Best friend of Emily Aig-Imoukhuede speaks on their 65 year friendship
Thomas-Fahm, Ubeku give warm eulogies
By Funmi Ajumobi, Ebunoluwa Sessou & Aisha Mohammed
It is no longer news that Mrs Emily Okheren Aig- Imoukhuede who died recently, was a woman of many parts in her 79 years on earth. The former director of the Nigerian Art Gallery and Junior Minister for States and Local Government Affairs (1993) who was best known as President, National Council for Women Societies, NCWS (1988-1993); was a women’s rights advocate long before it became popular to do so.
The mother of four biological children (including Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, Chairman, ABC Health among other institutions) was a mother to very many others, while also being a dear friend to many. Among these, is her best friend of more than 65 years, High Chief (Dr) Winifred Awosika, OON, who remains inconsolable.
Speaking exclusively to WO, the Founder of Chrisland Schools and University revealed that the friendship began while both were still in their early teens.
We were soul mates
“We were classmates in the secondary school in St. Anne’s, Ibadan. We were spending our holidays with our relations in Ekotedo, Ibadan, going out together. We attended the same university; the University of Ibadan, and our rooms were next to each other: Room 25 and 26 in Queen’s Hall. It wasn’t planned, fate just brought us together.”
Awosika said in between tears that the qualities that endeared her to her dearest friend was her loving nature.
“Fate brought us together and the fondness that we had for each other kept us going. It’s amazing. When I got married, she was my chief bridesmaid. I knew Uncle Frank Imoukhuede before they got married but I was in England when they got married. When I came back, she already gave birth to Aig, so my husband and I went to visit them in Ibadan as soon as we arrived. When they moved to Lagos, we were in Ikeja together though they were working on the Island.”
Relationship between the husbands
“They had known each other in their secondary school days. Uncle Frank went to Igbobi and Dr Awosika went to Government College Ibadan, but they used to meet on the cricket sport field. Dr Awosika was a star in the cricket field.”
Asked what she would miss about her friend, Dr (Mrs.) Awosika became emotional.
“She was my confidant; she was a very wise friend, very religious and very loving and a very good woman. We knew each other to our mothers’ rooms. I was following her to Sabongida Ora and she too would go with me to Owo in Ondo State. Our friendship went across the world. (sobbing).
“She was an ordained pastor but never called herself pastor. She left it for people to decide what to call her. She was doing the work of God with her whole heart. She had a project in Kaduna rehabilitating prisoners. One of the prisoners became so changed and even got married. She came to me here and started dancing. Imagine, people we run away from because they are prisoners. She planted a farm for them and she made me participate. She even made a plaque somewhere in the poultry farm for me. She was always in Kaduna. At times I asked her what she was doing there when things started going wrong in the country but she was always saying God would take care of her. She demonstrated that she was safe in God.
“Emily has gone! Lagbara Olorun otito, Lagbara Olorun agbaye, lagbara Kristi, lagbara awon Angeli to n so origun merin aye. Won ti gbe ore mi lo sodo Olodumare (by God’s grace, my friend has been taken by the angels to God). They have taken her to a beautiful place; a place she had prepared for herself.
“We have been together for over 60 years. Our children grew up together. She was my Korikosun; ride or die friend. We are both very sincere despite the fact that we were not from the same place. We will meet again because we are both children of God. I will even do more now so that I can see her again. Now when I wake up in the night, I feel her presence and I will say, ‘Emily you are here.’
Consoling herself, Dr Awosika declared her friend’s departure a celebration of life, though very shocked by the sudden departure.
“A very close friend indeed. We were like soul mates,” she added.
We shall miss her enthusiasm —West African Women Association, WAWA
A close associate of the late Mrs Emily, Country Focal Person of West African Women Association National Chapter, Nigeria- ECOWAS Commission Liaison, Dr. (Mrs.) Beatrice Ubeku JP, MFR has joined friends and relatives to eulogise the life of the late Pastor Emily Aig-Imoukhuede saying she created time to prestigiously monitor the girl-child, women and youth.
According to Ubeku, Aig- Imoukhuede is a gem amongst Nigerian women, too precious to lose.
“She created time to prestigiously monitor the girl- child, women and youth especially under her leadership as President of the National Council of Women Societies, NCWS.
“Here, she successfully led the Nigerian Women’s team at the International Women’s Conference in Bangkok in 1991/92 where I was among delegates privileged to participate, where some of us grew and kept our passion for the legacy of volunteerism.
“It was indeed a great honour to have had Mrs. Emily Aig-Imoukuede on board this national chapter of the West African Women Association, WAWA, as Member, Board of Trustees, National Chapter of the 15 countries made up of Anglophone and Francophone within the ECOWAS sub-Region; having worked tirelessly to sustain and postion the Nigerian National Chapter.
“Surely we shall miss her cheery demeanour, her enthusiasm, her selflessness, and many contributions towards the development of African women on both local and international levels. We take solace in the Almighty who granted her a fulfilled life.
Among those who poured encomiums on Emily Aig-Imoukhuede were Hon. Mme Khady Fall Tall, Regional President (Nigeria), Chief Mrs. Agnes Ojehomon, Secretary, Board of Trustees, WAWA; Hon. Chief Dr. (Mrs.) Opral Benson, OON; Prof. Amb. (Mrs.) Mary Lar, Member, Board of Trustees and Dr. (Mrs.) Senator Joy Emordi, CON., Member, Board of Trustees.
Emily was a Christian lady—Thomas-Fahm
Emily was a Christian lady, very friendly and we can see that she believed in God and tried her best to follow the tenets of Christianity. I like her very much and I have known her for a long time and even when she went to Abuja. She was a good person, friendly. I liked her service to humanity.