By Kennedy Mbele
The expansive residence of the late legal icon, Chief Saifudeen Ademola Edu, on Bourdillon Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, was filled to capacity as family members, friends, business associates and well wishers converged for his 7th day Fidau prayers, following his death on December 18, 2021.
It was, indeed, a gathering of the titans, among whom were Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamilla, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, and two former gubernatorial candidates, Alhaji Musiliu Obanikoro and Chief Yomi Edu (brother of the deceased), among others.
Prior to this, a former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Chairman Bi-Courtney Aviation Limited, Dr. Wale Babalakin, SAN, Captain Dapo Williams, Chris Okeke, Yinka fishers, Chief Bode Rhodes-Vivour, General Ike Nwachukwu (rtd), Chief Bode Emmanuel, Fubara Anga (SAN), Mr Toyin Bashorun (SAN) and Sam Okagbue were among the top shots who visited to condole with the deceased’s family.
The Chief Imam of Lagos conducted the two-hour spiritual exercise after which guests were ushered into entertainment galore which lasted until dawn.
Sunday Vanguard spoke with some people close to the late Epe born High Chief including his Personal Assistant and computer guru, Prince Adewale Ogunjobi, who, among others, identified his boss as ‘EDU SAE One Million’.
Continuing, Ogunjobi said, “He was full of life, never a dull moment around him. He wanted the best for everyone.
“He was the only man I know that usually gives all his staff transportation fare daily, which we call ‘walola’, meaning ‘come tomorrow’.
Grand Papa was a peaceful man – Abraham
A former domestic staff member in the family, who now runs her own restaurant, Mrs. Bride Jide Abraham, also spoke to us.
According to her, she worked with the first daughter of the deceased, Mrs. Teniola Aluko, and has maintained the relationship for the past 20 years.
Mrs. Abraham, popularly known in the Edu’s family as Glory, said she joined her madam’s children in addressing the late father of her boss as ‘grandpa’ and had regarded him as such beginning from the day she resumed work in the family. She described the deceased as a peaceful man, who loved and cared for everyone.
“He was a very nice man, a man to be with, a man from whom I enjoyed and learnt a lot from”, she stated.
“He was a lawyer that lived an exceptional life. He was number one in terms of giving. He loved life and giving out to people. He also loved socializing”.
The woman said Edu loved being in the midst of not only special people but also everybody, including his workers.
Mrs Abraham said she liked him most because he didn’t discriminate against anyone, explaining that although he was a Muslim, most of his workers, including her, were Christians and that he treated everyone equally.
Recalling how religious festivals were celebrated in the family, she stressed that the late chief used to share gifts to every staff member, including those working with his children at Christmas and Sallah as well as whenever he returned after a trip.
Describing the deceased as a caring man, she revealed that he was paying the salary of his deceased driver, Ayo, to the wife and assisting her in other family issues, especially their children’s school fees for the past 25 years or more.
“He was a very good man,” she said, noting that he loved offering advice to those around him, including his workers.
Mrs Abraham revealed that one of the things she learnt from Edu was self-reliance.
“I miss him a lot”, she said repeatedly, sobbing, but managed to advise workers to always take their places of work as their own, noting that she came into the family as a staff member but has been taken as a member of the family.
The former staff member said she would always remember how she got the sad news about grandpa’s passing away through the man’s son, Junior, who she said phoned her and said “Daddy is gone”.
According to her, she prepared what turned out to be the deceased’s last meal but expressed sadness that he could not finish it before embarking on the great journey.
Not easily provoked – Orji
The late chief’s steward, Innocent Oji, said he started working with him in December, 2011 and described the deceased as an amiable man who was not easily provoked, explaining that he usually allowed everything to drag and come out the way it wanted to come out.
“He wouldn’t force things to happen”, the steward said.
Orji added that Edu was a lovely person.
He noted that his late boss would not listen to ‘they said’, but would simply say ‘It’s alright’ at the end of any complaint and that he would judge based on his perception of the situation.
Recalling that Edu yelled at him only twice throughout his period of service spanning over a decade, the steward noted that his late boss hardly raised his voice on anyone, including his domestic staff, stressing that one of the greatest things he learnt from him was to always be calm.
His words, “No ‘garagara’ because ‘what’s gonna be gonna be’. He was somebody who allowed things to follow their natural course, whether it was for or against his interest”.
Describing his late boss’ relationship with workers as very cordial, Orji said that he always brought himself to the level of every worker.
He explained that he observed this trait from the long robe he gave him which he also said enabled him to learn on a job he dabbled into as a result of unemployment in the country.
According to him, he was working in an organisation before joining the family without an iota of knowledge about the job but that he tolerated him until he got used to it.
“”Many bosses don’t have such patience”, he noted, adding that Edu wasn’t in the habit of sacking his workers, rather, some sacked themselves by stealing or committing other serious offenses.
Among all the sterling qualities of the late legal luminary, Orji said he cherished the fact that nothing moved him.
“Nothing moved that man. He would stand firm, no matter the story you bring. All he would tell you after the story was “It’s alright’, that was his usual language”, Orji said, pointing out that nobody was expecting Edu’s death at the time it came because he had recovered from an illness that almost claimed his life sometime ago.
Responding to how he got the news about his boss’ death, Orji broke into tears.
“I was privileged to be around when he was rushed to hospital. I served his last meal. It was therefore a big shock when I got the sad news”, the steward stated.
He said the death was not sudden because, according to him, the man was 76 years old and as such didn’t die young.
“Let him go and rest. He was a very strong man. We that were close to him learnt a lot from him. My prayer is that he rests in peace and that his children emulate him”.
His cook, Francis Ijang Otu, who traveled to his country home in Akwa Ibom following his own ill health, also spoke to us from his sick bed. Otu, 51, said he joined the family in 1989 and regretted his inability to at least witness the burial of his late boss.
He described the deceased as a man of integrity, saying he was highly educated and commanded a lot of respect.
The cook described his late master as a father of all who took proper care of every child, including those that were not his, biologically.
“He was good to me and my family throughout my 34 years with him, he took care of my family medical bills and sometimes assisted me in paying my children’s school fees”, Otu said.
“The cook recalled how Edu settled his wife’s medical bill after surgery at Lagoon Hospital, Lagos in 1994, pointing out that his boss always ensured that his staff and family members were treated in the best hospital around whenever they fell sick.
Otu, who said he once doubled as his boss’ Personal Assistant, further noted that, in addition to owning two prominent law firms, Edu was into other businesses aimed at providing employment for people.
He said the late chief used to spend his leisure time reading or at Boat Club and Ikoyi Club, adding that he loved seeing people around him.
“My Oga made it in life. I have been very sad since I received the news about his death because I know his worth in the families of those around him”, he said.
“Again, I thought I would recover and come over so we could continue what we were discussing before I took ill and had to travel. Now that he is no more, I just have to see how I can hand over everything to God.”