OrderPaperToday– The Senate on Wednesday held a valedictory for the late Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu (APC, Imo North).
Uwajumogu died December 18, 2019 after he slumped in the bathroom in his Abuja residence.
Both federal chambers had yesterday suspended their legislative activities to honour the late lawmaker.
The valedictory session, where senators took turns to talk about the deceased, signaled the beginning of his burial rites.
Abaribe: ‘He never shook the table like I do’
Minority leader, Eyinnaya Abaribe,described Uwajumogu as a “soft-spoken” person who “never shook tables” like him.
He recalled when he once teased him (Uwajumogu) about his protruding belly.
Abaribe said, “We were all here, he sat over there. He walked into the tea room and we were even joking. I joked between him and Senator Aduda to say whose stomach was bigger but alas, that is how the thing that we call life is.
“So today, when we talk about ‘Benji’, that’s what I called him, because I met him in Umuahia, he affected life. He was a big man with a big heart. He was very accommodating. He carried everyone, even the younger generation, and they saw him as an icon to look up to. He was very soft-spoken even in the midst of problem, he will answer you with very few words and you will calm down.
“He never shook the table like I do, maybe it is because I am small. Benji was such a great man. We will miss him.”
Omo-Agege: ‘We were rebels’
Deputy Senate president, Ovie Omo-Agege, narrated how the deceased supported him when he was suspended by the 8th Senate over electoral amendment.
Omo-Agege said: “Big Ben and I, we had almost identical political trajectory. We both came in the 8th Senate after so much litigations and the moment we got in here, we bonded like brothers. We did everything together. We shared so much in common.
“I will recall the major one. Everybody knows what happened in the 8th Senate. Call us rebels if you like, in the 8th Senate, Big Ben and I, we played very critical roles in our committee on INEC over the E Act. It is no longer news that just as we were about to triumphantly claim victory, that we had concluded on what we thought will positively impact on the electoral process, we were thrown a curve ball with the introduction of a section in the amended Electoral Act that would have altered the sequence of elections.
“Some of us were very opposed to that and we didn’t hesitate in stating our vehemence against that proposed section of the amendment. Senator Ben Uwajumogu was my compatriot in that enterprise, if you like to call it rebellion.
“What stuck the most was when I was threatened with suspension from this hallowed chamber, Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu, our leader, the Senate leader now, a lot of our leaders in the Senate at the time they took a position that even if they were threatened with suspension, if Senator Omo-Agege were to be suspended, they also would want to be suspended. They put their careers in the Senate on the line in defense of one of their own, that was a man Benjamin Uwajumogu was.”
Ekweremadu: Some compatriots already after Uwajumogu’s seat
The immediate past Deputy Senate president, Ike Ekweremadu has advised “compatriots” after the seat of the deceased to wait till he is buried.
“Even as the body of late Benjamin Uwajumogu is lying out there, some of our compatriots are already struggling to take over his seat. My advice is let us mourn, honour and bury him then we can express our ambitions. But that tells you the vanity of life.”
Ekweremadu urged his colleagues to do their best and live a legacy while they are alive.
“This is my 17th year and I have had unfortunate experiences of paying tributes to our colleagues in active service.
“Those of us who are survivors today, we definitely will be victims tomorrow. People will hate or like you, in spite of all these, try to do your best because it is what you have done that you will remembered ” he added.
Abbo: Uwajumogu advised me during my ‘trial moments’
Senator Elisha Abbo recounted when Uwajumogu helped and advised him when he was dealing with a ‘personal problem.’
He said, “When I had a personal problem sometimes ago, there was a number calling me consistently. I thought it was one of the numbers calling me from home to know how I was doing. I picked and the person said, ‘My name is Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu, can we please talk?’ We met and he encouraged me.
“The other time I was leaving the chambers, Senator Adetunmbi and he said I want to pray for you. Senator Ben was by the side and he dragged me to a corner, he said, “You see young man, God is preparing you, God is going to use you greatly, be focused.’ That sank deep into my heart.
“The third time, he saw me discussing with Senator Peter Nwaoboshi and he crossed over again and he said, “how are you doing?” I was thinking is this man always looking after me? He was always getting personal with people. He is not dead, he is sleeping. He will wake up tomorrow as we will all meet at the other side of River Jordan.”
Lawan: Uwajumogu loved unity
Senate president, Ahmad Lawan, said the late denator lived and died for his people.
Lawan said, “His loss is a loss to all of us. He gave a very good account of himself as a human being; calm, cool and calculated.
“Ben was something else. When there was crisis, he would preach that we should unite and that we are one as a Senate. He remained the same person up to the last day he contributed to his last debate which has been referred by our colleagues.
“In that debate, he urged the government to stand up for her citizens whereever they may live.
“As a politician, he had a very good trajectory, having served as a speaker in Imo State. Ben was not someone that was controversial. He was always straight to the point, no controversy but deep.
“He has left but he has left something for us – humanity. There is nothing more important for us than working for Nigeria.”