By Tope Templer Olaiya
THE 8th day Fidau prayers of Alhaja Wosilat Ejide Obanikoro, mother of immediate past Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, united political friends and foes across all divides at the weekend in Lagos.
No sooner had the prayers started, led by the Chief Missioner of Ansar-ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, Sheikh Abdur-Rahman Olanrewaju Ahmad and the Chief Imam of Lagos, Mohammed Akinola Ibrahim, than the hall began to witness the presence of dignitaries walk in to take their seats.
But there was some noisy interruption as soon as the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, stepped in. It caught many by surprise as the former governor of Lagos State has lately stayed away from social functions, noticeably the just concluded Lagos @ 50 celebrations.
Also, the duo of Fashola and Obanikoro had squared up fiercely as governorship candidates since the 2007 elections down to the run-up to the 2015 elections. He didn’t come alone, his mother, Madam Cecilia Omolara Fashola and Alhaji Kayode Fashola, were present.
The Minister took his seat, flanked by Chief Rasak Okoya, Justice George Oguntade, National Legal Adviser of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr. Muiz Banire, and former Minister of State for Defence, Ademola Seriki, and began going through the programme booklet.
Some paragraphs in the Obanikoro’s tribute to his late mother caught the attention of the former governor. Fashola got his chance moments later to throw banters at Obanikoro after they embraced, reading the paragraph to him: “I can recall how troublesome I was growing up and how much my troubled nature tested your patience. Even when bad companies derailed me, you never gave up on me. Your commitment to my education and self-discipline is legendary.” This was followed by outbursts of roaring laughter.
Things got to a head with the arrival of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki Saraki, who was returning from the wedding ceremony of one of the daughters of Chief Bisi Akande, a former National Chairman of the APC in Ibadan. He had stopped by to honour Obanikoro, whose mother died on July 2, aged 95.
Saraki was accompanied by Senators representing Lagos West, Ondo Central, Ogun East and Bayelsa East, Solomon Adeola, Omotayo Alasoadura, Buruji Kashamu and Ben Bruce, respectively. A special prayer session was held for Saraki, albeit on Obanikoro’s request.
Others at the event included former governors Gbenga Daniel (Ogun) and Adebayo Alao-Akala (Oyo); Senator Ganiyu Solomon, former Air Marshal, Adesola Amosu (rtd); former Deputy Governors of Lagos State, Otunba Femi Pedro and Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele; Secretary to the Lagos State Government, Mr. Tunji Bello, who represented Governor Ambode; former Senate Leader, Senator Teslim Folarin; Dr. Reuben Abati; former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Malam Nuhu Ribadu and prominent Borno State politician, Malam Kashim Imam.