By: Wisdom Acka
The body of late Pa Lawrence Fele Ogunleye was laid to rest in his country home, Ijurin-Ekiti, Ijero Local Government Area, Ekiti State, on Friday, 14th April 2023.
Pa Ogunleye, father of Anthony Akin Ogunleye, Chief Press Secretary to the FCT Minister, died at the age of 92 on 6th April 2023 in Abuja.
Eulogies and calls for emulation of the virtues of the deceased started pouring in from the requiem service at St. Holy Rosary Catholic Church, Wuse, Zone II, Abuja, Tuesday 11, through the wake keep in his Ijurin-Ekiti compound, Thursday 13, to the funeral mass and visit to the Oba of Ijurin-Ekiti.
Leading the funeral mass at St. George’s Catholic Church, Ijurin-Ekiti, Bishop of Ekiti Diocese, Felix Femi Ajakaye extolled the virtues of late Pa Ogunleye and implored his children, relatives and congregation to emulate him.
He stated that while death was an inescapable passage to eternal life, time and manner it would occur was however unknown to humans, hence the imperative for all human beings to live well.
According to him, living well was akin to “living a responsible life that shows you have a relationship with God, a life that signifies your love for your faith and for humanity”.
He stressed: “Live the way you want to die; and die the way you lived. It is not your presence in the church or mosque that tells how well you are living your life.
Represented by the Diocese’s Vicar General, Felix Temitope Odesanmi, the Bishop said: “Baba was an excellent man. He was man of the community. He was a Catholic to the core. He wasn’t just a knight by the uniformity or emblem.
Adekaye added, “He lived a disciplined life, a committed life, and a responsible life; in fact, everything positive was associated with Papa Oynleye”.
Similarly, the Ojurin of Ijurin-Ekiti, Oba Joachim Afolabi, while eulogising Pa Ogunleye, stated that Anthony Ogunleye was “a replica of his father -simple, honest, humble, down to earth and hospitable”.
The royal father of Ijurin said this when the chief mourner, Ogunleye led members of the FCT Minister’s Press Corps and some Federal Capital Territory Administration staff present at the burial to pay him a visit in his residence.
The Traditional Ruler appealed for love for one another and understanding of all Nigerians; saying it was the only way we could benefit from the country’s diversity.
In his response, Anthony Ogunleye re-echoed that his father was “an epitome of honesty, integrity, dignity and honour.
“He was an Honourable man. He was a man who lived his life with simplicity and dignity”, Ogunleye said.
According to him, “He stopped teaching around 1980 and so many of his students are now emeritus professors, including the Rev. Father who preached at his wake keep.”
“He was a committed family member, a committed community member, he loved his village, he loved his people, he loved his wife,” he added.
“As his children, there is nothing we can do but to live our lives the way he loved. He has not left an easy path for us to follow, but by the grace of God, we are going to be able to walk in his shoes, very big shoes”, Ogunleye restated.
Corroborating the Oba, Ogunleye said: “Just like Kabiesi said, my father was a man who preached unity and peace across every segment of the country because he worked in many parts of the country, including Kaduna, Maiduguri, Jos, Sokoto and Abuja before he retired in 1994, 29 years ago.”
His words: “Throughout these years, he has remained active in so many ways -in the community, church, in raising and playing with his grandchildren.”
“He was indeed a great man, and the greatest honour we can do to him is to live our lives the way he lived his own. That’s the lesson for all of us, let us emulate the kind of life Papa lived”.
Commenting on how Pa Ogunleye’s profession impacted the children and community, Anthony Ogunleye said: “My father was a civil servant of the old stock, not of the new generation. A lot of things I tell my father today, he can’t comprehend. He would simply say: ‘This is not how things were done. This is not how things ought to be done, but sadly, that’s how they are”.
Late Lawrence Fele Ogunleye left behind many loved ones, including his wife, Mrs. Margaret Ogunleye, five children and 11 grandchildren.