By Yekini Jimoh
Political leaders in Kogi State on Monday expressed shock and pain over the deaths of the late Minister of State, Labour and Productivity, Barr. James Ocholi, his wife, Fatima and son, Joshua, describing describing the occurrences as “a huge loss”‘ to the state.
The immediate past Deputy Governor of Kogi State, His Excellency, Yomi Awoniyi, in a statement signed by Mike Abu, lamented the painful termination of the lives of Barr Ocholi, his wife, Fatima and son, Joshua as well as the driver in the tragic accident.
While commiserating with the surviving members of the late Minister’s family, President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Yahaya Bello, Awoniyi said “sad as the occurrence is, there is solace to be taken in the lives of the deceased.
He described as a cruel irony that Barrister Ocholi who had strive to avail the state and the country of his skill and experience has been taken away when the long pursued opportunity had finally arrived.
He said the death of Barrister Ocholi was a corporate loss to Kogi state and a monumental loss to Nigeria.
Awoniyi appealed to the state and Federal government, family and friends to accord the surviving members of Barr Ocholi the maximum support in recognition of the worthy life and service that the late Minister represented before his sad death.
Senator Tunde Ogbeha described the deaths of Ocholi and two members of his immediate family in an accident as “sad, very said.”
Recalling his knowledge of Barrister Ocholi, Ogbeha said the late Minister was “very cerebral and religious. He was an accomplished lawyer and erudite politician.
“I saw him as a Kogite who was de-tribalized and believed he could turn around the fortunes of our state if he was ever elected the state governor. He was a gentleman. May the Lord grant him, the wife and son eternal rest,” Ogbeha further said.
Also reacting to the deaths, the Speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly, Hon Umar Ahmed Imam, on behalf of the entire Honourable Members of the Assembly, expressed shock on the death of the Minister.
Imam’s reaction was contained in a press statement issued by Dr. Abdulsalam Bawa Dangana, Special Adviser Media to the Speaker.
His words, “wish to extend our heartfelt condolences on the bereavement caused by the untimely death of our illustrious Son, legal icon and luminary, Minister of Labour, Employment and Productivity, Barrister James Eneojo Ocholi (SAN)
“We all painstakingly pray that God gives you and your departed family members, eternal rest and souls rest in perfect peace!
The Former Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Nurudeen Abatemi-Usman, also described the death of Ocholi as a tragic loss to his immediate family, Kogi State and the entire nation.
In a statement issued by his Media Adviser, Michael Jegede, Senator Abatemi-Usman, who represented Kogi Central Senatorial District in the 7th Senate, said Ocholi would be remembered for his enormous contributions to law practice and democracy in Nigeria.
The former lawmaker said: “We received with great shock the news of the untimely death of our brother, Barrister James Ocholi, an illustrious son of Kogi State and Minister of State for Labour and Employment. Kogi has lost a great man! Ocholi’s demise is not only a tragic loss to his immediate family, but also to Kogi State and Nigeria as a whole.
“He was a vibrant gentleman who left no stone unturned to make significant impact in his chosen profession and contribute greatly to the sustenance of democracy in the country. The whole world watched and saw how he proved his worth as a brilliant and consummate lawyer with high intelligence in the last ministerial screening at the Senate and we were proud to have him as a nominee from Kogi State.
“He has, since his confirmation as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria last year, been an outstanding member of President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet. We have, indeed, lost a rare gem. We can only ask God to grant us the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss while praying for his peaceful repose and that of his wife and son who unfortunately died with him in the fatal auto accident, ” Abatemi-Usman further said.