By Emma Amaze – Regional Editor, South-South
ASABA- FORMER Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, told his friend and former Minister of State for Education, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi, who he slumped in his hands, last Friday, during the funeral ceremonies of former Military Governor of defunct Midwest Region, late Major General David Ejoor, in Delta State, to “take me away from here” before he fell down.
A top security official, who confided in Vanguard, yesterday, said, “Gowon was obviously fatigued after standing for long hours during the funeral ceremonies of his former Chief of Army Staff at Ovwor-Olomu community, Ughelli South Local Government Area, but God used Olorogun Gbagi to save his life.”
His words, “The last words from his mouth before he collapsed were, ‘Take me away from here,’ ‘take me away from here’ and he was talking to Gbagi, who held him near his armpit as he turned to lead him out, but he unexpectedly slumped in his hands.”
He asserted, “There were conflicting reports over the incident because some people did not know what really happened, but the truth is that God in His miraculous ways used Olorogun Gbagi to preserve Gowon when he suddenly slumped. He fell right into the hands of Gbagi, who shielded him with his body and prevented him from falling head-over-heels.”
“I was monitoring, but it was not my beat to get very close to the former Head of State. However, I noticed that Gbagi, who was three persons away from Gowon, came closer to him at the point to Gowon, who had stood for several hours during the funeral oration and other military formalities.
“If not that Gbagi was standing very close to him, Gowon would have crashed straight to the ground and with metal objects around, who knows what would have happened. He (Gbagi) held him and called on soldiers and other security agents to assist him. That was when I ran towards where he was holding Gowon with others to help.
“We carried Gowon to one of the tents that has air conditioner and Gbagi started resuscitating him, he gave him a bottle of coke and another one, while stretching and massaging his legs at the same time.
“When he saw that his breathe had come back, he asked security to lead Gowon to his car and they drove him to Asaba. He was apparently not himself for hours, but I do not know if it was just exhaustion or shock for he stood for nearly four hours during the funeral ceremonies and it is not good for somebody of his age to stand for so long,” he said.
The security source added, “I think the decision to take him to Asaba was because he flew to Delta state for the event through Asaba airport and that is his route back. It was after he had been resuscitated that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, former governor, Chief James Ibori came to the tent and others came to the canopy.’
The source hinted Gowon had called some friends and top government officials to indicate that he was stable, but was still surprised at what happened to him at the funeral ceremonies and even asked some of those he called what actually transpired.