For Mr. Gbadebowale Wayne Aboderin, the late chairman of Punch Nigeria Limited, it was an emotional farewell at the weekend.
The atmosphere was more solemn but not sombre, as family and friends assembled in Lagos to pay their last respects to the deceased businessman and philanthropist.
It was an outpouring of flowery words for the businessman who died on May 30 after a heart surgery. He was 60.
The rites of passage commenced on Thursday with a wake at the New Haven Events Centre, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos, while the funeral service held the following day at the Archbishop Vining Memorial Church, GRA, Ikeja.
“The most important thing that Wale did that struck us and put a number of us who were still doubting to shame was that he hugged Jesus Christ vehemently,” said Mr. Shina Fagbenro, the deceased’s classmate at Government College, Ibadan.
Speaking on the topic “An ambassador goes home,” Venerable James Adekanye noted at the wake that Aboderin was an ambassador of God. In his words, going by the testimonies about the deceased, Aboderin did not die in vain.
He told the deceased’s daughters: “Your father is not dead. He lives. He lives in the many lives he has touched. Whenever you recall the memory of your dad, celebrate him because he is not dead.”
Then he told the congregants: “God called Broyther Wale home at 60. God can recall anybody at anytime. When the day of your recall comes, what will people remember you for?”
The late Aboderin was described as a philanthropist. He was the founder of Dolphin Female Basketball Team, founder of Rapture, a musical band, and chairman, African Media Initiative (AMI).
Joel Nwokeoma, who spoke on behalf of Punch Nigerial Limited, expressed gratitude to the deceased, who was CEO for seven years.
D’Chair, as he was fondly called, was described by his daughter, Nicole, and his sister, Wunmi Tunde-Obe, as a man who lived for others and wanted everyone to be happy.
Aboderin’s band, Rapture, thrilled the guests with songs, even as there was much to eat and drink.
Sister to the deceased, Omoshalewa, said her brother would continue to live in the minds of the people whose lives he touched.
It was gathered that even on his hospital bed, Aboderin paid the medical bills of three patients and instructed that his identity must not be revealed to the patients.
Okworogun Ochuko, coach of the Dolphins Basketball Team, said there was nothing the deceased did not do for the team and its members, asserting that Aboderin, whom she referred to as Father, took the players off the street.
Another member of the team, Arowosafe Tinuke, also praised the deceased. Said she: “He sent me to school, gave me shelter and paid my medical bills when I had a serious injury. And when I retired from playing basketball, he set me up in business.”
Isaac Otokpa, leader of Rapture, said the deceased once gave a plot of land to each member of the band as Christmas gifts. He said Aboderin also bought a set of musical instruments for him and came to his rescue when he had an accident: “He paid for the treatment of the injured passengers and repaired the damaged rented truck. He was like a father to me, yet I wasn’t related to him by blood, by language or by tribe.”
Eminent businessman, Mr. Femi Otedola, said of Aboderin: “He was a perfect gentleman and a great man.”
One of his sisters told the reporter that Wale Aboderin was never afraid of death. He was only worried about what would become of the Dolphins after he was gone.
“The Dolphins are the dream of my brother and we need to keep this dream going. The girls are good. They are continental champions today, and they can be intercontinental and world champions tomorrow. If you feel this dream, like we do, please do not hesitate to do anything you can to continue to make this dream a success,” pleaded his sister, Wunmi Tunde-Obe.
At the funeral service for the late Punch chairman, the homily was punchy. Venerable Festus Olowosile encouraged his wife, Titilayo, to not rely on human beings but on Jesus Christ. He reiterated that death was inevitable, noting that every mortal must be prepared for death at all times.
“Life is vanity,” the cleric said. “If a person has houses everywhere, he cannot sleep in all of them at the same time. Wisdom is needed to live life in a godly manner, as death is no respecter of age.”
D’Chair, described as a devoted family man, is survived by his wife, Titilayo, a chartered accountant, and children. The remains of the deceased, were interred at a private cemetery in Ikoyi after a brief ceremony.