The final farewell to the late Chairman of PUNCH Nigeria Limited, Mr. Gbadebowale Aboderin, who was buried in Ikoyi, Lagos on Friday was witnessed by Nigerians from different segments of the society.
Many of the attendees, who defied an early morning rain in parts of the city to be part of the occasion, had words of praise and commendation for the late sports enthusiast that died on May 30, 2018 at the age of 60.
Leading the wave of tributes, the Governor of Oyo State, Mr. Abiola Ajimobi, while eulogising the departed media icon, admonished Nigerians to imbibe the humility and selfless acts of the deceased whom he described as “a great humanist”. The governor said, “Gbadebowale Aboderin lived a good and accomplished life. Though he died early, he achieved a lot and touched many lives within that short period.
“The best way for us to remember him is to continue to serve humanity just like he did. He served humanity without making noise. Gbadebowale left a good name and legacy behind.
“I encourage the family to take solace in the fact that he lived an accomplished life and I pray that all he stood for will continue to be enhanced by those he left behind.”
Also paying glowing tribute to the late Aboderin, a former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Femi Pedro, said the deceased led a life worthy of emulation, noting that his footprints would never be erased.
Pedro, who represented a former governor of Lagos State and National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, at the event, said, “Aboderin made so much impact in his 60 years on earth by touching many lives.
“He lived an exemplary life, even though relatively short. But he left his footprints. He was a great philanthropist. He was very jovial, loving and we just thank God for the life he lived. His name can never be forgotten.”
In his own remarks, veteran journalist, Mr. Ray Ekpu, while commending the late Aboderin for building the PUNCH brand to an enviable level, said that the world would remember him most for his philanthropic acts.
He said, “At 60, he still had many years to contribute to societal development. But the most important thing is that he left a worthwhile legacy. He was a quiet philanthropist. He did things for a lot of people and didn’t shout about them.
“Immediately he took over the leadership of PUNCH, he transformed and positioned the company to an admirable height. The best way his memories can be kept alive is for the company to continue to do well as he would have wished if he were alive.”
Calling for a monument or foundation to be put up in honour of late Aboderin, the Managing Director of ThisDay, Mr. Eniola Bello, said that the entire media industry would miss the deceased whom he described as a calm and nice man.
He said, “He was a strong voice in the media, it is sad that he didn’t stay much longer with us. The industry will miss him and even the society.
“I wish that there would be a foundation established in his honour just to keep his memories alive.”
A former star of the United States National Basketball Association, Olumide Oyedeji, while describing Aboderin as a strong pillar of sports in Nigeria and Africa, said the basketball community would not allow his vision for the game to die.
According to him, the deceased deserves to be celebrated in every way possible.
Oyedeji said, “His death is a terrible loss to the basketball family. He gave his all to basketball; he lived basketball, talked basketball and dreamt basketball.
He said the late Aboderin would be greatly missed by Nigerians and Africans.
The head of the Aboderin family, Mr. Olutunde Aboderin, said that in their hearts, the sports enthusiast would continue to live despite departing the world.
He said, “Though Gbadebowale died at 60, he did not die in vain. Some people could live to about 100 years and wouldn’t have done a quarter of what he did in his lifetime for humanity. Though his death is painful, we would continue to thank God for the life he lived.
“We would remember him for being a good man who lived his life making others happy. Though he may have left this world, he will continue to live in our hearts.”
The late Aboderin’s final journey home began as early as 8:00am on Friday at his residence at Mangoro, Lagos, where his body was laid for family members and well-wishers to pay their last respect.
Shortly afterwards, the long procession moved from there to the Archbishop Vining Memorial Church Cathedral, Ikeja, where a well-attended service was held in his honour.
Charging Nigerians to always live Godly lives, Canon Residentiary, Diocese of Lagos West, Anglican Communion, Venerable Festus Olowosile, while delivering the funeral sermon, said that mortals must always remember that death is inevitable and must therefore show kindness always.
The fiery cleric, whose teaching touched on some of the core values upon which the late Aboderin lived his life – humility, sacrifice and love – called on family members not to cry but take solace in the word of God and the fact that there is a better life after death in Jesus Christ.
He said, “Whether we like it or not, death will come. It can come anytime and anywhere because it has no respect for age, stature, wealth, popularity or status.
“The life we have today is borrowed and the world we are in is borrowed and the lender (God) would definitely request for it one day. But there is only one way to recover that life and it is to have Jesus as Lord and Saviour.”
Accompanied by light but touching music from a band of trumpeters, the teary-eyed procession sang a few hymns as the closing act of Aboderin’s glorious walk home was performed.
Amidst a flurry of brief but moving remarks, the late media icon, at about 11:00am, was lowered to earth – his final resting place.