This emotive tribute by Olori Atuwatse III, the Queen of Warri Kingdom, and first child of billionaire business magnate and philanthropist, Captain Idahosa Wells Okunbo at his Funeral Service on Friday October 8, 2021, in Benin City, Edo State, will blow your mind. She declares on behalf of her siblings that:
“We Will Strengthen Our Father’s Legacy”
Good morning ladies and gentlemen. First and foremost, I want to thank everyone for being here as we honour my dad and lay him to rest today, Captain Idahosa Wells Okunbo. I want to thank you for your love, your support; it has been tremendous for my siblings and I, my step-mum, aunty Nosa, and just the rest of the family. I want to say thank you very much.
It is humbling to see this room filled with so many people who knew and cared for my father. I would like to specially thank my loving and caring husband, Ogiame Atuwatse III, for his tremendous support for me in this most difficult time of my life. I want to thank my people, the chiefs and all the Itsekiri people here represented. Aghan Dede Mo Kin o! Thank you so much. To all that have attended today, I say thank you. As you have honored my father, you also will be honoured.
I want to share a story about my father that I actually shared at the service of songs in London. I want to share it here today because I find that it was a very significant and interesting story. On my last trip to London just before my father passed to see him, I travelled through the Abuja airport as I had travelled many times. However, on that particular trip, it was very different. It was like as the protocol officers introduced me as Captain’s child, the face of all the people in the airport lit up. They were so full of joy; they were happy and they shared stories, every single person, from people at the checking desk, to immigration, just everywhere around the airport – and the stories were one of your father helped me. We’ve seen this through the week; we’ve seen so many testimonies of daddy’s love and intentionality with people. Even at an airport, a place that is for transiting, he was intentional enough to impact the people around him. Oftentimes, we who travel through the airport are so busy to just get to our next destination that we are not so particular about engaging with people.
But as I heard the testimonies of these people my father helped, my father uplifted whether by paying school fees, or it was just giving a listening ear, I was reminded almost of the analogy that life is. They say that life is a transiting point, with heaven being our final destination. And Captain shared this even in life. He wasn’t too busy to impact people. He wasn’t too busy no matter the height he got to, to touch lives. And to me, this is what embodies the greatest of virtues – Service.
Christ’s words said he who is the greatest amongst you shall be your servant. My father was a great man; he lived in service to humanity. My father was my hero long before I understood what public power and impact of his life had. I grew up watching him make choices to dissolve the walls of impossibilities and other things, and hardships that he faced. Captain Hosa worked in purpose; and in doing so, he encouraged others to find their path. Everything he was, he taught us to be. I cherish memories of my father leaving important things to attend to his children whenever we needed him. His family always came first and everyone who knew him can testify of this.
To us, daddy’s love was a safe haven; one firm enough to see us through tough times, yet soft enough, and tender enough when we needed the warmth that only his love can give. He loved us all so genuinely, so intentionally that if you were to ask all of us individually who his favourite was, we would all say that we were. But for the purpose of this eulogy, I’m going to take that title and say that I was his favourite.
As we grew older and carved our paths for ourselves, he kept tables on all of us. He never stopped being an incredible father. He was a delight to see his grandchildren; how his grandchildren brought joy into his life. I remember when my first child was born and I brought her to see him and the joy in his face; he was dancing and singing Ghomo, ghomo ghomo. It was just so powerful, and he did that with all his grandchildren. No matter how busy he got, he was such a great father.
Seeing my father trust God this past year through the toughest fight of his life, taught me something. It has taught me how to trust God through the most difficult times. And so today, I stand here before you, not unaware of the vacuum that he has left; not unaware of the fear of the future that we feel, but still hopeful that the God who kept him and took him in His time, will keep us.
Through the week, listening to many tributes, I have been overwhelmed with all as I reflect upon his impact and his legacy. My pain is assuaged by the confidence that even as we mourn his passing, daddy is dancing and praising God with angels and the 24 elders in heaven. My father had innumerable children, as Oghogho, my sister said in her speech yesterday. And I would like to liken my father to Joseph’s coat of many colours.
He oftentimes says he was Abraham, and Abraham’s blessings were his, in all 12 of us. However, for the purpose of today, I want to liken my father to Joseph’s coat of many colours. He was a man of many parts, a man of many personalities; each unique. And through the stories through the week, and through the months since his passing, we have seen a different side of daddy, and it has been incredible. However, I reflect upon my siblings, and I see how each and every single one of us are like a stripe in that coat of many colours.
