatorial District until his death in June.
First female combatant helicopter pilot
The Nigeria Air Force (NAF), on July 15, announced the death of Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, Nigeria’s first female combatant helicopter pilot. Ms Arotile died as a result of head injuries sustained from a road accident at its base in Kaduna.
According to the report of an investigative panel, the 24 years old was hit by her former classmate. According to NAF, Ms Arotile was commissioned into the NAF in September 2017 as a member of Nigeria Defense Academy (NDA) RC 64.
Late Arotile contributed significantly to the efforts to rid the North Central States of armed bandits and other criminal elements by flying several combat missions under Operation GAMA AIKI in Minna, Niger State, NAF said.
A close associate of President Muhammadu Buhari and Second Republic minister, Ismaila Isa-Funtua, died on July 20. Mr Isa-Funtua died while keeping a doctor’s appointment, according to family sources. He is suspected to have died of cardiac arrest as he was not known to be seriously sick. The Katsina-born newspaper publisher and industrialist was a minister under the civilian administration of Shehu Shagari.
A member of the 1994-1995 Constitutional Conference, he was also the founder of Bullet International Nigeria Limited, which built some of the iconic public buildings in Abuja.
Max FM presenter
On July 24, a popular Max FM Lagos radio presenter, Emmanuella Pobeni Adepoju, died after a brief illness. According to the management of TVC Communications, owners of TVC, TVC News and Max FM Lagos and Abuja, Iya Jogbo died after a brief illness from bronchitis and an enlarged heart.
Iya Jogbo as she’s popularly called, ventured into broadcasting in 1995, whilst on an internship at Radio Lagos by reading the news and presenting Radio Lagos Global Focus. She was also an accomplished voice-over artist whose career began at the defunct Clapperboard. She presented the ‘Shoppers Guide’ in English and Yoruba (Karakata).
Former minister and Kwara Governor’s dad
Ganiyu Folorunsho AbdulRazaq, the father of the incumbent governor of Kwara State, AbdulRahman Abdulrazaq, died on July 25. Mr AbdulRazaq, a former minister in charge of railways in the First Republic, passed on in Abuja at age 93.
The Mutawali of Ilorin and Tafida of Zazzau (Zaria), was Chairman of the Nigerian Body of Benchers and believed to be the first lawyer from Northern Nigeria. He is survived by his 90-year-old wife, Raliat AbdulRazaq, children and grandchildren.
The Chairman of the Interim Caretaker Committee of the ruling-Peoples Democratic Party in Abia State, Johnson Onuigbo, died on July 28. A member of the family told journalists on Tuesday that Mr Onuigbo died on Monday evening at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Umuahia.
Former Minister of Science and Technology
Former Minister of Science and Technology, Sam Momah, died on July 29 after suffering from diabetes complications. The ex-official celebrated his 77th birthday on July 6, launching his 13th book which he titled: “Restructuring to save Nigeria from post-oil disintegration.”
The one- time Adjutant General and Commander, Training and Doctrine Command was also the pioneer Director of the National War College. He played strategic roles in enhancing Nigeria’s educational system as Director of National War College, member of the Governing Council of the University of Jos, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, and Fellow, Akanu Ibiam Federal Polytechnic, Uwana.
Ayorinde Fasanmi, Afenifere leader, died on July 30 after a brief illness. POLITICS NIGERIA learnt that Mr Fasanmi, a member of the House of Representatives in the First Republic and senator in the Second Republic, died at the age of 94. He served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Old Western Nigeria Housing Corporation in the old western region.
He was National President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria in 1977, and Senator between 1979 and 1983. He was earlier elected to the House of Representatives in 1954. He also served with the National Constitutional Conference Commission in 1994, as a member. During the fourth Republic, Mr Fasanmi served as the National Vice Chairman (South-West) of the Alliance for Democracy.
On July 30, a broadcaster and founder of Cowrie FM Radio Station, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Willy Thomas, died of a sudden health crisis. His death was confirmed by the former President of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lanre Ogundipe.
The deceased, who worked at the Ogun State Broadcasting Corporation as a DJ/Producer, and later with Radio Germany, was said to have died while being rushed to the hospital, following a sudden health challenge. Mr Thomas returned from Germany some years ago to establish a community radio station, Cowrie FM, in Ogun State. He was said to be in his 70’s.
May the souls of the departed find rest.