Osahon, for example, is dogged and he is able to take risks like my father. He’s creative; impossibility is nothing when he decides to do something. Adesuwa- our very own minister of finance! Always with her calculator, able to pioneer able to break through. Hard work is her ethic. Deborah, she is disciplined and extremely principled. Osariemen, with her kind heart; no, you don’t just have daddy’s face, you also have his heart – so jovial, always quick to forgive; always quick to laugh.
Osarumwese, you are the philosophical one in us. You have daddy’s ability to ask the whys and dig deeper. His love for esoteric thinking; you’re also very principled and you would say the truth in a nice diplomatic way, but say the truth nonetheless. We go on to Oghogho, the one that doesn’t understand what second place is. Her place is number one; and that’s it. She is focused, brilliant, beautiful, hardworking. I love you, sis.
We go on to Nosa; Nosa and his kind heart. He strives for excellence. He thinks light years ahead of his peers. He is a game changer and one that is able to break through on whatever he puts his mind to. We know this with his basketball as well as his school work. We go on to Omosede, the one that has a kind heart. She’s always in it for the underdog. She never would look at someone suffering and not reach out. Omosede is the embodiment of empathy. She’s kind, and loving, and sweet.
And then there is our Chorchor (Esohe). Daddy used to call her Chorchor, and so when she was three, I took that name on as well. She’s our playful one who is always ready to smile. She loves so deeply the people that she sets her heart to love. And then there is Bryan and Ryan. R and B, as I call them; they are, I believe, the purest version of our father. Their hearts are so pure, so beautiful, yet they are two distinct personalities.
You have Ryan, who is smooth, just like daddy. But then, you have Bryan who cuts to the chase. Well, I’ll leave you guys to figure out which tribe I am. But each tribe, beautiful in itself; absolutely unique and gorgeous to look at independently. However, when we come together to form this coat of many colours, we embody the very essence that is Captain Idahosa Wells Okunbo.
At this point I will like to publicly address my siblings. Daddy’s spirit lives on in our very essence, guys, and as we embrace the fullness of who we are, and maintain this bond that we’ve come to so strongly form over the past year, I can guarantee you that we will carry his vision and strengthen his legacy because his legacy is now ours to strengthen. He has left this world a better place through his service and sacrifice, and we will ensure that we live upholding his essence to see it passed on from generation to generation, to generation. For us, his children, our work is to keep his memory alive and to remind the world about his genuineness and depth of character. United we stand, and we would always be found standing.
Beyond my siblings, I will like to address you wonderful people that came here to support us this period. I’m a firm believer that mantles never die, and so, I know my dad lives on. He lives on through the lives he changed, through the hearts he touched. He lives on through you, who witnessed his light. And so, I want to encourage you today that in whatever way Captain touched you, carry him into your world, whether he impacted or imparted directly, or even through the testimonies that you heard today; whatever it is that stood out for you, whether he was a man of peace, and he loved forgiveness, emulate that and do unto others as Captain would have done.
If was his hard work and his strive for excellence, emulate that and do unto others as others would have done. If it was his love for God, and his reverential fear of the Lord, then emulate that and do unto others as he would have done. That way, we carry his light into our world. And truly, he never dies.
No doubt, my father, Captain Hosa, was a successful business leader; but more importantly, he had a great Saviour. His love for the almighty God; he kept praising Him constantly. When faced with this challenge, he would still thank God and he would say I thank God that God gave me a second chance. Who in their normal mind would think I found out I have cancer, but yet I thank God. This was the perspective he had; he had God’s perspective in everything. God bless you, daddy.
And so, though we are sad today, we don’t grieve as normal people do; we don’t mourn as those that have no hope. We know that daddy is in heaven. And so, ladies and gentlemen, please permit me to address my father personally.
Daddy, we love you for an infinite number of reasons. We are blessed to have had you as our father. We are deeply grateful for the wonderful life you gave us. Daddy, your love, your patience, your understanding, your wisdom, your sense of humour, would live with us forever.
You were a devoted father, a fun one at that. He gave us some of our best memories, and we will never forget your singing, or your amazing dance moves. Most importantly, I want to thank you for giving us the most precious gifts – a good name and a solid foundation. We didn’t get to tell you how often, how much we loved you; how truly important you were to us. So, daddy, as you look down from your place of glory know that you are remembered in this lifetime by all who knew you.
Your name will be etched in history for generations to come in our lineage, and beyond. You were a father like no other. We would keep your memory burning like a lamp till we meet again to part no more. We miss you. We love you. Rest well, Papa.